Thursday, January 8, 2015

Moneghetti Fartlek

 Steve Moneghetti, for whom the Moneghetti Fartlek is named, is an Australian distance runner who came very directly from great tradition that started with the Pat Clohessy coached group that produced other australian distance legends like Rob de Castella, Shaun Creighton and Simon Doyle.  Steve himself was coached by the great Chris Wardlaw, a 2:11 marathoner. Steve invented this fartlek and did it pretty much every week for years, in fact he still does.  Steve was a bronze medalist at the 1997 IAAF World championships in the marathon. He competed in 4 Olympic Marathons with 3 top 10 finishes and a best of 5th.  His marathon PB is 2:08:16, he ran a half marathon best of 1:00:06.  He is in many ways most notable for his incredible longevity at a very high level. He came onto the seen as an Australian junior national champion in 1982 and soon had his first world class performance, a bronze medal at the 1986 commonwealth games in 2:11:18 and then remained consistently among the worlds best through his 10th place finish at the 2000 Olympic marathon. He first broke 29:00 for 10k when he was 19 years old and last did it when he was 42!  In between there was never a year where he failed to best the mark at least once on the road or track.  Recently he ran a 1:09:43 half marathon which compared to the rest of this may not seem to impressive until you realize the man is now 52 years old!

Steve Moneghetti running on the 6k "Moneghetti Track" around the Lake that he so regularly used for his famous fartlek.

  The Moneghetti Fartlek itself is at once simple to perform and yet beautifully complex in how many systems it stresses and improves.  It takes a mere 20mins to perform and yet it can be one of the hardest all around sessions you do.

   You run 2x90seconds, 4x60seconds, 4x30seconds, 4x15 seconds. Each hard effort is followed by a QUICK recovery jog of the same time.  You should run the 90 second reps at about 5k effort and as the reps get shorter try to run them a bit faster so that by the 15 second reps you are ATTEMPTING to sprint at near max. The max will be easy but making that a sprint is a real job.

 The real key to the workout, and the real devil of the workout, is that the recoveries are a QUICK jog. The quick jog means that in addition to the benefits of a normal anaerobic interval workout, i.e. increased latic tolerance, improved vo2max, increased efficiency at quicker speeds and greater muscular power this workout is also a GREAT aerobic tempo workout.  In fact because you have to flush out the acid from the faster reps there is some evidence that this workout and others like it do more to improve your latic threshold, the single most important marker of fitness for races of 5k to marathon, than regular tempo runs or any other type of training.

  Steve says that he normally would end up averaging around 3:05 per kilometer, 4:57 mile pace, for this session. Roughly around his marathon pace.  That is with the rest included, obviously. It should be noted that this was mixed in to regular 130 mile weeks with 3 OTHER hard efforts.  He also said that his fastest performance he covered exactly 7 kilometers in the 20 minutes.  That is 4:35 mile pace with the RECOVERIES INCLUDED!  My personal best session for this so far is averaging 4:55 per mile.  I generally run between 5:00 and 5:10 per mile when I do it.

  Why do this workout?  It improves your latic threshold greatly which makes it a super session for general fitness for everyone from the miler to the marathoner. It is quick, simple and can be done anywhere; this is my staple workout when I am traveling.  It touches on a number of paces and effort levels which means it really covers a lot in just one session.  It is not so anaerobic that it will break you down or increase the risk of illness or injury if done regularly.  Most importantly it teaches you to recover at a quick pace which in my experience is the single most important thing to teach your body in order to be a fast distance runner.

  When to do this workout? Whenever!  This is one of the few sessions you can be well justified in doing in any and all phases of your training.  It is a jack of all trades workout that fits as well in a base phase as a specific phase and does wonders for the high school runner working towards a mile best or the Olympic hopeful looking to keep his latic threshold and muscular efficiency up well prepping for a 2:12 marathon.

  So the next time you need a great workout to improve your threshold and your efficiency at pretty much all your racing speeds and perhaps time is tight do yourself a favor and dive into a Moneghetti Fartlek.  It won't be the easiest session you ever do but it will likely be one of the best.


Danny said...

Nate what do you like better for 5k training. Aussie quarters or Moneghetti Fartlek? I have an important 5k March 1st.
Thank You said...

Danny- I would suggest you mix in some 5k specific workouts in the last 6 weeks. I should have a blog on those by then. In terms of Mona vs. Aussie I would say if your 5k is on the track and you have a track that is clear this time of year than rock the Aussies if your goal race is on the road than rock the Mona.

danny said...

Thank you Nate. I will gives the Mona an honest shot this week. Tried the Aussies last week and blew up!

I thought I was gonna kill that workout and it killed me. 4's @ 5:00 and the 2's @ 6:31. 6:31 was to fast. Or both were to fast.

After the first 4x400's I could not catch my breath on that middle float. That 200 turned into 2 minutes.

I'm learning a lot said...

Danny- It is VERY easy to blow up on Aussies! I did my first time too. They seem so easy on paper but the reality is a big bloody hard battle. Don't run away after one go. The mona may help you get better at it but also you likely have to adjust your expectations. After you do it a few times you'll work down to where you want to be but not the first go. I was very fit my first go and thought I could run 64/43 or so. MAN WAS I WRONG. I think I survived 5 reps? It may have been less than that. It was very humbling.

Thor said...

This is a GREAT workouts. I rolled this one out today as it's very easy to do on the treadmill. I've been plagued with dead legs (like true dead legs) over the last 6 months, and I know it'll take another several months or more to get rid of it, but this workout really rids some of the junk and allows me to pound away at at least a semblance of what I used to. And it doesn't leave you pounded. Good stuff. A big thanks for doing a blog post on it! said...

Thor- glad you like it.