From August-November 2019, I trained for the Indianapolis Marathon using the Renato Canova method. I composed training plan with information from both primary and secondary sources, including others’ Canova-style training plans, descriptions of his method, video interviews, his own training plans for his athletes, and one very useful talk in Valencia.

My self-composed plan called for two quality runs a week: one of longer duration and one of shorter duration but more intensity. The remaining runs were easy miles ending with striders. I did not have time to do a Canova-style base phase, which is arguably the most important part, but I nailed the taper, executing some very aggressive speedwork as late as the week before the race.

The cycle produced the following results:

Was it hard work? Yes. It was a lot of training time and fairly monotonous.

Would I do it again? I would like to try other methods first, particularly ones with greater variety.

Is Canova better than method X? Based on what metrics? A sample size of one athlete-cycle does not provide much information. For a metric like Injury Rate, can say that I have completed several Lydiard-style cycles, during all of which I accrued at least one injury. I did not get injured this cycle, but in January 2020 I began another Canova-style cycle, and I strained my calf in February on an easy run the day after a quality workout.

Is it the best method? In what context? For amateur athletes, I would say “no”. Canova himself stated in Valencia that amateurs simply cannot produce the quality his style demands, and that holds true for this amateur. Canova starts with Elite athletes and aims to make them world class. It would be better to follow a plan made specifically for the type of athlete you are.

What will I do next? In June 2020 I returned to Bobby Holcombe of Knoxville Endurance to get training more suited to my changing goals. Before 2020, I wanted to be as fast as possible, and now I want to be as consistent as possible.


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