Mile News


Seb Coe on the training that led to his 1979 world record spree

October 30, 2019

"Make every session that you do count – even your recovery runs. Never do sessions just as ‘fillers’.”

By Matt Long for Athletics Weekly

By August 15 in 1979 the most remarkable 41 days in the history of middle-distance running were complete. In breaking Filbert Bayi’s 5-year-old world 1500m record, Sebastian Coe had not only surpassed the exploits of the great Tanzanian, but also erased Alberto Juantorena’s 800m and John Walker’s Mile marks. For Coe, it was truly a magical summer.

In a former AW feature we trumpeted Coe’s achievements and if the runner’s 1979 legacy left us with three memorable records, four decades on there are at least three corresponding lessons which we can reflect on in performance terms. Lessons which can help you as athlete or coach.

Quality over Quantity
To Matt Long, an England Athletics coach education tutor, Coe explains: “It doesn’t happen overnight. Find yourself a coach and trust in them. Remember coaching is as much an art as it is a science.

“By all means consult scientific tools but as an athlete don’t allow yourself to become a guinea pig at the expense of a sports scientist. There’s a lot to be said for good, intuitive coaching.”

Coe’s coach and father Peter once famously said: “The quality of what you do is much more important than the quantity. Why pound the life out of a young runner when you can develop it with quality? This does not mean that Sebastian neglected his aerobic development, which was achieved as a junior through extensive cross country running in both training and competition.”

Coe senior was ahead of his time in recognizing the considerable demands that middle distance events have, not only aerobically in terms of cardiovascular response but critically on the lactate (anaerobic) energy system.

“Long, slow distance running creates long, slow runners. If speed is the name of the game, then never get too far away from it,” is the way Coe senior put it.

When I remind Seb of this philosophy, he concurs that: “Quality and intensity are key.”

The approach engendered into Coe junior would be termed high intensity training in today’s language. The aim of the key sessions would be to allow Coe to become habituated to working around the lactate turn-point, thus training the transporters to utilise lactate as a productive energy source whilst removing lactic acid from the muscles.

A Systematic Approach to Pacing
“Don’t do anything you can’t measure. Make every session that you do count – even your recovery runs. Never do sessions just as ‘fillers’,” Coe explains adamantly.

Both Coe senior and junior were fans of the system advocated by the late BMC founder, Frank Horwill, with sessions over five different paces used over a specified training microcycle.

Continue reading at: athleticsweekly.com

Tags: world record (66) , training (44) , sebastian coe (49) , peter coe (1) , frank horwill (1)

Facebook Comments

Return the Mile to prominence on the American & worldwide sports and cultural landscape by elevating and celebrating the Mile to create a movement.

ELEVATE
Bring Back the Mile as the premier event in the sport, and increase interest in and media coverage of the Mile for both those who love the distance as well as the general public.

CELEBRATE
Bring Back the Mile to celebrate the storied distance and to recognize the people who made and make the Mile great and to promote Mile events and the next generation of U.S. Milers.

NATIONAL MOVEMENT
Bring Back the Mile to create a national movement for the Mile as America’s Distance,
to inspire Americans to run the Mile as part of their fitness program and to replace the 1600 meters at High School State Track & Field Meets across the country.

Become a Mile Maniac member or a BBTM sponsor today! Join us, and go Mile!

Join Us

Thanks for joining the movement and being a Mile Maniac. We'll keep you up to-date with our Mile wires as well as exclusive contests and opportunities. Help us spread the word by sharing our site and joining us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!