THE MARATHON BEYOND THE IRON CURTAIN (a flash story based on a true event)

 

Napping in the car had done him well. Norbert feels now relaxed, and ready with his shirt and race number for the race. The numerous people on the streets, ensures an animated course through Munich city centre.

Integrated into the course, Norbert finds himself, as he was hoping, at the head of the race. His mind is a whirlwind of sensations while descending the tunnel that gives access to the Olympic stadium. The finish line of the marathon is only a short distance ahead.

Coming out of the tunnel´s darkness, and as his eyes adjust to the evening light which fills the stands with an orange hue, he hears the clamour of the crowd. They are cheering: An athlete in the German shirt is headed for victory! Inside the Olympiastadiom´s track, and not feeling any fatigue, he knows that glory is within his reach.

It is only when approaching the finish line that his most immediate pursuer, the US athlete Shorter, makes his entrance into the stadium, receiving the boo from the dedicated German public, who is clearly sweeping for home.

Thus, without even needing to sprint, Norbert crosses first the finish line. Dodging the track judges, and with no time for celebrations, he unexpectedly continues running, heading again towards the tunnel.

Running only the last kilometre of the marathon, and surprisingly deceiving public and judges, he has managed to feel the taste of victory. Nevertheless, Frank Shorter from the United States is the true winner of the 1972 Munich Olympic marathon in 2h12m19s.

However, for East German student Norbert Sudhaus, his short-lived joke has also secured him a place in the annals of Olympic history.

THE “100 KILOMETRES IN 24 HOURS” AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY

Route card "100kms in 24h" (year 2000)

Remembering old races, we have decided to go back to the “100 kilometres in 24 hours”, a race that opened us a whole new world of distances. Organised by the running journal “Corricolari”, the race gives a chance to enter the ultra-running world for everyone. With a finish time limit of 24 hours, participants can distribute energy according to their level, and run or walk it.  

Still taking place nowadays, usually in mid-June, the course was changed a few years ago. The race started and finish in “La Peineta” Stadium, currently known as the “Wanda Metropolitan Stadium”, where Atletico de Madrid plays after moving its headquarters. This iconic place gave the race a feeling probably lost after changing the course. Nowadays you don´t enter into Madrid.

The race started always at midday on a Saturday, and you had to be back in the stadium before midday on Sunday. After crossing Madrid, we had to reach three villages (Tres Cantos twice). The organisation would transport whatever stuff we wanted at each check point: food, drinks, changing clothes, etc.

The stops, stage distances and kilometric points are in the attached table (see image).

We registered for the first time a long time ago, in 1999, when our longest distance achieved was a half marathon. Being mostly off-road our objective was finish it walking before the deadline. Even doing so was difficult, as usually only 1/3 of participants got to the finish line on time.

At midday and with the Sun at the top and heating intensely we had to do a lap in the stadium track before crossing Madrid. A few hardcore runners were already leaving the stadium while most participants were only crossing the start. A long hot day laid ahead.

It took almost two hours before heading outside of town and its paved streets. San Sebastian de los Reyes was the first checkpoint in the early evening. A brief visit before heading towards the next stop. The stage was only 11 kilometres, the shortest one, for the first visit to Tres Cantos. With enough people around there was always someone for tagging along. When arriving the worst weather had passed, but the race was only starting. It was the 35k.

From Colmenar Viejo the race entered a different setting. Night hours were better for the body, with fresher temperatures, but required extra attention looking for the signals and not getting lost. You don´t want to walk extra kilometres in a 100k race!

By the second visit to Tres Cantos, and already 2/3 into the race, fatigue levels were high. And there came the biggest mistake of 1999: to lay down and rest for a while. Feeling dizzy after standing up, and with the last stage being the longest with 35k, we took the easy way: called it a day at 65k and 4.30 am.

Disappointed, that adventure couldn´t finish here. In 2000 we decided to try our luck again. That year we felt more confident, after our marathon debut in April in Madrid.

Following a similar strategy than in 1999, we decided to stop the minimum at the check points. And we got to Tres Cantos again and the cursed kilometre 65. But this time around, although tired, we kept walking.

At dawn we got to the long and straight dirt roads encircling Madrid´s airport external fence. Not a friendly section, but already offering distant glimpses of the stadium. Exhausted at kilometre 90, and with more than 6 hours to do the last 10k I sat down for a while at the edge of the road.

