What can run but can never run

Marathon: Why not everyone can run under 3 hours

Millions of runners dream of running the marathon once in less than three hours. But no matter how much you train - very few succeed. Achilles running doc Matthias Marquardt does away with unrealistic expectations.

We live in a society full of heroes who make it from dishwasher to millionaire, from car washer to CEO or from newspaper operator to publishing director brought.

People love these stories. And the idea that you can achieve everything, but really everything, by virtue of your will is always gladly taken up and quoted. Of course, by athletes too. “If you really want it, then you can do anything“, they write on the flag. Her trainers and, more recently, psychologists also convey this way of thinking.

Of course it iswill important for releasing energies. Belief in oneself inspires. And so you don't need to be surprised if the marathon runner in the office next door suddenly sticks notes with “You can do it, if you really want it” on his monitor or installs a banderole with “I can do it!” As a screen saver. Perhaps you have thought for a long time that it was not completely sealed, perhaps you are right about that, but fueling your self-motivation, positively strengthening yourself, with whatever methods, is kitchen psychology that really helps many athletes.

A lot of training, little income - no talent

But can anyone really do anything? Unfortunately, no! I once had an athlete in my training group who was obsessed with itIronman which is known to include a marathon in addition to swimming and 180 km cycling. Motivated to the tips of her hair, convinced that she could do it, she went to training. Five hours a week, later 10, then even 15. Technique, strength, interval training, running ABC - she trained with the cracks and enjoyed professional support.

The only catch: The mileage was in the range of 1:20 hours for 10 kilometers. For someone who trains so much and so seriously, it is so slow that as a doctor you are almost worried. The following reasons for the reduced performance could be ruled out:

  • Deficiency symptoms, especially iron deficiency
  • Infectious diseases
  • Heart defect
  • wrong training control
  • Overtraining Syndrome
  • lack of exhaustion of the physical possibilities
  • technical errors
  • Failure in shoe supply

Professional performance diagnostics and examinations showed only one thing: the young woman turned out to be very healthy. in thecompetition Despite intensive preparations and with all her strength, she was not able to run 10 kilometers under 1:20 hours. And believe me: she really wanted that, she would have given anything to undercut the time. This story of suffering dragged on for a correspondingly long time, because if someone is conveyed everywhere: "You can do it, if you only want", then he just thinks that he really only has to want it right and just try harder, then it will work out .

Well, how far is someone from an Ironman race who runs 10 kilometers at the limit in 1:20 hours? The young lady would never have been able to reach the time limit in such a race. The dream was illusory. But who do you convey that? At some point, the other athletes even started placing bets on whether they would manage to run the intervals or competitions twice as fast as the Iroman aspirant. The worst part was: they made it!

Do not despair, even when dreams burst

A drama that I could only end with a serious conversation with the young lady. A conversation that had to put her dreams into perspective. That made it clear to her that she is healthy and motivated, but that she simply lacks the talent. There were many tears. But what should I do: In terms of lack of talent, she was an exception. I have never seen anyone again who has achieved so little with so much effort. Should she chase an unachievable goal in frustration for a lifetime?

Let's be clear: Those who run marathons in 2:50, 2:30 hours or even faster have a talent. Usually these athletes are able to run 10 kilometers in less than 40 minutes with almost no training. If you still struggle with the 60 minutes over 10 kilometers after a few years of training without major mistakes, you simply have less talent. If you ask around, you will find that some of your colleagues completed the marathon in 4:00 hours with 35 kilometers of training per week, while others trained 80 kilometers per week.

Of course, it is fun to optimize your training and to exhaust your performance limits. But don't let yourself get frustrated if some areas of performance are closed to you. Running is and will remainyourSport and you run for Your personal goals!


Dr. Matthias Marquardt

Triathlete and marathon runner, after stubborn injuries, dealt extensively with the question of the best running technique. The movement analysis specialist has now passed on the “Marquardt running” concept he developed to numerous athletes. Marquardt is best known to runners as the author of the books "Die Laufbibel" and "77 things a runner needs to know".


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