Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I asked my fine running friend & Master Statistician Riel Hauman if I could use this great article of his for this post. It is all about the origin of the classic Athens race as we know it today:

By Riel Hauman - Editor of Distance Running Results

This year marks the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon on 12 September, 490 BC – the event that spurred the birth of the marathon footrace in 1896. The race is run on the same course from Marathon to Athens used for the 1896 and 2004 Olympic marathons (although it is probably not the route followed by the legendary messenger Pheidippides in 490 BC). The first Athens Marathon was held in 1955, and thereafter it was run every second year until 1967 when it became an annual event. Before 1955, however, other marathons were held on the course, such as the 1906 Intercalated Games Marathon and seven editions of the Balkan Games Championships.

Although men such as Abebe Bikila and Buddy Edelen won the race between 1955 and 1968, the marathon really attracted international attention only in 1969 when Bill Adcocks (GBR) ran his brilliant time of 2:11:07.2. Over the next thirty-odd years some of the world’s best marathoners – Ian Thompson, Rodolfo Gomez, Gerard Nijboer, Douglas Wakiihuri and Abel Anton among them – would win the race, but Adcocks’ record stood untouched. It was only with the return of the Olympics to Athens in 2004 that Stefano Baldini (ITA) succeeded in finally wiping the record from the books when he clocked 2:10:55 to win the gold medal.

The ten fastest times in the Athens Classic Marathon are:

2:10:55 Stefano Baldini (ITA) 2004

2:11:07.2 Bill Adcocks (GBR) 1969

2:11:29 Mebrahtom Keflezighi (USA) 2004

2:11:49 Rodolfo Gomez (MEX) 1982

2:12:01 Douglas Wakiihuri (KEN) 1995

2:11:11 Vanderlei de Lima (BRA) 2004

2:12:26 Jon Brown (GBR) 2004

2:12:42 Paul Lekuraa (KEN) 2008

2:13:11 Shigeru Aburaya (JPN) 2004

2:13:16 Abel Anton (ESP) 1997

The picture, from The Guinness Book of the Marathon, shows Adcocks (5) in his record race with Huseyin Aktas (TUR, 6) and Kenji Kimihara (JPN, 2).

Monday, November 15, 2010

9. Correct arm usage for runners

The arms are closer to the brain than the legs. Your arms are “cleverer” than your legs as a result. Fatigued limbs have a hard time responding to cognitive commands, making “access” easier through reflex, rhythm pathways. Part of this also occurs when synapses are used repeatedly – they start to lose choline & struggle to relay messages. These facts make it possible through the intricately integrated connection between all limbs, called the kinetic chain, to use your arms effectively to run better. One key component of effective running is to have your feet be on the ground for the briefest period possible for any given foot strike. This is called stride rate & if the arms & legs MUST move in unison (left knee to right elbow in front for example), it stands to reason that the quicker the arm is punched rearward & then automatically swung forward on the opposite side, the quicker the legs must move – effective running is often measured by how rapidly the foot can return for the next foot fall from toe off. (Of course stride length is the other half of the equation, but that’s another matter all together.)

Ensure that the arms remain bent at the elbow at 90* or even more closed; I often use a little pebble, held in the crook of the elbow & not to be dropped while running, to drill this component. The lowest part of the arm, at any point during the swing must be the elbow; the shorter the lever the quicker it can be swung. If there are no deficiencies elsewhere, the arms should be swung symmetrically under the shoulder – i.e. when the thighs are parallel during the running gait, the forearms should be parallel with each other & the surface & the middle of the forearm should be directly underneath the armpit/shoulder. Keep the hand above the short line. When viewed from the front the hand should be inside (or nearer the body than the elbow). If possible keep each arm on the outside of the sternum & try not to cross the center line. Some good runners do however do this & it is not a deal-breaker. What is a deal-breaker though is rotating the upper body across the line of travel where clearly there is a “disconnect” between the torso & the legs.

Good runners even close the elbow angle when the arm is swung to the front & open it somewhat when swung to the rear. Keep the hands loose & the wrists firm, with the thumb on the forefinger as a general rule of, um, thumb!

Relaxed, bent, coordinated, quick, rearward punching arms will help you be a more effective runner.

Bobby McGee – Bobby McGee Endurance Sports

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The previous post is clearly NOT Chrissie Wellington's quad, but her biceps!!!

Sorry she did not race, but a marvelous men's & women's race anyway.

Good luck to all of you in 70.3 World Champs in Clearwater this weekend.

I hope Gebrs has NOT retired as he said after NY....

New info post to follow soon!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

8. Muscle recruitment – the way to improved running performances

The picture of Chrissie Wellington's quadThat's loaded I'd say!
Ever wondered why sprinters do those high powerful vertical leaps just when they get called to the blocks? Or why baseball players use a heavy donut on their bats while warming up? The answer is muscle recruitment. You may have noticed even when you are fit that if in the course of a day you run up a flight of steps you get to the top winded with some quad burn going on. This is because you have used a small amount of muscle fibers to an intense degree to do something safely. If you had warmed up dynamically (like with my Dynamic Warm Up routine) before you ran up this flight of stairs, you would have reached the top with less effort, no discomfort & a much lower breath & heart rate – something you need to do before training & racing!
The body is a safety mechanism & only recruits sufficient muscle fibers to do things safely – it is not interested in performance unless your life is in danger, then the hormones released as a result of a fight or flight response ensure that you are optimally primed to meet this threat – a little how you feel just before the start of a race. Specific muscle recruitment activities before training & racing therefore are essential to turn your body from a safety mechanism, into a performance mechanism by recruiting more muscle than the body needs for safe execution alone. This is part of the reason why you might feel sore 48 hours after a hard workout for which you failed to warm up (read recruit) properly. IT IS BETTER TO USE YOUR LIMITED TIME BY CUTTING BACK ON THE BODY OF YOUR WORKOUT TO ENSURE CORRECT PREPARATION, THAN TO CUT THE Warm Up SHORT & RUSH THE SESSION. YOU WILL GAIN MORE BENEFIT FROM LESS WORK DONE WITH AN OPTIMALLY PRIMED BODY. Potentiate those muscles for success.
Little hops, bounds, harness work or light, short hill reps are a great way to potentiate before races & quality run workouts.
©Bobby McGee – Bobby McGee Endurance Sports