fbpx

MARATHON

Training With Tokai University – Ekiden Winning Team

Training With Tokai University – Ekiden Winning Team

The athletes strip down to singlets and shorts. Next% adorn the feet of all but a few athletes, and we follow the fluorescent queue of feet out onto the track. There are a number of students at the infield next to the start line, wearing Tokai tracksuits but evidently not running. Noriaki says they’re the team assistants. The half dozen assistants are gathered around a cooler box and a small whiteboard. The athletes join them and form a circle leaving a gap for the two coaches to make their address. After attentively listening to both coaches speak, a collective bow by the students indicates the session is about to start. Five by one-mile, repeats followed by five two-hundreds. Jogging a lap between each rep. Noriaki explains that he and Moro asked the athletes to keep it very steady, make sure pace was constant.

read more
Tokyo Marathon 2020 – Press Conference Highlights

Tokyo Marathon 2020 – Press Conference Highlights

Finally, the whiteboards with the athletes’ predicted times. They took their time, and definitely stole glances at each other’s boards before volunteering them to the audience. Shitara posted a modest 1 second PB of 2:06:11. Inoue – 2:04:30. Osako – 2:??:??. When Osako was questioned, he said the race was a fight against himself. His time will depend on weather and conditions, but he plans to make an effort to be in the lead pack. “That’s why I left it blank.” His face was determined, focussed, almost confrontational. He didn’t want to place limits on what he could achieve come Sunday.

read more
Kenenisa Bekele – Training Before Berlin Marathon 2019 (2:01:41)

Kenenisa Bekele – Training Before Berlin Marathon 2019 (2:01:41)

Wed Aug 21
AM: Track. 2 Sets of (3km in 9:00, 2km in 5:55, 1km in 2:55, 500m in 1:13). Recovery: 2.5min.
PM: 50min easy (4:20/km > 4:10/km)

Thu Aug 22
AM: 1hr easy (4:20/km > 4:10/km). 10x100m (16sec).
PM: 6km easy. Gym (general strength, corrective workout).

Fri Aug 23
AM: Fartlek (road): 20x1min (1min jog recovery), 20x30sec (30sec jog recovery), 5min recovery between sets. Reps at 2:40-2:45/km.
PM: 6km easy. Gym (general strength, corrective workout).

read more
Thijs Nijhuis (2:10:57 Marathon) – Training Principles and Diary

Thijs Nijhuis (2:10:57 Marathon) – Training Principles and Diary

Week 51 (Denmark)
M: 10k in 4.00, commute to hospital + 14k in 4.00 commute back T: 8k in 4.10, commute to hospital + 20k in 3.59, commute back
W: 25k incl. 15 x 1k with 60 seconds standing rest. 1k avg. 2.58.
Th: 25k in 3.50 + 10k in 4.25.
F: 14k in 4.03
S: 26k incl. 5-4-3-2-1k with 3min light jogging rest. Times: 15.13-12.01-9.03-5.57-2.51. Overall 3.32 per k. Eve: 10k in 4.19.
Sun: 34k in 4.05, hilly forrest.
Total: 186k

read more
Marathon Specific Training – Five Creative Long Runs

Marathon Specific Training – Five Creative Long Runs

Preparing for a Marathon in the coming months and looking to step your Long Runs up a level or two?

We recommend adding some variety to your long runs by incorporating pace changes. Not only is this a perfect stimulus for a Marathon, it also breaks the Long Run up mentally.

Most elite Marathoner’s alternate same-pace long runs with pace-changing long runs. These pace-changing long runs feature some running at Marathon goal pace interspersed with running at easy paces.

Here are a few examples you could use in your Marathon preparation, completed by elite Marathoner’s from Australia and the USA…

read more
More Tempo Running – A Key Ingredient To The Kenyan Success

More Tempo Running – A Key Ingredient To The Kenyan Success

For reference, the Kenyan athletes were completing about 60% of their total kilometres as easy runs, 25% as tempo runs, just under 10% as short intervals, just under 5% as long intervals and around 1% as tests/competitions. For comparison the national level athletes completed close to 70% of their total kilometres as easy runs, 10% as tempo runs, around 6% as short intervals, 12% as long intervals and 2% as tests/competitions. 

