Study reveals physical demands of breaking two-hour marathon barrier

In this news, we discuss the Study reveals physical demands of breaking two-hour marathon barrier.

Elite runners need a specific combination of physiological abilities to stand a chance of running a marathon under two hours, new research shows.

The study is based on detailed testing of athletes who took part in Nike’s Breaking2 project – an ambitious attempt to break the two-hour barrier.

Professor Andrew Jones, of the University of Exeter, said the results reveal that elite marathon runners must have a “perfect balance” of VO2 max (rate of oxygen uptake), efficiency movement and a high “lactate end point” (above which the body feels more tired).

The VO2 measured in elite runners shows that they can absorb oxygen twice as fast at the pace of the marathon than a “normal” person of the same age by sprinting hard.

“Some of the results, especially the VO2 max, were actually not as high as expected,” Professor Jones said.

“Instead, what we’re seeing in the physiology of these runners is a perfect balance of characteristics for marathon performance.

“The demands of a two-hour marathon have been widely debated, but the actual physiological demands have never been reported before.”

Runners in the study included Eliud Kipchoge, who competed in Breaking2 – short of the two-hour goal – but then hit the goal in 1: 59: 40.2 in the Ineos 1:59 challenge.

Based on outdoor running tests on 16 athletes during Breaking2’s selection phase, the study found that a 59kg runner would need to absorb around four liters of oxygen per minute (or 67 ml per kg of weight per minute) to maintain a two hour marathon. pace (21.1 km / h).

“To run for two hours at this speed, athletes need to maintain what we call ‘stationary’ VO2,” said Professor Jones.

“This means they meet all of their aerobic energy needs (from oxygen) – rather than relying on anaerobic respiration, which depletes the carbohydrate stores in the muscles and leads to faster fatigue.

In addition to VO2 max, the second key characteristic is “economical” running, which means that the body must use oxygen efficiently, both internally and through efficient running action.

The third trait, the lactate endpoint, is the percentage of VO2 max a runner can withstand before anaerobic respiration begins.

“If and when this happens, the carbohydrates in the muscles are used at a high rate, depleting glycogen stores,” Professor Jones explained.

“At this point – which many marathon runners might call ‘the wall’ – the body has to switch to burning fat, which is less efficient and ultimately means the runner is slowing down.

“The runners we studied – 15 of the 16 from East Africa – seem to intuitively know how to run just below their ‘critical speed’, close to the ‘lactate end point’ but never overtake it.

“It’s especially difficult because, even for elite runners, the turning point decreases slightly during a marathon.

“Having said that, we suspect that the best riders in this group, especially Eliud Kipchoge, show remarkable fatigue resistance.

Elite runners even joined local runners and helped pace their training. The tests were carried out at Exeter and at the Nike Performance Center in Oregon, United States.

News Highlights:

Study reveals physical demands to break two-hour marathon barrier

Elite runners show they can absorb oxygen twice as fast at the pace of the marathon

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