Josphat Boit – What it takes to pace Kipchoge

 

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.

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Kipchoge’s World Record – A marathon pacing masterclass

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.

  1. Splits in the range of 2:52 – 2:55 – These are world record pace splits
  2. < 2:52 – The kilometres faster than world record pace
  3. >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.

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Kipchoge blows world record away in Berlin

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge has quite literally blown the marathon world record away today in Berlin running an astonishing 2:01:39. In the process taking 1 minute 18 seconds off Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 2:02:57 here in Berlin. Many had tipped Kipchoge as the likely heir apparent to the world record after near misses in recent years both here in Berlin and London. Today he made no mistake and tore the record to shreds.

With a relatively small group of pacemakers leading the way Kipchoge was under world record pace from the outset going through 5km in 14:24 and running a very evenly split race to halfway. Kipchoge went through halfway in 61:06 with just one pacer, Josphat Boit left. Kipchoge and his team had set pacers a halfway target time of 61:00 however would have wanted more than just one left with him at this point. Boit was able to get to 25km before dropping out and leaving Kipchoge with and seemingly insurmountable job of 17km alone for the world record.

Most impressively it was here that Kipchoge seized the moment and increased his pace to go through 30km with a 52 second gap to the world record pace and by this stage the world record was definitely under threat. By 40km it was matter of by how much with a sub 2:02 now seemingly possible.

It was history in the making when Kipchoge ran under the iconic Brandenburg Gate over the final kilometre and broke the tape for the greatest marathon run in history. Kipchoge is now 10 wins from 11 marathons including a world record and an  Olympic gold medal. Even more impressive from this run is that pacemakers couldn’t get him to the desired 30km mark, meaning Kipchoge lowering this time in the future is certainly possible.

Kipchoge ran the smallest of negative splits with a 61:06 1st half and 60:34 second half. Simply amazing pacing considering most of the second half was Kipchoge versus the ticking clock of the world record . Amos Kipruto was almost 5 minutes behind for second on his marathon debut. A feature of all of Kipchoge’s marathons is his almost perfectly even splits, this one is just another example this, but one that will take some catching.

While the running world will be a buzz about the possibility of a sub 2 hour marathon in the future and how the ‘moon’ has just got closer to the earth. It is hard to gauge whether Kipchoge’s opposition will be inspired or demoralised by his display on the streets of Berlin. Certainly in the marathon world today only Kipchoge can have a conversation with the two hour mark.

Kipchoge has today further stamped his name firmly as the greatest marathon runner of all time. Today in Berlin is unlikely to be bettered by anyone else anytime soon. Quite possibly the greatest run of any distance of all time.

Bravo Eliud Kipchoge… Simply astonishing runner today sir.

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Interview with a runner – Russell James

Russell James is a barefoot runner from Killarney, a rural town of 250 letterboxes S E of Warwick, QLD, Australia on the foothills of the great divide just below the main range national park.

When Russell isn’t running he has an Urban farm setup where he supplies organic produce from a roadside stall and

markets. Russell and his partner also run a mobile event food van specialising in Allergen free plant-based foods, you can check out his business at Spudelicious.
Russell has personal bests over the following distances;
Half marathon  1.27.10
10k                     40.03
5k                       20.12
Thanks for spending some time with us Russell.

1. How long have you been running, and how did you start?

I started running as part of getting into triathlon. I was coming off the back of a long illness from a brain parasite that I contracted and I was looking for a sport that would get me fit.
That was back when I was 37 years old which is 24 years ago now. Apart from a time that I had a severely broken and shattered toe joint I have been running ever since then.

2. What running achievement are you most proud of?

I think what would come to mind would be representing Australia for the world championship triathlon event in Canada.
It wasn’t my best run as per times though, as I was the third Australian home in my age group and 33rd way down the list as an international competitor but representing Australia was a real blast.
Another running achievement that I am always proud of is someone coming up to me after the run and commenting how I can run so well in bare feet.

3. What is your biggest tip to becoming a successful runner?

I think as is any secret to successful outcomes is to understand the “why” of what you do.
 For me it was a desire to get well and fit, over the successive years it has changed its value and meaning to fit into more of a lifestyle choice and activities.
So for me, the stage of what I regard as ” successful running”  that I am in, I would sum up with the saying ” I’m not in it for the medal haul I’m in it for the long haul.”
The practical bio-mechanics of being a successful runner that I would put forward is getting your form right and all the running mechanics lined up before you start to stack on the kilometres. I would without any hesitation make the suggestion to a new runner to do barefoot foot strengthening and joint mobility work coupled with core strength work before you start to put trash miles on bad form.

