Your race day is almost approaching and you know you haven’t done the work. Maybe you’ve fallen ill, maybe work or family life has gotten in the way or maybe you just haven’t been motivated enough to commit to your training properly. So how do you get it done when you know you’re under done?
It can happen to the best of us and if you run for long enough you are bound to reach a time when you just haven’t done the training and you get to a race under trained. This doesn’t mean you can’t get the best out of yourself on race day, but it does mean you have to mindful of your fitness level.
When you line up on race day under done it’s natural to have some anxiety about your race. The anxiety will be on whether your race will be compromised by your fitness, or it could even be whether you’ll get to the finish line.
Regardless of the distance of your race if you are underdone you should run conservatively from the start of the race. You should understand that your fitness level is likely going to compromise your race in some way and conservative pacing should be your strategy.
On the flip side a conservative pacing strategy is usually a winning strategy when you are fit and well trained. If you usually race too aggressively from the start being under done and forced into a conservative strategy may be a blessing in disguise. Being mindful of your fitness may lead to better pacing overall, a lot of time can be gained by smarter pacing.
If you are mindful of your fitness and start conservatively you can run yourself into the race later. In a marathon or longer there is plenty of time to race hard of and when you feel ready later on. Start conservatively and stay conservative in your pacing for as long as necessary.
When you go into a race under done you may need to lower your performance expectations. Being under done is certainly not a guarantee of a bad race but it is an indicator that you aren’t ready to run your best race. If under training was a strategy for personal best times than running would be a simpler sport for most of us.
If you go into a race with fewer expectations you may put less pressure on yourself to run your best. Going into a race without pressure from within to perform at your best should mean you enjoy the race further and are more awake to the atmosphere on race day.
Take each mile as it comes and enjoy the experience of being on the start line. If your lower expectations mean you pace your race better and enjoy the run more then it’s hardly a bad thing. If this means your race goes well then you can adjust your expectations during the run and have a great race.
Prepare your Mind
When you go into a race under done you can most certainly still run a strong race. By lowering your expectations and racing conservatively and strategically to your fitness you will give yourself a great chance of doing well. But the mind will have to be on its game.
Prepare your mind to be ready to race. If you are under trained physically you need to be in the game mentally. When you get to race day you need to be aware, ready and prepared for the suffering that may exist later in the race. A smart pacing strategy will get you a long way but at some point in the race it’s going to hurt and your mind needs to be ready to keep you going.
Your mind has the ability to push you further than most us think possible. Be patient in your race strategy but when it starts to hurt, accept it and let it hurt. Be ready to give your best in these moments.
Overall there is no substitute for getting to the start line trained well and ready to race your best. Sometimes it doesn’t happen though and getting the best out of your race is still possible when the training hasn’t gone to plan.
In the second article in this series we delve into the specific actions and tasks to help make the transition to barefoot running simple and safe. Be clear this will require patience and commitment, but will be worth the effort.
Once you’ve accepted a mindset that will allow you to commit to changing to barefoot running the transition can be started with a number of simple steps. If you’ve spent most of your life in over-protective shoes you will have weakened the feet and they need to be strengthened before barefoot running is simple and easy. You have also likely had your feet changed from their natural state by being crushed over time by the shoes.
You’ll be most successful transitioning to barefoot running if you also transition to a barefoot lifestyle. Now that you’ve changed your mindset this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
Before you begin your transition take a photo of your bare feet, through your barefoot transition feet will change their appearance and this photo will give you a reminder of where you’ve been and are now going.
It’s now time to release your reliance on shoes, in particular heavy, over-protective shoes that hinder the foot from moving in its natural state. Spend time barefoot, when you are at home take off your shoes and walk around both inside and more importantly outside without shoes. By walking around outside you will start to awaken the proprioceptive sensors within the body.
The time taken to transition to barefoot running will vary between individuals. If you have run for a long time in a heavy trainer or used orthotics it will take more time. If you’ve run without injury for long periods in a lighter racing style shoe than the transition will be shorter. In the infancy of the transition these types of runners should be equally careful and patient.
From the start of your transition you can include some simple strength exercises. Start with a 5-10 minutes of simple exercises designed to strengthen the calves and Achilles tendons. Both double and single leg calf raises are great exercises to start doing regularly at the beginning of your transition. These can be done multiple times every day, as they will help strengthen the areas you are about to stress more when you begin running.
The next step is to start running either barefoot or in minimal footwear.
If you choose to run completely barefoot be mindful that your skin will need some time to begin to toughen. It is advisable to choose a soft surface such as a grass sporting field.
By minimal footwear we mean a shoe or sandal with a zero heel to toe differential, wide toe box area and minimal cushioning. Almost all running footwear that fits these requirements will be flexible and give the foot the ability to move naturally.
As each individual is different, so will be the transition to running barefoot. To begin with start with a few minutes of running at a time and be mindful of any pain in the feet, calves and achilles. While a little pain is to be expected if you are still experiencing pain the following day you’ve run too far too soon.
The two most common strategies to incorporate barefoot running into your training are;
Run in conventional shoes and take off the shoes near the end of the run.
Eg. 30 minute run with last 5 minutes barefoot
Go barefoot and walk/run
Eg. 30 minute exercise with both walk and run periods. Start with 5 minute increments of 4 min walk, 1 min run.
As you progress slowly increase the time you are spending running in either strategy until running barefoot becomes the major part of the exercise. Be prepared for this to take a number of months before you are conditioned to running barefoot for a 30 min period comfortably.
When running barefoot focus on having a quick leg turnover and being light on your feet. This will most likely result in you adopting a forefoot landing. Foot strike is a result of running with a barefoot process. We will focus more on the specifics of barefoot running technique in the third and final article in this series.
If you have any questions regarding your transition to barefoot running in the past or want further advise for your future transition reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve read much from the mainstream media on barefoot running you’d be excused for thinking that it just relates to changing your foot strike. Most media on barefoot running centres around taking off your shoes and changing from heel striking to forefoot striking when running. In doing so you’ll eliminate injuries and run off into the sunset leaving your shoes behind.
Whilst changing foot strike is one aspect to barefoot running there are a number of components. Changing from running in heavy cushioned shoes to minimal shoes or barefoot takes patience, commitment and most likely a change in mindset.
It’s quite reasonable to understand that humans lived for thousands of years without cushioned footwear and running injuries didn’t occur. While most runners also most likely know a runner that is currently injured or recently injured. It’s also quite reasonable to believe that the human foot was designed through evolution to walk or run without the aid of shoes. Then why is it so difficult to understand the benefits of barefoot running?
To make a successful transition to barefoot or minimal shoe running the mindset may be the biggest change required. If you’ve got to adulthood and have worn over protective shoes all your life you have many years of mindset to change.
In barefoot running terms a fundamental change in the belief system is required. The runner must change their belief that the cushioning and support of traditional running shoes is helping to a mindset that says the human foot is fine without the cushioning and support. The mindset shift to believing the modern running shoe does more harm than good by not allowing the foot to move in it’s natural form and weakening the muscles associated. Once this mindset shift occurs there is a transition period that will take time.
If you have worn over-protective shoes fall your life then you will have weakened feet, ankles and muscles associated with barefoot running. It takes time and patience to build these muscles, however as these muscles strengthen you will become more resistant to injury.
Making this transition patiently is important, starting with becoming barefoot more often in everyday life and regularly walking barefoot will reawaken these muscles and build strength. From here it is simply a matter of beginning with small amounts of barefoot running and increasing this amount over time.
While you are transitioning utilise simple barefoot strength and conditioning tasks such as squats and jumping. As you gain strength in your feet and ankles you will develop better balance which helps when you stay stronger when running long distances.