When considering the application of this for either your own or another athlete’s training it is obviously extremely important to consider the goals, strengths and weaknesses of that specific case however the comparison between athletic levels presented in this study is definitely interesting. If working in a similar time period (10 weeks from major competition) and you’re doing a lot of longer intervals, it may be worth switching some intervals for tempo runs, and hey, Wilson Kipsang does it. 

read more
VO2Max – What is it and Does it Matter?

VO2Max – What is it and Does it Matter?

So why does all this science matter and what does it mean for you? First of all, VO2max is the strongest independent predictor of future life expectancy so everyone out there should be at the very least slightly interested in their own value, athlete or not. Additionally VO2max  becomes especially useful once we consider its impact on athletic performance. 

In order to walk, run or move at all, our body needs to produce energy; we can either produce this energy without oxygen (anaerobic) or with oxygen (aerobic). Any exercise will require energy production from both aerobic and anaerobic systems however their relative contribution is determined by the duration and intensity of the effort. As anaerobic energy production is only possible for a very short period of time, our bodies will always try to meet the energy demands aerobically. In trained individuals it has been shown that during a maximal effort the switch to predominantly aerobic energy systems occurs somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds into exercise as by this point we have “run out” of anaerobic fuel. The rate of work, power output or running pace that an individual can maintain aerobically is determined largely by their VO2max. 

read more
Insights Into The Training Of Kilian Jornet

Insights Into The Training Of Kilian Jornet

Kilian claims to train seven days a week – amassing 1200 hours of training per year. For a long time, Kilian has eschewed the tutelage of a formal coach and devised his training himself. A key to his success appears to be how he varies training according to the seasons, mixing running (mostly in the mountains although he has incorporated more flat running in recent years) with skiing, alpine climbing and cycling. This has allowed remarkable consistency through the years, which in turn has enabled him to develop a phenomenal aerobic apparatus and a body that is near perfectly adapted for what he does.

Endurance – He says that the vast majority of his training (88% according to his site) is done at low intensity – zones 1-3. Z1 before and after races. Z2 in long workouts (up to 10 hours plus) “to create volume”. Z3 in the lead-up to races, long sessions of up to a few hours.

10% is at high intensity (zones 4-5): “In Z4 specific workouts with intense intervals and repetitions. In Z5 workouts of a few seconds and many repetitions. Only about 10 times per season and during the competitions (about 30-35 days of competition per year).

2% of the time at maximum intensity (zones 6-7).

Whilst these numbers appear to be somewhat generalised estimates, Kilian is known for his fastidious documentation of his training, so they are probably more accurate than you would imagine.

read more
Kilian Jornet – Ultramarathon Training – Variety Is The Key

Kilian Jornet – Ultramarathon Training – Variety Is The Key

Kilian has achieved all this whilst maintaining an imperturbable aura of positivity and fun. He lives for the mountains, and what he does as ‘training’ for these events he has dominated is so clearly what he would prefer to be doing on any given day. He is well known for essentially having no taper for events. Prior to dominating the Hardrock 100 he spent the week running up 14,000 footers in the San Juan mountains, exploring new terrain. When questioned about this approach in an interview with Outside magazine on this approach he responded “Such beautiful mountains! I went out, met people, ran summits, the rivers. It’s a shame if you just go there to race.”    

These incredible performances are the culmination of decades of aerobic base and a life spent in the mountains, doing what brings him joy. Kilian is now based in Norway, where he can climb and train away from the throngs of people that descend on Chamonix and other alpine hubs. In our last article we took a look at some of Kilian’s training philosophies, now we will take a look at some more specifics. He spends lots of time on excursions that last the whole day, climbing mountains and descending through valleys around his home.
Why am I talking about Michael Joyner’s predictions of the fastest conceivable marathon time? Well, Joyner and a number of other researchers have published a paper (again in the Journal of Applied Physiology) on the female equivalent of the two-hour marathon, addressing “physiological, historical, and social factors that contribute to current and past sex differences in marathon performance.”

