"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Derek and Derek

Two universal truths of running:

1) Everyone thinks they succeed because they work hard and everyone who beats them is simply more talented.

2) No one ever works harder than they think they need to.

[You're more talented and lazier than you think.]

When I started running, my running heroes were Derek Ibbotson, the British miler of the late 1950's and Derek Clayton, the Australian marathoner of the late 1960's and early 1970's.

Derek Ibbotson

Ibbotson showed promise as a teen, but never ran spectacular times. He joined the royal navy and did his training running laps on the deck of a ship or on the sandy beaches when they docked; while that seems a handicap, because he lived, worked and trained in the same place, he could train whenever he wasn't on duty - and he always had an audience and people knew if he took a day off.

Early in his career, he broke the world record in the mile. He never ran close to that time again. When I saw the workouts he ran, my first thought was that he was exaggerating, because they were almost exactly what 3:46-3:49 milers run today. It's common to not just give one's best week as typical, but give the best example of each type of workout, even if one never would do them in the same week.

I now believe that he did the same thing I did. After running a very fast time, he started training like he thought someone that fast should train, leaving his best efforts in workouts, rather than in races.

Derek Clayton

Clayton was known as a hard training 10K runner with no kick when he started running marathons, usually between 2:17 and 2:25. Word got out that he was running 200 miles per week (which he later said he might've done twice) and everyone thought he was going to burn himself out, especially as he was working full-time as well. He became the first runner to break 2:12. And 2:11. And 2:10. And 2:09. His record stood for 15 years.

Clayton's maximal oxygen uptake was measured at 69.7, which is typical of a 2:28 marathoner. What he lacked in pure aerobic ability, he made up for by being able to run 5 minute miles indefinitely with no real effort, which came from his high mileage. He was criticized for never winning a "big" race, like the Olympic marathon, because he didn't ever really peak. 

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