4. What is your favourite training session?

It depends on what cycle of training that I am in.
Though I have not trained seriously for a number of years, it doesn’t mean I am not competitive but for me to train hard, my favourite training session needs other people to push me on 400m repeats around the track preferably grass.
This I find really helps me to sharpen up on the top end speed, yet, at the same time brings together the base work I like to do as strength work which I like as hill ( trail ) running.

5. How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

I think this question brings you back to the “why”  you run.  For me running, mobility, fitness, plant-based nutrition are lifestyle choices which underpin my desire for healthy active ageing.
Running is part of the quest I have taken on, to be using this life I’ve been given to its maximum potential in this physical sheath that has been given to me.
Understanding there are cycles in all things and ebbs and flows within life, how you deal with ” lack of motivation” means at some stages if I’m not motivated to get out the door for a run its no big deal, pick it up the next week, the next day, the next month, whatever ………  I’m in it for the long haul.

6. What are your favourite running shoes?

Tricky question, I have been through many varieties of minimalist running sandal never really finding one that I liked, I tried Merrill as a minimalist shoe but there were a few things about them that didn’t suit me.
At the moment I am using a pair of Altra lone peak trail running shoes but most times I prefer to run barefoot.
Though I am looking for a good 5K running flat that I can use when I need an A race effort.

7. What are your goals for the future?

How far do you want to project into the future for this answer but I have consistently stated that a future goal for my running activity is to hold a world title for the 5K track championships for the 90-year-old age division.
Apart from that, I would like to be able to encourage as many people as I can to spend more time barefoot and to engage in an active lifestyle that is full of functional movement and healthy compassionate nutritional choices.
The best way I know how to do this is lead by example of healthy ageing and to be available to share any useful information I may have learned on the way. My last couple of years of parkrun have been a mixed bag of results as overall times but I have been generally in the top 3 age group finishers most runs I think it’s up to 63 last I looked.
We were doing a 50 in 50 challenge  that was 50 parkruns in 50 weekends  which we posted on our youtube channel  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh1yQBA5WcPAeVX4yjy8eL24Kp4HxkKy1 , but in February 2017 my youngest son was killed in a car accident and life took a different turn for us and we moved out here to Killarney where we are now.
We have been supporters and race ambassadors for the Warwick pentath race …. next year I want to have a good crack at the 10k hill ascent so I am putting back on the “serious” training hat.
Thanks ever so much for your time and for detailing your running career. Good luck with your running in the future, achieving your goals in the future. If you’d like to follow Russell’s running journey be sure to follow him on Strava at Russell James and Instagram @wattzupsport. 

Use the code: runninger20 for a 20% discount on all eyewear at ND:R Elite performance Sunglasses https://aus.naked-runner.com

Goals of a successful marathon taper

 

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;

Training

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.

Sleep

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).

Nutrition

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.

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The last month of marathon training

If you’ve arrived at this point in your marathon training without injury or illness interrupting your training you’ll be feeling pretty good about the marathon that awaits you. With 10-12 weeks of quality marathon training in your legs you should certainly be feeling fit and well trained and almost ready to put the training into action on race day.

The last month of marathon training are still an important period with some solid training followed by a taper period. During these last 2-3 weeks of heavy training the long runs are still vital for continuing to build endurance but also to five you the confidence that you’ll be running your best on race day. We recommend to continue running your long runs with race pace work throughout them. This can easily be achieved by adding some race pace efforts during your run or finishing the run at race pace. These could look like 4 x 5km during the run at race pace or the last 10km at race pace. Using your last two long runs of your marathon training with these type of work will give you confidence that can run your race pace when you fatigue during the marathon. Marathons inevitably become very difficult over the last 10km, there is huge advantage by being trained and ready to give your best when it matters most.

Mileage over these last few weeks of heavy training should still be consistent with what you’ve managed to build to this point. There is no real advantage in building further at this point but a risk of injury close to the race. A smart decision is to maintain the mileage that you’ve achieved so far and be confident that you’ve done work. There is no substitute for the aerobic miles you’ve worked hard on putting in over the course of the last 10-12 weeks.

This last four weeks is a time to transition away from building strength and move further into building speed. This can be as simple as making your hill sessions shorter and your interval session more challenging. By this stage in your marathon training you are feeling strong and don’t need to build more strength, working on your speed and more importantly being able to fast as you fatigue. Interval sessions at this point should challenge you with short intervals, short recovery and more reps. Work hard in these sessions to give you the speed benefit before race day.

