NEW INTERVAL TRAINING
Where and what is the evidence that this New Interval Training is effective?
Who uses it?
As you read this you may well be asking yourself the same question posed above, "Where and what is the evidence that this New Interval Training is effective?" Let's look at some world-class coaches who have taken on board the New Interval Training method and see what their experiences, results and comments are
The effectiveness of this type of training is also from judging the past performances of many, many well-known and world-class athletes such as Brendan Foster, Benita Johnson, Paula Radcliffe, Stefano Baldini, Steve Prefontaine and Hicham El Gourouj, all of whom have used variations of a rhythmic approach with sometimes active recoveries. But these sessions in the past were devised from intuition and we can now identify and plan more effective training sessions.
Here's another example. At the Australian National Championships in 2004 I was present in the stands as Benita Johnson drew a gasp from the crowd as she set off in the 10,000m race to qualify for the Athens Olympic Games with a 72 seconds lap. But, she then ran a lap of 82 seconds, causing another reaction from the spectators and then proceeded to win the race running precise alternations of 400m at 72 seconds and 82 seconds for the remainder of the distance. This was a classic Lactate Dynamics and New Interval Training session of 13 x 400 (72") [82"]. It was no accident then that a month later Johnson ran in dominant fashion to win the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Hicham El Gourouj's coach, Abdelkader Kada, always emphasises that Hicham's training was rhythmical, not tied to rigid times, and with very active recoveries. And we could go on and on, emphasising in particular many of the successful non-East Africans.
But for all of the coaches and athletes who have used similar training in the past, the crucial importance of the recovery was never identified and the physiological processes that were taking place were unknown. Now, with an understanding of Lactate Dynamics Training and the New Interval Training we can not only understand clearly why past sessions have worked but we can design even more effective workouts. And, they work for everyone - not just the elite.
Jasson Begashe is an IAAF Academy coach who carried out a study comparing the effectiveness of New Interval Training with Traditional Repetition Training. The study was conducted in Babati Town in the Manyara Region of Tanzania at an altitude of 1370m from October to December 2007 (8 weeks). Babati Town lies in the Rift Valley 167 kms south west of Arusha and the area is the origination of most of the elite long distance runners from Tanzania such as Gidemes Shahanga, Simon Naali, Nada Saktay, Frances Naali and Fabian Koseph.
Jasson Begashe's study demonstrated that all athletes in a New Interval Training group improved their performance significantly better than a traditional repetition training group, even though they all had similar qualities as Chronological Age, Developmental Age and Training Age; were from the same physical and economic environment and were participating in the same events of 10,000m to marathon.
The study examined two groups, each of three athletes, selected from the athletes he coached and who normally trained together. Group A were assigned as the 'New Interval Training' group and Group B the 'Traditional Repetition Training' group. The two groups carried out their Group A or Group B training twice a week for 8 weeks, giving a total of 16 sessions over the 8 weeks period. All their other training during these 8 weeks was together as one group.
A typical Group A 'New Interval Training' session was 3 x 5 x 400 (3k) [100m r/o and 800m r/o]. This means that they did 3 sets of 5 x 400m at 3,000m pace. The recovery interval was an active roll-on recovery over 100m which turned out to be at approximately 10km pace for this study. The recovery between the sets was 800m active roll-on which was again at approximately 10km pace. Group B would do exactly the same session on every occasion but with passive inactive recoveries of 60 - 90 seconds between repetitions and 4 minutes between the sets.
At the end of 8 weeks all six athletes competed in the Tanzania National 10Km Road Championships. Jasson identified the best responding athlete from each group as representative of the underlying trend and these are shown graphically above. Malak Ole Mang'era after having been 'stuck' at around 31 minutes for 10km for 4 years improved dramatically in 8 weeks to lower his personal best to 29:18. In his concluding remarks, Jasson states, "It is evident from the present study that engagement of active recovery methods in the New Interval Training can better enhance athletes' performance. This study therefore, recommends this method over the traditional repetition training method with passive / no activity recoveries."Back to top
Frank Horwill is the Founder and 'Dynamo' of the British Milers' Club, the UK's premier specialist club catering for the needs of both developing and established middle and long distance athletes. He is an internationally respected Athletics Coach, recognised in the UK for his prodigious output as a coach of 49 British male and female middle and long distance athletes who have represented their country on the track, over the country and on the roads.
In the early 1970s he formulated and innovated the 'Horwill Five-Pace System' of training which was utilised by Peter and Seb Coe and Said Aouita among many others and has become the foundation of many of the multi-pace systems of training used by coaches around the world today. He also formulated and innovated the 'Horwill 4-Second Rule', which relates the potential pace of an athlete between various distances.
