In recent years, Norway has taken the leap as one of the dominant nations in middle- and long-distance running. Of course, the Ingebrigtsen brothers have had a large part of the credit for this, but also several other Norwegian runners (for example Grøvdal, Nordstad Moen, Nordås, Mezngi) are at the top level of European running. How can a small country in the north of Europe, mainly known for snow, oil and mountains, be so good at running? We have taken a deep look at the training carried out by the Norwegians, and listed up some points which we believe are the reason for their progress!
A LOT of running
The first thing we find when we delve into the training of the best Norwegian runners is that they do a very high amount of training. Jakob Ingebrigsten, who primarily is a 1500 meter runner, runs over 180 km every week. This is a very high volume for being a 1500 meter runner, and is also an explanation for why he performs so well at the longer distances. Running around 180 km a week seems to be some kind of magical limit for many of the best track runners in Norway, however marathon runner Sondre Nordstad Moen (who has held the European record of 2:05:48) can often run up to 220 km or more per week.
This is probably the most prominent factor in Norway's success in recent years. The Ingebrigtsen brothers have almost revolutionized the running world with their "double threshold"-days. However, this is something that has been done in Norway for quite some time. Already at the start of the 2000s, the well-known Norwegian runner Marius Bakken trained in this way with great success. In short, these "double threshold"-days mean that you run two interval sessions on the same day. The important thing here is that the intensity does not become too great (hence the threshold), so that you can complete these days without risking injuries or over-training. Most runners use tools such as a lactate meter to control their intensity. These "double threshold"-days have in many ways become the symbol of Jakob Ingebrigtsen's success, and this is something he does twice a week throughout the period of base training.
Filip and Henrik Ingebrigtsen at training. Photo: Chell Hill
Hill training is also a strong component for the progress of the Norwegian runners. During the base training, the Ingebrigtsen brothers runs a hill session every week which consists of 20x200 meters uphill, with the break being easy jog down the hill again. This is the hardest session of the week for them, and it's the only session where they are allowed to go above threshold. This 20x200 meter session is the most common hill training to do in Norway, however some Norwegian runners use a slightly different variant of hill training where they run even shorter intervals (often only 60-80 meters), but where the intensity is absolutely max and the breaks are longer. This can also be seen as a form of specific strength training.
There is no doubt that the Norwegian runners have found their "golden path" to success, and it will be exciting to see if they can continue their development, or if other nations can close the gap in the future.
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Top photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix