Fitness, Fatigue and Form - COACH London

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Fitness, Fatigue and Form

August 2022

Let’s play a spot-the-difference game!

Take an imaginary video of yourself starting off at Mile 1 of the London Marathon and then again at Mile 25 and compare the two in minute detail – what do you see?

At Mile 25, you might notice a sweaty red face or an overall look of tiredness compared to the first video but look a little closer and you’ll like see that you’re running completely differently in the second video than you were in the first. It’s not surprising after what you’ve just put your body through, but a few small tweaks to your posture and form can play a crucial role in how you feel and perform on the day.


When you read about being fit enough to run a marathon you will often come across terms like “Build your Aerobic Base” or “ Manage your Pace” and that’s fine for the heart, lungs, and respiratory system, but what about the muscles that are carrying you through the course?

Your muscles control your running posture and what is sometimes coined as your “Strength Endurance”, i.e. the specific form of strength displayed in activities that require a relatively long duration of muscle tension with minimal decrease in efficiency.

The key word here is “efficiency” which is the ability to use the least amount of energy required to perform a task and without it you could get caught in the form/fatigue loop. This chain reaction occurs when fatigue slightly changes the way you move without you noticing, which in turn changes the amount of energy required to run. The less efficiently you run, the more ‘energy pounds’ you spend, which, you guessed it, increases fatigue.


This is a very common trap to fall into but can easily be avoided by reminding yourself of the following short cues to help maintain your form along the way.


Stay Tall – When we tire, we tend to flex at the spine and bend slightly forward. This will increase the demand on your back extensors which isn’t helping you run. Try to keep your chest up and shoulders back to maintain an upright posture and your energy costs down.


Land Light – The heavier you land, the longer your foot is on the floor, which asks your quadriceps to work harder for no reason. Try to soften your landing and push off like a rubber ball to keep your foot to floor contacts light and short.


Look Forward – When your head falls forward you completely change the biomechanics of your running and you have to decelerate harder as you mimic falling forward on each step. Try to keep your chin up which will help to ensure your centre of mass is in line with your base of support which, in turn, helps to minimise your energy expenditure.


Good luck with the Race and we hope these tips help to keep you in good running form!


Written by Gareth Cole, Co-Founder and Head of Performance at COACH LONDON.

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