Micheal Johnson tells Marlon Devonish to train properly.

Micheal Johnson commentating for the BBC (UK terrestrial channel), observed that Marlon Devonish needed more speed endurance to run faster. Collin Jackson argues that this is not the case, Devonish was well conditioned and in good shape and could run 20.30 or faster. Devonish’s coach phones Jackson to complain about Johnson’s comments. Jackson defends Devonish and his coach. Johnson stick’s to his guns and is proven right when Devonish is unable to respond in the 200m final; leaving Jackson to eat “humble pie”.

Forward to the next day Devonish comes to the studio to challenge Johnson meekly questioning the 400 and 200m WR holder. Devonish half challenges half rebukes Johnson. Johnson replies with a question on the lines of “How did you feel?” Cut a long story short Devonish explains his coaches misinterpretation of speed endurance wait for it…sessions with the local 400m group for conditioning , that was the speed endurance assigned to Devonish. Johnson then explains the definition of speed endurance which fits in nicely with CF and Minnea and Borzov definition.

In short many coaches seem not to even understand what constitutes speed endurance. To make things even more embarrasing Collin Jackson eats even more humble/shit pie by informing Johnson that he never knew this and had learnt something new.
If Collin Jackosn doesn’t know what speed endurance is; then what chance do the plebish coaches of the UK have? Shocking…

heck out the exchange on the following link http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/athletics/default.stm

click on Replay: “Gavaert storms to second gold”

Then on the right of media player that opens up you will see:

“Devonish takes advice from Johnson”

Watch and enjoy, the full exchange has been edited so looses a bit of the edge.

What does the forum think?

How could Mr Devonish accomplish this?

I watched it and was thinking of posting it here, but I couldn’t have described it better!

Damn that is scary. Someone get those guys a copy of Winckler’s charts.

Niko, I was genuinely shocked with Devonish. His understanding is woefull. To think that these guys will invariably become mentors or caoches after retirement. I must say that out of the retired athletes who know their stuff in the UK, Daley Thompson seems to be the man.

Come and meet your average sprint coach in the UK, you would be bemused by their methods. They do need Winkler charts (lets not forget that Winckler got that chart from the man himself…CF from what I understand).

Ha, 95% of the time johnson is right. Its just hes such an arrogant prick the way he goes about telling people.

Two world records can really go up into your head…

He’s telling it right this time. If the execution is perfect and you die at the end, speed endurance is lacking!
Not only that, MJ made it clear that doing 400m work won’t do it for you (exactly the point I’ve made over and over) IT MUST BE SPECIFIC TO THE SPEED YOU MUST GO! All the endurance in the world at 9mps won’t help you maintain at over 11mps.
What wasn’t mentioned was Marlon’s reasoning about the Commonwealth Games. They were in March, just about a week beyond the normal indor season end! Why would such a prolonged build-up be needed unless you used a long-to-short schedule that went all the way back to crawling speed and only dug out of a hole at the last minute, months later. Long to Short can still be used but you don’t go all the way back to where you started, only part way back and advance from there. Check the plans on Vancouver 2004.
Last year, there was a prolonged arguement about how MJ prepared for his 400s suggesting he spent ages slogging through pedestrian 200s. How does this interview reconcile with that? If you run 19.32, you’re doing SOMETHING pretty f**king fast in practice.

Interesting interview. Based on what I have heard and seen it fits the bill. In a similar scenario I have seen 400m runners doing 800/1500m work outs to help them improve. The no pain no gain philosophy is ingrained in british sprinting culture.

I would be interested to see how much Marlon can improve with better quality training. Perhaps he can really start to go places. Also from this interview i got the impression that MJ was actually going to be helping him in this respect… any news on this?

Isn’t Christie a mentor for the 400m runners? Where do you work martn?

I was thinking the same when i watched this interview. I think there was more emphasis on the ‘speed maker’ sessions, Johnson did, than is let on.

From what i understand they are flying sprints off of 40m run in’s, something like:


Seems fairly specific to me (speed wise).

I have seen this session placed at the end of a short speed endurance session which complies with what Johnson said in the interview. Is such programming effective? I can’t see the logic behind it (running high-to-max speed when fatiqued = slowness & injury risk)?

I think another session Johnson used was: 50m walk-50m jog-50m sprint x 4, although the speeds i imagine this was ran at makes me think it was more specific to the 400m, particulalry back straight speed.

Finally in the interview both Johnson and Devonish both put a lot of emphasis on the need to run 200m races leading into a championship and the lack of races Devonish could find. Whilst this is undoutably true they both seem to have failed to see that these can be simulated in training as Special Endurance sessions!


Devonish’s coach also coaches Tim Benjamin and MLF. Poor old Tim is always injured, ?too much lactate work, and we all know the state of MLF.

There was a recent post invloving my-self and TC where TC mentioned he’d heard their coach talking about using a session in the build up to a championships for his sprinters of 2 x 60m with, I think, 45s rest. He reasoned that if there wasn’t much drop off in the times, the athlete was ready.

Ready for what?! 2 consecutive short recovery 60m races? What if the 2nd 60m time did drop off? would he pull the athlete out of the championships?

Their coach is considered the premier sprint coach in the UK and he has never coached a sub 10/sub 20. I think MLF was “Persuaded” to train with him by UKA when his results started to drop off when he trained under his old coach.

Colin Jackson’s answer sessions also show his lack of understanding in many areas. Anyway I’m off to go do my toning session now.

Excuse my ignorance but what are Winklers charts? Thanks

He specifically mentioned going back to winter training after the Commonwealth Games! Knowing the coach and the group I ASSUME they are using a long-to-short approach. Others?

From what i watched on the BBC site MJ talked about FULL RECOVERY. The question I ask is what is full recovery to him because in the UK full recovery is time for the ATP-CP system to recovery which is usually 3-5min. As for the 60s session please listen to the interview at Pactraining.com because i may have got it wrong it may have even been 100m runs (!!!)but at the moment i am posting from internet cafes so don’t have the facility to listen to the interview again.

Yes, and they are known to do MASSES OF ROAD RUNNING during winter.

You will find it in many track and field books, but the one I recall is Sprints and Relays (edited by Jess Jarver) with Gail Devers on the front cover with a white background and purple banner. It mentions Borzov and Minnea in the article and I think, can’t recall but has Speed Endurance in the title. Winckler breaks down the different types of tempo, speed, speed endurance and special endurance I and II sucinctly using a table; hence the name “Winckler Chart”.

I’m a bit tired of seeing Winckler sticking his name on other people’s work, mine included.
These classifications were done by Gerrard Mach 30 years ago.

Road running? Oh! Swell!