Talkback: Emil Zatopek: The Greatest Champion?

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17/05/2012 at 04:00

Sorry, is that one hundred times around a 400m track at less than 72 seconds per lap? Within four hours? In training? Is this a joke or a mistake? Flippin' 'eck!

 Is there anyone in Britain that could do that as a one-off today? A bottle of pop says the isn't!

17/05/2012 at 05:41

Fantastic distance runner.

17/05/2012 at 06:42
Great article love these kind. More please.
17/05/2012 at 09:51

Those interested in another story which he was a part of should check out the book "The Ghost Runner: The Tradgedy of the Man they couldnt stop" by Bill Jones.....


Dr Robert - I think they mean 72 seconds per 400m lap, followed by a 200m jog, one hundred times

17/05/2012 at 20:40

Read 'Zatopek, Zatopek, Zatopek' by Bob Phillips from 2002.

17/05/2012 at 20:42

Lasse Viren came closest in  1976 to emulating Zatopek 1952 treble, when he won Gold in 5000m. 10,000m then finished a brave 5th in the Marathon.

17/05/2012 at 21:05

Zatopek, Zatopek, Zatopek is an reall good read.  Great runner and a great man by all accounts.

Blisters    pirate
18/05/2012 at 00:59

Was it Steve Jones who was leading the Olympic Marathon and Zatopec was in the lead group, having a chat? (!) He said that this was his first marathon race and were they going fast enough. I think it was Jones who said, that if he felt he could go faster, then he should. Zatopek said he was bored, and upped the pace to win it.

(Names and events may be incorrect, but the story's a good one)

18/05/2012 at 05:56

It was Jim Peters mate. Steve Jones a bit later mid 1980s

18/05/2012 at 18:44

100 x  400 metre intervals is insane.

Putting aside the extraordinary level of fitness needed, the mental strength required to complete such a session (especially as he must have done it on his own) is "off the scale". Can you imagine completing say 20 of those intervals, feeling the pain and then realising you've got another 80 to go !

Got to be the "toughest" runner of all time and always will be one of the all-time greats.

I agree with Birkmyre. A really great article and these Olympic related stories have been far and away the best thing in the magazine in recent months. I thought the ones on Kelly Holmes and John Carlos/Tommie Smith were also particularly good.

18/05/2012 at 21:20

DavidJones39: Good to hear from you again. Agreed these are what should be in a running magazine. 'The Guardian' has a series of  some classic Olympic Moments currently. 

Got Jim Peters book 'In the long run' in cupboard. Haven't read it in ages.

 I also remember ( oh no here we go again) there was a classic interview with Emil Zatopek in the August 1985edition of  'Running' Magazine.

18/05/2012 at 21:21

I used to do 10 x 400m and thought I'd trained hard on track with that session...

19/05/2012 at 07:01

Just read that Zatopeks standard training session was 20 x 200m; 40 x 400m; 20 x 200m. This was pretty much all the type of training he did. All like this, all on the track. Everyday. 

So, now that we have defined the meaning of boredom....

19/05/2012 at 10:43

Glad this article is getting some decent comments. It certainly deserves some .

20/05/2012 at 12:40

That's interesting Dreamtwister/RicF, I'd heard the "100 x 400m intervals" story before and it's one of those stories that's so incredible  I really hoped it was true !

Even if the reality was a little less extreme, that is still an incredible training regime (It'd be a brave coach who suggested something similar today...). It certainly worked for him, but he must have been incredibly injury resilient.

Hi Birkmyre - always good to read your posts. 

20/05/2012 at 15:20

I believe he also did a lot of training in heavy army boots, and chopped down trees to build up his strength.

20/05/2012 at 17:14

And did half squats with his wife on his shoulders. I assume she wasn't 18 stone but then again I doubt it would have made much difference.

20/05/2012 at 21:41

His wife was the Olympic javelin champion - so she must have been fairly "well built" !

21/05/2012 at 05:54

David: That is certainly cross training with a difference eh.

23/05/2012 at 06:12

The greatest distance runner ever ?

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