Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

The Greatest Athletic Feat Ever?

Posted on September 22, 2018 by Joe Fleming

KipchogeMarathon runners train for years and years to not just compete against other marathoners but themselves, working tirelessly to shave even a handful of seconds off their personal best time. One marathoner put the rest to shame recently, running the fastest marathon ever and completely obliterating the world record.

The most dominant marathon runner of the modern era, Eliud Kipchoge, of Kenya, shattered the world record for marathon running in his most recent race in Berlin on September 16, 2018. He passed the finish line after only 2 hours 1 minute and 39 seconds (2:01:39). The previous world record was 2:02:57.

To put that in perspective, Kipchoge ran 26.2 miles in around a couple hours averaging 4 minutes and 38 seconds per mile. It’s one thing to run that fast. It’s another to run that fast for so long.

Granted, this wasn’t Kipchoge’s first rodeo. He is the reigning Olympic gold medalist having won the marathon in 2016 in Rio, which was just one of the 9 marathons he has won since 2013 (not including the most recent Berlin race). That is practically unheard of.

This most recent marathon was his first time, however, to inch so close to the 2-hour mark for an official timed marathon race. (He did run a marathon in 02:00:25 in 2016 for a Nike experiment, however, it was on an optimized track).

At 5-feet 6-inches and weighing just around 115 lbs., Kipchoge is the embodiment of strength, discipline, and endurance; and amazingly, he has never experienced an injury. He famously keeps a training notebook with him which he writes in after his daily training sessions recording every single workout.

Many consider Kipchoge to be the best distance runner of all time. And as he continues to push towards setting more and more world records in running, he is sure to prove any doubters wrong.

Considering Running a Marathon?

It’s no surprise that runners like Kipchoge inspire the world to question how far can the human body be pushed? What is the ultimate potential of a great athlete?
In addition to Kipchoge’s phenomenal marathon run, you may have heard of Scott Jurek running the Appalachian trail in 46 days (that’s 2,189 miles!) or Dean Karnazes running 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 different states. No matter who it is who inspires you, if you catch the marathon bug, keep these essential running tips in mind:

Coordinate a training plan – most marathon runners will train between 12 and 20 weeks prior to a race with a specific training plan that incorporates exercise, diet, cross-training, timed schedules, mileage increases, and more. Experts recommend that first-time aspiring marathoners actually start even well before, building up long-distance mileage for at least a year prior to training for a specific race. Starting with shorter races like 5Ks and 10Ks will help you to enhance your strength, endurance, and mental determination you need to achieve feats like marathons.

Get educated – do you know what happens in your body on a physiological scale when you run long distances? Have any idea how much rest and fuel your body needs to recover when training for a marathon? Do your research and read up on as much training material as you can so you can be prepared for the challenges to your body that marathon training brings. You can also seek support from knowledgeable people like sports medicine specialists and local marathon training groups.

Find the right tools and equipment – your body can use all the help it can get to run long distances as you do in a marathon. That means equipping yourself with proper-fitting and supportive running shoes, orthotic aids like arch support insoles if needed, and other running gear including clothing, hydration packs, and refueling snacks. You may also invest in strength-training equipment like resistance bands or dumbbells to use at home.

Choose the right marathon for you – you might not think that marathons vary greatly from one to another, but in all actuality, they do. You can find marathons set on back-country roads and then others raced deep in the heart of a big city. Picking a marathon that is going to give you a fighting chance is a smart idea for your first race. For example, running closer to home could put an extra pep in your step as you run along familiar roads and have plenty of friends and family there to cheer you on.

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