Over the years that I’ve been into endurance sports, I’ve looked for useful information wherever I can find it with regards to sports physiology, nutrition, training methods, general health, and things related to how the endurance athlete’s body works and how to help it work and perform better. Among those books was Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin and Peter Coe. ©1997.
This book was the first good book that I came across early in my running days that has helped me immensely in providing general and specific guidance in my training, and helped me understand a lot of the general physiology that is relevant to distance running and distance sports in general. It may be the one book that I would most recommend to any endurance athlete looking to improve their understanding of exercise physiology and effective training methods. The book is written by a highly reputable physiologist (David Martin) and a world class coach (Peter Coe, who also happened to be the father and coach of world class runner and former world-record holder Sebastian Coe).
The book is a great resource that outlines the principles of what is commonly referred to as multi-paced training, and basically advocates for including most or all intensities throughout the training cycle, but varying the emphasis and volume. Multi-paced training operates on the principle that an athlete should never totally neglect any aspect of his or her fitness, because doing so can diminish total fitness development and increase risk of injury by making a return to higher intensities more foreign to the body if neglected for months at a time, as some approaches to training may advocate. And, multi-paced training, because of its higher average intensity, is accompanied by a reduction in total training volume, which also can help reduce the risk of injury as well as help keep a balanced lifestyle for anyone who’s not a professional athlete with nothing to do but train.
Clearly a book focused only on middle- and long-distance running, the principles outlined in the book are highly relevant to the sport of cycling, and being the methods used by a number of world class runners and world record holders, clearly the principles outlined in the book are capable of producing great performances. If anything, the training approach used by Sebastian Coe to win multiple Olympic medals and run the longest standing world record in track and field until it was broken in 1997 by Kenyan Wilson Kipketer, who also employed multi-paced training methods.