Unable to get back on our feet, the race was over once again. Disappointed, and watching other walkers passing by towards the finish, we still waited two hours before an organization vehicle came around collecting the retirees.

For the second time in a row, the race was stronger than us.

And there it came 2001, and we were again at the start line of the “100k in 24 hours”. Two consecutive failures may had taught an important lesson: save the most energy early on, to use it at the latter stages, when most needed.

And it was the third time lucky. Two years after the first try we finally managed to reach the stadium and cross the finish line at 10.25 am, with more than 90 minutes left.

Plethoric feelings after being successful in such hard test.

But despite finishing, once again it was necessary to drag ourselves to the closest metro station: Las Musas. That 1 kilometre was always the hardest, carrying the luggage and ourselves with stiff legs. Descending those stairs was the latest test.

Once achieved, the 100k were crossed from the check list for the time being.

Although we got back for the last time three years later, in 2004. It was the last year before the race changed its course and abandoned Madrid.

More experienced, this time around we managed to improve our time by almost 2 hours. We completed the 100k in 20 hours 28 minutes, and again uniquely walking.

Those two withdrawals taught us a useful lesson, not only for sports, but also for life: 

 

Failure is not an option.  Keep trying until you can overpass your limits.

 

Those races were the unique ones we have ever quitted.

Summary table "100kms in 24h"

METABOLISM CHANGES INDUCED BY RUNNING A MARATHON

Photo by Miguel A Amutio (Unsplash)

Marathon popularity has been growing unstoppable during the last years, at least until the Covid-19 appearance, that has casted a shadow over a booming business.

With such levels of practice have appeared also some health problems, including injuries, hyponatremia, kidney and liver malfunction, gastrointestinal issues and, in some cases, even sudden death.

Therefore, the increased interest among scientist to investigate physiological changes associated with marathon performance. That is the goal of the research article pointed out in our post.

 

The study

Twenty experienced amateur male marathon runners participating in the Shanghai International Marathon took part in the study. They didn´t have previous health problems. Blood samples were collected at fasting, the morning of the day before the marathon, and within 1 hour after completion.

 

The results

Creatine kinase is a protein whose levels are related with fatigue, and usually increase during infections or injuries. Its levels increased after the marathon, indicating a certain degree of cardiac and muscle damage.

During long-term exercise the energy supply from the carbohydrates reserves becomes insufficient for the race´s demands. It is the time to start mobilising the fatty acid depots as energy source. They are the basic component of the lipids, or “fat” of our bodies. The whole process is called lipolysis, and involves activation of the tricarboxylic acids cycle, or TAC, an important pathway to provide energy during long-term exercise.

Pyruvic acid is an intermediate product of the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, playing an important role in the energy metabolism. Because of the activation of the TCA cycle with exercise, pyruvic acid levels consequently increased after the race, showing that the use of fatty acids was increased during the marathon run.

Glucosamine is an important substance responsible of the structure of joints and cartilages. Its levels decrease with aging, especially when there is deterioration of joints function. Long-tern exercise was shown to cause inflammation with a reduction in glucosamine levels. Therefore, the common recommendation of exogenous glucosamine for long-distance runners (abundant in shelled seafood).

Cortisol manages how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, among other important functions. Blood levels of cortisol are indicators of functional status. Cortisol is produced under stress and strenuous exercise, with an elevation of its levels with moderate to high-intensity exercise (>60% VO2max). There was a significant increase after running the marathon.

Testosterone levels are related with the physical abilities during resting conditions. Its levels are usually reduced after exercise. It is what happened with runners after the marathon.

On the contrary caffeine metabolism was also activated because of an increase in the levels of theophylline and theobromine in blood. This activation would help mobilize fatty acids deposits and induce lipolysis. The craziness for marathon, reaching even addiction levels in many, would have a chemical origin, because of an enhancement in the caffeine metabolism.

 

Conclusions

  • Marathon activated the TAC cycle to increase energy supply for the runners, by enhancing the utilization of lipids and amino acids, besides the carbohydrates.
  • Levels of cortisol and testosterone could be used to determine working load and physical capabilities.
  • The increase in the levels of caffeine metabolites (theophylline and theobromine) following exercise indicates an enhancement on the lipid metabolism and may explain the “addiction” to exercise.

 

Bibliography

Runners’ metabolomic changes following marathon.

Shi R, Zhang J, Fang B, Tian X, Feng Y, Cheng Z, Fu Z, Zhang J, Wu J.

