How They Train #4: David Bailey - My Successful Mile / 1500m Races During the Summer of 1967

Steve Weiler said 1 year ago
This is the fourth edition of ‘How They Train’ in which athletes and/or coaches will post an interesting block of training, provide some context and relevant detail, and avail themselves for an interactive Q & A in the Community Forum. This offers a great opportunity to learn the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of different training. Over time, we plan to host a variety of How They Train segments with friends and colleagues.

Please read through Dr. Bailey's article, register an account if you haven’t already, and post your questions and comments. You can begin posting at any time; Dr. Bailey will check in on Saturday, June 15th to respond to questions. If you wish, you can thank him for his contributions in person at 1,500m Night on Sunday, June 16th, where he will be the check-in marshal.

This post was edited by a Moderator 1 year ago .  
Matthew McInnes said 1 year ago
Dave, you write that you didn't do workouts at a track or time them. How then, did you know what distance you were running or find an area suitable for spikes? Did you simply estimate a loop in a park?

Also curious where the long 600m hill you used for training was in Toronto. I spent many years training there and have a few guesses....

Great summary and thanks for the insights!
Reply #1
David Bailey said 1 year ago
Hi Matthew,

Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. I also enjoyed reading your blog.

Anyways, I just want to clarify that I did do workouts on the track. I just tried to minimize them because early in my career that is where I would be doing my workouts on a regularly basis. With time, I found that it sapped from me the joy that I inherently had for running, something that I consider to be an expression of self.

I think it might be helpful if I were also to try to explain more completely why I did not time the intervals that I ran. One reason was that in my day it was not possible to do it when training alone. Back then, all stopwatches were mechanical and had to be held steady to be accurate. Today, there are all kinds digital devises that can time and record everything.

A fundamental reason for me was that timing intervals became an unwanted mental distraction. I had, and I think most experienced runners have, an internal clock that is amazingly accurate. Dividing my attention to a pre-set time was a waste of mental processing and I think limited me to what I might be able to do on any particular day. Moreover, I just seemed to be able ‘to dial innately to the pace that I wanted’ without needing a stopwatch.

A more important concern was running efficiently with speed. This meant constantly mentally checking for the develop of tension and strain in movement, which will cause diminished speed despite all efforts to push harder, particularly when you start to fatigue. Once it occurs it is almost impossible to reverse. The key is prevention.

Tension usually begins in the hands and spreads up the arms as it gets worse. Once your shoulders are affected, you are “carrying a piano”. Keeping the hands open and relaxed is critical. Putting the tips of your index finger and thumb together can be very helpful.

When you see a great performance, it looks easy. However, this is deceptive. Internally, there is a constant battle to maintain form when mentally and physically things are falling apart.

Regarding the location of my 600 m hill that I used to run, it was a service road between what was then York Downs Golf Course (which I believe is now a park) and Don Valley Golf Course. I had a quick look on Google Maps (satellite view) in the area of Bathurst and Sheppard Avenues and I think that it is still there secluded among the trees that line it. If you find Sandringham Drive (off Bathurst and south of Sheppard), follow it for 2 blocks east to this un-named service road that winds down to Earl Bales Lake.

All the best,
Reply #2
Steve Weiler said 1 year ago
David, thanks again for the time you put into this very thorough recollection. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at 1,500m Night (and for those who don't know, he is often the check-in marshal at our meets).
Reply #3
Matthew McInnes said 1 year ago
Thanks for the reply. I don't know that road but sounds like a great one.

It seems you were running with no watch for good reason. In my present chosen sport (cycling) there is a plethora of available information (GPS, heart race, cadence, power). While there is utility in them, I think over-reliance on those measures can sometimes inhibit development of internal clocks/governors as you say. I do a regular hard group ride with no 'data' on Wednesday mornings and I am constantly mocked for being 'old school' :)
Reply #4
John Lofranco said 1 year ago
Really cool to read this stuff. Running by feel is so important. It doesn't actually matter if you hit splits or not, but we've just decided, it seems, to make that the be-all, end-all. I really like what David and Matt describe here. Thanks for this.
Reply #5


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