As England endures one other heatwave, there was a peculiar sight alongside the canal path that connects Leeds to Liverpool in latest weeks. Phil Sesemann has been routinely skipping alongside whereas utterly coated in a long-sleeved tracksuit, hoodie and hat.
But it’s this arduous coaching in such sweltering situations that has fashioned a key piece to the puzzle that’s marathon coaching and a shot at glory within the European Championships on Monday.
Blazing instances are often related when the world’s greatest runners sort out 26.2 miles in Germany, with Eliud Kipchoge producing his world file (2:01:39) in Berlin 4 years in the past. But blurring leg velocity is unlikely to be the deciding think about Munich in the midst of August. Instead, the medals look to be determined by fierce competitors, resilience and who has conjured up and executed the proper technique.
Sesemann, the primary Briton throughout the road on the London Marathon final yr on debut in 2:12:58, takes on his second profession marathon. A late bloomer to the space and as knowledgeable within the sport, the NHS physician, 29, is now relishing the chance to compete as a full-time athlete. With no stone left unturned on the street to Munich, there can be a whirlwind seven-week turnaround earlier than racing the TCS London Marathon.
“Training has gone well, my fitness is good, so too is fuelling and I’m not carrying any niggles,” Sesemann explains when assessing his probabilities, earlier than admitting there’s some “anxiety” at approaching these chaotic help stations mid-race.
“If things go my way, I don’t know where I could finish, I could be right up there challenging at the front end, that’s how I look at it. Enjoy the race side of it, which at other marathons, I was targeting a time, this time time is irrelevant, it’s about position.
“I definitely want to be the first Brit, but it’s a team event. I’ll see who’s looking good, follow them, follow moves. So unless somebody does something crazy, I’ll try to get to the front and be there as long as possible.
“Competition is the goal. I’d rather win in 2:20, than finish 10th in 2:10, or even second in 2:10. It’s going to be a strong field, there are guys, top European marathon runners, looking at Munich as the goal of the year. The quality will be high.
“Being involved near the front will be where I get the most out of myself psychologically. It’s risky to sit off and wait for people to drop off, you can pick up and get into a high position, but if you want to see what you’re really capable of, you’ve got to put it on the line and take a risk or two.”
Sesemann will pull on a Great Britain vest for a 3rd time, alongside a six-strong males’s crew, which additionally consists of Mohamud Aadan, Luke Caldwell, Ben Connor, Andrew Davies and Andrew Heyes. Representing his nation at a significant championship was one in every of Sesemann’s two profession targets written down a few years in the past. The second, to interrupt Chris McGeorge’s Blackheath and Bromley 1,500m file (3:39.41) may be out of attain now, together with his greatest (3:40.93) set 4 years in the past.
Instead, Sesemann has discovered pleasure racing a distance greater than 28 instances longer, embracing the psychological take a look at as a lot because the bodily toll he places his physique via. He is aware of his ambition will depart him weak when enduring temperatures anticipated to exceed 25C, however there’s pleasure after finishing a carefully-devised plan with coach Andrew Henderson. From a month at altitude within the idyllic French city of Font Romeu to the grind of operating inside a warmth chamber at Leeds Beckett University or round Yorkshire in a number of layers, this has not been an bizarre marathon block.
“The training takes a lot out of you and it’s an added stress on the body,” Sesemann explains. “We did a round of testing before Font Romeu, where I took thermometer gastrointestinal pills to track my core body temperature during sessions where there was big heat exposure.
“Then we did testing when I got back and designed the training protocol. I’ve done one run per week in the heat chamber on the treadmill. We’ve got that up to 40C. And on Wednesday I did a run, then jumped into a cryospa, a hot bath. We’re measuring heart rate and temperature constantly, the pre-exposure and post-exposure rate to calculate sweat rate.
“But without the access, I do layered runs with lots of clothes on, it’s just as horrible as it looks and it’s a real strain.”
Recovery is clearly essential, with Sesemann routinely shedding as a lot as 3kg of water in sweat per hour – compared to Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton often loses 5kg throughout a 90-minute Grand Prix.
There is a comforting facet shared amongst each beginner and elite runners: chocolate milk. It has confirmed to be Sesemann’s secret ingredient, consuming “litres of the stuff” throughout torturous 120-mile coaching weeks.
But with simply days remaining, there’s now actual optimism, with Sesemann, who will race within the Adidas Adios Pro 3 footwear, having fun with outstanding numbers over latest weeks. He remembers a 20x1km session at altitude, run as 1km on, 1km off, which returned common splits of three:22 and three:02.9 whereas holding again. The similar session two weeks later again in Leeds then produced roughly 3:14 and a couple of:53. Another confidence increase shortly arrived when tackling 4×4 miles with one mile float alongside that acquainted cycle path whereas averaging 4:58 per mile for your complete run.
Monday’s consequence will largely dictate the effectiveness of what has been an unorthodox interval of each coaching and life typically for Sesemann, which has included sleeping inside an altitude tent every night time. But the meticulous strategy leaves him content material and poised to find what he’s able to.
“The response has been really good,” Sesemann concludes. “We had a 50 per cent increase in sweat rate in just one week which is really good exposure and has left me as well prepared as possible for Munich. You need to find a balance and not flog yourself with the added stress while training for a marathon. But hopefully we’ve got it right.”