Nutr Metab (Lond). 2020 Mar 13;1 7:19. doi: 10.1186/s12986-020-00436-0.

TRAVELING MEMORIES: A top 10

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Without being able to travel, or in some cases still confined at home, Facebook insists on reminding us of what we did or visited x years ago. In many cases it will make us feel nostalgic, for what perhaps we did not fully enjoy, without knowing that some of those moments would become, today, difficult to repeat.

Today it reminds us that 5 years ago we were in one of the best-known places in the world: Machu Picchu. This reminder has made me recall other magical/mysterious/special places that we visited. Places that marked us, and that still move something within us when we remember them or visit them again.

We left here our list, in no specific order, of 10 special places that touched something on us and managed to be fixed in our memory. And expecting that when things get back to “normal”, we can continue adding experiences to our life:

  1. Machu Picchu (Peru)
  2. Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni (Paola, Malta)
  3. Dawn in the city of Petra (Jordan)
  4. Wieliczka Salt Mine (Poland)
  5. Tombs of the Kings (Paphos, Cyprus)
  6. Mijayima Island and its routes (Japan)
  7. Ancient city of Ayutthaya (Thailand)
  8. Auschwitz / Birkenau Camp (Poland)
  9. Lost city of Tikal (Guatemala)
  10. …and to end the solitude of Iceland’s landscapes

What were your special places?

EXERCISE ASSOCIATED MUSCLE CRAMPS

Exercise-associated muscle cramps, or EAMC, is a temporary, intense, painful and involuntary contraction of skeletal muscles.

These commons contractions usually take place during or soon after physical activity. Some studies have evaluated that EAMC affect up to two thirds of triathletes, 18-70% marathoners and 30-53% football players.

For many athletes cramping is a minor incident of rare occurrence, but for others, maybe less than one every thousand runners, it can be a serious problem because of its frequency and/or intensity. In severe cases the pain may last even for days after the acute contraction has finished.

Some risk factors have been pointed out, although there are contradictory results:

  • Endurance activities and team sports.
  • Presence of fatigue and running at a faster than training pace.
  • Older age and long running history.
  • Irregular stretching
  • High BMI and familiar history.

The mechanisms behind cramping are yet unknown, although there are two different theories trying to explain them:

  • a disturbance of electrolytes balance.
  • an abnormal discharge of motor drive to the muscles.

 

Alteration of hydration and electrolyte balance

The main evidence supporting this theory comes from large studies of industrial workers during the 1920s and 1930s. Cramps were usually observed in fatigued workers, especially in those less physically fit at the end of their shifts.

Large losses of electrolytes in sweat combined with an excessive intake of plain water could be the main reason behind cramping. The administration of saline drinks or salt tables reduced greatly their incidence.

Nevertheless, recent studies have found no difference in the electrolytes concentration in plasma with cramping episodes, but blood samples were usually taken “after” the incident, and not exactly “during” the episode.

Although cramping happened more often in hot weather conditions, it happens also in cool environments almost without sweating. Therefore, the theory of electrolyte imbalance would be inadequate to describe all EAMC.

 

Alteration of neuromuscular control

Fatigue increases excitatory neuronal signals to muscles, while at the same time decreases inhibitory signals from tendons to the muscles. Combination of both effects causes the cramp, or uncontrolled contraction.

Stretching of muscles during a cramp episode is known to alleviate the symptoms. It is thought that with passive stretching of the tendon, it can inhibit again the muscle reflex.

Athletes more prone to EAMC had lower thresholds for electrically activating motor nerves.

 

Prevention and treatment

As we mentioned previously ingestion of saline solutions could be the most effective prevention tool for muscle cramping.

Besides it, quinine has also been studied, although it may carry adverse effects too. Ingestion of 200-500mg quinine per day reduced cramp frequency and intensity but had no effect on duration.

When cramping is induced electrically in humans, it was found that pickle juice, with a high salt content and sharp taste, reduced cramps duration by 37% (1mL after 2s of cramping) without altering blood electrolytes concentration.

Ingestion of spicy foods such chilli or ginger has effects on the receptors in the mouth, but it is obvious that they also induce a variety of physiological responses. It could be possible that they induce physiological signals capable of disrupting electrically the spontaneous muscle cramps.

Regarding EAMC treatment, passive stretching could be the way to go, although it is difficult to evaluate its utility as cramps episodes usually resolve spontaneously.

