Specificity of training and its relation to the performance of distance runners
AffiliationUniversity of Otago
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AbstractValidated six-month retrospective questionnaires were completed by 119 female and 234 male coached distance runners (59% compliance) for a descriptive study of relationships between specificity of training and best performance in a summer season. Runners were aged 26 +/- 10 y (mean +/- SD), specialising in distances from 800 m to the marathon, with seasonal best paces of 82 +/- 7% of sex- and age-group world records. They reported typical weekly durations of interval and strength training, and typical weekly durations and paces of moderate and hard continuous running, for build-up, precompetition, competition, and postcompetition phases of the season. The training programs showed some evidence of specificity, especially for runners preparing for longer events. A potentially beneficial effect of specificity was evident in a significant (p < 0.01) correlation between performance and seasonal mean weekly duration of moderate continuous running for runners specialising in longer distances (r = 0.29). The only other significant correlates of performance were seasonal mean relative training paces of moderate (r = -0.18) and hard (r = -0.42) continuous running, which exemplified detrimental effects of specificity for most runners. Thus, the training of better runners is not characterised strongly by greater specificity.
CitationHewson DJ, Hopkins WG (1996) 'Specificity of training and its relation to the performance of distance runners', International Journal of Sports Medicine, 17 (3), pp.199-204.
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