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To break the two-hour marathon barrier, a runner would need to beat the fastest marathon that’s ever been clocked — 2:02:57 — by about 3 percent. That means he’d need to shave seven seconds off each of the race's 26.2 miles. To most, it’s a seemingly impossible challenge. But to #nike, it’s a goal worth chasing down.
The athletes brave enough to accept Nike’s invite to attempt to run a sub-two-hour race are Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese. Months of testing and analyzing data on a stable of the world’s best distance runners determined that these three would be physically primed for the challenge. But much of the intention to partner with them boiled down to the simple fact that they’re naturally better than other runners at #running fast for a long time. Their years of experience and expertise give them a unique advantage, which is a big reason why the Breaking2 team of coaches and scientists understood that optimizing rather than radically changing their daily training and fueling strategies was the best way to approach its attempt to lead the athletes to what it hopes will be the biggest victory in distance #running to date.
The athletes and their coaches have played an integral role in defining the training programs that have gotten them to where they are today. Dr. Brad Wilkins, a physiologist and the director of #nike Explore Team Generation Research in the #nike #sport Research Lab, and Dr. Brett Kirby, researcher and lead physiologist of the #nike #sport Research Lab, were brought on to oversee the day-to-day science behind Breaking2. “As elite athletes, they have incredible, well established training programs that are working,” says Wilkins. “Our goal has been to work with the runners and their coaches to provide analysis and feedback.” Here’s why this coming together of worlds has the potential to make the sub-two-hour-marathon dream a reality.
WAYS EXPERIENCE HAS DETERMINED WHAT WORKS
Training plans evolve as the athlete does
Kipchoge’s weekly plan has variety and specificity, and progressively builds throughout the program. He’ll do two-a-days, long runs, speed work around a track and Fartlek workouts (Swedish for speed play) each week. “Eliud is very in tune with his body, so he often lets his response and perceived exertion dictate his pace,” says Kirby. Meanwhile Desisa’s initial focus was generally endurance, where he did a lot of long, easy-to-moderate foundational runs. He added in more specific track workouts to build his speed and intensity later in the program. Tadese’s strategy is almost the opposite of Lelisa’s: The first half of his training was speed heavy to help him become familiar with race pace, whereas later his goal has been to lengthen out the duration of his speed with endurance so that he can maintain that pace over time, says Kirby.
More information on the press release
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