What follows is an excerpt from Running with the Legends by Michael Sandrock. The book details the running lives of 21 runners. The first chapter is about Emil Zatopek. In this section he details his training to break the 5,000 meter record.
In 1954, Zatopek was now 32 and competing for the Dukas Sporting Club. Once more his military superiors called him in.
"Emil," his voice grows low and gruff, imitating an officer. "You have world record 10,000, 15,000, 20,000, 30,000, but no 5,000. 5,000 is Olympic event." The record was 13:58, by Gunder Hagg from Sweden. "Can you get it?"
"Please, allow me to practice in the woods, in the forest, on soft terrain," Zatopek told them, as he had previously when asked to make a record attempt. "Three weeks. I need three weeks. Two weeks very intense productivity, third week, less and less, and then to try for the record."
With time off from his military duties, Zatopek did the hardest training of his life, perhaps the hardest training ever. "I ran every day 100 X 400 meters. In the woods, 400 meters," he whistles, saying "arrhh," and making a face. "Then 150 meters jogging for recovery," he pants, with his tongue hanging out. "50 times in the morning and 50 times in the afternoon. Every day for two weeks. Oh, it was a lot of work." One hundred by 400 meters every day for two weeks-with warm-up and warmdown he was running over 30 miles per day.
Well, those were some serious workouts, eh? Let me cut the story short for you. He broke the record. After a week of rest, he flew to Paris and ran the 5K in 13:57.2, breaking the record that had stood for twelve years. The very next day he flew to Belgium and became the first person to run the 10K in under 29 minutes. Second place was almost two minutes behind him.
This coming year of 2012 finds me getting serious about running hard and seeing what my limits are. For instance, I always felt like I needed a lot of time off to rest between runs. I am pushing back on that right now. Last week I ran 7 days in a row of 10 miles mostly working on form/posture. Looking forward, I took the Runner's Festive challenge of running 200K between the 10 days of Christmas eve to New Years Day. Check it out. 200K is the longest distance to which you can commit. They have distances as short as 50K(31 miles.) For my commitment that's just 20K(12.5 miles) a day, but it will be more than I have run in a row, ever. Guess it's time to load up on UltraRunner Podcast, which you should totally check out. Very informative and entertaining. These guys talk to legends, elites, and experts about history, strategy and beer.
In the meantime, Do you want some? Well, then GET SOME!