A final weakness of these predictions is that they take little account of the athlete’s state of training. Jan Louw, Comrades Marathon runner and actuary working in the life insurance industry, has recently applied his mathematical genius to this problem (Louw, 1989).
He proposes that there are three laws governing training and performance. His first law is that a given amount of training time will produce equivalent training effects in all runners. Thus, provided they spend the same total number of hours training, a very fast and a very slow runner can expect the same training benefit even though the fast runner will have run much further in his training. (This assumption conflicts with the finding that the degree of adaptation to training is genetically determined, meaning not all persons adapt equally to the same training load. Nevertheless, when applied to a large group of runners rather than to individuals, this generalization is probably valid. Thus the time spent training rather than the distance covered should probably be the yardstick by which the training volumes of runners are compared.)
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Louw also believes that there is an optimum training volume; for the Comrades Marathon, he considers the optimum volume to be about 156 hours training in the 5 months before the race.
Louw’s second law is that performance in races of shorter distance predicts performance in longer distance races. The validity of this law has been discussed.
His third law is that there is a predicExercises deterioration in performance when the training volume is less than the predicted optimum.