Friday, 11 January 2013

Felix Limo retires

One of my favourite marathon runners announced his retirement today. Felix Limo had a purple patch from 2004-06 winning several of the marathon majors. We first met at Amsterdam in 2003 when both making our marathon debuts - his considerably faster than mine ! He was changing on the peg across from mine in the old Olympic stadium and was happy to exchange a few friendly words before heading out onto the track for the start. He came second in 2:06:42 that day, narrowly beaten by William Kispang who I vividly remember devouring the most enormous breakfast on race morning: bacon, sausage, eggs, fried potatos, the works. He waddled away from the table with a belly looking like he was heavil pregnant with twins. And then three hours later 2.06, unbelievable.
My other meeting with Felix was at London 2006 (left) . He had blown away the field to win in 2.06 on a wet day defeating amongst others Haile G. We were sitting at the back of the bus on our way to the river boat to get back to the Tower hotel and he was chatting away without a care in the world, talking about life back home and how he would be relaxing after his marathon win.

Just a very polite, modest guy and good company.

Goldilocks and the road runners

Not a post about the virtues of porridge for breakfast but on getting the feel for threshold pace. I was down at the track in Yeovil tonight and the local road running club had a good turnout of nearly 40 runners for their weekly 'speed' session. Its been great to see this workout develop over the last couple of years under the watchful eye's of coaches Darton, Hawkins and Jakeman. Whether inspired by Mo & co. or just new years resolution's there is clearly an appetite among the runners to train more and go faster. Sometimes I wonder if they realise how good some of them could be !

Anyway back to Goldilocks. The workout tonight was either 6x4mins of 3x10mins (2 fours without rest) and the goal was to run at threshold pace which for some of the runners would have been 10mile pace and for some more like 10k pace. Of course the trick when running threshold is to feel the pace where you are operating just on that ventilation/lactate turnpoint.

With practice and skill you can go so good at sensing it that after a few minutes at threshold you can just ease through it for a few minute before coming back below threshold with a subtle change of pace and this is where Goldilocks comes in. Too hot i.e. too fast and you get burned. 25-30mins is long time to sustain a pace thats too fast and a few folks who were breathing hard on the first reps were clearly in the too hot category ! Too cold, well thats being able to hold a long conversation during training without really breathing hard. Its tolerable but not really that appetising ! And then finally just right - breathing fairly hard and able to exchange brief conversations.

So the trick with threshold training is running by feel and with control. You should be working comfortably hard yet finish the workout knowing you could accelerate hard if required at the end - if you are hinging on you are pushing too hard and need to back off. I often get asked what pace or pulse rate to run for threshold and the best advice I can give is to learn to feel it as it will vary from day to day depending on conditions and how tired you are.