“If your average half marathon runner and Alice were on a track at the same time, the amateur would get lapped every 1.25 laps”
When you go out for your threshold runs, how fast are you running? Can you maintain your threshold for 1 hour? What do your metrics say after? Odds are that you have only ever dreamed of running as fast as Alice Wright did on Oct 30th, 2021. Lets take a look at what her metrics show, and just how fast she ran compared to amateur runners.
Previous Record: 16,495 meters (Michaela McCallum): 41.25 laps around a track
New Record: 17,044 meters: 42.6 laps around a track
83 degrees Fahrenheit at start
77 degrees Fahrenheit at finish
Calm winds (0-5mph)
Analysis: A recent research article (Helou et.al, 2012) has shown that runners who run around 5:45/mile pace, lose roughly 1 second per mile for every 1.8 degrees (f) above 59 degrees Fahrenheit. While the humidity and wind were perfect for the attempt, it was 80 degrees. If the temperature would have been closer to 59 degrees, Alice could have run 11.5 seconds faster/mile. Over the course of an hour, that equates to another 700 meters. All of this to say that she beat the record running in less than ideal conditions.
Cadence and Stride Length:
Average Cadence: 195 steps/minute
Average Stride Length: 4.86 ft
Analysis: Alice had a remarkable cadence. For comparison, many elite runners fall around 180-185 cadence for threshold workouts. Many amateur runners will be around 175-185 cadence for similar efforts. To put this in perspective, if Alice would have maintained 180 steps/minute like your normal amateur runner, she would have lost 72.9 feet every minute. Over the course of an hour, this would have cost her 4,374 feet. A total of 0.8284 miles or 1.336 km. This would have cost her the record.
Average Heart Rate: 178bpm
Analysis: Many athletes think of threshold as your 1 hour output. While this is a simple way to think of it, ultimately every athlete has a slightly different threshold time frame. Some have 35 minutes, while others may have 70 minutes. This is an item that can be trained and should be a high priority for athletes looking to maximize events of this duration. Alice had trained her threshold to sustain longer efforts upwards of 60 minutes. It is amazing that she had very little heart rate drift. She reached mid 170’s after her first 3 minutes and held steady the entire time. At no point did she tip into the “red”. She was always well within her threshold ability and able to maintain the same intensity throughout.
Avg: 5:41/mile pace
Avg Lap: 85.25 sec
Analysis: Throughout the entire run, Alice was holding between her tempo and threshold pace. Her coach and her noted the temperature and trying to be a touch conservative. Again, this comes back to the heat (80 degrees) and not wanting to fade. For a speed comparison, the average half marathon runner finishes in roughly 2 hours. This equates to 9 minutes and 9 seconds/mile. 2:17 average for each lap. If your average half marathon runner and Alice were on a track at the same time, the amateur would get lapped every 1.25 laps.
New Record: 17,044 meters, 42.55 laps
A truly elite performance. When breaking down the numbers, you can see an athlete that was disciplined in pacing and had the ability to sustain effort heading into the event. While the heat was detrimental to speed, Alice focused on holding high tempo pacing to sustain her threshold heart rate. This pacing mixed with her world-class cadence allowed her to smash the record. If Alice would’ve went out harder, had heart rate drift, or let her cadence slip, she would not have broken the record. Alice however is an elite athlete and someone we can all learn from. Congrats Alice on your amazing run and new National Record!