Frank now combines different paces within a single session and over the past five years has increasingly used the New Interval Training for all his athletes, from 800m to the marathon. He used to enjoy pretending not to know about the terminology by deliberately saying to me, "And they did a 'roll-over' recovery", rather than 'roll-on' but now, in 2011, without thinking he consistently uses the term, 'roll-on' recovery.
As Frank says, "It's so simple, yet so effective. Out goes the jog after a repetition and in comes the roll-on. The first time I used it was with a first-time female marathoner. The final interval training session before her debut marathon was to run one lap at her 5k pace (80 seconds) and then go straight into her target marathon pace (90 seconds) x 25 laps in total but finishing with a 90 seconds lap. In her debut marathon she ran 2:37:12 to gain a New Zealand vest."
An example of a 5000m session from Frank is 100 (3k) [100 r/o] 200 (3k) [100 r/o] 300 (3k) [100 r/o] with 100m increments at 3k pace all the way up to and including 1600 (3k) [100m r/o]. A typical marathon session that he uses would be 12 x 400 (5k) [400 @ Marathon pace].
Frank Horwill has developed through his successful coaching career several of what he considers to be his 'Golden Sessions'. One of these 'Golden Sessions' has always been 16 x 400 (3k), which he uses at some time with all of his athletes. In the past this session was structured with a 100m passive jog in 45"-50" but working with the New Interval Training concept, he has now modified this session to be 16 x 400 (3k) [100m r/o] with this 100m active roll-on for his athletes usually being around 20"-22".Back to top
Loren Seagrave is one of the world's foremost authorities on sprinting, hurdling and speed development. He has helped world-class athletes achieve improvements in speed, agility, power and performance in more than 35 countries and on almost every continent. He is a five-time Champion NCAA Track & Field Coach and, as a professional coach, his client list includes over 50 Olympic Medal winners, first round NFL Draft picks and professional athletes from virtually every sport.
Loren Seagrave has been the IAAF consultant editor for the Sprints & Hurdles event group since 1993 and has also been recognised by the European Athletics Coaches Association as the Leader for the EACA in the Sprints & Hurdles events.
Loren has coached professionally for many years and introduces new methods into his work only after careful enquiry and consideration. He introduced the 'New Interval Training' method into his sessions two years ago and has found that the athletes respond very well to this training. He writes, "This type of training has been really useful. New Interval Training allows the athletes to gain very quick and lasting improvements in performance capacities while doing sessions that are enjoyable and rhythmical. I've really noticed that for foundation work and later speed endurance development these sessions are significantly more effective than the traditional repetitions we were doing."
A typical session that Loren has the 400m/400mH athletes start out with is 3 x 5 x 200 (3000 pace) [200 r/o and 5']. This means that the athletes do 3 sets of 5 repetitions of 200m at 3000m pace with a roll-on recovery of 200m. Since the athletes don't race 3000m the concept of what might be the correct rhythm for this can be established using the 'Horwill 4-Second Rule'. This states that a runner who could produce a 400m in 46.0 seconds if they were to race a 400m that day (their 'date pace') has a potential that day of 50 seconds per 400m for 800m, 54 seconds per 400m for 1500m and 58 seconds per 400m for 3000m. Initially, somewhere in the 29/30 seconds range would be the correct rhythm for this athlete, with the 200m recovery interval probably taking less than 50 seconds.Back to top
Sammy Macharia is an IAAF Academy Coach and Lecturer who specialises in 800m to 10,000m. Many of his athletes have represented Kenya in World Championships on the track and over the country and in the Olympic Games.
In late August, 2006 Sammy Macharia was a student coach on the IAAF CECS Level IV Course in Middle and Long Distance at the IAAF Regional Development Centre, RDC, in Nairobi. The head lecturer and coach on this course was Peter Thompson who introduced Sammy to the concepts and practice of the New Interval Training. Sammy distinguished himself sufficiently well on this course with his practical coaching and theoretical grasp on the underpinning science, combined with considerable pre-existing experience, that in 2007 he was invited to the IAAF Academy Course at the University of Kenyatta, Nairobi.
All potential IAAF Academy coaches produce a project over a 9-12 months period that has relevance to developing their coaching skills and knowledge. For his Academy project Sammy chose to carry out a study on the practical implications of the New Interval Training, using his athletes as subjects. With this completed, he graduated from the course with distinction and was subsequently invited to become an IAAF Lecturer.
After the 2006 Level IV course, Sammy recounted how he had been approached by an individual in his late 20s who wanted to become a runner, having never trained or raced previously. Using the New Interval Training method with this athlete, Sammy reported that within 9 months of starting running he ran 13:19 for 5,000m. The athlete was Mark Kiptoo.
Mark Kiptoo in Edinburgh
In March 2008, Sammy wrote, "I can't find enough words to thank you. I'm done with the national x-c championships (held in Nairobi on 1st March). My key athlete on the project (Mark Kiptoo) emerged 2nd in the 12k event for senior men, losing the gold by a whisker of only 2 seconds. He is in the national team for Edinburgh and I'm really proud of him. It is Mark that I've brought from zero level to where he is today.
