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24th Jun 2023

“I think that’s the wrong mindset” – Ingebrigtsen’s training approach gives GAA coaches food for thought

Niall McIntyre

Jakob Ingebrigtsen is the best long distance runner on the planet.

The Norwegian wonder-kid is just 22 years of age but he’s already an Olympic champion, a World Champion, a multiple European champion as well as a two-time World record holder.

Ingebrigtsen specialises in the 1500m, but he has won major championships over 5000m on the track and over longer distances in cross-country too.

But it was last week, after setting the World Record for two miles on the track when, in an interview with former Irish runner David McCarthy, the distance running supremo made a very interesting point about training and preparation.

There is a school of thought out there – not just in athletics but in GAA too – that the harder you train, the better you will compete. And while Ingebrigtsen acknowledges the importance of the winter slog, he says that the biggest mistake many athletes make is that they try and train as fast as they race.

He says that he never trains as fast he races and says that the reason some athletes do is out of a lack of self-belief.

“One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people do is they go too hard in training, and that’s basically because of their mentality,” said Ingebrigsten.

“What they’re struggling with is they don’t believe in themselves, that’s why they need to put it out in training, because they need to build up that confidence and I think that’s the wrong mindset.

“I think what’s most misunderstood is that our training is only the fundamentals of performing well as a runner,” he said.

Ingebrigtsen says that, in the five or six weeks leading up to competition, some athletes train too hard which means that, on race-day, it can be hard to replicate it.

“What really matters you know, is, we need to build a house. And if you don’t know how to put on a roof, the fundamentals or the walls don’t matter,” he told CitiusMag.

“So obviously the last five or six weeks, after the strength work during the winter, that really matters.

“And when people get that opportunity to go out on the track and really start to run a little bit faster, that’s when everything goes to hell (for most people.)

“I’ve been competing my whole life and obviously I’m competing in training, but I’m never running faster in training than I do in competition, because I want the competition to be the number that’s behind my name.

“A good session is worth nothing, compared to a good race.”

You often hear GAA coaches saying that if you don’t train hard then you won’t be able to play hard but is this ignoring the adrenaline-rise that match-day can give players? It’s certainly food for thought for GAA coaches. Sometimes you just have to trust that you’ve the work done…

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