Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

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HCcD
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Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby HCcD » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:09 pm

Interesting article on the mental thought process in running a marathon in miles vs kilometers ... :roll: :wink:

Marathon isn't equal test in kilometers
October 17, 2012 - 6:57 AM

A simple conversion tells us that 26.2 miles is equal to roughly 42.2 kilometers.

In terms of the physical realm, those are the exact same distances. You could stretch out a tape measure and prove it.

In the mental realm, they are not the same distances. To prove this, you need to do two things: run a marathon in the United States and then run one in Canada.

Or, you could take our word for it. After running Grandma's Marathon in June and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this past weekend, it is painfully obvious there is a major difference.

Strange? Yes. True? Absolutely.

Here's what happens (or at least what happened in those two marathons): Once you reach a certain distance, it becomes less about the miles and more about the milestones. Marathoners tend to hit some sort of physical "wall" at a certain point, often around mile 20. From that point on, finishing is very much a head game.

In a marathon measured in miles, such as Grandma's, there are typically only a handful of milestones left once the physical pain sets in. As long as you are accustomed to miles being your distance markers, the will can take over and push you to the finish.

Strangely, we thought kilometers would actually be a boon in the late stages of the race. Sure, there would be more milestones -- but they would be closer together, making the sense of accomplishment that much greater and pushing the legs toward a big finish.

Wrong. When you see kilometer marker "27," a foreign number unless you have done a race longer than a marathon, this realization kicks in: there are FIFTEEN marks left to hit before the blessed 42.2 are complete. And as you run those final 15K, with legs getting heavy, there really isn't much of a mental difference between a mile and a kilometer.

This doesn't entirely explain why our marathon time was almost a full hour slower in Toronto as opposed to Duluth. The goal in Toronto was "fun," as much as that is possible. We ran the whole way with a friend who didn't exactly adhere to a rigorous training program. And, at around kilometer 37, we stopped and bought cheeseburgers at McDonald's.

But the weather was pretty much the same. The training was mostly the same. The in-race mental grind, though, was not even close.

A marathon measured in kilometers wins that by a mile.

MICHAEL RAND




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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby purdy65 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:23 pm

A burger at McDonalds? :roll: :sick: :sick:

I think I prefer miles actually. Fewer milestones as mentioned.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby fingerboy » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:28 pm

Meh.

I trained for years in miles running with an older group of guys and gals. Then with the RR I switched voluntarily to kms almost the day before a race. Been training and running kms until the day of Chicago when I went back to miles. To me it's all the same since I switch back and forth in my conversations. 20mi =/27kms its 32+ That's where the head games are - if you're at 32 why not amke it to 35 ?

I will say though that running on the tm it used to be less boring running in kms because I would be doing the math in my head as I ran.... .62, 1.24, 1.86, 2.48, 3.1, 3.72, 4.34, 4.96, 5.58, 6.20, 6.82, 7.44, 8.06 (8mi was good enough for most workouts) - plus if i did a 3km w/u and c/d I'd reset the tm in between b/c you only get an hour on a public one).

But when it comes to racing, its less about approaching the 'wall' as it is about staying relaxed and loose.

And yes, I also perfer having to do less.


Pacing is the same - comfortable that 5min/km ~ 8:00/mi (4:56 actually), and a 4:30 is a 7:15, 4:22 = 7:00, 4:10 = 9mph, 4:00 = 6:27, 3:43 = 6:00/10mph, 3:23 = 11mph etc,

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Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Jwolf » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:30 pm

Talk about comparing apples and oranges. Or should I say gels and cheeseburgers?

I totally don't buy it. I've done half-marathons and marathons in both (the Vancouver marathon used to mark in miles) and I don't notice any difference. All that's relevant is the training and the pacing.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby turd ferguson » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:38 pm

I like their thinking. From now on, I will measure my races in leagues. Or perhaps parsecs.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Nicholas » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:49 pm

turd ferguson wrote:I like their thinking. From now on, I will measure my races in leagues. Or perhaps parsecs.

...or marathons. One and done.
I've done both and don't really care which. I can do the mental math in both but like clicking off the markers faster in kilometres. You get that sense of accomplishment when you pass another marker...even if there are more of them to pass.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby La » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:57 pm

The *only* thing that is somewhat believable to me is when he mentioned hitting the 27K marker and realizing that you still have 15K to go.

If you've only ever trained and raced in miles, I could see how seeing that 27 would be mentally challenging, since your "brain on miles" would have you think that the race should have been over 0.8 miles ago.

But for those of us who train/race in kilometers, I don't think it's relevant.

BTW, I was standing/cheering near that McDonalds he mentioned in the article. I was just after the 36K marker, well before 37K. The farmers market I go to is right across the street.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Joe Dwarf » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:56 pm

You'll pardon me if I don't put much stock into the opinion of someone who stops at Rotten Ronnies partway through the race.

