Why are new running world records being set?

     In the aftermath of an astonishing new marathon world record last Sunday in Berlin, it’s a good idea to ask ourselves why we keep getting new records.  Haile Gebrselassie held the last two records, eclipsing Paul Tergat, who held if for a little while, after having taken it from Khalid Khannouchi.  And that’s all just since 2002.   
     Why, after over a century of the world’s best runners gunning for the best times, did we not yet reach the limit of human speed in the marathon quickly, many years ago?  Why does it drop only bit by bit year after year?  And how much lower can we expect the world record to drop?
     Dr. Tim Noakes of the University of Cape Town South Africa might have an aswer.  Dr. Noakes has argued that there’s a system in the brain he calls the Central Governor which autonomously decides our physical limits, and proceeds to shut down our bodies when we reach them.  
     If this is true, that would explain why runners didn’t hit the all-time best mark many years ago.  It might be that hard training and the power of conscious goal setting convinced the Central Governor in the world’s best runners that a new fast speed might be possible, but only by seconds. 
     What does this mean for the rest of us?  That the limits to our own abilities might lie as much in our heads aas in our limbs.  Hard training and visualization might convince our brains that a harder effort on race day is safe and possible, opening up the door to new, faster finishing times for all of us.
     And the answer to the second question?  With the world record for the half-marathon under an hour, many people think that a sub-2 hour marathon will someday be a reality.  If I were a betting man, I’d wager that will occur within a decade.  Let’s keep in touch and see!


About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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