Training with Olympic Gold Medalist William Tanui and Fast Track Recruiting


 Want to train like an Olympic Gold Medalist from Kenya? If so, William Tanui has provided Fast Track Recruiting with unmatched access to the inside through an open discussion about how he trained. Below is a summary of the Kenyan training philosophy and practices following the conclusion of their outdoor season.  

NOTE: William Tanui was the 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 800m and placed 5th in the 1500m at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.  Tanui has PR’s of 1:43.30 in the 800m, 3:30.58 in the 1500m and 3:50.57 in the Mile.

Phase I – rest

You need to fully recover, both mentally physically, from your previous season. I suggest a complete shutdown. Use this time to ensure that you are completely recovered and fully prepared to resume training.

Editor's Note: Kenyan runners place a high premium on rest - "complete rest". It is imperative that you incorporate this phase into your summer training as it is equally as important. In the US system, we are often extremely impatient and rush back to training and quality running way too quickly. 

Phase II – General Preparation - During this phase, your focus should be on leisurely low-end aerobic work. I suggest focusing on very easy running and cross training during this phase – swimming, biking and strength training. Everything should be performed at a low intensity. In the prime of my career, I would perform five two-hour sessions per week. I would advise that you start with a much lower goal duration.                                                                                                                                                                    

Editor's Note - The Kenyans use this time to develop a massive aerobic base with low-intensity work. Many of the top collegiate programs loosely adhere to this same philosophy as most good programs avoid quality work as they ascend to full volume. 

Phase III – Early Season

During this phase, we start to increase the intensity. At this point, you should start doubling when appropriate. You should focus on high-end aerobic work during this phase through progression runs, runs at a steady pace and hilly runs ( Editor's Note - read Run With The Buffaloes or research old-school Arkansas training).  This is a great time to focus on hill repeats to strengthen your quads. We also perform two days of strength work a week to strengthen our arms for the push to the finish line.

Phase IV – Late Season

This phase will be the most intense period of your training. We do traditional interval work two days a week, if not racing. We do a great deal of ladder work, often including short speed reps toward the end of the session. We also did a fartlek session once a week in a wide open field where the focus was on very fast running.

Look for future articles from William Tanui about coaching, international recruiting and other subjects related to running and track and field.

See how 2017 World Championship 1500m FInalist, Johnny Gregorek trained over the summer while in college here: