A friend recently sent me this article about the Sub2 Project, an effort to use the science of training, instead of performance enhancing drugs or treatments, to break the 2-hour barrier in marathon running. The article is an interesting profile of Prof. Yannis Pitsiladis, and an interesting overview of some of the research on elite running, especially in East Africa (the project is based partly in Addis Ababa).
Aside from geeking out on the science, I found this to be an interesting article about pushing the limits of human capacity. Here are a few of my highlights:
The science of training. Dr. Pitsiladis says we know little about the science of training. While he is talking about elite running, I think we can take lessons to develop our own understanding of the “science” of training for ourselves. I always encourage my coaching clients to experiment a little bit. What kind of food works best for you before you run? What terrain do you like the best? What time of day? By testing ourselves in small ways, and by reflecting on the results, we can better understand how our own bodies and minds work in training.
The Sub-2 Marathon – Sometimes I read about these phenomenal race times and wonder how a person could possibly sustain such a fast pace for so long! But then I realize that’s the magic of endurance sports. The elites have taken care of the records and winning. For most average people, winning a race is simply not possible. This allows us to bypass the pressure to win, and focus instead on our personal goals and achievements. Whether just finishing at all, or achieving our personal best time, we are free to set our goals apart from winning. That’s why marathons give a finisher medal to everyone who participates – completing such a distance, no matter how fast or slow, is an accomplishment worth celebrating!
East African Runners – As a Kenyan, I am very proud of the dominance of Kenyans and East Africans in the sport of endurance racing. I know that their success is a combination of heritage (primarily cultural in my opinion), commitment, and nutrition. I take people to visit the training camps in Iten, and I am always impressed by the runners’ dedication to a life that revolves around training, rest and community, as well as their motivation and belief in the possibility of their dreams. Running is partly physical, but substantially a mental activity. I also know from my own childhood that an active life is beneficial – encourage your kids to be active as much as possible, and they will see lifelong physical and mental benefits.
What did you think of this article? What are a few of your highlights?
Dr. Cory Nyamora
Dr. Cory Nyamora is an endurance sports coach with certifications from USAT and USATF, a licensed clinical psychologist, and the founder of Endurance – A Sports & Psychology Center, Inc. He provides endurance coaching for beginner and experienced athletes, as well as psychotherapy services to children, adults, and families.