 

Conclusions

  • EAMC is a common phenomenon in sports and exercise activities.
  • Highly unpredictable, intensity and duration vary greatly.
  • More often associated with high temperature and sweating, although it also takes place in cool conditions.
  • There may be different mechanisms to explain the cramps in different situations.
  • Prevention and treatment strategies are not yet fully understood.

 

We hope to have brought you some light on the subject.

 

Bibliography

Muscle Cramping During Exercise: Causes, Solutions, and Questions Remaining.

Maughan RJ, Shirreffs SM.

Sports Med. 2019 Dec;49(Suppl 2):115-124. doi: 10.1007/s40279-019-01162-1.

Photo by Alora Griffiths (Unsplash)

Book: EL PODER DE CONFIAR EN TI (Curro Cañete, 2018, 255 pages)

I’ve been investing in my personal development for a few years because, as Curro Cañete says: “The greatest act of generosity you can do for yourself and those around you is BEING HAPPY!”

In this book you will find a guide for your personal development. Unlike the ones you can find in other books, the tools introduced are very useful and follow an extremely consistent sequence.

Among the techniques we are taught, there are affirmations and visualizations, but also reading suggestions and workshops. Thus, the chapters structure leads us to deepen into our inner search at the rhythm of reading, with simple exercises is such that prevents us from abandoning the process of personal development.

What we would highlight the most about this book are the personal examples of the author, that also includes those from his patients and friends. They provide a welcome plausibility to the process, demonstrating that change can be real. This book is not simply theoretical, but a credible way to achieve your personal transformation.

Curro speaks from the point of view of someone who has experienced the path of self-knowledge, but also is a professional coach and theorist, by citing great authors and precursors on these personal development topics. Speaking from experience and knowledge, he conveys a lot of coherence and credibility. The author acts as our personal coach.

This book was given to me by a wonderful person for Christmas, and I did not know how useful it was going to be for this period of confinement. The lock-down period at home has allowed me to take an internal transformative journey.

Thank you to the author of this book for giving us the power to trust ourselves!

 

To find more info about the book or author:

https://currocanete.com/           

@currocanete

PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF ULTRA-RUNNERS

Photo by Brian Erickson (Unsplash)

Ultra-marathon refers to any race with a distance longer to the 42.2k of a marathon. Running such distances represents a physically and mentally challenging test for any athlete.

Among the most common inconveniences of such effort we may find muscle pain, cramping, musculoskeletal injuries, blisters, fatigue, sleep deprivation, confusion or quitting recurrent thoughts, between others.

Commonly ultra-runners use a set of psychological strategies to maintain the motivation levels during races: tendency to set small goals, engage in positive self-talk, focus on body sensations and search of social support.

A recent article has tried to elucidate the psychology of ultra-runners, and if they have any psychological skill that gives them an advantage to run ultra-marathons.

Resilience can be defined as the ability of someone to maintain normal psychological functioning in a stress situation. From a psychological point of view is still unclear if ultra-runners are more resilient than normal population. This could explain their ability to cope with stressors during a race.

Emotion regulation can be defined as the ability to influence our emotions. We can decide “which”, “when” and “how” experience any emotion. The strategy to do so is called “cognitive reappraisal” and is linked to lower levels of anxiety and depression and a wellbeing improvement. Thus, another unanswered question is whether the ultra-runners respond emotionally in a different way than the non-runners.

 

The study

A single session of 2.5 hours was used to study ultra-runners’ psychology and compare with control individuals. Two tools were used:

  • A self-questionnaire completed in a quiet room to evaluate resilience, personality traits and emotion regulation strategies.
  • A computer-based emotion regulation test to study the runner´s psychophysiology. Physiological responses (heart rate and skin conductance) in response to emotionally negative images were recorded, and the ability of adjusting them for a second viewing, using the cognitive reappraisal abilities.

 

The results

From the self-questionnaire ultra-runners were found to be:

  • more resilient.
  • more likely to use positive reappraisal, as strategy of emotion regulation.
  • lower in affiliative extraversion, or in other words, lower need of social relationships.

No differences were found in other 16 measures regarding personality traits and emotion regulation processes.

From the emotion regulation test:

  • ultra-runners showed slightly lower heart rate and skin conductance changes in response to negative images.
  • no significant differences in their cognitive reappraisal abilities.

 

The conclusions

  • Ultra-runners seem more resilient than non-runners, but it is unknown if it is a consequence of their training or a previous skill predisposing them to ultra-running.
  • Ultra-runners seem less physiologically responsive to emotionally negative stimuli, maybe due to a difference in the processing of negative images or an adaptation from training.
  • Reduced affiliative extraversion in ultra-runners is associated with the loneliness of ultra-running, a sport involving long hours of training and competition.

