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Wilson Kipsang

BROWSE ALL +65 ATHLETES / Wilson Kipsang
Photo: Wilson Kipsang

“[Where I train] there are no vitamins or mineral supplements, no special protein drinks or sports drinks pumped full of electrolytes that you might find in Olympic kiosks and every corner store in other countries” – Wilson Kipsang

“A common fartlek we do in Iten is 20x1min hard with 1min rest, then 20x30sec hard with 30sec rest. The recoveries are still quite fast. We normally cover about 19km.” – Wilson Kipsang

“5 days before the Berlin Marathon, we did 6x1km in 2:45 with 1min rest and it felt very relaxed” – Wilson Kipsang

Coach Renato Canova on: Wilson Kipsang and fellow elite squad marathoners (Geoffrey, Abel Kirui, Emmanuel Mutai, Keitany, Edna, Florence Kiplagat, Rita and Prisca Jeptoo):

They’ve built their “aerobic houses” over the years and don’t require additional low intensity volume, as comparing the advantages to the consumption of the body as a whole, increasing low intensity mileage offers minimal physiological and metabolic improvements for the additional time it puts athletes on their legs. When athletes have successfully built their aerobic houses, the only goal for further improvement is to increase the volume of specific training, he says this can happen by “cancelling a big part of useless volume at lower intensities.”

Wilson still spends about 50% of his volume in regeneration pace, and the above doesn’t imply that everything is fast. It’s the medium speed volume which almost completely disappears. Renato goes on to say these miles are useless and offer not much stimulus and increase damage on muscles, joints and tendons, and also decrease mental ability to handle specific intensity training. All the big Kenyan training groups use this system that Wilson uses, for reasons of choice but also organization since fellow athletes train together.

Within training groups you’ll have 60-100 runners from around the area in different parts of town all meet in a common meeting spot. Athlete will know Tuesday morning is at 7am at a certain meeting spot, and Sunday is at 6:00 going for a long run. Wilson told Renato that the training groups needs to have a more “easy and detectable training schedule” when training becomes more individualized as sessions within the group will vary more, and fellow athletes need to understand what each other’s doing. The senior and most elite runners are basically the leaders of the group, and programs are primarily based around their needs. Renato’s philosophy for his athletes is as follows:

  1. Approaching the Marathon, we need to increase the percentage of Marathon Speed of long run, may be including long variations with more easy recovery, in order to have a consistent part of the session run at the same speed of the competition.
  2. Since this type of training has a higher cost, we need to open the recovery, so it’s not possible to follow the “classic” Kenyan schedule, with one hard session every two days.
  3. The solution, therefore, is to modulate the intensity, maintaining the same type of schedule.

Below is an example of a 2 week schedule, both weeks are similar to each other and after those 2 weeks another 2 week schedule different to the last would be scheduled.

Tuesday : Track for 12-14 km at high intensity
Thursday : Fartlek at LOW intensity (it’s possible to run 30 times 1′ fast at 3′ per km pace alternating with 1′ easy, finishing 1 hour with 17 km, but also with 19 km, and the “schedule” is Always 1 hour fartlek with 30 x 1′ / 1′)
Saturday : 35 km long run fast (95-97% of MP)

Next week :
Tuesday : Track for 9 kms at medium intensity
Thursday : Tough fartlek with 20 x 1’/1′ + 20 x 30″/30″, with fast recovery (in this case, for an athlete as Wilson, about 19 km)
Saturday : Long run 35-40 km at 85% MP (for example, if the previous Sat they run 35 km in 1:52, next Sat they run 40 km in 2:14)

“I use something different because my training is based on individual situations, non on a Group. For that reason, I change the plan every two weeks, looking at the necessities of the athletes at the moment. This is with my best kenyans, but also with Ethiopians I follow with my programs through other coaches (Tsegaye Mekonnen, Tamirat Tola, Dino Sefir, Abdullah Shami and other through Gemedu Degefo, Tsegaye Kebede, Ayele Abshero, Abera Kuma through Tessema Abshero, Brother of Ayele).”