On March 5th, 2023, Marcelo Avelar completed the Tokyo Marathon in a time of 2:31:40. This time resulted in Marcelo clocking the fastest time from any Brazilian runner! While Marcelo’s time is extremely impressive, there is a lot that goes into a performance far before an athlete ever toe’s the line. Sit back and enjoy as we break down the training that goes into a 2:31:40 marathon, and how Marcelo perfectly executed a negative split!
Watch worn for training/racing: COROS PACE 2
Data analyzed through: COROS Training Hub
Training Prior to Tokyo Marathon
Before any major event, training is the best approach any athlete can focus on. Training should be designed to build your overall fitness, and then help prepare you for the specific demands of the event. When we look at Marcelo’s training leading into Tokyo, he followed a fantastic concept of building fitness first, and then training specific intensities leading into the race! This is a concept many amateur athletes can look to replicate for future success.
COROS Base Fitness
COROS Education: Base Fitness measures your overall fitness on a 42-day rolling average
All athletes can look at this graph and take a few key points away from Marcelo’s build.
#1 Marcelo focuses on building his fitness from Sept 28th all the way through Nov 30th.
#2 Marcelo focuses on maintaining fitness while reducing fatigue from Dec 1st through Feb 15th.
#3 Lastly, Marcelo allows his body additional rest the week leading up to Tokyo which results in a drastic reduction of fatigue so he is ready to perform on race day!
COROS Education: Threshold Pace indicates the pace you could hold for roughly 40-60 minutes.
This graph is very impactful in regards to Marcelo’s build. While his overall fitness dwindles over time, his specific fitness needed for marathon performance increases! This highlights thee key takeaways for all runners!
#1 Marcelo was running at different intensities from Sept 28-Oct 30 without much focus.
#2 starting around Oct 30, Marcelo begins to focus more on marathon specific training.
#3 The closer he gets to race day, the higher he wants to push his threshold abilities.
Time in Zones Chart
COROS Education: Time in Zones shows you the intensity you are training at most.
This is a clear representation of how Marcelo was structuring his training from Sept 28-Dec 1st(1st image) vs his change in approach from Dec 21st – Race day (2nd image)
You can see a clear change in the amount of Zone 1 and Zone 2 training the closer Marcelo gets to Tokyo. Zone 2 in the COROS eco-system is referred to 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. Marcelo effectively was training hard enough to generate positive change, but light enough not to require multiple off-days!
The Tokyo Marathon was a fantastic race for Marcelo. Not only was he the first Brazilian across the finish line, but he also raced to his potential given his training. There are three key takeaways from his race that athletes should note. We will dive into his 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.
If you look above, Marcelo spent the last three months of his training focused on Zone 1 and 2. Both of these are very specific to marathon pacing given the demands on the body. When we look at the pace that Marcelo ran, 94% of his effort falls within these two zones! It is not an accident that this elite athlete trained exactly how he wanted to race. For all athletes out there, its important to understand the demands on the body a race will present, and how to train accordingly so you can maximize your race!
COROS Education: Splits are found in the Training Hub within the activity page
This is a beautiful representation of proper pacing within a marathon. Often times, athletes will go out faster than they should and fade in the last 5-15km of a race. Marcelo, however, went out at a slightly easier pace which allowed him to not only finish stronger, but also run his fastest 5km stretch between kilometers 30-35. This again goes back to knowing your zones and what you can achieve on race day. For Marcelo, this meant starting in the slower portion of his Zone 2 and building to the faster portion as the race went along!
COROS Education: Cadence can be found in the Training Hub within the activity page
This is one metric we wanted to call out specifically for all readers. One of the major differences we see between elite runners and amateur runners is the ability to sustain a high cadence. Often times, amateur athletes try to muscle through a workout or race. This results in a lower cadence and ultimately more muscular force being used with every step. When elite athletes train/run, they focus on a higher cadence as it allows for more efficiency and less strain overall on the muscular system. Initially this will require more cardiovascular fitness, but it is a metric all runners should monitor as they look to improve. Marcelo held an average cadence of 190 for the entire race!
When breaking down Marcelo’s top finish at the Tokyo Marathon, it should be of no surprise given his training and race tactics. Marcelo had a dedicated plan within his training and then brought this into how he specifically executed the race. The lesson here for amateur athletes is that there are tools within the training world to help you plan, analyze, and make these informed decisions along your journey. In Marcelo’s case, he utilized the COROS eco-system to help dial in his performance. We urge all readers as they go into their next training cycle and race, to take these concepts with you and see how they stack up to your own approach. Do you have a plan on how to build performance, or are you guessing as to how productive your training is?