A First Time Marathoner – I Hope! Part 2

2:03:23.That’s the world record for the marathon held by Wilson Kipsang. He did this in last year’s Berlin Marathon. 2:15:25, this is the women’s marathon world record run by Paula Radcliffe at the London Marathon in 2003.

Let me break this down for you. Wilson ran 42.195kms at almost 21kms per hour, that is 2 minutes and 55 seconds per kilometre, or 70 seconds per 400 metres. To break Paula’s world record down she was running at 19kms per hour, which is 3 minutes and 12 seconds per kilometre ,or 77 second 400’s for 42kms straight!

What I’m trying to dispel is the common misconception that marathoners just run long and slow. I have commonly heard people who couldn’t even run 100 metres to catch the bus say “Oh you have to have good endurance to run a marathon but they don’t go all that fast. It’s the sprinters who are the real athletes.” It’s not until I break it down for them that they understand how superhuman these elite marathoners are. To those that are unfamiliar with how fast this pace is, here’s a little challenge. Get yourself down to the gym and hop on the treadmill. Turn it up to 21kms per hour (if the gyms treadmills can even go that fast!) and let me know how long you last. Not long at all, if you can even reach that speed. It’s not until people do this that many can comprehend that speed is actually an important element in marathons.

The need for speed is all relative, I know. But even a first timer will benefit from the ability to move fast over 1km. It’s for this reason my coach had me complete my first ‘session’. To try and build some speed, so that when combined with the endurance built from my long runs I will be able to sustain a faster tempo over the 45kms I have to run at The Great Ocean Road. So I have now developed a fear for the word ‘session’. Think lactic acid. Think burning calf muscles. Think lungs screaming for air and the feeling that your heart is going to burst. It was horrible, but incredibly rewarding when I got home and downloaded the data from my Garmin.

urlThe session:

4km easy jog warm up

1 x 1600m

3 mins rest

2 x 800 metres with 2 minutes recovery between them

4km cool down

Total distance: 11.2kms

My times were 6.02 for the 1600m (3.46/km pace), 2.36 for the first 800m’s (3.15/km pace) and 3.09 for the last 800m effort (3.56/km pace). So as you can see Wilson and Paula are safe for the time being! I’ve pulled up without any soreness from my first session and can’t wait for the next one but before that I have a 20km long run to get through this weekend!

Busby’s Pond, Centennial Park – location of the session.