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Coach Alberto Salazar

BROWSE ALL +65 ATHLETES / Coach Alberto Salazar

Editors note: putting aside charges against Nike Oregon Project, here is an overview into some of Salazar’s coaching methods/beliefs.

“All of us have heard of Arthur Lydiard. He was a revolutionary coach; a great coach. But my training system is very different and my belief is that the human body likes continuity. It responds well to repetitions.”
Alberto Salazar on sprint speed development for distance runners
“Here’s how to think of it… If Mo never does any sprint training, he may only run 51.5 for 400m. With good speed training, he runs 49.5. If 13:00 is 62.5, that means he will be working at 80% of his top end rather than 83%. Only 3%, but at his level, that is a huge difference.”
800m/Milers = VERY important. Year around training, with a good amount in the base season. This will be a direct effect on performance, training.
5k/10k = STILL important – I wouldn’t be writing this chapter if Mo was beatable over the last 2 years. Visit frequently in base/prep season, with still an importance placed on mileage/longer workouts. This will AID most of the training.
HM = Somewhat important – This can be used as a weekly training, with most of the benefits being in mechanical efficiency.
Marathon = Can be useful – This type of training will increase mechanical efficiency and can be used as “strength” training for longer workouts. Weekly at most. Metabolic efficiency is king, which is mileage, tempos, long workouts.
“If you learn to run like a sprinter, you’ll be a great distance runner”

Types of Workouts:
> 4-6 x 80m-100m sprints on track – Full Recovery
> Attaching fast intervals at the end of a longer workout (4 x mile + 5′ + 2 x 300m @ 800m or faster)
> Hill Sprints – 6-10 x 15sec of hill sprints up a 12-15% grade. recovery – 1’30 – 2 mins
> Bounding – either uphill or flat – 4 x 60 meters
> Plyometrics – I would use one that uses the stretch-shorting cycle so hops or depth jumps – Be careful with depth jumps as the height shouldn’t be high. The quickest ground reaction time is the goal.

Alberto Salazar’s methods to speed:
Apart from ‘pure speed’ development and maintenance, Salazar has athletes work on their 800/1500 abilities throughout the year and away from races. “You won’t get burned out [by doing speed work through the year; you will get burned out if you are running all out as fast as you can [frequently]”. Thus these session are controlled fast running, rather than all out efforts. Mo and Galen have been known to do short and fast track work throughout stages of training. Including 15x200m in 28sec, most probably often more at cruising pace.

Alberto Salazar on strength training:
His athletes tend to have regimes which work at high weights and low reps in exercises that work on force production. Again linking up to his emphasis on being able to generate strong contractions to generate force to the ground in running.

Alberto Salazar’s basic training methods:
He molds his athletes around a structure of 2x20week macrocycles. Leading into each macrocycle is a build-up block of 3-4 weeks, and after each macrocycle during mid-year and end-year athletes take 2-3 weeks rest, most of it spent away from running. By having 2 macro cycles a year he believes his athletes can learn more, keep ticking over, and be more fresh for what lies ahead. He’s a firm believer of 2 particular ‘peaking periods within a year. 
 He also has athletes on a regular basis repeat the same workout to monitor performance, and boost their confidence close to race time when they’re looking good.
Salazar generally implements the following outline for the majority of the year (executing final 6-7 specific weeks of each macrocycle):
  1. One short speed session per week year round
  2. One longer workout per week
  3. One medium interval workout every other week
  4. One long run once per week

Alberto Salazar on ‘toughness’:

“You’ve got to have the mental toughness and confidence in yourself where you believe that you can take those days off and you can recovery and you can run great” “A lot of what we see in athletes that just train all the time and never give themselves adequate recovery is often portrayed as toughness. What I’ve realized over the years is it really is a weakness. It’s an insecurity that you’re not good enough to recovery like other athletes: I’m not good enough to do that; I need to keep training; I can’t take time off; I can’t take easy days.”

“Everyday, runners seek instant improvement and subscribe to get-fit-quick approaches to training that guarantee they’ll be in the best shape of their life in 10 weeks or less. Sorry folks, but it just doesn’t work that way in distance running.”