The obvious fact that marathon-running is tough on the leg muscles but also the fact of pacing and trying to negative split.

Runners hold their pace for 13.1 miles, but then slow dramatically. But wait. We all know The Wall doesn’t hit you until 20 miles. There’s no physiological reasons for marathoners to suddenly fatigue at the halfway point. What gives?

Why did the runners crash at 13.1 miles?

Runners rely too much on goal setting, HR monitors, GPS paces – we set out faster than plan to for our race day fitness.  It works, but only for half the distance, because when we reach the 13mile mark we evaluate how things are going.  Not only do we evaluate our muscle fatigue physical attribute and feeling but we also engage the brain to psychologically assess.  We’re tired, more tired than we had planned to be in our overall marathon goal, so we decide to easy up, not due to glycogen levels for the 1/2 marathon stage (we haven’t hit the wall) but you have gone out too fast and you start to pay the price.

So all the fancy data external equipment can be got rid of on race day, but training with them can be critical to be able to train the Perceived (RPE) effort or evaluation of your performance.  The fancy equipment can calculate an arbitrary pace that you can’t actually maintain for the full 26.2 miles.  Listening to your body right from the start, start believing that your body is capable of selecting your race pace from the start and that you control the pace and effort that you go out at and not gadgets.  This is what some people refer to as Brain to Body pacing.

Try running a race with no gadgets, run it to feel / “perceived effort”, this is like a 5km run, you have no time to look at watches for gps/pace/HR or stop watch and even if you did you have no time to adjust your pace or effort as a result of being up or down on what you pre-event planned to do.  Some people run marathons, longer than 5km, in this Brain – Body pacing, there is a lot of room for this to be implemented into any Triathlon distance.

Working with a lot of my athletes in Paradise Tri we focus on utilising the “gadgets” within training but not to be too fixated with these watches/gadgets.  They are there as a confirmation and support to the RPE aspect, day to day the RPE can change with athletes and getting to have an understanding is difficult.

Below is a few examples of running with use of Heart Rate and GPS pacing for races and training, when racing the athlete has only looked at their unit (Garmin in this case) every now and then with NO “alerts” on HR Zones or Virtual pacing.  So not entirely to RPE but more confirmed with sporadic glances of the Garmin.

Wymondham 20mile 20 Mile Run

5km Park Run 

13mile Training Run

13 mile Training run

Are you Running with Purpose ?

With the Triathlon Season closed now here in the UK, most of my athletes are starting to pick up Strength and Conditioning and also run specific programmes.  With PTT athletes targeting the local Norwich 1/2 Marathon for 24th November I have been emphasising the focus to them with the question “Are you running with Purpose?”

This is a key question to any of the 3 disciplines in Triathlon – when you go out the door, dive in the pool, grab your bike or lace up running shoes,  what are you doing in that specific session.  Not only that session but also each length, each km/mile and pedal stroke.

One of my athletes has gone through “marmite” (Love it : Hate it) moments in running for the past 18mths.  Most recently we have started to challenge the run sessions to see what they are capable of running.  Here is a session from today.

Screen shot 2013-10-10 at 12.40.30

  • 10-20 minute warm-up
  • 1km @9:05/mile 5:39/km
  • 2km @9:22/mile 5:49/km
  • 1km @9:05/mile 5:39/km
  • 1km @9:05/mile 5:39/km
  • 400m RI between each rep
  • 10 minute cool-down

Red Line – Heart Rate
Blue Line- Speed/Pace
Blue Shading- Pace Zones

“…… the 1st 1k felt good. The 2k was hard work. The next 1k was horrible, felt sick and really would have liked to stop; and the final 1k was just a question of getting it done!! Still, I didn’t realise I could even do 2k at that sort of pace, so that’s pretty cool”

The target times have to be achievable, once you have calculated your pace for certain reps and distances this will give you structure/purpose to your sessions.  If they are realistic and you achieve them great, but not to easily achieve them.  As you see the athlete had initial doubt but then when you are focused on the rep and pace/effort this gives a positive result.

I just wanted to share this observation with you, not just from the athlete example above but there is many more sessions out there that add interest and purpose to your training.  Here’s some other run examples:-

Run Track/Effort Session

2 x 3200m 12:38min (6:21/mile) 400m Rest