Dave Bedford, the British runner of the 1970s, set a world record of 27:30.8 for 10,000 m on the track in 1973 but achieved little other international success. I have included his training methods in Exercises 8.17 not because Bedford was a great marathon runner but to warn future runners of the dangers of trying to do too much.
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Temple (1980) stated that 10 or 20 years will pass before we can say whether Bedford trained too much. I have no doubt that Bedford, like Clayton, tried too hard and trained too much. The proof lies in the fact that Bedford ran his best when his training had been curtailed by injury; another example of the Zatopek phenomenon. Bedford’s relatively poor competitive record in major international races might indicate that he lacked the winner’s mind and so tried to run his doubts away by training hard, but this I find difficult to believe. More likely, he was always overtrained and was therefore able to run to his potential only occasionally.
Data compiled from Cross-Country and Road Running (p. 95) by C. Temple, 1980, London: Stanley Paul. Copyright 1980 by Stanley Paul.
Bedford once stated that only five times in his career did he ever run more than 320 km in a week and that his average weekly training distance was between 260 and 280 km (Aitken, 1984). I conclude, then, that 260 km/week of training is too much.