Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Food for thought: Pacing and the "Central Governor"

Worked from home today, which was nice. Had a seriously tedious task to do so couldn't face doing it in the confines of the office. Kitchen table is far nicer, brighter and warmer (with a full fridge in grabbing distance).

The task in hand was (yawn) web-based research, but not with an exciting purpose. So to reduce the tedium factor, I thought I'd catch-up on a few episodes of Marathon Talk
iTunes - Marathon Talk archive

For those not in know, Marathon Talk is a wonderful weekly podcast that does what is says on the tin, with some great interviews with many of the big names in running. I've only recently stumbled on the wonder that is MT so apologies to those long since on the band-wagon, but we've got to start somewhere and MT has helped me to lose myself further in the obsessive world of running.

So, food for thought. What exactly I am going on about? And is this going to turn into a horribly long unfocused scrawl? No, coz you can listen to the stuff yourself, which will be far better than any of my poor attempts to recreate it.

I'm only 12 days out now from my debut Marathon, saw my ears pricked up today when Martin and Tom starting discussing PACING: Choosing your Marathon pace

Click to listen: Marathon Talk - episode #62

The gist of it was:

  • Spend some time thinking honestly about what you really want from the race
  • Reflect on how your training has gone and consider what run condition you are in
  • Calculate a pacing strategy
  • Consider the potential risks of going too hard or too easy
  • Commit to your 'A' goal with 100% confidence and belief
This is well worth listening to as it really got me thinking about my plans for April 10th and making sure my plan for the day is as "sensible" as it can be when you are running 26.2miles before lunch. 

In discussing pacing the boys also touched on the question of the "central governor" which is something I've heard them bring up a few times and had a vague appreciation of what it was all about, but in doing so they mentioned a previous episode with Prof Tim Noakes (author of "The Lore of Running" and esteemed sports scientist) who is an exponent of the theory. So I tuned in and this was really fascinating...

Click to listen: Marathon Talk - episode #47 (starts at 33min40sec)

The central governor is a proposed process in the brain that regulates exercise in regard to a neurally calculated safe exertion by the body, so the brain has a big impact on fatigue impacting on muscle usage. The existence of a central governor is suggested to explain fatigue after and during prolonged strenuous exercise like in marathon.  Trust me, its a lot more interesting than my poor (and very brief) explanation.

Do listen, coz this was really really interesting, and on top of discussions about pacing gives the novice marathon runner (like myself) plenty of food for thought...

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