Paul Tergat is undisputedly one of the most accomplished distance runners of all time. For five years during the latter part of the 1990s he was undefeated in the World Cross Country Championships. He set world records at 10,000m, half marathon and marathon. He is renowned for his dedication and his motivation.
One of Paul Tergat’s 10k training sessions (reportedly used before breaking the 10,000m record) is very simple to explain, but not so easy to do!
It’s a very versatile session, with no requirement of running track, stop watch, or training partners.
It is simply this: after warm up, run alternatively 30 seconds hard and 30 seconds slow.
Why no running track? You can do this anywhere: track, trail, road, hills, flat, grass, etc.
Why, no stop watch? Because it’s easy to guess the rep times, 45 strides (90 steps) will be about right for most runners; just keep counting them.
Why no training partners? Because you need to be doing this at your own speed and in isolation.
How far should you run? According to Toby Tanser, Paul Tergat ran 10k like this, for the rest of us anything between 20 and 40 minutes will be fine, but there are no rules.
Speed? It depends on the runner, the total distance, and of course the terrain; a hard speed is all you need to know.
Obviously, this is a great physical training session, but why is it so good for the mind too?
Try it and you’ll find out. Counting strides continuously for 30 minutes focusses the mind completely on your running. You won’t be distracted by your work, your love-life, or what’s for dinner. It’s a time for complete concentration on your running: stride length, foot plant, arm action, posture, you name it. If you lose count, you’ve lost focus.
You will notice that running this session over hills is very different to running it on the flat. Flat, or even downhill running will develop speed and specifically, leg speed. Running these reps up a long hill will have you gasping for air. Run it over an undulating route and you’ll get a real sense of how your body works differently according to gradient; in particular during the 30 second recoveries.
It’s a great all-round session that has endless options for tinkering with according to your running and the type of strength you want to build. Try it, play around with it, and see how it builds you into a stronger runner.
For those runners (and anyone with an interest in fitness and exercise) who really want to develop their mental strength to a high degree we highly recommended the sports performance hypnosis audios available from the Hypnosis Downloads site; we’re very pleased to be associated with Uncommon Knowledge and their excellent products and have been for many years.