We’ve been fortunate to witness some incredible performances in the last eight days. On April 13, Martin Lel won an exceptionally fast London Marathon in 2:05:15, beating his own course record. The first seven men all ran under 2:09.
One week later, Deena Kastor came from behind to win the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston. The race was filled with interesting storylines: Kastor’s bid to return to the Olympics, Blake Russell’s attempt to overcome the heartache from four years ago when she finished fourth in the last trials, and the amazing story of Magdalena Lewy Boulet. Lewy Boulet came out of nowhere to nab second place. She led the race for the first 23.5 miles before being passed by Kastor. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story that described how she emigrated to the United States from Poland and how she was scheduled to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen…on September 11, 2001. You think you’re busy? She’s a full time track coach at Berkeley with a three-year-old son. She trains in the morning or at night on a treadmill.
On April 21, we were treated to the closest finish ever in the women’s race at Boston. After a series of attacks and counterattacks, Dire Tune beat Alevtina Biktimirova by two seconds. Robert Cheruiyot won his fourth Boston title, putting him among a select few. Lance Armstrong ran Boston for the first time and acknowledged that Heartbreak Hill lives up to its reputation.
You think it’s tough qualifying for Boston? The race allocates a certain number of slots to people who are running for charities. The Wall Street Journal examines the phenomenon, and points out that charities have to apply to the race organizers for an allotment of slots, too.
Move on Up
26.2 miles not enough for you? Then move up to ultramarathoning. The Times of London spotlights the Marathon des Sables, a 151 mile race through the Sahara Desert. Runners pack their food, clothing, cooking and sleeping gear on their backs as they trudge through heat that can reach 122 degrees (50 degrees Celsius).
Get Your Motor Running
A heart rate monitor can be a terrific training tool. It can help you determine the proper pace for training. But in order to use it correctly, you need to determine your maximum heart rate. So how do you do that? The Toronto Globe and Mail surveys the different methods. The New York Times takes a different approach. It begins by examining the connection between maximum heart rate and athletic performance.
The Six-Million Dollar Runner
It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie: genetically engineered runners. The Times of London examines how bio-engineering might boost the size of the human heart, improve endurance, and increase the number of red blood cells. How about a marathon in 90 minutes? If contemplating such possibilities is overwhelming, consider going on a running holiday. The Times lists a few places that combine running with good times.
This Week’s Must Read
We all have favorite racing distances, but what’s your ideal distance? Be careful, they might not be the same. The New York Times profiles middle distance runner Sara Hall, who excelled at 5K, then discovered that her best distance might be 1,500 meters. The article is full of helpful training tips from Hall’s coach, Terrence Mahon. Be sure to watch the video, in which Hall demonstrates some drills to improve efficiency.
The flip side of training and racing hard is recovery. The Daily Telegraph reviews ways to treat various post-race problems, such as blisters and muscle aches. The Wall Street Journal profiles three “Boston Stragglers” who, because of other commitments, bad bosses, or some other reason, run the race long after the crowds have packed up and gone home. The Journal also charts the rise of open water swimming as an Olympic sport. E60, the ESPN video magazine, has a story on Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee sprinter who runs with carbon prosthetic legs, known as blades. Should he be allowed to compete with able-bodied athletes, or do his blades provide a competitive edge? We wrap things up with this New York Times feature—a first-person account of a runner’s one-man support team.