In Edinburgh, having only been running and training for one year, Mark Kiptoo finished in 12th place in the World Cross Country Championships.
In May, 2008 Sammy looked forward to the Beijing Olympics and e-mailed this report, "Lastly, I must confess that the scientific approach in coaching works! Recently while coaching our 2008 Olympics 'probables' at the IAAF High Performance Training Center in Eldoret Kenya I did the best to improve performance of my charges (middle distance), and I'm glad all of them performed excellently at the national championships held recently in Nairobi. I'm sure many of them will make the Olympic team as we do the trials on 4th/5th July. While we appreciate everything going well, it should be remembered that you are part of our success."
It is nice to think that the 'Lactate Dynamics Training' and 'New Interval Training' concepts have gone full circle - from me listening to 'Big Bren' (Brendan Foster) about the Kenyans in the early 70s; to trying to mimic the Kenyans in the mid-70s onwards with the 'Kenyan Intervals'; to rediscovering the benefits of 'natural' training, to understanding the physiology behind it all with Dr George Brooks' work in the 90s ('understanding' as best we can for now); to elite Kenyans coaches (Sammy Macharia and others) taking the knowledge, implications and applications back to their own training communities and benefitting their athletes.Back to top
Gennady Suvorov is the national endurance coach to the Russian Federation and has coached many world-class athletes, including Gulnara Galkina, the world record holder and 2008 Olympic Steeplechase Champion and Anna Alminova, the European Indoor 1500m Champion.
At the end of May, 2007 Gennady Suvorov attended the IAAF CECS Level IV Course in Middle and Long Distance at the IAAF Regional Development Centre, RDC, in Moscow. The head lecturer and coach on this course was Peter Thompson and as the IAAF Endurance editor, Peter had already integrated the concepts and practice of the New Interval Training into the course (since 1995). Each day of the two-week Level IV course comprised morning and afternoon two-hour practical sessions, where the lecturers and coaches worked directly with elite junior and senior athletes.
Gennady took an active interest in all aspects of the course and particularly wanted to know more about the active recoveries of the New Interval Training. Two years later, in July 2009, I received a message from the Director of the RDC Moscow, "I should like to express a couple of kind words to you on behalf of Mr. Gennady Suvorov, our participant of the CECS Level IV (MD-LD) in May 2007, where you were the main Leader of the Course.
He has achieved very high success last year at the Olympic Games in Beijing, when his athlete Mrs Gulnara Samitova-Galkina won the 3000 Steeplechase and his other athlete Anna Alminova won the Indoor European 1500m Championships this year and yesterday she became a Champion of Russia in 1500m with a very high performance.
Yesterday, after the end of the Russia National Championships Gennady came up to me and asked me to convey his gratitude to you for your Course. He said that participation in that Course helped him to change his view to many training issues such as the New Interval Training. Now the results are visible."
This was confirmation that the New Interval Training had not only become part of Gennady's coaching practice but perhaps played a contributory role in Gulnara Galkina becoming the first woman to break 9 minutes for the steeplechase, which she achieved in winning the inaugural Olympic women's steeplechase in Beijing, 2008.
Gulnara Galkina has a tremendous range of distance running abilities, as shown by her performances from 800m-5000m:
|800||2:00.29||31st May 2009||3000s/c||8:58.81 WR||17th August 2008|
|1500||4:02.34||12th June 2009||5000||14:33.13||19th July 2008|
|3000||8:42.96||24th May 2008|
Yahya Shrhiri is an international level endurance coach from Morocco who has great practical experience and specialises in the steeplechase.
At the beginning of November, 2008 Yahya Srhiri attended the IAAF CECS Level III Course in Middle and Long Distance at the IAAF Regional Development Centre, RDC, in Cairo. The head lecturer and coach on this course was Peter Thompson and as the IAAF Endurance editor, Peter had already integrated the concepts and practice of the New Interval Training into the course (since 1995). Each day of the two-week Level III course comprised morning and afternoon two-hour practical sessions, where the lecturers and coaches worked directly with elite junior athletes.
Yahya was very interested in the New Interval Training concept and could witness the effects it was having on the athletes on the course in Cairo. When he left he said that he was going to introduce New Interval Training to all his athletes and see what the long-term benefits might be. He kept in e-mail contact and in January 2010 wrote, "I am very happy with this method. For new interval training was very useful for my athletes, and thanks to this methods that my athletes make results of good, e.g. in 3000m steeplechase from 9:06 to 8:44 and in Morocco, I have more than 20 athletes in middle-distance running, including an athlete who improved to 8:28 all this thanks to the new method of new interval training, is for this reason that every year I to thank you immensely. Thank you Peter"