Hicham El Guerrouj — Training profile '96/'97
The first time I made contact with El Guerrouj was at the historic Prefontaine Classic in 2001. He signed a Morocco national team dri-fit top which was given to me by Alberto Salazar. Along with my well worn pair of Jasari spikes, it is my most treasured track & field artifact.
I could fan boy about The King of The Mile all day, but ultimately he is the reason I developed an interest in the event and fancy myself a coach of milers. I remember coming across this training profile during the early 2000s in college and being mesmerized. You can view it here.
Two items stick out.
First is this simple but concise description of El G, "His characteristics are of a very disciplined and dedicated athlete, not in the sense of going early to bed or "don't do this," he is very professional in his job and always is focused in his training." The last words are key, always focused. That is the hallmark of a true pro.
El Guerrouj lived for the mile. He redefined the event, giving it a modern twist. No runner since his retirement has come close to claiming his vacant throne. Webb showed promise. So did Kiprop for a time. Maybe Centro will. But like Elvis, The King of The Mile was so good at his craft that if he were competing in his prime today, he would still be untouchable.
The other element of significance is the "predominant high level of quality" of work. El Guerrouj didn't waste steps. He took as few as possible but got the most out of them. His body of work is impressive. And his ability to sustain it is why he is the all time greatest in that event.
His example is what influenced my holistic coaching approach. All critical elements are included in his training: sprinting, power, strength/gym work, aerobic endurance, physical preparation, etc. It is a thorough and comprehensive portfolio. The only other professional runner's training I have seen which includes all, or most, of these elements is Coe, Webb, Kiprop, and Centro. I am sure others integrate all these elements. They have to.
But I do know for certain, because of El Guerrouj, the milers I coach do.
Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm