How to Achieve Peak Performance in Endurance Running like Eliud Kipchoge - Insights for Indian Athletes

How to Achieve Peak Performance in Endurance Running like Eliud Kipchoge - Insights for Indian Athletes

Eliud Kipchoge, the renowned Kenyan marathon runner, has set new standards in the world of endurance running. To unlock similar success, many athletes often make the mistake of focusing on their anaerobic threshold (AT) rather than their aerobic threshold (AeT) when preparing for events lasting over an hour.


Elite athletes, including Kipchoge, follow a polarised training regime, dedicating the majority of their mileage to low-intensity training within their aerobic threshold. According to studies on Training Characteristics of World-Class Distance Runners, they typically train 11-14 times per week, with 80% of their total running distance performed at low intensity in zone 1-2 and the remaining 20% at mid to high intensity in zone 3-5. This approach helps build an athlete's aerobic capacity and running economy while allowing ample time for recovery before intense workouts.


Eliud Kipchoge's training regimen demonstrates a classic pyramidal intensity distribution. During his marathon training, he alternates between easy, medium, and hard days, including a long run every two weeks. At training camp, he spends around 82-84% of his time at very low intensity, maintaining an "easy run" pace of about 8:00 per mile, in contrast to his marathon pace of 4:35 per mile. He dedicates about 9-10% of his training to moderate intensity and 7-8% to very high intensity, which allows him to build his cardiovascular system and be well-rested for high-intensity track sessions and long runs.


For those aiming to improve their race performance, it's essential to prioritise aerobic capacity. Many participants in half marathons, full marathons, triathlons, or obstacle races train differently, with a focus on long runs at medium to high intensity. However, the key lies in maximising aerobic adaptations.


The human cardiovascular system relies on three energy pathways: anaerobic (a-lactic and lactic) and aerobic. For endurance athletes, the goal is to strengthen the aerobic system, which efficiently burns fat for energy and enables sustained performance. The aerobic threshold is crucial as it marks the point where the body starts using both fat and carbohydrates for fuel. Beyond that, the lactate threshold is reached, leading to the use of depletable anaerobic energy sources and eventual fatigue.


To train for peak endurance performance, Indian athletes can follow these strategies:


1. Focus on Zone 1 Cardio: Prioritise training within the aerobic threshold, which may involve walking or jogging at a comfortable pace.


2. Maintain Low Heart Rate During Long Runs: Instead of pushing for fast pace, concentrate on keeping your heart rate low during extended training sessions.


3. Include High-Intensity Workouts: Dedicate around 10-15% of your training to high-intensity exercises, which can improve your VO2 max and elevate your zone 1 heart rate.


By following these principles and adopting a pyramidal intensity distribution in your training, like Kipchoge does, you can enhance your aerobic capacity and achieve peak performance in endurance running. Just like Eliud Kipchoge's remarkable achievements, you can excel in your running endeavours and leave a lasting impact in the Indian running community.

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