A good drill to test this is to try and balance on one foot for a period of 30-60 sec. Once you can do this close your eyes and continue. As your strength increases this should become easier. Try the other leg and measure whether there is a difference between left and right. Another reason for increased balance is a heightened proprioception.
Proprioception is sometimes referred to as the humans ‘sixth sense’ and is the bodies ability to subconsciously perform movements and balance. Proprioception uses receptors in our skin, muscles and joints to give information to the brain as we subconsciously interact with it. Many of these receptors are in our feet.
By wearing over-protective, thick shoes we close these receptors over time which means less information is sent to the brain. By transitioning to barefoot movement and running we reawaken these sensors which gives almost immediate improvements in balance and basic subconscious movements.
Barefoot running is far more than taking off your shoes and changing to a forefoot landing foot strike. There are multiple parts in the transition and multiple benefits by making this change.
In part 2 of this series we will focus on specific tasks and techniques that will help you easily and safely transition to barefoot running and not lose mileage or fitness in the process. In the meantime start by spending time barefoot at home and begin to feel the difference.
For most keen runners the idea of taking a planned break from running is hard to swallow. All the fitness they’ve worked hard to develop will go and they’ll be lazy and unfit. Usually injury is the only reason a keen runner would even think about a break from running, but it may not be such a bad idea.
So your coming to the end of the racing season, there’s no goal race on the immediate horizon. You’re either satisfied with the results you’ve produced or not satisfied. So whats next? You can either keep training in the interests of keeping your fitness, ease your training back and try and maintain a fitness level you are happy with. Or just stop for a few weeks and focus on other things in your life. At times you’ll get to this point in your racing year and lack motivation to continue training. Is it time for a break?
Four good reasons to take a break
You have a niggling injury
Your motivation to train has decreased
You race times have stagnated or gone backwards
Running feels difficult
The easiest reason to decide to take a break from running is if you have a niggling injury. If you don’t have a race on the horizon then taking time to take a break can help you rest and recover the body and come back rejuvenated. Long periods of consistent running takes its toll on the body and minor niggling injuries can be easily overcome with a period of rest. There may be nothing to be gained by continuing to train.
If you’ve finished your racing season and your motivation has decreased taking a break is very worthwhile. Again there is nothing to be gained by pushing yourself through training when you aren’t motivated to run. Taking a break can rejuvenate the mind as much as the body. Enjoy other aspects of your life during the break that may be sacrificed through daily running habits.
If your race times have stagnated or even gone backwards continuing to train through without an immediate goal can also be deflating. If your race times haven’t improved you may need to look at your training schedule and make adjustments for your next goal. Taking a break from running can allow you to reset and assess whats working or not working in your training. It might be a time when you decide you need a coach and reach out to one for help. A few weeks break from running may also spark your motivation to get back into training and right the wrongs of your recent results.
If running feels difficult and each run doesn’t come easy, it could be time for a break from running. Often this happens after long races where you’ve fatigued yourself physically and mentally and haven’t recovered yet. If running feels difficult and there isn’t an immediate goal, theres nothing to gain from pushing through. Slow down and take a break.
When you take a break from running you can go one of two ways. You can retreat completely from running or you can use the time to start to plan your next goal races and plan your next phase of running. You’ll likely need to find an outlet in your life where running has now left. The goal is to enjoy the break so finding something outside running you enjoy or gaining motivation through planning new goals is important.
When you take a break from running you should remember you will lose fitness. But if you’ve gained it once then it will be easier to gain the next time. If you are an experienced runner the fitness will come back relatively quickly. A good rule is for each week you break it will take two weeks to regain the fitness lost. If you are planning your next races during your break from running you should factor this into how far into the future you plan these races.
Taking a planned break from running is a scary thought for some runners. If running gives you joy in your life then the goal should be to run for a lifetime. Taking a break from running in the short term may just help keep you running further, faster and happier in the long term.
You’ve run your marathon and everything went well (or didn’t), your left with that feeling of personal accomplishment but also an empty feeling of what comes next. Almost every runner feels some emotions when the marathon is over and there is no more marathon training to get after.
The feeling can be rather empty, you’ve climbed your own Mt Everest on marathon day only to find that the next day it’s not there and you need to start again. It’s a strange feeling and many runners struggle to cope with the post marathon blues which can easily lead to motivational issues that last for weeks or months.
Recovery from a marathon is important and you should take a few weeks post marathon to ensure you recover fully. This should include only easy running for at least a few weeks before starting building mileage again. While you are recovering is a good time to look to the future and start thinking and planning about what comes next.
Three tips on planning what comes next.
Depending on whether you achieved your goals in your marathon may impact what you plan for your next race. If you missed your goals for the marathon, especially if you came very close it is easy to stay motivated and start planning for another marathon to claim redemption. These days there are plenty of marathons to choose from so it’s quite easy to find another marathon to run.
Once you’ve decided on which marathon it is reflect on how your preparation went and what you could have improved last time. The aim is to improve from your last race so take the experience you learnt from the previous marathon and take it to the next marathon preparation.
If you achieved your goals in your last marathon, think about what you want to achieve in the next marathon and how you alter your approach to be even better next time.
Pick some shorter races
Sometimes the hard work of preparing for a marathon can lead us drained and getting straight back onto that horse may not be the best idea. Picking some shorter races can be a good idea to keep training towards without the volume of marathon training to overwhelm you.
If you run some 5km, 10km or half marathon races you’ll be able to recover from them much quicker and may be able to string a few races together to keep racing and stay motivated to train. These distance are also great to travel to without a large race taking your focus for the entire weekend. Running shorter races can be great to keep you focussed on running faster and improving your running.
Maybe now is the time to go ‘Ultra’. With the recent boom in trail ultra marathons its easy to think it’s time to hit the trails and go longer. In most countries now there is an abundance of 50km, 100km or 100 mile events to choose from and whatever distance you choose will give you a much different challenge to a road marathon.
Ultra marathons can take you well outside your comfort zone so if this is what you need post marathon then this could be the goal for you. Running on trails is fun and being far away from the urban lifestyle and out in nature certainly has its appeal.
Taking on a longer distance will require the same commitment to marathon running and these days are just as accessible. Going ultra may just be what you need to get back on track.
Whatever you choose to do post marathon it’s important to enjoy the moment and celebrate a marathon finish. US statistics say 0.5% of the population will run a marathon in their life, it is a big achievement. Remember this before you go and chase your next goal.
While most of us will never be able run like Eliud Kipchoge, understanding his training may help us become better runners in our own right.
A full month of Eliud Kipchoge’s training in the lead up to the Berlin Marathon was recently published, you can find it here. Kipchoge follows a very simple structure to his training, he runs seven days a week and doubles on five of these days giving himself two afternoon rests. Each week he runs three distinct workouts being his interval track session, long tempo run and fartlek session. The remainder and the majority of his running is described as easy or moderate running and in these sessions Kipchoge runs well within himself to recover and build an aerobic foundation.
So how fast does the fastest marathoner of all time go on an easy day? Well as it turns out not that fast. Kipchoge often runs a 10km easy run in 40 min or at 4 min/km pace. This is really easy for a guy whose marathon pace is 2:55 min/km.
So what can the average runner learn from Kipchoge’s day pace? Average runners of all abilities and experience levels often run their easy runs too fast. What this does is not assist recovery and they spend too much time fatigued and not absorb training load and improve.
So what is your Kipchoge easy pace?
Relative to his marathon pace Kipchoge’s easy pace is 27% slower than his marathon pace.
Runner Marathon Pace Easy Pace
Kipchoge 2:55 min/km 4 min/km
2 hour 30 min marathon 3:33 min/km 4:30 min/km
3 hour marathon 4:16 min/km 5:25 min/km
3 hour 30 min marathon 4:59 min/km 6:19 min/km
4 hour marathon 5:41 min/km 7:13 min/km
4 hour 30 marathon 6:24 min/km 8:17 min/km
Kipchoge runs his five weekly afternoon easy runs at this pace and four times a week his aerobic runs are at a similar pace but for distances between 17 – 22km. For him this pace is very easy, just as the paces for your goal marathon above will look very easy.
