Kibet, Kwambai and Claudio Berardelli

Anyone watching the Rotterdam Marathon this year saw one of the closest finishes in marathon history, with Duncan Kibet nipping James Kwambai in a finish so close that they were both credited with a time of 2:04:27. But, perhaps more important, we witnessed two of the fastest times in history — just third behind Haile Gebrselassie’s two world records at the distance.

With this race a new era has dawned, at least in men’s marathoning. The bar has been raised and, as so often happens, it’s a good bet that runners will rise to the challenge in the coming months and years.

What’s also notable about the two performances in this race is that both men are coached by the same man, Claudio Berardelli. His fellow Italian coach, Renato Canova, is a frequent (and eagerly received) contributor to In this recent thread he provides insight into the training that Kibet and Kwambai are doing. Unfortunately, English is not Canova’s strong point, so understanding his posts takes some effort and reading between the lines. But it’s mental work worth doing.

Jonathan was so curious about how these training concepts translated into his own race goals that he created this basic spreadsheet [updated 4/19/09]. Using the examples that Canova provided as a source for calculations and ratios, the spreadsheet can be used to calculate workout paces for any marathon goal. I refined it to make it a little more user friendly.

I had to rename the extension from “xls” to “doc” in order to upload to WordPress. So you may need to change it back to “xls” in order for it to open in Excel. To use, enter your goal time in the blue box at top left — you actually update it in Excel’s formula bar, with (x, y, z) being hours (x), minutes (y), seconds (z). Your paces will be calculated automatically. In order to understand the sets of workouts (Fundamental, Special, Specific), you should read through the thread linked above. You should read through it anyway, actually, as it’s full of interesting ideas and, unfortunately, lots of unanswered questions.

The usual caveats apply: This was created by a couple of amateur schlubs using information off a message board. So you get what you pay for.

It is amazing to think that these guys are doing workouts like these (4 x 7K intervals?). But they apparently work.

Have fun!

3 Responses

  1. Thanks, Julie and Jonathan, nice work.
    The spreadsheet translates the speeds for us ordinary mortals. Those elite marathoners do their interval recoveries faster than my going-hard 1000m speed! I’m going to take awhile to digest that material. I love how Renato just keeps posting regardless of some of the boneheads on the thread.

    • You’re welcome. Also note that I uploaded a v.2 this morning. The conversion formula from kilometers to miles wasn’t quite exact, which resulted in mile paces that were one or two seconds too fast.

      Renato is amazingly gracious considering the fools he’s forced to suffer on those boards.

  2. Clever. Thanks for that. Maybe 30 sec/100m is doable for me.

    That’s an interesting thread. The training of Kibet and Kwambai is very intense and specific, so I’m guessing the mileage has been paired down to 140k/week to balance this intensity.

    Also, I think Canova admitted this “low” mileage was possible because the two athletes had many years behind them of high mileage. The mileage of the other athletes is variable too (depending on where they are in development, talent, needs) – some are on much higher miles. I can see Kibet and Kwambai reverting to higher miles at some stage in their careers (at least for some period).

    Perhaps a smaller miles version of the Kibet/Kwambai training (100-120k/week) would work well for mere mortals in the peaking phase of a marathon preparation (last 6 weeks or so)?

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