Justin Lagat has us thinking on the future of fast times. Will the break in the global seasons, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, give athletes the mental and physical break that they need and the athletes come back stronger and faster?
Justin Lagat had a few thoughts on this….
While we have seen a number of runners in the past taking a break from their training due to either injury or maternity reasons, there has never been a time when runners across the world have all gone on a break from competitive running at the same time.
Sammy Korir, who once paced Paul Tergat almost to the finish line to run the first-ever marathon world record by a Kenyan runner of 2:04.55, was born about seven kilometers from where I was born and he once gave me a piece of advice that the best runs always come after one takes a relatively long break before resuming their training. For his case, he would go on breaks from around November to January to concentrate on some farm work before getting back in training again. Korir became a winner of a number of big city marathons including Rotterdam and Amsterdam and also finished second both at the London and the Berlin Marathons.
Before coming back to win the historic New York City Marathon title in November 2017, her first win in a major marathon and the first win by an American woman at the NYC Marathon in 40 years; Shalane Flanagan had been laid off her training by a fracture in her lower back since the beginning of that year. Her long break from training definitely helped her run the amazing run she did.
Coincidentally, Mary Keitany of Kenya as well had gone on a maternity break in 2013 and came back to win the Ney York City Marathon for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2016. Perhaps the only reason she was beaten in 2017 was that the winner (Shalane Flanagan) was also just back from a break from her running!
Most of the top-performing runners, like Eliud Kipchoge also often run in a few races each year and that could perhaps be what keeps them on top of their game.
The Kenyan runners that I come across here around Eldoret, Kapsabet, Iten and Kaptagat are currently doing some easy runs just twice or thrice in a week, contrary to what they would usually be doing. If everything was normal, most would do two runs in a day while others would even do three runs. For now, some have even stopped their training completely and are focusing on other economic activities to provide for their families in the meantime.
It should be interesting to see how the competitions in some of the major races in the world will turn out to be once everything resumes and almost every runner will have had almost similar times to recover before getting back to competing again.