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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > December 2018 > THE SCIENCE OF SUB-2

THE SCIENCE OF SUB-2

THE EFFORT TO BEAT RUNNING’S MOST SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE BARRIER INVOLVES OPTIMISING EVERYTHING FROM BIOMECHANICS AND COACHING TO COURSE DESIGN AND NUTRITION. MR PRESENTS 26.2 THINGS WE CAN LEARN FROM NIKE’S RECENT ATTEMPT TO GO SUB-2

1 FIND A FLAT COURSE

Constant ups and downs are bad for efficiency – hence the ultra-flat Monza track. The IAAF allows a net decrease in elevation of 42 metres over your run – just in case you’re a stickler – but that’s tough to find on the UK circuit. The ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon is the UK’s flattest, with wide, congestion-free roads as a bonus.

2 MINIMISE YOUR TURNS

The Monza track, of course, had two gentle curves per lap, but it’s the abrupt corners that do damage: Berlin, where records consistently fall, has a mere 17 turns sharper than 90˚, while New York has a brutal 26. London isn’t bad with 19, and Dubai has a mere four including a brace of hairpins.

3 KEEP YOUR COOL

On Breaking2 day, the temperatures at Monza were almost exactly what the Nike scientific team were hoping for – starting at 11˚C and climbing to 12˚ by the finish. That’s warm for most people: according to French research on almost two million runners over a decade, a race-day temp of about 8˚ produced the fastest times for mid-packers. You’re unlikely to cope with the heat as well as a Kenyan – head for Brighton, where 8˚ is the average temp on marathon day (except this year!)

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About Men's Running

I never had any desire to run a marathon. Yes, I watched it religiously every year from 1984 when Charlie Spedding set the then-English record and marveled at the speeds. But it didn’t hold any appeal for me. I was a track runner, a thoroughbred, an out-and-out speed merchant; the thought of running 26 miles consecutively, back-to-back, was just too monstrous a thought. And then I started working in running and I realised that, for 99% of the population, running IS marathons. No one ever says ‘ah, you’re a runner, what’s your 1500metre time?’. The first question anyone asks is ‘have you run a marathon?’. Fortunately, I’m now in the happy position to say yes. Several in fact. And more half marathons than I can actually remember. But running a marathon still isn’t easy. If it was, more people would have done it. It takes training, and work, and effort and a resilient mindset that says ‘I’m not going to give up on this journey’. In this special issue, we reveal the secrets, the highs and lows and the training that can get you round a marathon. There’s something here for everyone, even if you’re an experienced marathoner. As Emil Zatopek famously said: “If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.”