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  • Peter Snell

    Anyone care to share memories of seeing Snell run/race/whatever???

  • #2
    Re: Peter Snell

    What I remember most (from TV and pictures; never saw him run live) was his incredible musculature; looked like he was carved out of granite.

    I recall in the mid 70s when The Superstars was all the rage, talking to John Walker and Rod Dixon, who had just competed in the New Zealand version. They were agog at Snell, who had been retired from track for about a decade, and his native athletic ability. Walker particularly cited that Snell picked up a bow & arrow for the first time (hey, this is Superstars!) and started whacking out bullseye after bullseye when most of them couldn't even hit the target. He said he was the best all-around athlete he had ever seen.

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    • #3
      Re: Peter Snell

      Watch him change gears down the final backstraight of the Tokyo 1500m.

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      • #4
        Re: Peter Snell

        Extraordinary to me was the native speed, and astonishing quickness in turning it on, particularly given the many miles put in as base training, a la the Lydiard method. He was able with relatively brief speedwork to maintain that natural sprinting ability. Would any 800/1500 meter runner today assay to put in so much mileage in building up to the season (regular 20-mile runs?) Though I'm sure there are some, my understanding is that the Coe method of less mileage and more quality is much more the standard today --

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        • #5
          Re: Peter Snell

          I had lunch with him about 15 years ago - just 2 people talking track. One of the things I asked him was if he had to do it all over again, knowing what he then knew as a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology, would be change anything in his training. He said that he would make only minor changes at most and gave any number of sound reasons why what he did worked so well for him. He was very forthright and a very nice person. Truly one of a kind.

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          • #6
            Re: Peter Snell

            Like many HS kids, I had dreams of glory, and imitated the stars - unfortunately, I loved several events, and didn't focus on just one. I HJed & LJed in a red&blue USSR outfit(Brumel,TerOvanesyan), complete with patch. I ran "like Bob Hayes" - with a wobble. And for anything over 440y, I wore black shorts & top, with "New Zealand" and the fern meticulously PAINTED ON, in silver paint. And I "ran like Snell" - for about half a lap. I never did real great in any events, but I was well outfitted for them..

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            • #7
              Re: Peter Snell

              speaking of USSR type outfits, a guy on my HS team, back in '61, just to be internationally "cool", had his mother sew on a red sweatshirt the four white letters " CCCP " .

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              • #8
                Re: Peter Snell

                >Extraordinary to me was the native speed, and astonishing quickness in turning
                >it on, particularly given the many miles put in as base training, a la the
                >Lydiard method. He was able with relatively brief speedwork to maintain that
                >natural sprinting ability. Would any 800/1500 meter runner today assay to put
                >in so much mileage in building up to the season (regular 20-mile runs?) Though
                >I'm sure there are some, my understanding is that the Coe method of less
                >mileage and more quality is much more the standard today --

                http://www.geocities.com/gprrc/lydiard.html

                Read about Lydiard's requirement of working on basic sprinting speed 50 weeks per year.

                and if you get a hold of Dr Snell he will tell you that the "low-mileage" idea of Coe is BS. He got up to the 90s in base preparation.

                In fact, just speaking with Dr Snell confirmed the earlier post that there would be very little he would change in his training from the 60s -- that science has more or less confirmed Lydiard's findings.

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                • #9
                  Re: Peter Snell

                  I was fortunate to see Peter run in Los Angeles after the Tokyo Olympics. I can still see him walking up the Los Angeles Coliseum stairs to the press area for an interview. As he passed me, I noticed his massive calf muscles. I had never seen calf muscles that big. He was so explosive and could really run that final 200 meters.
                  Many years later, I ran in a road race across the Golden Gate Bridge. Snell was also in the race and I managed to pass him going across the bridge. I followed him for several minutes before I decided to pass him. I couldn't believe I was passing Peter Snell in a race. Since then I have met him about three times. The last time I saw him was in Edmonton, Canada. He was there for the world championships. What a nice guy. What a great champion.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Peter Snell

                    What an exciting runner...I second what others have said: his musculature, explosive change of gears in his kick etc. That's why I was so shocked when a just out of high school youth from Kansas outkicked Snell in the 1965 AAU mile in San Diego.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Peter Snell

                      I saw Snell run just the once. It's almosta trivia question, as he produced a winning ancxhor leg in a 4x880 but the runners-up, the USA, got a WR. Snell was anchoring a "British Empire and Commonwealth" team of mixed nationality (Tony Blue/AUS, Tom Farrell- the British one not the US runner later in the 60's, and the splendid George Kerr/JAM). Snell received the baton 3y behind inveterate front runner Ernie Cunliffe, and followed him until the last 120 yards when he powered by toe win by 10 yards with an anchor of 1:44.8y. No-one had ever run below 1:46 before, and in warm, dry conditions Snell looked as though he could have run under 1:43 that evening. Of the great runners since then, only Kipketer and Coe with their elegant acceleration and Juantorena with his power, could have lived with Snell.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Peter Snell

                        >What an exciting runner...I second what others have said: his musculature,
                        >explosive change of gears in his kick etc. That's why I was so shocked when a
                        >just out of high school youth from Kansas outkicked Snell in the 1965 AAU mile
                        >in San Diego.>>

                        Trivia: but Ryun wasn't the first high-schooler to beat Snell that year. Who was?

