In order to separate and clarify the elements of breakthrough marathon performance, we need to acknowledge some of the most widespread problems. A marathoner's worst nightmare - hitting the wall - might be easily avoidable for runners who adhere to pace and mileage levels that conserve carbohydrates, the body's main source of quick-burn energy and follow a progressive training plan with a wide sweeping impact on V02 max and lactate threshold, key physiological variables that affect endurance running success.
The date: Saturday, June 23rd, 2018. The place: the Placer High track in Auburn, California, the finish line of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. It was early evening, and the race course was buzzing with anticipation that the 100-mile record was about to be demolished. When Jim Walmsley rounded the top of the track, a loving crowd roared their appreciation for his marvelous achievement.
One thing I love about the Bolder Boulder Citizen’s Race is that the frequent bends and turns in the course offer a perfect opportunity to employ a fun racing tactic I learned from the great Frank Shorter:"In any kind of distance race there is an invisible thread that stretches about 10 meters. If a fellow competitor is running 10 meters or less in front of you, you’ll find that you can usually pull even or spurt past them anytime you choose."
Approached confidently, varying the terrain on which you train actually helps you become more efficient and reduces your chances of injury by breaking up the repetition of the same motions. The more precise coordination required to accelerate down a hill or to sustain a steady rhythm up to the top of a mountain pass when combined with the corresponding changes in cadence and habitual stride patterns serve to alleviate the repetitive-stress (and aches and pains) of running the same pace mile after mile on the flats.
Before the London Marathon in April, Eliud Kipchoge promised a “beautiful race.” He delivered, as he always does. What I love about Eliud (besides his magnanimous smile) is that he clearly understands the importance of trunk training: he uses almost all pelvic rhythm to quicken his leg rate, like revolutions per minute. He runs from the belly, which tapers the muscular effort in his legs and feet. It's something to see.