CHESTER, Pa. – Sebastien Le Toux is currently riding one of his patented hot streaks, having scored goals in five of the Philadelphia Union’s last six games across all competitions after struggling and battling an injury for much of the two months before that.
But while he may be a streaky player at times, the one thing that’s always remained a constant for Le Toux is his incredible fitness.
And there’s a scientific explanation for the Union winger’s freakish ability to cover more ground than any other player on the field.
“His ability to run at maximum speed and cover 40 to 50 yards and for his heart rate to get high and come back down to a level that allows him to do it again is fantastic,” Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s always been someone from an aerobic capacity that has been able to do that.”
Le Toux said he first found out that his heart rate goes from a high level back down to resting extremely quickly when he was a teenager in France and wore a heart-rate monitor while practicing.
But even without the evidence, he always had a feeling he had this kind of unique ability when, after long runs, he needed far less time to recover than his teammates.
“I’m lucky my genetics are good from my parents,” Le Toux said. “Thanks to them first. … I have the body of a runner, too. It’s a good attribute to help me during the game. Some players have their physical abilities. It’s lucky that for me I can run a lot and I can make more effort and more sprints than maybe other players.”
Miller, who’s run marathons himself, said Le Toux probably has the endurance to be a great distance runner if he trained for that.
And, of course, training has never been an issue for the 31-year-old Frenchman, who is one of the team’s hardest-working players and also has a great off-the-field routine to boost his genetic gifts.
“He does a really good job taking care of his body,” Miller said. “I know he does a really good job with his recovery, with his lifestyle, with his nutrition – I think all of that factors into it as well. As you get older, it becomes even more important to make sure all of that stuff is in line.”
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Miller added that one of Le Toux’s best attributes is that he can “sustain himself even when he’s uncomfortable” – which allows him to still make repeat sprints late in a game.
But while it seems like he may never get winded, the Frenchman says that’s not the case.
“I do get tired,” Le Toux said. “I do have cramps sometimes. I’m just lucky I’m able to recover a bit quicker and always repeat the same effort with the same intensity every game.”
And it’s late in games where his endurance and sprinting ability really stands out – which is made even better when the franchise’s all-time scoring leader is also bagging goals.
“Everybody gets tired,” Miller said. “But I think it’s one of those things that when you’re in the 89th or 90th minute, Seba can still make that long run. If you need him to make that long run and chase the ball down, he’s going to make it.
“He’s someone that for 90-plus minutes is always going to play at that high level – and that’s all you can ask for.”