Alberto Joantorena was a 1,88m high Cuban track runner with focus on 400 m until the Montreal Olympic in 1976. He was one of mine big heroes at the last half of the 70’s and the beginning of 80’s. He was special! Always with white long socks up to the knees, curly hair, and a enormosely long strides.
He was terrible slow at the beginning of his races.
At the Montreal Olympic his focus was on the 400 m flat. But his trainer said to him that he should run the 800 m too, which was some days before the 400m began. Because this was good for him to get the body in shape. He had very good training time at 800m too, so he said ok.
He won the 800m in Montreal Olympic with a new World Record on 1:43.5 ! He also ofcouse won the 400 m on 44.26 sec. Not a new World Record, since there had been some serious running at the 400m at Mexico Olympic (18.October): 1.Lee Evans (USA) 43.86 and 2.Larry James (USA) 43.97 !
Joantorenas two gold in the Montreal Olympic was the to first medals for Cuba in Track and Field ever.
How was Alberto Joantorenas training?
He added a power task (skipping) carried out with consecutive jumps uphill, on grass using the body weight only. This work made a total of 89km in 1976 and was very important for the technical performance of his runs and for the stride length of 3 meters!! he was able to average after going beyond the 100m following the start off the blocks. This resulted in his compensating for the shortcoming he had at the start, which was always slow. It takes time to get up into speed which has 3 m in stride lenght !
Another factor he believe contributed, to a large extent, to the shape he reached in Montreal was the 4 week stay for training purposes in Mexico’s intermediate altitude (2400m above sea level) where the partial oxygen pressure decreased
by altitude made his organic system develop compensating mechanisms to make up for the deficit during work and recovery. His hemoglobin and themetabolic capacity for oxygen consumption increased, as well as the possibilities of assimilation of the toxin produced by the 200m interval work of which he did the highest volumes in altitude. Remember this was i 1976, and high altitude training didn’t came in focus before after the Mexico Olympic in 1968. Mexico City is on 2240 m over sea level.
Alberto once said : “It is evident that there are no large volumes of kilometers and that the main feature of the whole training program is the application of distances very close to the competition distance with a high relative intensity from the very beginning.”
How is this compared to todays training? The volume is 3 times more or so today. But the thought about running as fast up to the racing speed and racing distance is the same as today.
Fulfillment of the Training Plan during the 19 last days of July which include the Olympic participation:
Tuesday July 13, 1976
1. 4 km cross
2. Interval 10 x 150m x 2.
3. 1km cross at the park on grass.
Wednesday July 14
1. 1 km jogging
2. Series 4 x 100m, 3 x 500m (1:04.6, 1:03.5, 1:03.2)
3. 1 km jogging on tartan.
Friday July 16
1. 3 km cross.
2. 2 series 10 x 150m.
3. 2 km cross at the park on grass.
Saturday July 17
1. 1 Km cross.
2. 4 x 100m series.
3. 3x 600m (1:31.6, 1:21.5, 1:192).
4. 1 km jogging on tartan.
Sunday July 18
4 Km cross at the park on grass
Monday July 19
1. 1 km cross.
2. 1 x 200m (21.4sec), 1 x300m (34 sec) start from blocks with gun signal, on tartan.
Tuesday July 20
Warm up like prior to the competition: 600m in 1:19.3, 15 min. pause;
600m in 1:15.9 with gun signal on tartan.
Wednesday July 21
1.5 km. cross
Thursday July 22
Friday July 23
800m competition in 1:47.14, first place in the qualifying rounds.
Saturday July 24
800m competition in 1:45.8, first place in the semi-finals.
Sunday July 25
800m competition in 1:43.5, first place in the finals.
Monday July 26
In the morning 400m competition in 47.8, third place in the qualifying rounds.
In the afternoon 400m competition in 45.92 sec., second place in quarter
Tuesday July 27
Wednesday July 28
400m competition in 45.10 sec., first place in the semi-finals.
Thursday July 29
400m competitions in 44.26 sec., first place in the finals.
Friday July 30
4 x 400m competition: 3:05.9; Fourth place (45.8 sec).
Saturday July 31
4 x 400m competition: 3:03.8; Seventh place (44.0 sec).