Fourth, Newton did not train with a coach. In this he really had no choice, because he certainly knew more about running than did anyone else. Today, to my knowledge, the majority of elite runners train under coaches, which suggests that they find this practice beneficial.
In the following section I have added four additional training rules to correct these four omissions in Newton’s rules of training. I have also added two additional rules that Newton almost certainly followed, although he did not specifically mention them. Finally, I have revised Rule #3 to bring it into line with modem thinking, as explained next.
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Since Newton’s era, training has evolved considerably, with more emphasis placed on the need for speed training, or speed work. The first reference I have found to an athlete who regularly performed speed training was made by Shrubb (1910). At least twice a week, Shrubb ran at close to race pace for distances from 2 to 10 miles. Hannes Kolehmainen probably also performed speed training and Has been credited as one of the first runners to practice speed play (also called fartlek:), in which the athlete runs fast for varying distances, usually on the road or across country (Doherty, 1964). Kolehmainen also probably influenced the next great Finnish runner, Paavo Nurmi, to include speed work in his training. As described in post 8, Nurmi considered his early years of training less than optimum because he had not included sufficient speed training. He considered this to be the explanation why he remained a “slow trudger” until 1924, when he first included regular speed-training sessions.
Nurmi’s principal method of speed training was interval repeats, first of 80 to 120 m and later of 400 to 600 m. This type of training was subsequently refined independently by the German team of physiologist Dr. Hans Reindell and coach and professor Woldemar Gerschler (Burfoot, 1981a; Doherty, 1964;Pirie, 1961) and by Franz Stampfl, British coach of Roger Bannister (Lenton, 1983a; Stampfl, 1955). Bannister used solely interval training to break the 4-minute mile barrier, and Zatopek also used this technique to achieve his unique greatness.
The wide acceptance of speed work indicates that it is effective and is essential for elite runners. But this should not detract from Newton’s observation that the greatest performance improvements occur, at least initially, after the athlete has developed a strong endurance base through long-slow-distance training. I feel that speed work should be approached with extreme caution, preferably with the help of a knowledgeable coach.