5,000-Meter Champion Bob Schul Part 3: The Mihaly Igloi Intervals

bob-schul-at-the-bob-schul-invitational
2016 Bob Schul Invitational

When Bob Schul, a member of the US Air Force met Hungarian coach, Mihaly Igloi for the first time, Schul was familiar with Igloi’s challenging training regimen. But he was not prepared for it. Schul was on a limited two-week assignment in San Jose so he could train under Igloi. In order to maximize his time, Schul and Igloi decided they would do two a days, training in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

The first day, Schul was assigned to Laszlo Tabori, a world recorder holder in the 1500, and like Igloi, a Hungarian who defected after the Soviet Union ended a bloody rebellion by sending troops into Hungary. Thus Tabori was the man who introduced Schul to a level of interval training that for many would be considered punishing. Tabori, who resented having to babysit a newcomer, never told Schul how far they were going to run or how many times, which left Schul unclear when to save and use up energy.

At the end of his first morning session under Igloi’s training techniques, Schul returned to the house he was staying at and collapsed on the floor. Another runner staying at the house was Joe Douglas, who would go on to coach Carl Lewis at the Santa Monica Track Club. According to Schul, in his autobiography, In The Long Run, Douglas was heading out the door.

“Igloi a little rough on you this morning?” he asked between mouthfuls of cereal.

“I’ve never worked so hard in my life.” I wearily answered. “Will it be this hard every day?”

Joe looked up from the table and a smile crossed his face. “No,” he said. “Somedays will be much harder.” With that he took his last bite and headed out the door.

Schul of course got through those two weeks. And a few months later, he was pleasantly surprised to learn that Igloi had moved to the University of Southern California, which was now only an hour away by car, not six. This allowed Schul, as well as Max Truex (Schul’s commanding officer and Rome Olympian) to embark on an even more grueling work/train schedule. As he told me, he “had never trained that hard.”

mihaly-igloi
Mihaly Igloi

Twice a day, and once on Sunday. 5:30 in the morning. Work out for an hour. All speed work. Repeat 100s. repeat 150s. Lots of sprinting. Then we’d go back to the base. Work Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Go back to the base. We’d stay there Wednesday night. All day Thursday. Friday night through Monday morning. And come back the next night, and return Wednesday morning. And leave to the university Saturday morning.

But for these three years, from the time Schul first met Igloi in May, 1961, to October 1964, Schul employed interval training to get him to world-class levels. In fact, entering the Tokyo Olympics, Bob Schul was so dominant that it was a foregone conclusion in the press that he was going to be the first American to win the 5,000 meters.

But victory and glory would be built on the punishing interval techniques developed and refined by Igloi. And Schul would go on to coach “good athletes who ran well in college and within a short time, six months to a year, had them running at a national level.” He did so using Igloi’s techniques. What would it be like to train under the Schul-Igloi interval training methodology? Below is an excerpt from Schul’s self-published book, “A Training Manual: A Method for Runners From Beginners to Olympic Contenders”, with an example of what a “hard day” of training might look like.

Set Series

  • 10 X 200 meters (fresh); 50-meter walk between each
  • 400-meter easy jog
  • 5 minutes stretching and situps
  • 8 X 100 meters (fresh) alternating 1 forward and 1 backward, with the last two forward
  • 12 X 160 meters 1 fresh, 1 good guild up, 1 good; 40-meter walk between each

 

6 X 400 meters at specific times depending on the speed of the runner (around 63-64 seconds for faster runners, or 72-82 seconds for slower runners); 180 meter walk between

Set Series

  • 10 X 200 meters (fresh); 50-meter walk between each
  • 400-meter easy jog
  • 5 minutes stretching and situps
  • 8 X 100 meters (fresh) alternating 1 forward and 1 backward, with the last two forward
  • 12 X 160 meters 1 fresh, 1 good guild up, 1 good; 40-meter walk between each

 

For better athletes:

An additional 8 X 160 meters (fresh); 40-meter walk between

Set Series

  • 10 X 200 meters (fresh); 50-meter walk between each
  • 400-meter easy jog
  • 5 minutes stretching and situps
  • 8 X 100 meters (fresh) alternating 1 forward and 1 backward, with the last two forward
  • 12 X 160 meters 1 fresh, 1 good guild up, 1 good; 40-meter walk between each
  • 9 X 200 meters (2 fresh, 1 good buildup); 50-meter walk between
  • 10 X 100 meter shakeup (very easy, shaking the arms loose to relax the body)

According to Schul, this workout is over 12 miles of actual running and more importantly the heart rate is elevated for about two and a half hours.

Me, I’d rather write about it.

 

Igloi Glossary:

  • “Fresh”: relaxed state, no or little tension in the shoulders
  • “Good”: shoulders are under tension, while rest of the body is relaxed
  • “Hard”: 7/8 speed and under control