1:59, The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon Is Within Reach

Discussion in 'Training Information/Training Regimens' started by Barefoot TJ, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. Barefoot TJ

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    1:59
    The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon Is Within Reach.
    Here’s how it will go down and what it can teach all runners about training and racing.
    By Dr. Philip Maffetone with Bill Katovsky


    About the Author:

    Dr. Philip Maffetone has trained and coached endurance athletes for more than 35 years. He is the author of 18 books on health and fitness, including The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing and the popular textbook Complementary Sports Medicine. He has worked with Dr. George Sheehan, famed New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard, marathon great Grete Waitz, and six-time Hawaii Ironman world champion Mark Allen.


    When I was contacted by Dr. Philip Maffetone’s publisher who asked if I would review Dr. Phil’s latest book, 1:59, I was more than honored, but I should have mentioned that I am an extremely slow reader. With a prediction of a sub-2-hour marathon happening soon, I felt a great urgency to get to it before that record was set! So onto my review.

    1:59 is based on the belief by Dr. Phil that the current world record of 2:03:23 in the marathon will be broken, not just in our lifetime but in the next few years. The idea of a 1:59 brings about much debate among his colleagues however. They do not agree with him that a 1:59 is possible…ever. But Dr. Phil believes they are not looking at the big picture, nor the fine details, and so he has written this book to define exactly what it will take for a 1:59 to be realized.

    The recipe for a successful sub-2-hour marathon has a lot of ingredients. Some, you may believe; others may make you second-guess yourself. I will only highlight a few of them though, since Dr. Phil covered a lot of material. This criteria has to be exactly matched starting with the athlete.

    Dr. Phil believes the best promise comes from East African runners. It’s not just about genetics, which although important, is not the most important criteria. It’s actually a combination of nature and nurture. He explains that environment affects genetics. The East African’s location on the globe at altitude with peak sun makes their living and training the ideal environment for creating some of the best long-distance runners the sport has ever known. And though they continue to do so, they are in jeopardy of losing this competitive edge. Dr. Phil explains how this is possible. Some of the factors that will negatively affect this perfect runner from East Africa are migrating west away from the perfect living and training altitudes, decreasing Vitamin D levels as they migrate away from the equator, diminishing nutrition (although theirs isn’t great to being with) as these runners adopt a western diet, and agreeing to lucrative shoe contracts that damage their feet and take them away from running barefoot.

    This 1:59 athlete will also have to be a barefoot runner. In fact, I love that throughout his book, Dr. Phil keeps “barefoot” viable, where it’s been dismissed by the public and media as having ran its course. He explains why running barefoot is a key ingredient to a successful 1:59 attempt, both in training and during race times, as well as upbringing. There's a chapter titled Feet First in the book where he talks about the importance of the barefoot element in conquering a sub-2-hour marathon. The chapter opens with a quote by Dr. Mercer Rang, "Shoes do no more for the foot than a hat does for the brain."

    Dr. Phil predicts that “the 1:59 marathoner will be in his 30s because running economy doesn’t have to diminish like the rest of the body.” An elite marathoner’s body actually matures as it gets older which is different from an aging body.

    He explains, “A well-developed aerobic system is an untapped source of performance potential and could boost running economy.” Dr. Phil lists and discusses in debt the many factors that decrease running economy. Some of them are overtraining, muscle imbalance, dysfunctional feet, poor diet, and altitude (or lack of).

    When debating if exceeding your ideal heart rate is more effective, he believes the key is in the aerobic system, slow twitch muscle fibers, not the anaerobic system, as many other scientists, coaches, and athletes do. By working at your maximum aerobic heart rate (instead of your maximum anaerobic heart rate), you can increase your speed at the same heart rate.

    Training harder (to run faster) isn’t going to get you there. Targeting the precise heart rate is key to optimal training. The perfect pace for a 1:59 would be between 4:50 and 4:55 at maximum aerobic heart rate during training with a 4:35 per mile race pace. You must train your body to run increasingly faster while at sub-maximal heart rate (aerobic system). Getting to this pace may seem as “easy” as training, diet, and lifestyle, but Dr. Phil breaks this all down into science we can understand while letting us know it’s not as simple after all.