If you are running your easy days too quick you’ll likely not run your harder workouts as effectively as they could be. Slowing down on your easy days will let you absorb training and let it take effect.
My decision to enter the Beach to Brother marathon came soon after competing in the 2017 race. I was disappointed with my effort in last year’s race and how I raced contributed to some real suffering over the last 10km.
My training for this year’s event was mostly trouble free, in this preparation I slightly increased my mileage from recent marathons and was able to put together a good block of training. I was confident going to the race that I’d be able to put together a good race due to this training. Much of my training had been on the course as the race is held in my home town of Port Macquarie, Australia. I decided to run this race in Gladsoles trail sandals, which I had used in last year’s race and was very happy with running in them on this course.
Beach to Brother marathon is such a unique race and has many variables that mother nature can decide to contribute to its difficulty. Last year it was extreme heat that made the race very difficult, this year the weather report looked favourable for good conditions reporting mild temperatures.
Race morning started with those mild temperatures and fine conditions that were welcomed by all at the start line. My goal this year was to break four hours and my tactic to achieve this was to run patiently throughout and run my own race regardless of where my position in the race was.
I started with this in the forefront of my mind and ran the first kilometre in a small lead group of 5-6 runners. After the short climb up to the top of Flynns Beach I took the lead of the group and rolled through the flat and downhill section onto Flynns Beach. I was a little surprised when only one runner came with me to this point and we had about 100m lead by the time on the sand. The other runner was another local runner and friend of mine Clifford Hoeft. Cliff and I ran the next section to Lighthouse Beach mostly together, on most of the uphill trail sections I pulled away as I envisage Cliff took these relatively conservatively and I did the same on the downhill sections and was easily caught. We reached the Tacking Point Lighthouse together with a good lead over the rest of the field.
The section along Lighthouse beach to Lake Cathie is a long 10km stretch of beach with a detour mid-way down the beach into a nearby trail before going back onto the sand for the remaining 5-6km. I gained a short lead at the lighthouse Beach aid station as I didn’t need to fill my flask. This section was nice running with relatively hard sand despite an incoming tide and a light southerly headwind to run into. Exiting the beach to the trail onto a nice gravel road and both myself and Cliff picked up the pace along here and rolled through this section to the aid station before going back onto the beach, I filled my water flask and was back on the sand just behind.
By the time we had come back to the sand the wind strength had increased and running into this section was more challenging. I decided to focus on my own running, and be patient running into the wind. The incoming tide was starting to make the sand softer and by the coffee rock section before Lake Cathie there were a few sections where I got wet with waves crashing against the rocks or needed to go rock hopping over the coffee rock section. In this section of the race I had put some space between myself and Cliff and I exited the beach at Lake Cathie with a few hundred metre lead.
A short trail section around Lake Cathie and I felt great going back onto the beach for the section to Bonny Hills. By this stage the wind was quite strong and the tide had made an initial coffee rock section of about 500m unpassable without rock hopping over. I had expected this section and was prepared for the coffee rock, running in sandals makes this section slightly more challenging as it is easy to catch a toe or roll an ankle. It was on this section I slightly rolled my right ankle and fell onto my knee, while only a small fall I got up with some pain in my right knee. The rest of this section is beach and into the now strong head wind was tough running, I exited the beach at Bonny Hills still in the lead and feeling good.
From Bonny Hills there is a section of both up and downhill grass and trail over Grants Headland. My knee by this stage was quite sore and all the downhill sections aggravated it more, I was still running quite well albeit in some pain. On the very tight single trail over Grant’s Head I was caught behind some half marathon runners and unable to pass, at this stage Cliff caught me. The trail between Grant Head and North Haven Surf Club was relatively uneventful as we ran together and both ran relatively conservatively. Reaching North Haven with 10km to go I stopped for water briefly before heading off for the last 7.5km before the 2.5km summit to North Brother Mountain. It was at this stage when Cliff accelerated ahead of me on the breakwall and I didn’t have the legs to go with him. I made the decision to run my own race knowing that the finish to this race is as tough as they get.