Once these last few weeks of hard marathon training is completed it’s time to taper. It’s an individual choice on how long this needs to be. For a marathon two weeks is generally considered optimal but many people decide on a one week taper and this is fine. If you choose a shorter taper recommendation would be to not run your last long run within the last 10 days of the marathon. At this point you don’t need the training, you need to absorb the training and rest before race day.

Taper’s can be a difficult time for runners who have been training hard and don’t feel like they need to rest. As we get closer to race the nerves and anxiety are heightened and this can add to the feeling. Tapering can be helped if you continue to run to your normal plan but lower the mileage. If you are used to running six days a week you probably still can, just cut your runs in half and continue about your normal schedule.

During your taper use sleep as a training tool and don’t set an alarm in the morning. If you run early in the morning your body clock likely is set to wake early anyway. Let yourself rest and run after you wake naturally, if this doesn’t leave you much time so be it, you could use a rest day anyway.

The last month of your marathon training is a great time to reflect on how far you’ve come from putting in 2-3 months of hard work. You are almost ready to run a marathon, something most people never get to experience. Enjoy every moment of the journey along the way.

 

Use the code: runninger20 for a 20% discount on all eyewear at ND:R Elite performance Sunglasses https://aus.naked-runner.com

 

Review – Gladsoles 10mm Super Trails

It’s no secret that my running footwear of choice is usually barefoot running sandals from US brand Gladsoles. I have now run in Gladsoles for almost five years now and for the past 2 – 3 years they have been on my feet more than any other. Whenever I am due for more barefoot running sandals I email Rich at Gladsoles and ask if he has anything new coming out. The purchase of these sandals came because my Trail 2.0 sandals had reached their decline after 1400km over all surfaces. This time around Rich let me know he had a new Vibram rubber that I may be interested in.

Enter the Gladsoles 10mm Super trail. These sandals are built on 10mm thick Vibram Nuflex rubber, the Trail 2.0 sandal was built on a 8mm thick Vibram Gumlite rubber. It was explained to me that the Nuflex rubber would be slightly less dense and slightly more flexible than the Gumlite rubber. If there was any criticism of the 8mm Gumlite rubber it would be that it was slightly too dense and didn’t have a lot of give.

What is missing from barefoot running sandals compared with most running shoes is mid sole foam. The mid sole foam is there to provide cushioning. When you run without mid sole foam your feet and ankles take more impact. There is no doubt this puts more stress on this area however in time the feet and ankles strengthen to the point where mid sole foam becomes irrelevant to your running. The effect of not having cushioning is mainly evident on longer runs as fatigue impacts running economy and running form. This has stopped me wearing sandals in road marathons to this point until my feet and ankles become even stronger. What I’ve been looking for in a barefoot running sandal is exactly what the 10mm Super Trail sounded like.

Immediately after running in the 10mm Super trail it was noticeable that the Nuflex rubber reacts slightly differently. It is quite a bit more flexible than the Gumlite rubber and slightly less dense. The benefit to this is a very small amount of give or cushion effect, that may be enough to help the feet, ankles and legs fatigue less through long runs and be able to run better for longer periods. The Nuflex rubber has been tested multiple times already on long runs of up to 3 hours 30 minute and this is evident.

Having a more flexible sandal means you still get fantastic feel from the ground whether you choose to run on road, trail or other surfaces. These have so far been tested on road, trail and beach conditions and passed each test comfortably. Initially this was a concern moving from a 8mm sandal to a 10mm rubber and whether this would affect the feedback you receive back from the ground. The 10mm sandal does give slightly less feedback however the benefits for longer runs outweigh this ever so slight negative.

The possible downside to a less dense rubber is longevity. The 8mm Gumlite have run 1400km and counting, I am unsure whether the 10mm Nuflex sandals will give this type of mileage. So far though they have run 150km and have virtually no visible signs of wear to the sole of the sandal. These sandals most certainly give 1200km+ meaning they are giving double what most running shoes twice their price return.

Gladsoles sandals are custom made to a tracing of both feet which you email when ordering. This is a huge benefit from any other product on the market. They are hand crafted and customised to your feet making sure that every sandal is a perfect fit for the individual runner.

So far the running experience in the Gladsoles 10mm Super Trail has been excellent. These are the fifth sandal I’ve owned from Gladsoles and for running long distances they are the best yet. Running in this sandal so far and testing it over marathon specific long runs in training, I am confident this sandal can get me through a road marathon (or a race on any other surface) in my best shape.

If you are looking for a barefoot running sandal for your running give Gladsoles some consideration. While they may not be the most recognised name in the barefoot sandal arena they make up for it by working hard to make a mighty good running sandal. The customisation can’t be understated as every sandal will fit perfectly and the customer service is superb.

The Gladsoles 10mm Super Trails are great choice of barefoot running sandal. #freethefeet

 

Marathon Training: The halfway point

You’re at the half way point of your marathon training program, so where should your training be and how should you feel? If you’ve completed all or most of your key sessions as designed you’ll be feeling fit, strong and motivated to get to the marathon start line.

Long Runs

With 7-8 long runs under your belt you will have developed a good endurance base and strong aerobic capacity. Running for over two hours at your long run pace should feel comfortable and dare I say relatively easy. This is why we run weekly long runs so that running for long periods feels comfortable. At this stage in your training you should have built to your maximum long run time or distance, your base endurance training is almost completed. One of the great feelings from regular long runs is the bodies adaptation to endurance. As the body adapts to regular increases in the long run distances, the distances that were difficult early in your marathon training now feel easy.

Over the next 5-6 weeks before a taper you can add some quality marathon specific training to your long runs. These can consist of race pace efforts during a long run. A favourite session is on a 30km long run to include 4 x 5km at race pace in the middle of the run with a 1-2km recovery between each. You can easily structure a long run session on a similar theme but add race paced efforts during the middle or finish the long run this way and really build your resistance to fatigue at your race pace.

Hill Sessions

Half way through the marathon program you will be strong from regular hill sessions. These sessions have given you the leg strength to be able to feel stronger as you fatigue during your longer runs. This strength will be vital in the later stages of the marathon when running gets tough. Over the next 5-6 weeks hill sessions we recommend continuing completing hill sessions weekly and ensuring a strong body on marathon day.

On top of the long runs and hill sessions, the two most key base marathon fitness sessions the interval and aerobic runs you’ve completed will have assisted in building a really strong fitness base. As mileage has increased over these 7-8 weeks as has a solid aerobic capacity. People whose marathon training has gone to plan to this point could quite easily run a good marathon this weekend.

The second half

For the second half of the marathon training you will most likely want a 10-14 day taper at the end. If you are on a 16 week marathon cycle this leave six weeks of training before the race taper. From this period you can focus more on race specific training and less on building your endurance and strength.

The three key sessions won’t change too much but the focus shifts slightly to long runs that incorporate race pace, intervals that are shorter at a slightly higher intensity and hill sessions that are shorter. The focus in this period will give intervals the priority over hills. This is reversed from the first half of training when building strength was a great priority then speed. This is because your strength base is now built and we shift to getting ready to running your fastest on marathon day.

Remember you don’t need to become a faster runner to run a faster marathon, you need to stop getting tired and run your best at the end of the marathon. Therefore long runs should be run throughout the training program and will always be the most valuable run of each week.

If you are feeling this way at half way then you should be confident that you are on track for the marathon start line and  a good performance. Stay motivated and keep working hard and you’ll achieve your race goals in your marathon.

 

Runners: Stop getting tired

 

“Distance runners don’t need to get faster, they just need to stop getting tired” – Matt Fitzgerald

When most runners think about improving their performance over any race distance they think about how to get faster. What we really should be thinking is how do I stop getting tired during races. This thinking and Matt Fitzgerald’s quote is synonymous with the way elite runners approach their training. It is mostly not about becoming a faster runner, it is about getting through an event reducing the effects of fatigue on your running performance.

Most runners suffer nerves or anxiety before a race, however not usually nerves at whether we can run the desired pace. Nerves before a running performance are often directed at the pain and suffering that runners go through as muscle fatigue sets in. It is not the speed we are running that is the problem, it is being able to keep running that speed as we tire that runners need to improve.

Your goal pace in the marathon for instance is not that fast for you. However it is extremely difficult and painful to continue at that pace at mile 24. The only difference is you are physically and mentally fatigued.

How can you stop getting tired?

If you want to be able to perform at your best practise makes perfect. If you want to improve your running, run more. Simple advice,  but there really is no shortcut to improvement.

  • Consistent long runs

If you want to give yourself the best chance at running well as you fatigue then consistent long runs are essential. Legendary running coach Arthur Lydiard used to have his 800m and mile runners complete 20 mile long runs every Sunday. These were completed at an aerobic pace and designed to have the runner build endurance. Elite 800m runners are no different to elite marathon runners in that they don’t need to become faster, they need to stop getting tired when they hit the home straight in a fast run 800m race. Quite simply, if you want to minimise the effects of fatigue during the business end of your next race you should be running an aerobic long run weekly.