This paper was published in 2015, when the world records stood as follows: 

Men: Dennis Kimetto, Kenya – 2:02:57 (2014 Berlin Marathon)
Women: Paula Radcliffe, UK – 2:15:25 (2003 London Marathon)

Their initial approach to establishing the equivalent mark is to determine the difference in marathon performance by elite athletes of each gender in terms of a percentage. The difference between these two records was approximately 10%, meaning that the equivalent to a two-hour marathon for women would be 120 minutes plus 10%, 2:12:00. However, when analysing the top marathon times (at the time of writing their study), it appeared that the difference between men and women was more significant than 10%, coming in at closer to 12-13%. Interestingly online predictors such as the Mercier Score suggest that the two-hour equivalent sits at 2:15:34, and this had already been achieved by Radcliffe (and subsequently smashed by Kosgei).

read more
Female equivalent of the Two-Hour Marathon

Female equivalent of the Two-Hour Marathon

Doctor Michael Joyner M.D. is a renowned scientist studying the limits of human physiology, he is well-known in running circles for his paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology, back in 1991, that speculated that the “hypothetical best subject” could run a marathon in 1:57:58. This was at a time when the current world record was 2:06:50, set by Belayneh Dinsamo in the 1988 Rotterdam Marathon. The variables that went into formulating this prediction were maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max), lactate threshold (as a percentage of VO2 max) and running economy. For those interested, the hypothetical values he used were “a VO2 max of 84 ml kg-1 min-1, a lactate threshold of 85% of VO2 max, and exceptional running economy.” His paper at the time left a lot of people confused and very sceptical, but with Kipchoge’s recent performances closing in on this hypothesised ideal performance (albeit with a long way yet to go), Joyner’s prediction no longer seems so far-fetched.

Why am I talking about Michael Joyner’s predictions of the fastest conceivable marathon time? Well, Joyner and a number of other researchers have published a paper (again in the Journal of Applied Physiology) on the female equivalent of the two-hour marathon, addressing “physiological, historical, and social factors that contribute to current and past sex differences in marathon performance.”

This paper was published in 2015, when the world records stood as follows: 

Men: Dennis Kimetto, Kenya – 2:02:57 (2014 Berlin Marathon)
Women: Paula Radcliffe, UK – 2:15:25 (2003 London Marathon)

Their initial approach to establishing the equivalent mark is to determine the difference in marathon performance by elite athletes of each gender in terms of a percentage. The difference between these two records was approximately 10%, meaning that the equivalent to a two-hour marathon for women would be 120 minutes plus 10%, 2:12:00. However, when analysing the top marathon times (at the time of writing their study), it appeared that the difference between men and women was more significant than 10%, coming in at closer to 12-13%. Interestingly online predictors such as the Mercier Score suggest that the two-hour equivalent sits at 2:15:34, and this had already been achieved by Radcliffe (and subsequently smashed by Kosgei).

read more
Taking To The Trails – How It Will Help You Be A Better Runner

Taking To The Trails – How It Will Help You Be A Better Runner

Recently the Sweat Elite Podcast has featured ultrarunners Jim Walmsley and Tom Evans, and just this week we sat down and had a chat with the undisputed king of the mountains, Kilian Jornet. These three strong athletes have many things in common, but a standout is that a huge proportion of their training is on trails. They do most of their competitions in the mountains, so that makes sense… but all three of them, along with many other athletes, agree that running on trails offers myriad benefits the road cannot.

Getting off sealed surfaces doesn’t mean you have to immediately direct your focus towards running a mountainous hundred miler, it can form an integral part of training for shorter distances on the road and track. Many athletes who have seen great success in more traditional running have also spent a great deal of time running off road.

The Ethiopian greats Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele have spent hundreds of hours running the uneven, hilly terrain through the forests surrounding Addis Ababa. Many of Kipchoge’s runs are along muddy, rutted roads and paths through the Kenyan countryside. Nick Willis recently wrote the following in an “Advice to my younger self” letter posted on the World Athletics site: “Based as you are in Wellington, you are surrounded by hills and the city is home to several world mountain running champions – so why then are you so terrified of running hills?”