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                        • #13
                          Re: Peter Snell

                          http://www.geocities.com/gprrc/lydiard.html

                          Read about Lydiard's
                          >requirement of working on basic sprinting speed 50 weeks per year.

                          and if
                          >you get a hold of Dr Snell he will tell you that the "low-mileage" idea of
                          >Coe is BS. He got up to the 90s in base preparation.

                          In fact, just speaking
                          >with Dr Snell confirmed the earlier post that there would be very little he
                          >would change in his training from the 60s -- that science has more or less
                          >confirmed Lydiard's findings.


                          It is a great article you pointed us to. Thank you -- It does change my thinking about Lydiard, though I note that the date of his talk is 1990, and my guess is Lydiard's thinking has evolved since the Snell days of the early 60s. Most of us DID think Snell was mostly doing very long mileage at least in his base period, 100 miles and more, before turning to hills and speed. Compared to Coe, who did 50 or less prior to setting 3 world records in 41 days(Coe: "sometimes . . . considerably less") in 1979. Yes, Coe did more basework in later years, but 60-75 miles appears to be the accepted figure from a couple sources I've read. But you seem to know Mr. Snell, and Mr. Snell probably knows Mr. Coe.

                          Yet I guess there is no difference between Snell methods and Coe methods -- since apparently Lydiard emphasized speed, the same as Coe. Since Coe's success is practically unmatched, and he competed at the same distances as Snell, science must be approving of his training methods; and since Snell was equally successful, science must also approve. Does science approve of only one method for all athletes? If it did, then indeed Snell and Coe must have been following the same method. Though note that Peter Coe's training book shows anaerobic work being done practically year round; Lydiard seems to reduce it essentially to the track season, though there seems to be a lack of specifics about any speedwork in the "marathon training" period -- it's a fascinating discussion by Lydiard of how he views anaerobic training, but mostly he seems to want to avoid it. Also wonder if conditioning for speed throughout the year, as Lydiard talks about in 1990, really means "speedy running" so much as getting ready to run fast at some later time --

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                          • #14
                            Re: Peter Snell

                            ecoesit,

                            Two sources (one of which is Snell who discussed the issue with Seb Coe) both said that Coe got "as high as" the 90s in base, counting warmups, cooldowns, easy 5 mile A.M. runs, etc. My estimation is that his annual average was around 60 mpw, or 3000mi/yr.

                            I know that many sources claim "never higher than 90km in a week" but we know hoe the Coe's added up the miles. Not counting warmups/cooldowns and not counting an easy 8km run Seb did most mornings adds up. 90km + 4x 8km + 3x 6k (warmup and cooldown) = 140km.

                            My best estimation on a top level Coe year would be:

                            Fall base: 75mpw
                            Winter + Indoor: 50mpw
                            Early Mid Spring: 80mpw
                            Late Spring/Early summer: 75mpw
                            Summer: 35mpw
                            AVG: 63 mpw or a 3150 mile year.


                            And I think that Lydiard definitely grew in his training program from the days of Snell and Halberg but the foundations always stayed the same. The point about avoiding anaerobic work is that it is very easy to overdo it -- especially with underdeveloped athletes. I have this theory that with teenagers, too much anaerobic work can permanently damage them.

                            Another interesting point that Snell said yesterday that I have always supported: that you always put distance before pace. That is, if you want to get to a certain volume (say 90 miles/wk) do your workouts but don't sweat over the pace of most the mileage until you can confidently and easily traverse the distance week in and week out. Snell doing this right now as he's started building up volume again (just turned 65 on Wednesday) and will worry about pace after he gets the volume he wants. A lot of other coaches go the other way around and I think that far too many runners break that way or never get to that distance.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Peter Snell

                              Re: the great 1965 San Diego meet in which Ryun beat Snell...as it happens, I just found the original program for that meet today in an antique shop. I hadn't realized that there was a qualifying round for this race the previous night (Ryun and Snell both did 4:11.4). The program I found has some great hand-written comments. Apparently the mile was built up as an attempt by Snell to beat the then-new record by Michel Jazy. The owner of my program wrote on the mile page: "Bunk; they ran to win, not to beat Jazy! Snell laid back & didn't quite have enough..." In the 6-mile, Mills was timed in 27:11.5 but, under the rules of the day, had his time rounded up to 27:11.6, the same as Lindgren's. On the page for this race, the previous owner scrawled: "Both get world record. What sort of AAU Nonsense is this?" The good old days!

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