Monday, 8 December 2008

Still In The Heat Of Things

The disputed but popular story behind the 42km marathon (from Wikipedia):

The name marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming "Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, 'We have won.') before collapsing and dying. The account of the run from Marathon to Athens first appears in Plutarch's On the Glory of Athens in the 1st century AD who quotes from Heraclides Ponticus's lost work, giving the runner's name as either Thersipus of Erchius or Eucles. Lucian of Samosata (2nd century AD) also gives the story but names the runner Philippides (not Pheidippides).

Before the race

During the last two or three weeks before the marathon, runners will typically reduce their weekly training, gradually, by as much as 50%-75% of previous peak volume, and take at least a couple of days of complete rest to allow their bodies to recover from any strong effort. The last long training run might be undertaken no later than two weeks prior to the event. This is a phase of training known as tapering. Many marathon runners also "carbo-load" (increase carbohydrate intake while holding total caloric intake constant) during the week before the marathon to allow their bodies to store more glycogen.

Immediately before the race, many runners will refrain from eating solid food to avoid digestive problems. They will also ensure that they are fully hydrated beforehand. Light stretching before the race is believed by many to help keep muscles limber. Some runners will wear an ice vest before the race to reduce their core temperature so as to avoid overheating later in the race.


An ultramarathon (also called ultra distance) is any sporting event involving running longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (26.2188 mi).

There are two general types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specified distance, and events that take place during specified time (with the winner covering the most distance in that time). The most common distances are 50 and 100 miles, or 50 and 100 kilometers. Other distances/times include double marathons, 24-hour races, and multiday races of 1000 miles or even longer. The format of these events and the courses covered are quite variable, ranging from single or multiple loops (some as short as a 400 meter track), to point-to-point road or trail races, to cross-country rogaines. Many ultramarathons, especially trail challenges, are characterized by severe course obstacles, such as inclement weather, elevation change, or rugged terrain. Many of these races are run on dirt roads or mountain paths, though some are run on paved roads as well. Usually, there are aid stations every five to fifteen km apart, where runners can replenish food and drink supplies or take a short break.

Timed events range from 6, 12, and 24 hours to 3 and 6 days (known as multi-day events). Timed events are generally run on a track or a short road course, often one mile or less.

I think my 42km prep was at best non-existent and at worst horrendous, with my first, last and only long distance prep run done like only a few days before Sunday itself.

And ultramarathons! PWNAGE.

You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming.
- Frank Shorter

Audio Candy:
Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow

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