What is it about getting out onto the trails that can be so beneficial? Here we will look at just a few ways that it can help you to reach your running goals and become a more well-rounded athlete in the process.

read more
Tokai University – Training for Hakone Ekiden

Tokai University – Training for Hakone Ekiden

The ekiden is what lies at the core of the Japanese prowess in long distance running. Ekidens are long distance relays, which can take place over multiple days and have legs of varying lengths. The most prestigious of all is the Hakone Ekiden, a race which sees the top universities of the Kanto region around Tokyo compete, captivating the nation every January. Hakone Ekiden was inaugurated in 1920 by Shizo Kanakuri – known as the father of the marathon in Japan – with teams running from 108km from Tokyo to Hakone on the first day (January 2) and 109.9km back to Tokyo the next.

Tokai University took the crown in the 2019 edition of the race, with the ten athletes covering the whole course in a stunning 10:52:09. That’s 3:00.2/km, the fastest time ever run on the current version of the course. This year’s iteration of the race, the 96th time it has been run, saw a demolition of the records. Seven of the ten segment records were beaten, and Aoyama Gakuin University was the winner with a total time of 10:45:23, Tokai came in second in 10:48:25, also well under their old course record.

During our trip to Japan this year Tokai’s assistant coach – Noriaki Nishide – kindly invited us to join a session taking place on the university’s royal blue track. It was an absolute pleasure to watch Nishide working closely with head coach Hayashi Morozumi, overseeing the orderly procession of their athletes ripping through mile repeats.

Morozumi was one of Japan’s most successful high school coaches before moving to Tokai. Suguru Osako, the national record holder for the marathon (2:05:29 – set at the Tokyo Marathon 2020, the day after the session we watched), rose to prominence under his tutelage, among many other top athletes. Under Morozumi’s guidance the Tokai team have made steady improvement over the past few years.

read more
Jim Walmsley – The Road to Atlanta

Jim Walmsley – The Road to Atlanta

His training is heavily volume based. Jim’s huge aerobic base that has served so well in the ultras is the foundation for his performance in these shorter road races too, with the speed work and increased leg turnover serving as the icing on top. At the end of a 283km/175 mile week in December, balancing heavy training with the stresses of having family in town over the holiday season – think, fitting in Christmas celebrations around a 49km run… – was becoming a bit much. Despite feeling strong, the accumulated miles were amassing in the legs, leading to feeling slower and entering the realm of overtraining. It was decided to abandon the plan for a 300km+/186 mile week and hold constant at the 175 mile mark. All of this was relatively slow running, with few structured sessions – but finishing each session with some strides to work on “hidden speed”.

Following this he started to lower the mileage and ratchet up the speed work, preparing for a half marathon in Phoenix. With only three weeks of speed sessions, sometimes two sessions in a day, he jokingly says he was “cramming for the half marathon”. He decided to take to the track, wanting to see some fast times on the watch. “Before the half marathon I was trying to stay on the track a bit more to get the leg speed up, and my confidence with running that speed a little higher.” A lot of these sessions were on a track down at Sedona (4,300ft/1,320m) rather than Flagstaff (7,000ft/2100m) where Jim lives and does most of his training.

read more
How Fast Do You Lose Endurance?

How Fast Do You Lose Endurance?

In a 1990 study Houmard et al looked at detraining of experience endurance runners who were averaging 81km per week in training (~60km at ~75% VO2 max and 21km at ~95% VO2 max). Over a three-week period of detraining the athletes cut their volume by 70% to 24km, maintaining the intensity distribution with 17km at ~75% of VO2 max and 7km at ~90% VO2 max.

