Increase Your Speed Reserve

Running a marathon using speed variations is valuable. Imagine running the marathon without cracking and with all the pleasure of doing it below your average speed for almost 2/3 of the race. If you always train in the same way using traditional lactate thresholds, using the same plans and same MAS (10% and 25% above your average marathon speed), you will never succeed in being able to vary your speed in a marathon. If you condemn yourself to always running at the same speed, it will induce the deleterious effects. Indeed, you will have neglected the power of your “electric” motor and your metabolism will be like a diesel, but without the turbo.

MAS = Maximum Aerobic Speed

If you are unable to achieve a top speed that is twice that of your average marathon speed, you will take the start every time, hoping that you can maintain the same monotonous constant speed. However, the human metabolism is an ultra-precise machine and the physiological responses within a given effort can have exponential effects beyond the linear tendencies of drift (for example: temperature). These effects may lead to sudden and dramatic changes, such as when your hybrid battery empties and you can no longer maintain the pace. This phenomenon is simply the result of a “catastrophe” based on the theory of catastrophes founded by the French mathematician René Thom in the 1960s. The term “catastrophe” refers to the place where a function suddenly changes shape and has sudden variations (the famous “butterfly effect”).

To avoid the “catastrophe” in the sense of experiencing a drop in speed or even abandoning the race, you must increase your safety margin in terms of power reserve. But there is no need to increase your power (force × speed), or start lifting weights, but simply to train in acceleration and deceleration. Indeed, we must remember that force is a product of power and that it is itself the product of mass by acceleration.

It is sufficient to understand that:

◗ Power = Force × speed ◗ Force = mass × acceleration ◗ Acceleration = ΔV / Δt that is the speed variation over time Δ is the symbol for a “change” in something Power is proportional to the cube of the running speed and inversely proportional to the amplitude of the stride (stride length). Force is related to the change of speed. Think of increasing your speed reserve as gaining a marathon safety margin and therefore an increased power reserve.  Your muscles will be working at a lower percentage of their maximum power (force-speed of contraction). To achieve this, you must practice accelerations. In traditional interval-training, the goal is to run at constant speeds. We recommend skipping constant speed running.  If you do run at a constant pace, do it by changing stride lengths. Therefore, one of the keys to setting your PRs is first to increase your power (speed and maximum acceleration). Once you increase your power, you will run more comfortably, better control your marathon speed and be able to recognize and then apply your optimal speed variation. You will no longer run to maintain a speed, but to maintain a feeling of racing intensity which is the feeling of an “average” effort on the marathon. The feeling of a sustained average effort is rather that of the half-marathon, on which one can apply the same race strategy. Below, on the 10 km for example, we must accept to “suffer” as this race is both long and intense. To run faster over long distances, running fast for 10 and 30 seconds is necessary to increase your speed reserve and marathon safety margin. It is better to have a large reserve of power rather than trying to maintain a high percentage of your MAS by being so-called “enduring”.