The distance running titan shares a few details about his approach to training and the importance of his group in Kenya.
Jake Robertson has enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2018, including personal bests over 10k, half marathon and a New Zealand record-breaking marathon debut.
The Kiwi’s marathon performance of 2:08:26 in Otsu, Japan saw him smash the 34 year-old national record held by Rod Dixon.
Robertson, who has been based in Kenya since 2007, followed it up by equalling the Pacific Ocean island’s 10k road best with a superb 27:28 clocking in New Orleans, before breaking his brother’s 10,000m national best, running 27:30.90 at the Commonwealth Games.
Finally, he ran under 60 minutes for the first time at the Great North Run, where he crossed the line in 59:57, finishing second to Mo Farah.
Fast Running spoke to Robertson about his training approach, strength and conditioning, and his favourite session.
Fast Running: Big picture, what is your approach to training?
Jake Robertson: My training approach is all about putting in the hard work consistently, while also being careful not to do one or many workouts where you push over the limit.
To quote Bruce Lee, “long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity”.
FR: Could you tell us a bit about your training set-up, the role of strength and conditioning in your program and your training group?
JR: I’m self-coached now, and strength and conditioning plays a major role in my program and prehab. Basically if I don’t do it my injury will come back.
I have to activate every morning early in the gym before I can go out to train.
Training in a group is a major reason I’m able to hit times in the toughest sessions. Without helping each other we would not be able to train at the same level or feel as comfortable doing the workouts.
Our training crew have a great team spirit and always have a laugh. Many stories but none I can think of that are suitable for the public.
FR: On specific training sessions, what is your favourite and least favourite, and what distance is your longest run?
JR: A favourite would something we call a continuous session, something like 5-6 x 4km @ race pace, 1km moderate recovery @ 3.40-3.30km
Sometimes I struggle on days I still haven’t recovered from the day prior, but I don’t have a dislike to any particular session.
40km is the longest run we do.
FR: Is there a particular session you like to do in the build-up to an event that helps feel in race shape?
JR: I usually know if I’m in shape coming up to an event by the series of training upon weeks and weeks.
I don’t need to prove I’m in shape to gain confidence just before a race to gain confidence, that would only waste energy.
FR: Is your training different compared to your brother Zane’s training?
JR: We both know most of the same methods, but if we’re not training in the same group then it differs.
FR: Competing in marathons is now your main goal, but does your training differ at all in the build-up to a 10k race or half marathon?
JR: These days the pace of training for a marathon is approaching the half / 10km.
Mainly the marathon is usually the target so I personally don’t change too much and just use the other races as a hard training or preparation for the main goal.
FR: What is your diet and nutrition like?
JR: I take my diet very seriously. I don’t eat fibrous foods the night before hard sessions and eat healthy all other days.
Sometimes I get a craving for pizza or something and I’ll hit that after a hard workout as a reward or cheat day. It’s only healthy like that.
FR: Does performance data play a part in your program? Do you analyse your workouts?
I tend to analyse my feeling afterwards rather than data.
If you’re in touch with your body and are mature enough to listen to it, then consistency happens.
FR: Who have been the most influential people in your running career so far?
JR: The most influential people for me have been Eliud Kipchoge, Patrick Sang & Shaheen.
Eliud helped me to believe in myself, and while I was training with him for some years, Patrick Sang really helped me to understand some major points about training and that’s why I’m able to be self-coached today.
Shaheen paid rent for us, bought food and while staying with him I got to see how serious you have to be to make it in this sport.
FR: How has training been going ahead of your second marathon in Toronto (October 2018)?
JR: After my vacation in New Zealand training back in Kenya has been very positive.
I’ve gathered the same shape, if not better, than I was in before.