The participants in the study had an increase in maximum heart rate (2.3%), and plasma volume decreased (-5.6%) during the period of reduced training, so some physiological adaptations regressed. However, performance saw no change, with VO2 max and 5km time trial results holding steady. Another significant finding in this study was also that time to exhaustion during VO2 max testing increased by 9.5%, suggesting that the decreased training left the athletes much fresher. These results indicate that being smart with limited time or training capacity can still help massively in maintaining running performance.    

These changes also appear to be less pronounced in older athletes and athletes who have trained for a longer time. Which makes sense, the accumulated progression and adaptations from consistent training over a long time are more entrenched, and therefore more resistant to deterioration than acute improvements in performance from relatively shorter training blocks.      

As Ross puts it, defending physiology requires much less work than earning that physiology, and a little goes a long way. With races off and freedom of movement restricted in many places, despondency is pervasive. But lamenting the situation and the certainty of your lost fitness gains won’t serve you well. These studies highlight that even though it may be difficult to stick to training plans and complete hard sessions, a significantly reduced load of training still goes a very long way to preserving the physiological adaptations for which you have laboured.

read more
Keep Motivated During A Pandemic

Keep Motivated During A Pandemic

With upcoming races off, a huge extrinsic motivator is out the window for many people. And the joy so many take from running outdoors with their friends is being tainted by the uncertainty around everything that’s going on. Is running, even just with one other person, unethical in the current circumstances? Are you opening yourself up to the risk of being infected? And could that ‘harmless’ run you did yesterday end up harming someone else tomorrow? In many places running outdoors alone, or with those sharing your home, is still allowed. However, in some jurisdictions even that luxury has evaporated.

It says a lot about the social nature of us humans that solitary confinement is considered one of the most abhorrent punishments within a prison. Although the social distancing people are experiencing is much less extreme than strict solitary confinement (people are spending time with the people in their home, and online connectivity is blossoming now more than ever), the resultant disconnect is still placing many people under a lot of mental strain. Add to this the uncertainty and disruption and it’s no surprise some are struggling with motivation.    

Even though it may feel like so much is spiralling out of control, and the uncertainty may be fuelling a growing flame of anxiety, it’s time to focus on what you can control. Amidst this chaos there is opportunity. The silver lining on the most ominous of stormy clouds may be very thin, but it will always be there. Much of what’s going on is well beyond your control as an individual. Incessantly checking the growing number of cases and deaths in your vicinity isn’t going to do anything to change the trajectory of the numbers. Worrying about what will happen to the economy won’t change the number of percentage points it fluctuates each day. 

read more
Tom Evans – Pushing Limits in the World of Ultrarunning

Tom Evans – Pushing Limits in the World of Ultrarunning

A few weeks ago we sat down to record a podcast episode with British athlete Tom Evans for some insight into his life as an ultrarunner. Having only recently devoted himself to running full-time – leaving the military to focus on athletics – as we sat down Tom said, “I’m really excited to share some of my knowledge, some of my wisdom that I’ve built up over my very short running career so far.” Throughout our conversation, Tom shared captivating anecdotes of his journey into ultrarunning and a wealth of information on his training that has taken him to where he is now.

Articulate and charming, Tom Evans, an ex-captain in the Welsh Guards, has had an unorthodox trajectory to reach the upper echelon of the ultrarunning world. The now twenty-eight-year-old initially tested the turbulent waters of ultras by diving headfirst into the scalding Saharan vortex that is the 251km self-supported stage race, Marathon Des Sables. What’s more is that this came about from a bet in a pub, where Tom thought that he could outdo some mates who had recently placed in the top three hundred of the 2016 edition of the race.

With six months of preparation – self-coached, with no proper training plan and without much direction – Tom managed to place third in the 2017 MDS. A slew of impressive results followed, with Tom taking out first place at the 2018 edition of the 100km Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc CCC event and third at the Western States Endurance Race hundred miler in 2019 – becoming the first non-American to go sub-15 hours at the event. Tom prepared for some of these mountain races whilst still based in London. When asked about how this worked, he responded “running is running, no matter where you’re doing it.” But he also admits that he had to run some sessions that were a bit “outside the box.”   

read more

Subscriber? Login here to unlock all articles!

X

Forgot Password?

Join Us