At this stage of the race the marathon distance was certainly starting to hurt and by the aid station with 5km to go I was feeling okay but my pace had slowed. From here it is mostly uphill until the base of the mountain and I had lost confidence that I was going to compete for the win. Cliff had run off looking very strong and I concentrating on surviving to the mountain and then doing what I can to get up. My goal of a sub 4 hour finish was still looking good.
The last 2.5km of this race has over 500m of elevation up a single trail, mostly stairs leading up the North Brother Mountain. Very soon into this climb I was aware that I didn’t have much if anything left and it was real test of my mental will just to get up the climb. With about 1.5km to go I was passed by another marathon runner. He was climbing the mountain very strongly and there was nothing I could do when he went past other than congratulate him.
Close to the top after taking a left hand turn the trail flattens out and there are a few runable sections mixed with further climbing. I tried to run these sections and hold onto my sub 4 hour goal but when I did both my calves started to cramp. I decided to power hike these sections and do the best I could. By this stage you can see the top of the trees and start to hear the crowd as the top is not far away. I was able to break into a run as I got near the finish and crossed the line in third place in 4:01:19. Just shy of my 4 hour goal but satisfied with a third place.
Big congratulations to Clifford Hoeft for winning this race, he raced a great race and was the strongest runner on the course today. Very happy to see him to be the first winner of this marathon local to our area.
With 24 hours of reflection I am happy with my race. I left everything I had on that course and can honestly say there is nothing more I could have done on the day. If I had my time again I would have raced the same way and gave myself a chance to achieve my goals.
The difficulty of this race was again magnified by the conditions, the wind and tide made the beach sections really tough and this contributed to the remainder of the race as it sapped energy from you that was really required for the brutal hill at the end. One of the beauties of this race is the mystery that the weather can create and how the coastal conditions change so much with the conditions. We may be waiting years before this race has conditions that will make it easier, it will be a different challenge every year..
This race is a must do NSW coastal trail race. It is super well organised and such a beautiful coastal course. The views over the coast from some of the spots on course are some of the best in the country, not to forget the amazing scenery on top of North Brother Mountain. It’s a race that gives me everything I love about competing in marathons, a tough challenging course, beautiful scenery and fantastic on course atmosphere.
Personally, I really want a sub four hour finish on this course, I certainly believe I am a good enough runner to achieve this and will undoubtedly be back from another crack at it next year.
While the world was rightly captivated by the amazing world record breaking run of Eliud Kipchoge on Sunday, it was Josphat Boit who had the best seat in the house being by the great Kenyans side for 25km in Berlin.
Josphat Boit is the 34 year old little known Kenyan runner credited with helping Kipchoge create history in Berlin. By running standards Boit is a quality elite middle – long distance runner, he has a marathon personal best of 2:12:52 set in Boston 2012 and a half marathon best of 61:33.
Earlier this year he ran the Kenyan Commonwealth Games trials in the 5000m missing selection by finishing 7th in a credible 13:38. Since then he has gained citizenship to the United States and will now run for the USA. As a Kenyan athlete he is one of hundreds of good runners, as a US athlete he will be an Olympic hopeful.
Boit was chosen by Eliud Kipchoge to assist in pacemaking for the Kenyan’s world record attempt in Berlin, however may not have known what he was about to be part of. As marathon pacing jobs go, not everything always goes to plan. Kipchoge started Berlin with three pacemakers guiding him through the opening 10km in world record pace before losing one, and then another at 15km as Kipchoge sensed the pace had dropped and asked for more.