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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Pat29 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:58 pm

I've done both and I don't see the difference.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby ian » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:14 pm

I've done a bunch of both and the main thing that I notice is that certain finish times make for easier splits in one system over the other. In K, a 3:30 marathon is easy to pace (5+5+5...) but then it's ugly until about 3:10 (4:30/K) and 2:49 (4:00/K). In miles, you get 3:03 on 7/M and 2:55 on 6:40/M (three miles every twenty minutes). It probably doesn't matter with a Garmin, but this autistic luddite certainly notices these things.

Similarly, has anyone ever run a race where the signs counted down the distance left, rather than the distance so far? This lets you spend the first hour of the race bitching about the 0.2, rather than the last hour.

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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Dr. S » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:37 pm

Whether the race course is in miles or km, when I look at my watch I see miles.

A marathon is freakin hard, km or miles, period.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Jwolf » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:39 pm

Dr. S wrote:Whether the race course is in miles or km, when I look at my watch I see miles.

A marathon is freakin hard, km or miles, period.


Maybe you should stop at McDonald's next time. :)
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Dr. S » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:42 pm

Jwolf wrote:
Dr. S wrote:Whether the race course is in miles or km, when I look at my watch I see miles.

A marathon is freakin hard, km or miles, period.


Maybe you should stop at McDonald's next time. :)


Yes, maybe I should!! LOL
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby canalrunner » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:41 pm

Well that is a couple of minutes of my life, I want back. You had a slower time at Toronto because you ran slower AND you stopped at McD's! What more explanation is needed. Hardly a head scratcher. Not sure there is any difference for me in running a kilometer marked versus mile marked course. I suppose since there are fewer markers, there is a higher probability that mile markers will be properly placed.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby OLRunner » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:07 pm

I find that a race marked in miles is harder. ...thinking..."where is that mileage marker, haven't seen one forever!"
Seems like I am accomplishing more with Km"s.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Jogger Barbie » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:16 pm

I've always trained in km and mostly think about running distances in km. When there are X km left in a marathon, I sometimes picture a known route of that distance and try to pretend I'm just starting that run. Also, towards the end of a marathon, one of my mental "tricks" for keeping myself going is to think of time instead of distance, and "X km x 5 minutes" is math that I'm used to to doing. Not that I'm necessarily running 5 min/km towards the end of a marathon (who are we kiddng?) but whatever it takes to keep running, right? So on balance my mental is probably more attuned to km markers and I do prefer them.

Still trying to wrap my head around the idea of stopping for a cheeseburger and then continuing to run...guts of iron...
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Dstew » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:32 pm

I look at my split after the first kilometer and then mile to make sure I am not going out to fast and then I break the race down into 5 k segments. I find it gives me a better account as to my overall pace.

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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Joe Dwarf » Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:50 pm

These new-fangled watches have this amazing feature where you can choose english or metric. I suggest the author try that.

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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Jwolf » Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:50 pm

Joe Dwarf wrote:These new-fangled watches have this amazing feature where you can choose english or metric. I suggest the author try that.

Awesome.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby turd ferguson » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:02 pm

Joe Dwarf wrote:These new-fangled watches have this amazing feature where you can choose english or metric. I suggest the author try that.


Don't tell me you got suckered into buying one of those metric clocks too.

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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Joe Dwarf » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:18 pm

turd ferguson wrote:
Joe Dwarf wrote:These new-fangled watches have this amazing feature where you can choose english or metric. I suggest the author try that.


Don't tell me you got suckered into buying one of those metric clocks too.

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I had one for a while but could never get used to taking lunch at 9:75 a.m.
Hee. Reminds me of when I was a kid, and the local radio hosts that everybody listened to announced we were switching to metric time. They announced the time in metric and english all morning that day, April 1 and caused a lot of people to get very upset. They were also famous for announcing that we were having a water shortage, and could people please place buckets of water on their front step so the city could pick them up. Which people did.

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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby shannybear13 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:16 am

A marathon is hard no matter what.
Its a matter of preferance and what mind tricks you play with yourself.
I'd much prefer to see miles, thats just me. Except for the last stretch then I want to know when the last k is. Strange I know..
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby alexk » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:29 am

Interesting little story and perspective...

I train in miles. I've tried to switch to kms w/ no success. My body just "knows" what an 9,8,7 etc. minute mile feels like. I can't seem to tranfer that feeling to kms...

But I totally race marathons in kms. I've always broken the race down to 5k chunks (and the big ones in the US do that too). It somehow makes the 26.2 :) easier to tackle, for me. Although at the bitter end, my head will often switch to miles. I'll repeat "you can always run a mile; it's just a mile." And if that doesn't work, I break it down to minutes, "you can do anything for 8 minutes."

Love the mental game of the marathon and how we try to make sense of it :).
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby La » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:44 am

alexk wrote:Love the mental game of the marathon and how we try to make sense of it :).

Just like how people compare the "difficulty" of multiple-loop, point-to-point, out-and-back, and single-loop courses. The distance is the same, and topography notwithstanding, none of those things should make a difference.
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Re: Marathon In Miles or Kilometers ??

Postby Strider » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:48 am

I am with Nick. Could care less. 1/2 was is 1/2 way. 32km is 20miles and if you have 10km or 6.2 miles left it makes no difference. BUT that last .2 makes the world of difference depending on what you are measuring.
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