More Than Splits: Fastest French at Paris Marathon

On April 2th, 2023, Mehdi Frère completed the Paris Marathon in a time of 2:11:05. This time resulted in Mehdi clocking the fastest time from any French runner! While Mehdi’s time is extremely impressive, he unfortunately did not exceeded his expectations and missed the Olympic qualifying standards by a few minutes in harsh conditions in the streets of Paris. Sit back and enjoy as we break down the fastest french time from the 2023 Paris Marathon.

Watch worn for training/racing: COROS PACE 2

Data analyzed through: COROS Training Hub

Training Prior to Paris Marathon

Training remains a huge part of an athlete’s life before they even step on the start line. After completing the Valencia Marathon at 2:09:17 in December 2022, Mehdi took a 3-week break before getting back to training towards Paris Marathon. He maintained a fairly constant Base Fitness for 3 months while training for the specific demands of the race.

COROS Base Fitness

COROS Education. Base Fitness measures your overall fitness on a 42-day rolling average.

Here are a few key takeaways points from Mehdi’s training phase for Paris Marathon:

  • Mehdi takes a 3-week transition after Valencia Marathon to recover and start a new training block after.
  • During this block, Mehdi focuses on maintaining fitness while training specific aspects of the race.
  • Lastly, Mehdi completes a taper from March 21st until race day to reduce fatigue and optimize performance.
Specific Training

COROS Education: Threshold Pace indicates the pace you could hold for roughly 40-60 minutes.

While we can see a slight decrease over time of Mehdi’s threshold pace during his transition period, the following 3 months were highly specific in terms of marathon training which allowed him to improve his threshold pace while maintaining Base Fitness.

Despite the lack of training time from multiple races, Mehdi effectively managed his time to improve his threshold pace while maintaining Fatigue in the optimized zone (40-60).

Time in Zone Charts

COROS Education: Time in Zones shows you the intensity you are training at most.

The graphs above are a clear representation of how Mehdi structured his training during his high-intensity block from Oct 1st – Valencia Marathon (1st image) vs his specific block towards Paris Marathon from Dec 7th – Race day (2nd image).

Those graphs show a clear change in the amount of Zone 1 and Zone 2 training as Mehdi gets closer to race day. Zone 2 in the COROS eco-system is referred as your Aerobic Power (tempo). The more time you spend here, the more likely you are to increase your Threshold ability. While Zone 3 is considered Threshold, it often requires more recovery due to the intensity. Mehdi trained at Zone 1 and Zone 2 to effectively improve his threshold ability without requiring multiple off-days!

Race Day!

Paris Marathon this year definitely provided some challenges for runners with light rain and colder temperatures. But Mehdi successfully went through those obstacles by keeping a strong and steady pace throughout the race. There are a few takeaway points from Mehdi’s performance that are relevant to all runners out there. Let’s dive into Time in Zones, Pacing, and Cadence.

Time in Zones

COROS Education: Time in Zones for a workout can be found in Training Hub activity page.

As we mentioned above, Mehdi spent most of his time over the past three months in Zone 1 and Zone 2. During Paris Marathon, Mehdi spent over 2 hours in those 2 first zones which are very specific intensities to marathon pacing. This proves again just how elite athletes train specifically for the demands of the race.

As you train for your next objective, make sure to understand the demands on the body for the goal ahead, and to train accordingly to optimize performance!


COROS Education: Splits are found in the Training Hub within the activity page.

While Paris Marathon can be quite hilly at times, Mehdi started off the race with a strong pace over the first 10km before keeping a steady state near the low end of his Zone 2 (Aerobic Power) for the next 25km. As the race got harder, Mehdi reached the high end of Zone 1 to end the day at a slightly slower pace.

Mehdi confirms that a lack of training prior to the event combined with harsh conditions lead to a slight decrease in pace as the race progressed. In such cases, it is important to be aware of your current fitness and what your body is able to do during race day.


COROS Education: Cadence can be found in the Training Hub within the activity page.

Despite the hilly sections throughout the course, Mehdi held an average cadence of 197 for the entire race! Cadence remains a major difference we notice between elite athletes and amateur runners. Maintaining a higher cadence requires greater power from the athlete, but in exchange they do have a better running economy- one of the three pillars of marathon performance. Amateur runners, on the other hand, usually rely on muscle strength to propel themselves forward resulting in a reduced running economy.


While finishing in the Top 10 during Paris Marathon, Mehdi executed a solid performance despite his lack of training time between races over the past few months. Those challenges did not let Mehdi give up as he used the COROS training eco-system to fully dial in specific training and optimize his time for Paris Marathon. For all runners out there, if you are currently planing your training schedule in preparation for an upcoming race/event, we urge you to utilize those training tools to plan and analyze your training and make those informed decisions along the way.

Feel free to send us your training-related questions at so you can chat about your training journey with one of our coaches and better structure your training.

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