  • Aerobic mileage

Aerobic mileage means running at a pace that builds the aerobic capacity, this means low intensity, low heart rate running. If you want to improve your running, run more at an aerobic mileage. It is not the weekly interval session that will make you tire less but the repeated aerobic mileage. Increasing your aerobic mileage and sustaining this over a period of time will give incremental improvements. These will be difficult to see in the short term but over time the improvements will be able to be measured. If you need to skip a workout for whatever reason it’s better to skip the interval session and run the aerobic session. Remember, you don’t need to get faster, you need to stop getting tired.

These are two simple ways you can train your body and mind to make a small change in your running training. Almost every one of us has been guilty at some stage of running our easy runs too hard, shifting your mindset to believe you don’t need to get faster can change this habit. If you run your easy runs at a lower intensity you will recover quicker and be ready and motivated for the next run allowing you to run more often.

When you go into a race knowing you’ve done enough training you will be better equipped to deal with everything a race throws at you when you get tired. You may not ever become a faster runner, you don’t need to, just stop getting tired.

 

 


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Interview with a runner – Melissa Ensink

 

Melissa Ensink is a runner from Melbourne, Australia and a six time marathon finisher. Melissa is also an accomplished yoga teacher and vegan. Melissa recently ran the Canberra marathon in April and is currently training for her home marathon in Melbourne in October.

Melissa has personal best times at the following distances;

Marathon PB – 3:54:58

30km PB – 2:33:30

Half marathon PB – 1:45:08

10km PB – 48:24

5km PB – 23:45

 

How long have you been running, and how did you start?

I was always a runner back in school, from as early as grade 3 I was competitive in athletics and cross country. My events were 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay. I also did cross country and although ‘long distance’ running wasn’t a natural gift, I did okay and was a part of a pretty successful cross country team in secondary school. This was mainly due to two of the runners in our team being very competitive at state and national levels. For a few of my teenage years, back in my home town, I was also a boundary umpire for the local football leagues. At the time, I loved footy and thought it was the best thing to get paid to run and watch footy – even if it was raining. After school I didn’t continue any formal training and just ran to keep fit and healthy and also for the positive mental health effects.

I decided I wanted to run a half marathon back in 2012 but after I injured my knee playing netball, I didn’t get around to this until August 2013 – Sandy Point Half Marathon. My training consisted of running one or two of the same loops near my house, and timing it with a fake purple Casio watch I got in Thailand for $3. After that I got more focused on my running, bought my first Garmin watch, completed a proper training plan and ran my first marathon.

What running achievement are you most proud of?

Finishing the Honolulu Marathon is my favourite running memory to date and I was proud to just finish. My training went really well but a few weeks out I injured my hip and was barely able to walk! With the right rest and guidance, I was able to run again and complete the marathon. It wasn’t fast and certainly not pain free but totally worth it.

What is your biggest tip to becoming a successful runner?

For me it is being organised and having a structured plan. If I haven’t set out what I will do for the week, I probably won’t do it. I like to know in advance what mileage I am shooting for and what workouts I will do.

If I am not training for a particular race, things are less structured but I still have a general idea of what I would like to do that week or phase. Mixing up training and events to keep things interesting is also important.

What is your favourite training session?

At the moment I am enjoying kilometre repeats. for example: 2km warm up, 4x1km @10km or HM pace (depending on the day) with 0.5km easy in between. 2km cool down. Distance and pace might vary depending on the day or where I am in the training cycle.

How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

Instead of relying on motivation, I am clear on my ‘why’, make the commitment to my goals and my training and stay disciplined in this pursuit. In an ordinary week, I would say half the time I am super motivated and pumped to run, and the rest of the time I would rather do other things. But I know that the work has to be done to get closer to my goals. I also tell myself when I can’t be bothered running that I will feel so much better afterwards which always ends up being true!

What are your favourite running shoes?

I used to love the Mizuno Sayonara but they’ve stopped making them. So I am on the lookout for a new favourite. This year I am testing the Asics Cumulus and Nike Lunarglide.

What are your goals for the future?

My overall goal is to be running for as long as I can, hopefully into old age. Right now my main goal is to run the Boston Marathon, so I am trying to get a qualifying time in the next 6-8 months. I would also like to run a marathon in every state in Australia and on every continent of the world.

Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule for this interview Melissa. If you wish to keep up to date with Melissa on her running journey you can follow her at pranarunning or on instagram also at pranarunning. Thanks again Melissa and good luck in the future.

 


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