Physical requirements of a 2-hour marathon

Elite runners desire a specific mixture of physiological abilities to own any chance of managing a sub-two-hour marathon, new analysis exhibits.

The study is founded on detailed testing of athletes who took part in Nike’s Breaking2 project — an ambitious bid to split the two-hr barrier.

Professor Andrew Jones, of the University of Exeter, said the results reveal that elite marathon runners should have a “perfect equilibrium” of VO2 max (level of oxygen uptake), performance of movements and a higher “lactate turn place” (above that the body experiences more tiredness).

The VO2 measured among elite runners shows they could take in oxygen two times as fast at marathon pace as a “normal” person of exactly the same age could while sprinting flat-out.

“A number of the results — specially the VO2 max — are not actually as high even as we expected,” Professor Jones stated.

“Instead, what we find inside the physiology of those runners is just a perfect balance of qualities for marathon performance.

“What’s needed of the two-hour marathon have now been extensively debated, nevertheless the actual physiological demands have already been reported before never.”

The runners in the research included Eliud Kipchoge, who took part in Busting2 — falling just in short supply of the two-hr target — but later attaining the goal in 1:59:40.2 found in the Ineos 1:59 challenge.

Based on backyard running tests in 16 athletes inside the choice stage of Busting2, the study unearthed that the 59kg runner will have to take in about several litres of oxygen each and every minute (or perhaps 67ml each kg of weight each minute) to keep two-hour marathon pace (21.1 km/h).

“To run for 2 hours only at that speed, sports athletes must maintain what we call ‘steady-express’ VO2,” Professor Jones mentioned.

“What this means is they meet their complete energy demands aerobically (from oxygen) — as opposed to depending on anaerobic respiration, which depletes carbohydrate outlets on the muscles and contributes to faster fatigue.”

In add-on to VO2 max, the 2nd key characteristic is jogging “economy,” meaning your body must employ oxygen — both internally and via an effective running action effectively.

The third trait, lactate turn point, could be the percentage of VO2 max a runner can sustain before anaerobic respiration begins.

“If when this happens, carbs in the muscle groups are used at a top rate, depleting glycogen shops,” Professor Jones explained.

“At this stage — which several marathon runners may be aware of as ‘the wall’ — your body needs to switch to shedding fat, that is less efficient and means the runner decelerates ultimately.

“The runners we studied — 15 of the 16 from East Africa — appear to know intuitively just how to run just beneath their ‘critical speed’, near to the ‘lactate turn stage’ but in no way exceeding it.

“That is especially demanding because — also for elite runners — the switch point drops slightly throughout a marathon.

“That being said, we suspect that the top runners inside of this combined group, eliud Kipchoge especially, show remarkable fatigue opposition.”

The testing, conducted in Exeter and at Nike’s performance centre in Oregon, USA, provided the surprising experience for the combined number of amateur runners in the united kingdom.

“We tested 11 of the 16 runners from Exeter Arena many years in the past,” Professor Jones explained.

“Some local runners are there at the time, plus it was an actual eye-opener for them each time a band of the world’s best sportsmen turned up.

“The elite runners were fantastic — they even joined inside with the area runners and helped to rate their training.”