Don´t forget that resilience can be trained: psychological interventions and regular exercise have been associated an increase in resilience.

 

Bibliography

Psychological characteristics associated with ultra-marathon running: An exploratory self-report and psychophysiological study.

Roebuck GS, Urquhart DM, Che X, Knox L, Fitzgerald PB, Cicuttini FM, Lee S, Segrave R, Fitzgibbon BM.

Australian Journal of Psychology (Accepted/In press). https://doi.org/10.1111/ajpy.12287

Photo by Dan Meyers (Unsplash)

MARATHON OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS (XXIII) – Seoul 1988: GELINDO BORDIN (1959-)

Gelindo Bordin Seoul 1988

“The marathon is everywhere. It has a spiritual component that nobody sees but it is crucial.

It teaches you to wait and then also to strike, it is a metaphor for existence.”

 

Gelindo Bordin

Seoul organised the 1988 Olympics and showed the world that it was a modern country. The women marathon had already taken place on September 23, with victory for the Portuguese Rosa Mota, accompanied in the podium by Lisa Martin, from Australia, and Katrin Dörre, from East Germany. To read about this race you can check our previous post.

Men´s marathon was scheduled for October 2 at 14.30. It was the last day of the Olympics, and the marathon theor last event. Weather conditions seemed demanding for running a marathon: 74% humidity, 24°C and sunny. The field had never been so large: 118 athletes from 66 countries. Africa was for the first time the most represented continent. Despite these numbers, one of the favourites was missing: Belayneh Dinsamo, from Ethiopia, who had set a world-record of 2.06.50 in Boston that would stay in place for the next 10 years.

Gelindo Bordin was born in Longare, Italy. His early running career was no impressive: only managed a 5th place in the 10000 metres of the Universiada of 1979. He decided to try his luck in the marathon in 1984 in Milan. An impressive 2.13.20 finish time in his first race showed huge potential in the long distance. In 1985 he got a new personal best in the inaugural IAAF Marathon World Cup, in Hiroshima, and he did it again by winning at the European Athletics Championships of 1986 in Stuttgart with 2.10.54. In 1987 he managed a third place at the World Athletics Championships in Rome, and already in 1988 improved his PB again, running the Boston marathon in 2.09.27 (although finishing 4th). Thus, Bordin arrived at Seoul at his peak.

As it happens usually in long distance events of big championships, athletes tend to start at an “easy” pace, favouring early big groups. In Seoul it wasn´t different, and 19 runners were still in a big group headed by Juma Ikangaa, from Tanzania, when crossing the 10k (30.32).

By the 20k (1.01.21) only one second separated a first group with 14 runners, and a second one with 10. The silver medallist at Los Angeles 1984, John Treacy from Ireland, was the only top contender who had retired.

The intense pace and warming weather started taking a dent. At 30k (1.32.49) seven runners were at the front, with other of the favourites, Rob de Castella from Australia falling 2s behind.

By the 35k it was clear that the medals would be a fight between Bordin, Ikangaa, the current world champion Douglas Wakiihuri (Kenya), Ahmed Salah (Djibouti), second-fastest marathon time ever (at the time) 2.07.07, Charles Spedding (UK) who had won the bronze in Los Angeles 1984, and Japanese Takeyuki Nakayama.

Already in a single line Salah crossed the 40k (2.03.39) first, 4s ahead of Wakiihuri, and an extra 2s from Bordin. But Bordin was known by his steady pace and keeping to it he managed to step up front taking advantage of the downhill section. Thus, he entered first into the stadium, greeted the crowd and claimed gold in 2.10.32.

Bordin won a gold medal in marathon for Italy, although he hadn´t been the first Italian crossing the finish line first: Dorando Pietri did so in London 1908. Wakiihuri entered second in 2.10.47, while Salah got third in 2.10.59.

After the Olympics Bordin still managed to win the Boston Marathon of 1990 and become European Champion in Split (Croatia) that same year. He eventually returned to the Olympics in Barcelona 1992, but injured during the race and was unable to finish.

He retired shortly afterwards, finishing a successful career in the marathon distance, and being the only male athlete to have won both, the Olympics and the Boston Marathon.