    Ongoing assessments should be individualized to point out where improvements can be made in diet, lifestyle, training, and recovery. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Like the body, the brain should be assessed since it may be the most important regulator of athletic performance. Assessing aerobic and anaerobic systems is more important than the usual VO2 Max tests and lactate thresholds.

    Although the premise of this book is based on what an elite marathon runner can accomplish with certain tweaks, the book can also be used to help any average, recreational runner achieve not only better times but better running health. He fully explains the criteria that has to work in unison in order to bring this about. So, if you are like most people just wanting to improve your pace but avoid injuries and get more satisfaction out of your running, then this book is for you too.

    For example, some of the mistakes average runners make have to do with their training and racing regimen. He talks about many of the myths associated with performance enhancement, and you may just be surprised that it goes against what you have known and followed.

    Do you stretch before you run? Wrong!

    Do you carbo-load on a spaghetti dinner the night before a big race? Wrong!

    How about nutrition bars and sports drinks? Wrong!

    Do you train all out, trying to run as fast as you can to build up lung strength? Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

    See who his top three picks are for that 1:59 marathoner and some others following right behind. If you’re dying to know, get the book! It’s well worth it, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself and your running while you’re at it.

    I agree with Dr. Phil that the “right circumstances” need to be set up, perfect athlete and perfect venue, if 1:59 is ever going to happen, and he gives great detail to how this is possible. His recipe for the 1:59 marathon is exact, but with one problem, you just may have to remove the “human” from the equation. ;-)

    Recommendations? The book could use an Index for searching key terms, or at least I could have used one. I also think a software application that could be individualized based on MAF training could be helpful for those wanting to improve their running economy.

    I enjoyed reading the book, and I learned a ton! But I will say, I am glad I never viewed my running so scientifically. Like many barefoot runners, I never cared about pace or race times. I was just happy to finish my run with a smile on my face.

    Visit Dr. Phil's 1:59 site: http://www.philmaffetone.com/159

    Get your copy: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aws/cart/add.html/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til
     
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  2. paulbeales

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    Sounds like an interesting read TJ. Can I borrow your copy? ;)
     
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  3. SI barefoot

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    Very interesting. Now that I feel I'm doing things more correctly I'm anxious to see what I will be capible of in 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, and beyond. I feel like, and hope that, my build, age, and physiology (5'9 154 pounds) should, under proper training/living, allow me to run sub 7 minute miles for a marathon. Time will tell.
     
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  4. mokaman

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    Besides all the stuff Maffetone puts out there to break 2 hours milestone...above all it will take a battle between near equals to the end of the race to push each other to have that kind of time...there has to be more than one runner capable of sub-two hours but at least 2 runners maybe 3 runners to push each other to actually do it.
     
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  5. Barefoot TJ

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    I like having an actual book in my hands to read, but since the amount it would cost to ship it overseas to you would be crazy high, maybe you could get it via Amazon download? It's only like $13.00 USD. Or definitely, I would let you have it.
     
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  6. skedaddle

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    You can guarantee once the barrier has been broken it will be broken again shortly after because runners will know it's possible.
     
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  7. Bare Lee

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    Good thing at least one person knows what he's doing. Those guys running a little over two hours have it all wrong.
     
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  8. Barefoot TJ

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    Yes, and Dr. Phil predicts this too. In fact, he thinks we can get to a 1:48 marathon, and he feels we should have already been there by now.

    He has analyzed in debt the records (athletes, times, durations, length, venues, altitudes, etc.) and he has found a sort of relationship between the amount of time that has passed and when a record has been broken. Using this info, he can then calculate when a "possible" record can be broken again. It's all in the book.
     
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  9. Barefoot TJ

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    I've added to my review: There's a chapter titled Feet First in the book where he talks about the importance of the barefoot element in conquering a sub-2-hour marathon. The chapter opens with a quote by Dr. Mercer Rang, "Shoes do no more for the foot than a hat does for the brain."
     
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  10. I-Did-It (Steve)

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    Kenenisa Bekele will do it this year, or next.
     
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  11. kozz

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    Yep. I won't waste a dime on this guy's ridiculous book. If Bekele, Kipchoge and the other new marathoners break into 2:02 territory it will be a monumental achievement.

