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).

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