 

A video with the highlights of the marathon at Seoul 1988:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvLH9ut_k0Y

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_Summer_Olympics

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletics_at_the_1988_Summer_Olympics_%E2%80%93_Men%27s_marathon

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelindo_Bordin

“The Olympic Marathon”, DE Martin & RWH Gynn. Human Kinetics, 2000.

Olympic Torch Seoul 1988
Seoul 1988 official logo

MARATHON PACING (II): MEN vs. WOMEN

As we talked in our previous post there are different pacing strategies (negative, positive, even and variable), and they are differently used in marathon and half-marathon races, and between young and old athletes too.

 In this post we are going to deepen more into pacing and compare if there are differences related to gender.

 

The study

The 2017 Vienna Marathon was used again to study pacing strategies using the average speed in 5 sections and the overall result (marathon, n=4807 men and n=1278 women; half-marathon, n=7624 men and n=3816 women).

 

The results

  • Surprisingly women showed no differences in pacing in all age groups. It could be attributed to a better fatigue tolerance, regardless of age.
  • When comparing by sex women showed less running variability than men.

 

Conclusions

The reasons for the differences in pacing observed between men and women could be:

Physiological:

  • Men have worse fat usage systems than women, causing an earlier depletion of glycogen stores.
  • Women have more type I muscle fibres, that are more fatigue resistant.

Psychological:

  • Women are usually less aggressive in competition, and consequently tend to start at a slower pace. Socialising and enjoyment are also contributing motivations.

 

These findings could help coaches and athletes to develop different training plans and pacing strategies considering the age group, and more importantly the sex of the athlete.

 

Bibliography

Age Differences in Pacing in Endurance Running: Comparison between Marathon and Half-Marathon Men and Women.

Cuk I, Nikolaidis PT, Markovic S, Knechtle B.

Medicina (Kaunas). 2019 Aug 14;55(8). pii: E479. doi: 10.3390/medicina55080479.

 

Sex differences in pacing during half-marathon and marathon race.

Cuk I, Nikolaidis PT, Knechtle B.

Res Sports Med. 2020 Jan-Mar;28(1):111-120. doi: 10.1080/15438627.2019.1593835

MARATHON PACING (I): AGE INFLUENCE AND STRATEGIES

Long distance sport events involve pacing, that can be defined as the distribution of energy reserves and speed through the whole race.

The main pacing strategies are:

  • Negative pacing, with slow start and gradual speed increase.
  • Positive pacing, with fast start and gradual speed decrease.
  • Even pacing, without changes of speed.
  • Variable pacing, with many speed changes.

Appropriate pacing is directly related with the chance of a successful finish, less chance of injuries and an increase of the pleasure that recreational runners get from participation.

In general, negative and even pacing seem to be the best strategies for performance, although in the marathon the positive pacing is the most widely used regardless of age, sex and finish times. The fast pace at early stages may be related to “pre-race enthusiasm” and absence of fatigue. At the latter stages of the long effort the pace is affected by physiological factors such as high amounts of fatigue, inflammation and muscle damage.

 

The study

A study has tried to elucidate how runners pace according to their age, and if pacing is different when running a half marathon or a full marathon. For this purpose, they chose the runners of the 2017 Vienna Marathon (marathon, n = 6081; half-marathon, n = 11,384) and studied the speed for the whole race and in 5 different race sections.

 

The results

The main findings were:

  • Average speed decreased throughout all race in both the marathon and half-marathon and among all age groups.
  • Half-marathon runners used to run at a more even pace than marathoners. Marathon runners used to slow more probably because of glycogen depletion after hitting the wall (in the 32-35k).
  • Men younger than 30 years of age changed speed more often.Younger runners may lack the experience to pace evenly, missing the “marathon template” that more experienced runners may have intrinsic in the brain.

There were some limitations too. Data was obtained from a single race, older than 60 years of age athletes were included in a unique group, and lack of knowledge about running experience and training levels for individuals.

 

Conclusions

  • Long distance runners could benefit from adopting a different pacing strategy to maximize the opportunity of achieving better race times.
  • A negative or even pacing could simultaneously improve fitness while avoiding injuries and provide more satisfaction after completion.

 

In our next post we will see the differences between men and women.

Thanks for reading.

 

Bibliography

Age Differences in Pacing in Endurance Running: Comparison between Marathon and Half-Marathon Men and Women.

Cuk I, Nikolaidis PT, Markovic S, Knechtle B.

Medicina (Kaunas). 2019 Aug 14;55(8). pii: E479. doi: 10.3390/medicina55080479.