    The only way anyone's getting to 1:59 any time soon is new undetectable drugs.
     
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  12. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve)
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    People said similar stuff about the 4 minute mile for decades, .....and the 13 minute 5k, and the 8 foot high jump, and the 20 foot pole vault.....on and on.
     
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  13. I-Did-It (Steve)

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    I didn't read his book, but from the comments, I don't get a sense that he is saying they "are doing it all wrong"...thats seems like a bit of a strawman my friend.

    Humans push the envelope, thats what we do, and we usually do it with the mind first, then the body follows, books like this open up the intellectual possibility...someone will believe, and once you have belief, the deed generally follows.


    After watching Bekele's Half dominance, and his first marathon, I think he has 12 seconds a mile more in him.

    The man can run a sub 50 second 400 meters...he needs to average almost 20 seconds slower than that for the 1:59 marathon...20 seconds slower than his top 400m capability is not even close to his aerobic threshold....he CAN do it.

    The question is, WILL he do it.
     
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  14. kozz

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    What people? That's a media myth cooked up to sell the event. The world record for the mile was lowered from 4:06 to 4:01 by two Swedes during world war 2, more than 10 years before Bannister. Nobody in their right mind thought 3:59 was far away. In the late 1800's the record was lowered from barely sub-5 to 4:12. It stagnated with the demise of professional track, but reached 4:10 in the 1920's, then 4:06 in the 30's, a progression that would predict sub-4 right around when it happened.

    The marathon WR has dropped by at most a couple minutes per decade since the 1960's, and the biggest recent drop was during the EPO era. In the past 10 years it's improved by only 1:32 and slowing down. This predicts 1:59 sometime around the year 2040.

    Dr. Maffetone is not doing barefoot running any favors with this book, he's reinforcing the idea that we're a lunatic fringe.
     
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  15. I-Did-It (Steve)

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    Fair enough, but I just don't see 8 seconds slower per mile than the fastest half marathon pace, and 8 seconds faster per mile than the current marathon record as 'ridiculous' ;-)

    Its well within these guys aerobic threshold, and with enough mental strength, hydration, nutrition etc, one could theoretically run a whole marathon close to one's aerobic threshold.

    I don't see a 1:59 marathon as a physical barrier, its a mental one, sustaining a pace close to the aerobic threshold for that long is something that so far, no one has mentally driven themselves to do for that distance.

    Once you start carrying a pace equal to about a 63 to 65 second 400 meter pace then you start running into physical limitations, because you are getting into anaerobic territory. ...which cannot be sustained for 2 hours, but a 1:59:59 marathon is about 68 seconds per 400 meter pace.


    Bottom line, I think there are human bodies out there right now capable of a sub 1:55 marathon, a bit faster even, but there are no mind's strong enough to do it....yet
     
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  16. Bare Lee

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    I was being sarcastic.

    The presumptuousness is hilarious though.

    Go to any pro-style trainer site or book, and they all say the same thing: you need a mix of aerobic, tempo, and intervals/hills to reach you're maximal potential. The debates are in the details. No one I've read or skimmed even mentions Mr. M.--not in the contents, not in the index. But hey, it's the internet era, we're all experts now. Whenever someone starts going into the physiology of something, I skip ahead. Why? Because I have no basis for analyzing their claims. For all I know, they're ignoring a whole other angle that would leave any working scientist laughing or shaking their heads. So I do the easy thing. I read what sort of training philosophies and protocols have developed among those with a A LOT at stake, namely, pro athletes and their trainers.

    Theoretically, everything is possible; practically, little is probable.

    Go with the pros, ignore the gurus.
     
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  17. Larry

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    It's all about motivation, right? All they need to do is set up a 26 mile tunnel with a giant 2-hour Indiana Jones rolling boulder at the next olympics and I guarantee at least a couple of them will make it out alive. :)
     

  18. mokaman

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    Anyone know what the barefoot marathon speed record is?
     
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  19. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve)
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    H
    Haha :):):)
     
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  20. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve)
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    I tried to find something on this and could not, might be that the 1960 Olympic Marathon still holds that record?
     
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