Int J Sports Med 1996; 17(3): 199-204
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-972832
Physiology and Biochemistry

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Specificity of Training and its Relation to the Performance of Distance Runners

D. J. Hewson, W. G. Hopkins
  • Department of Physiology and School of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
09 March 2007 (online)

Validated six-month retrospective questionnaires were completed by 119 female and 234 male coached distance runners (59 % compliance) for a descriptive study of relationships between specificity of training and best performance in a summer season. Runners were aged 26 ± 10 y (mean ± SD), specialising in distances from 800 m to the marathon, with seasonal best paces of 82 ± 7 % of sex- and age-group world records. They reported typical weekly durations of interval and strength training, and typical weekly durations and paces of moderate and hard continuous running, for build-up, precompetition, competition, and postcompetition phases of the season. The training programs showed some evidence of specificity, especially for runners preparing for longer events. A potentially beneficial effect of specificity was evident in a significant (p < 0.01) correlation between performance and seasonal mean weekly duration of moderate continuous running for runners specialising in longer distances (r = 0.29). The only other significant correlates of performance were seasonal mean relative training paces of moderate (r = - 0.18) and hard (r = - 0.42) continuous running, which exemplified detrimental effects of specificity for most runners. Thus, the training of better runners is not characterised strongly by greater specificity.