From 15km, Boit was the only man left by Kipchoge’s side and at this stage slightly behind their halfway target time of 61:00. Kilometres 16 through 21 were the fastest of the first half of the race with Boit rallying to run Kipchoge to halfway in 61:05. In doing so taking 28 seconds off his own half marathon personal best set in the 2014 World Half Marathon championships in Copenhagen.
This clearly took it’s toll on Boit as the next four kilometres were all slower, but only by seconds. Such is the accuracy of Kipchoge’s pacing that every kilometre and every second matter and Kipchoge then increased his speed leaving Boit behind and ran the last 17km alone smashing the world record by 78 seconds.
By Josphat Boit’s standards his 25km was personally a brilliant run, which even more highlights how good Kipchoge was in Berlin. A high quality runner in his own right needed to run a career defining half marathon performance just to keep pace with Kipchoge. I would argue that the moment, and the world record chase drove Boit to be able to give more than he ever has before and the greater cause of running for Kipchoge helped him achieve his own best.
While Josphat Boit will never reach the level of Eliud Kipchoge, he played a large role in this world record. Before the race Kipchoge and his three pacers could be seen huddled together in prayer, preparing as a team for the 42.2km that would await them and Kipchoge’s amazing run into history. For Boit to be able to produce a career best half marathon performance and then hang on for another 4km to support Kipchoge shows the esteem Kipchoge is held and just how much this world record attempt meant to all inside the Kipchoge team.
Marathon running is a highly individual sport, some of the beauty of running is the solitude it allows. Rarely do we get to see or credit a team atmosphere like what happened on Sunday.
Helping Kipchoge achieve marathon immortality required Boit to shine brighter as a runner than he ever has before. The Berlin marathon 2018 certainly brought the best out of Eliud Kipchoge and we will remember this run forever. Josphat Boit certainly played his part and although he will be a footnote in history he will remember this day forever.
Eliud Kipchoge’s world record marathon performance at the Berlin marathon on Sunday was astonishing. The way in which he devastated the old world record running 2:01:39 we will talk about for decades to come. Apart from the time the most impressive part of this run is Kipchoge’s pacing.
A feature of Kipchoge’s 11 marathons is his ultra consistent even pacing. The Berlin marathon 2018 is the most perfect example yet from the brilliant Kenyan and achieved despite his pacemakers faltering much earlier than expected. Pacing during a marathon is very important, being able to remain patient and disciplined in order to give your best effort over the last 10km is essential for running your best regardless of your ability. Kipchoge does this better (and faster) than anyone.
Dennis Kimetto’s former world record of 2:02:57 requires an evenly split kilometre pace of 2:55 min/km over 42.2km of the marathon. The Kipchoge team had made no secret that this would be a world record attempt in the lead up to Berlin. Just days before the race it was announced a half way target time of 61:00 or 2:53 min/km would be asked of pacemakers. Kipchoge clearly wanting to bank a 30-60 seconds for the second half and be under world record pace at half way.
Kipchoge’s kilometre splits don’t tell the full story but they do show his intention to break the world record and how brilliant he was throughout the race.
For the purpose of analysis we will break down Kipchoge’s kilometre splits into the three groups.
Splits in the range of 2:52 – 2:55 – These are world record pace splits
< 2:52 – The kilometres faster than world record pace
>2:55 – Kilometres outside world record pace
When we look deeper at these splits it is clear just how amazing this run was. It is also clear that Kipchoge is aiming to be as evenly paced as possible on or slightly under world record pace and he barely drifts his focus throughout. 27/42 kilometres are within the world record range 2:52 – 2:55.
Kipchoge started very quick with a 2:43 min/km opening split, good enough for a sub 1:55 marathon. He and his pacemaker quickly hit their rhythm though after putting the breaks on in 2km with 2:58 they went through the next 7km in the world record range. There was a brief moment at kilometres 10, 13 & 14 which were all 2:57, this coinciding with pacers dropping back after 15km leaving Kipchoge with just one man to pace him. From here the pace got quicker to halfway as they chased the target time of 61:00 missing by just 5 seconds.
