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“Go hard or suffer the rest of your life” – Paul Chelimo’s Wisdom Distilled 

“Go hard or suffer the rest of your life” – Paul Chelimo’s Wisdom Distilled 

Paul emphasises the importance of being very strategic with training, when to go hard and how to peak at the right time. This includes adjusting work according to how the body is feeling, focusing on what he sees as being the most beneficial at any given point (eg. dropping off on strength training close to competitions or focusing on intense workouts rather than high mileage). He says that as he is aging, and the younger athletes are coming up the ranks, this is essential to stay ahead of the game.

Sondre Moen – Preparing for London Marathon 2020 Elite Race

Sondre Moen – Preparing for London Marathon 2020 Elite Race

On August 6th 2020, the London Marathon announced that the race will set off with an elite only field. The London Marathon Organisers chose to stage the race in a more controlled environment, instead of the usual course due to Covid-19.

Norwegian Sondre Moen (2:05:48 PB) is currently in the middle of a high altitude training camp in Sestriere (Italy), preparing for the showdown that will take place on October 4th comprising of the strongest field a Marathon has ever staged including the two fastest men in history over the distance – Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele.

We joined him for a track session on Sunday 13th September, 21 days until race day where coach Renato Canova shared his thoughts on the workout, the remainder of 2020 and more.

Renato Canova: “Today was a training session specific to the half marathon and marathon, on the track. The plan was to run 20km, it’s something that we can use many times approaching a Marathon.

Two times 3000m with 3 minutes of recovery. Three times 2000m with 2.5 minutes recovery. Five times 1000m with 2 minutes recovery. Six times 500m with 1.5 minutes recovery.

German Silva – Training Insights

German Silva – Training Insights

Silva says these workouts, and all their training, were strictly a team effort. Distributing the responsibility of holding the pace for 1km reps between 5-10 athletes meant that each athlete only had to lead 2-3 reps and could hold onto the back for the others. The group would go to Veracruz for training camps where they could do workouts at the relatively low altitude of 1300m, but from there they could quickly access altitudes of up to 2500m, or head to sea level, which was something they did regularly. “We used to travel a lot to train at different altitudes, that was the advantage of living in Mexico.”
Dehydration, according to Silva, is a much more significant factor at sea-level than at altitude, and he feels that recovery was facilitated by training at altitude. The siesta was also a key part of his regime, and recovery was a priority. Life in training was simple and repetitive, “we didn’t have much technology, we didn’t spend time on phones, we spent our time working out hard and recovering the hours we had to recover.” German says that this, and the strong sense of camaraderie and teamwork, were integral to the success of Mexican runners through that period. “If you see Kenyans and Ethiopians now, they are doing the same thing.”

Beat The Heat – Elite Marathoners Training Tactics

Beat The Heat – Elite Marathoners Training Tactics

Elite marathon runners are by no means unaccustomed to scorching temperatures, and the enervating effect of both extreme heat and humidity on performance. It only takes a brief glance at their competitive calendar to understand why, yet it demands delving below the surface of physiology and heat acclimation to understand how they outrun the searing sun.
The 2020 Summer Olympics set to take place in sauna-sweltering Tokyo, which has since been postponed to 2021, was predicted to be the hottest on record. So hot in fact, that the 26.2 mile marathon course was resurfaced with a heat-reflecting material called ‘Perfect Cool’. While reducing the surface temperature of the track by up to 10 degrees Celsius on hot days, further analysis found there to be hardly any cooling effect at head height, deeming their heat expelling attempt to be rather futile.

Pain, Endurance and The Art of Suffering

Pain, Endurance and The Art of Suffering

One study that Hutchinson cites, highlighting how differently people can process the same painful stimulus, was published by Wolfgang Freund in 2013. Participants were asked to hold their hands in ice water for three minutes and rate the pain they felt as the trial concluded. A group of ultrarunners completed the protocol and their average pain rating was six out of ten. Contrast this with the non-athlete control group who averaged 96 seconds before removing their hands as their pain maxed out at 10. Only three of the control group lasted the full three minutes. It must be noted that the ultrarunners tested were running the gruelling TransEurope Footrace which covers 2,789 miles in 64 days: athletes with an especially insatiable appetite for suffering.

Similar findings came up in a study by Karel Gijsbers, looking at Scottish swimmers and their tolerance of pain. The test protocol involved inflating a blood pressure cuff around the subject’s arm to cease circulation to the limb, followed by repeated clenching of the fist once per second, for as long as the subject could bear. Thirty elite (national level) swimmers were compared with thirty club swimmers and a non-athlete control group. The implications of Gijsbers’ findings are enormous.

The results show that the pain threshold was very similar for the three groups, with most participants beginning to report painful sensations at around 50 contractions. Athletes are not insensitive and feel pain like everyone else. What sets them apart lies elsewhere: there were stark differences in the pain tolerance exhibited by the three groups. The control group averaged 70 contractions before throwing in the towel (only ~20 beyond when they started to feel pain), club-level swimmers averaged 89, and the elite averaged 132, almost double the control group!

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