Old School Badass: Todd Williams

When American distance running was going through some lean times in the late Eighties and early-mid Nineties, two of the big shining lights were Bob Kennedy and Todd Williams. Williams grew up in Michigan and ran for the Univ. of Tennessee before becoming a two-time Olympian in the 10,000 meters, as well as collecting scalps all over the place on the road racing scene. How did he do it? See below. I found this great tidbit on Let's Run.

What it takes to run 42:22 at the Gate River Run?By Todd Williams*
Wow! It’s been 12 years since I ran one of the best races of my career and set the American record of 42:22 right here in Jacksonville at the 1995 Gate River Run. I was also fortunate enough -- through lots of hard work -- to win four other Gate River Runs in the 90’s. I retired from competitive racing in 2003 and today the question I am asked most is: how did I run that fast and how did I train to average 4:30 per mile for 9.3 miles? My reply is always the same. I had plenty of talent but I also WORKED EXTREMELY HARD over a long period of time. In this article I’ll give an inside look at the training I did leading up to the 1995 Gate River Run. However, I DO NOT ADVISE THIS TRAINING SCHEDULE for anyone other than a world-class runner. What worked for me won’t necessarily work for you. Now that I’m coaching I know it’s extremely important to train each runner differently. Each runner has a certain mileage and intensity they can handle and must adjust accordingly. Following is an example of my training leading to my record setting performance.

Weekly mileage for the 10 weeks leading up to 1995 Gate River

Run: 110-102-91-86-93-105-105-95-103-106* race week

Long runs for the 10 weeks leading up to 1995 Gate River Run: 12-8-10-10-8-11-12-10-11-10

Specific workouts:
Each week I would do a track workout, hill workout and a faster road run, with some samples of those below. For each workout I ran a 3-4 mile warm-up at a sub 6:00 pace, followed by 6-150m strides and a 2 mile warm-down.

Key workouts:
1. 4xmile@4:15 with 3 minutes recovery jogs between each mile
2. Hills – 10x380 meter hill with jog back down for recovery between each
3. 8 x 1000m @2:45 with 200m jog recovery between each 1000m
4. 1600m – 1200m--800m-400m@:60-:61 pace with 400m jog recovery between each
5. 5 miles HARD road run (4:45 pace) then back to the track for 4 x 800m @2:02 – 2:04 with 400m jog recovery
6. 20 x 200m @ :30 with 200m jog recovery
7. 6 mile HARD road run then back to the track for a 4:08 mile

I ran twice a day every day, with my pace on each run never slower than 6 minutes per mile. At the completion of each afternoon run I would do 8 x 150m strides at mile race pace. The strides helped develop my speed and I left the track each day feeling fast. I was also in the weight room three times a week for circuit training consisting of body weight exercises (push-ups, dips, lunges, pull-ups etc). I took very little rest between each exercise. I wanted to break down my muscles and make them work when they were very fatigued. I liked to duplicate the feel I would have in the later stages of my races.

Even though I only stretched about 10 minutes before and after each run, I always recommend doing whatever you’ve been doing that keeps you healthy . Don’t change what works. As you can see, I didn’t do anything magical. I just ran a consistent program year-in and year-out that got me to the point of handling a higher work load. I was also very fortunate to stay healthy for a majority of my running career.

My advice to all runners at any level is to stick with what works, stay consistent and if you are a beginner or a runner that wants advice, contact me at PUSHTHEPACE.com and I’ll help design a program that best fits your needs.

Best of luck to all of you.

*Todd Williams is a 2-time Olympian and is the only 5-time Gate River Run champion. He set the American 15K record of 42:22 at Gate River Run in 1995, a record which still stands today.

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