Compiled by Corey Keesling
Erik Nedeau is currently the head track and cross country coach for Amherst College. He recently won the 800 meters at the 2005 USATF New England Indoor Championships by running 1:53. His past accomplishments include a 7th place finish at the 1992 Olympic trials in the 800 meter run, 4th place in the 1500 meters at the 1996 Olympic trials, and just missing the finals in the 1500 meters at the 2004 Olympic trials. He currently runs for New Balance.
With permission from Erik Nedeau, the following is taken from a question and answer session he did for New Balance (www.newbalance.com). This information sheds some light on 1500 meter training and what it takes for Erik to commonly run in the 3:40’s for 1500 meters. The original session was quite detailed so only 1500 meter related training questions are below.
1.) Tell us a little about the overall preparation for a mile/1500m – what is the overall plan and general philosophy and what do you want to achieve.
At this stage of my running / racing, my main goal is to stay healthy, have fun with the racing and have it be a part of what I do as opposed to being everything that I do. My coaching is my primary focus, and I fit in my training / racing to coincide with that. My preparation for training, and the plan/philosophy for training is to first, develop a good base – combination of running, cross training, lifting and core work and then, secondly, start to incorporate workouts into the training – hills and longer workouts initially and then getting into shorter workouts with focus on specific pace as opposed to running for time. Unlike some runners who have a specific focus, I am in the mindset that I take it as it comes. Rather then get to far ahead of myself, or focus to far in the future, I just train and race for the now. I want to stay healthy and have fun with my racing and training. It would be nice to return to Outdoor nationals this summer and see what I can do, but will wait and see if that happens. I feel that I am really enjoying myself, and see to have found that competitive edge again so who knows what will happen.
2.) How much mileage did you do per week?
This winter, I have been averaging mid-40’s with a couple of weeks in the 50 mile range and other weeks in the low 40 range – this is for 6 days as I take a day off each week. In the fall, I was between 50-60, but rarely any higher then 60. When the snow melts and trails become clear again, then I will get back to the 50-60 mile range as the terrain is softer and it is more enjoyable to me, to be able to run in the woods. I have never been much of a high mileage runner, as I have found that as I have tried to do a lot, I have gotten hurt. I would rather run a little less mileage, maybe place a little more emphasis on the quality of what I do, and be able to run as opposed to being hurt and not be able to. I have found that when I got up to 70, 80, 90 miles that I would feel great doing it but would quickly get hurt, and have been much more successful with less mileage. More is not always better, and many times less is actually more! I do usually bike for 30 minutes 3-5 times a week, and also try to XC ski occasionally, so the cross training actually adds to what I would do in the week without adding impact and pounding.
3.) What are your key mile workouts?
SHORT REST WORKOUTS. I think that everyone has a few favorite workouts, and certain things that point out the training is heading in the right direction and you are ready for some good races. I have always been fortunate to have a decent amount of speed, so the last few years I have tried to spend more focus on the mental approach and on strength – longer workouts that require more thought and focus and build strength. I try to do workouts that are 5k worth of intervals, and usually at paces that I would like to run for 3k or 5k, and then will have short rest between intervals. I think that for me, the key is the short rest – doing a longer interval then taking a short rest and running fast. My favorite workout that I have done or do, is 4 x 400 with 20 sec rest, trying to hit all the 400’s under 60, then taking a 5 minute break and running an 800 as fast as I can. This is usually a decent indicator that things are going well for me.
4.) What is a typical training week when training for the mile? (Please give a sample week).
Again, it depends on the point of the season, and also the focus of it. This winter, my week would be running around 45 miles with a day off – normally the day off would be on Saturdays as it can be tough to wake up super early to get a run in before heading to the meet with the team. I will do 2 workouts during the week, normally spaced with 2 days in between and both will be quality workouts. I will do some runs or workouts based on the weather, as I have a bit of flexibility with my own training that I can make adjustments and do a longer run on a nice day, and maybe a workout on a day that is really crappy because of snow. To a degree I could be considered a fair weather runner for that, but I do run outside for my warm-up and cool down, and only one time have I gone on a treadmill – will probably not go on it again. I do not mind the cold or the winter weather and believe that it makes you tougher for having gone against it.
For me, a lot of what I do depends on how I feel, but without a race coming up:
AM Bike 30 minute and PM 7-10 and drills
AM Workout on our 155m pieced together track. 3 x 800 (3k pace) 45 sec rest 400 (62-64) with a lap between, 2 x 400 (60-62) with short rest and maybe 2-3 X Quick Lap
PM – sometimes will get back on the bike for 30 min
AM – 30 min Bike
PM – 6-10
5-7 Quick run followed by 30 minutes on the bike (all one continuous effort)
AM – Workout 2 x (600 (136) 30 sec rest 400(60) 30 sec rest 200(28) 2-3 laps between, 4 x 400 with 1:00 rest alternating 66’s and 60’s (3k/milepace) and a 2 x Lap to finish
PM – maybe bike for 30 minutes
Sat – normally off
Sun – 9-12 and will get back out and ski or snowshoe at some point in the afternoon – for fun as opposed to being for training, but it still makes you strong.
5.) Can you describe your taper period? When did it start? How much reduction in mileage peer week etc?
I have less of a taper period now then I used to because I really only race one season. I will drop the mileage back, and will usually cut out the cross training that I do, and the workouts that I am doing will start to get considerably shorter but faster. If I have been running 45-60 miles, then I will bring it down to 30-40 and pick up the intensity of the mileage. Whenever I am trying to be sharpest and tapered for, I will start dropping things 2-3 weeks in advance with the biggest drop occurring about a 7-10 days out from the goal race. I can tell that things are working properly when I feel an increase in energy and a feeling of guilt associated with runs and workouts – feeling like I should be doing more despite knowing that what I am doing is for a specific reason.
6). What is your warm-up before a mile race?
My typical warm-up before a race, or a workout is the same – try to go around 20 minutes for a run, stretch then do strides and various drills. The drills are to get loose but also to help alleviate nervousness.
7). Did you follow any special diet during your training?
I have never been a person who was specific about what he eats – I eat pretty much whatever. I eat cereal and juice for breakfast; for lunch I walk my dog and have a sandwich; and at dinner I will usually eat a salad and then whatever we make for dinner. I am not opposed to going out and eating hot wings or nachos, having a few beers after a race, nor having a little too much chocolate that my wife brings home from school
8). What did you eat on the morning of the race?
The morning of a race I will usually have toast or a bagel, a banana and some cereal or oatmeal. Exactly what I eat, and how much, will depend on when the race is. If it is earlier in the day, then I would probably eat less, while if the race is later then I will eat more with the thinking that it would be my main meal before the race and I might grab a snack before the race.
Thank you to Erik Nedeau for his time and willingness to share his information with the Cape Cod Athletic Club.