Marathon Potential

Marathon Potential

What makes someone a successful marathon runner?

The one mistake runners make when thinking about the marathon is that they think they can just calculate their marathon potential based on other recent race performances. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was as easy as that? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There’s a lot more involved with the marathon because the distance is so long. Let’s take a look at some physiological attributes most successful marathoners possess:

• Quick recovery: This is the ability to recover from training and races quickly. With this, the runner should be able to handle higher mileage.

• High glycogen storage and fat utilization: This allows a runner to have enough in the tank to run hard for 26.2 miles.

• Good running economy: The ability to use oxygen economically when running marathon pace.

• High oxygen intake: Being able to transport large amounts of oxygen to your muscles and for your muscles to extract and use all this oxygen.

• High lactate threshold: The ability to produce energy at a fast rate without building up too much lactate in your muscles.

• High proportion of slow twitch fibers: This is genetically determined and boasts all the other characteristics listed here.

As you can see there’s a lot more involved with the marathon when compared to other race distances. I’ve seen runners who have crushed the shorter distances to only fail at the marathon. In my opinion, even with perfect training, most of the time it’s because their glycogen storage and fat utilization aren’t optimal. Fortunately this is something that can be worked on and improved. Then you have runners that show no signs of being a successful marathon runner only to show up on race day and crush a PR. Some runners are just born for the 26.2 mile distance.