When Kipchoge’s pace dropped outside world record pace at 25km after a 2:56 split, Kipchoge’s pacer dropped out leaving him alone for the remaining 17km. Quite remarkably that was the last kilometre outside the world record range. All of the last 17km run alone by Kipchoge are in the world record pace or faster. Kipchoge clearly relished this time alone, just him versus history of the 9km splits he ran under the world record range six of these were after his pacemakers dropped out.
By 40km it was a matter of how much the world record would be broken by and Kipchoge ran his second fastest split with a 2:46 and followed that up to close in 2:50 min/km for the greatest run in history.
Only 6/42km were run slower that the old world record pace. All of these were run with the aid of pacemakers and twice Kipchoge reacted by running quicker with his pacemakers unable to stay with him. Kipchoge effectively broke the marathon world record without the help of pacemakers, his best work was done after they dropped.
There were 9/42km under the world record range. Apart from the lightning quick first kilometre all of these were run when Kipchoge’s pacer was chasing their half way target or Kipchoge was chasing history in the backend of the marathon.
For rivals of Kipchoge it is sobering what the numbers indicate. Kipchoge is able to pace his marathon perfectly and in Berlin 2018 he was better without the aid of pacemakers. Unless Kipchoge himself can improve it, this world record may stand for a long time. One of the greatest moments in sports history.
Within every successful marathon program is an effective marathon taper. The taper is used to absorb the hard training you’ve put into your marathon and have you feeling rested but not stale or sluggish on race day. Most marathon programs use a two week taper from the last long run, with the hard training tapering off over this period before the race.
We will break the taper down into three areas;
Over the course of your marathon training you have put in a tremendous amount of hard work. The discipline and commitment to get through the training is what gets a marathoner to the race fit and ready to race a great marathon. In this last two week period you can forget about the hard training and utilise your training to assess your fitness and enjoy the runs.
For a simple way to manage the marathon taper training, take an extra day off. If you normally run five days per week run four. You won’t be running and long run in this week so have another rest day. You can still run your hill and interval workout if you like but keep it shorter and not overly challenging. If you’ve been running six reps of your hill, run four and likewise on the intervals. The intensity of your training doesn’t need to change but make each session shorter. For your aerobic or easy runs the same should be done, make them 10-15 min shorter and enjoy the run.
A marathon taper that doesn’t change too much from your normal routine will keep you a happier runner over the taper period and motivated up until the race.
With a busy life and adding the rigours of marathon training to it runners often don’t get enough or prioritise sleep. One of the great benefits to running less is the advantage of more sleep. It is important that the marathoner takes advantage of the extra sleep available. Whilst the body clock may have you waking early any way do your best to sleep as long as possible and be as fresh as possible when it comes time to run your marathon.
With an extra rest day scheduled this should be viewed as a sleep in opportunity. With every other run shorter than normal there is an opportunity to sleep longer and run slightly later in the morning. The marathon week is a key time to make sure you get enough sleep, go to bed early and sleep.
Imagine if every extra hour of sleep you could get in this two weeks is a minute off your marathon time (not saying it works this way).
Whatever nutrition or dietary strategy you used for your marathon training shouldn’t need to change too much in your taper period. If it has worked for you for the 12-14 weeks of marathon training there shouldn’t be too much reason to alter in these two weeks.
Be mindful of how much less running you’ll be doing and how many calories your won’t be burning off. Cutting your weekly mileage by 30-50% from what it’s been used to may have an effect if you continue to eat the same way. Monitor how you feel, if you start to feel sluggish you may need to adjust your portion sizes. There is certainly no need to over think your nutrition and change your food intake too much though. keep it simple and you’ll be happier and feel good about this upcoming marathon.
Whether you are experienced at tapering or beginning down this journey stay focussed on why you started the marathon journey in the first place. If you’ve come this far and stayed healthy and uninjured than you are almost ready to run a great race on marathon day.