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<A HREF="http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,5033,s6-78-0-0-6573,00.html">Link to article by Amby Burfoot</A>
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Some people think lance armstrong is a pretty decent cyclist. Me, I'm fascinated by his running. After all, Armstrong won the first distance race he ever entered, way back in fifth grade. The kid obviously had legs, guts, and stamina from the get go.

Unlikely as it seems, Armstrong also won his most recent running race. This time it was a run-bike-run affair called the Dirty Duathlon in Rocky Hill, Texas, back in December 2002. An upstart named Jason Saeger beat Armstrong by more than two minutes in the midevent 12-mile mountain-bike leg, but Saeger paid for his audacity. Armstrong spanked him bad on the concluding 3-mile cross-country race, running the fastest leg of anyone in the competition (20:16) and winning the event overall.

In between his first and last running victories, Armstrong turned to the Tour de France. Last summer he won it for the fifth time, surviving a series of blips, flips, and clip slips that made his victory just about the most dramatic thing ever to appear on Reality TV. This year's Tour begins July 3, and I can't wait to follow Armstrong's quest to become the first six-time winner.

Still, when it comes to endurance sports, I see things through a runner's eyes. I naturally wonder how tough the Tour really is, and what kind of marathon Armstrong could run. The answer hinges on stuff that's familiar to runners--aerobic fitness, biomechanics, lactic acid, and energy supply--but also less-familiar things like power output and gravitational force. Most important, there's the je ne sais quoi that separates the champs from the chaff.

The best runners are incredible oxygen-delivery machines who know their max VO2 and use the impressive numbers to bolster their confidence. Armstrong knows his max VO2, too. His longtime friend, confidante, and coach, Chris Carmichael, has had his star pupil tested on several occasions. In one, Armstrong jackhammered oxygen into his legs at the astonishing rate of 83 millimeters per kilogram per minute.

This figure wouldn't mean much if it weren't for the pioneering research of famed running coach Jack Daniels, Ph.D., who first published his Oxygen Power tables in 1979. According to Daniels, who's rarely off by more than a smidgen or two, a max VO2 of 83 is roughly equivalent to a 2:06 marathon.

The problem is, Daniels is talking about the oxygen power of runners on treadmills, not of cyclists. No one can say exactly how the two differ, but they do. Triathlon legend Mark Allen has lived in those narrow spaces. Allen is the fastest runner ever to win six Hawaii Ironman Triathlons. In 1989, he closed with a 2:40:04, still the Hawaii record, after first swimming 2.4 miles and then biking 112 miles.

Always a strong runner, Allen had a lightbulb moment one year at the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile in Washington, D.C. He was warming up, doing some strides, when he noticed other top runners doing the same. "They seemed to be floating across the road, with a light stride and a quick turnover," he says. In contrast, Allen felt that he was thumping the road with his well-developed leg muscles. "It's tough for a lot of triathletes and bicyclists. We tend to have bigger legs and to run more stiffly."

Carmichael says Armstrong moves oxygen as well as anyone, burns more fat than most endurance athletes (a good thing), and is able to cycle very hard without producing much lactic acid (a very good thing). Still, he agrees that cyclists don't easily convert to runners. "Running and cycling might seem similar," says Carmichael, the moving force behind the trainright.com Web site, "but there are distinct differences. And they require different kinds of animals to perform well." For one thing, the top Tour riders weigh 30 to 40 pounds more than the top marathoners; Armstrong checks in around 165 pounds.

To get a better understanding of cycling, I called David Swain, Ph.D., from Old Dominion University. Swain's planning a 3,400-mile coast-to-coast bike ride this summer, but once ran 2 miles in 10:54 in army boots. Swain tells me that the Tour is basically three events--long peloton rides, devastating mountain climbs, and muscle-crunching time trials--while the marathon is just one.

A marathoner simply has to get his skinny aerobic butt to the finish line as fast as possible. If he encounters hills along the way, that doesn't much change the physics involved. A Tour winner has to mesh colliding worlds. He needs to be fit, lean, and strong. The five- to six-hour peloton rides demand a high level of aerobic fitness. The mountain climbs require serious pedal pushing, but from a lean frame. If you carry too much weight, gravity pulls you backward. A Kenyan 10,000-meter runner on a bike might perform quite well in the Pyrenees. But the same Kenyan would get crushed in the time trials, which demand brute power. I happen to live in the same community as bicycling's Olympic sprint champ Marty Nothstein, and I've seen him compete. His 6'2", 215-pound body dwarfs his bike as he attacks the pedals in a piston-pounding frenzy. To win the Tour, a rider has to be one-half Kenyan and one-half Nothstein. And that's a rare breed. "You have to be an unbelievably superb athlete to do it all," Swain says. "We're talking one in a million."

Last summer, Spanish physiologist Alejandro Lucia, Ph.D., wrote "The Tour de France: A Physiological Review," in which he noted that the first Tour winner was a French chimney sweep. "The recent winners are highly trained, professional cyclists," he wrote, "whose lifestyle is oriented to reach top endurance performance."

Lucia, who has run a 2:52 marathon, says that riders must be ready to call on their superhuman skills at any time. "A rider must be able to perform for three weeks in the face of accumulating fatigue without knowing when he will be called upon for a maximum effort," he says. "Days that are supposed to be easy can turn difficult."

Whew! It's enough to make you feel thankful for even-pace marathons. Not that Lucia thinks it's easier to win the Boston Marathon. "It's very difficult to win the Tour," says Lucia, "but it's even harder to win a big international marathon, because there are so many great runners worldwide and far fewer Tour participants."

So how fast could Armstrong cover 26.2 miles? His coach, Carmichael, says, "Lance will probably rip me when he hears this, but I don't think he'd run faster than 2:30 to 2:40." Allen says 2:20 to 2:30. Lucia says sub-2:20 but not sub-2:10. "What are those guys thinking?" asks Swain. "With his aerobic engine, Lance could run 2:10 or better."

But the greatest athletes have more than the best bodies--they have the best minds. "The Europeans don't train as intelligently as Armstrong," says Lucia. "They are stuck with their old thinking, their traditions."

Mark Allen now coaches other athletes on the power of mind-enabled performance from an aptly named Web site, shambala.com. And he believes Armstrong's success stems from his inner drive. "When Lance sets a goal," says Allen, "he's got the tenacity of 50 people wrapped up in one body."

Amby Burfoot
 

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Interesting article, but Swain is crazy if he thinks Armstrong could run a sub 2:10 marathon. Guys that can do that make Armstrong look like a bodybuilder, and there is no reason to think Armstrong's aerobic capability is all that much greater than elite marathon runners.
 

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What a bogus article

This guy has to "wonder how tough the Tour really is" and then procedes to try to calculate what time Armstrong could do in a real sporting event, a marathon. Besides the fallacy of comparing apples and oranges, why doesn't he instead calculate how fast a cheetah could ride a 40 K time trial? After all, you can get a cheetah's VO2 Max based on it's weight and speed, and that could be converted to cycling performance. NOT! Any aerobic sport has a HUGE element of specificity, and this constant desire to figure out whether "my sport is better than your sport" smacks of psychological disorder. I used to ride with a cross country skier, and he simply COULD NOT resist constantly "proving" that skiers were better athletes than cyclists. This runner's article runs in the same depressing rut.
 

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spankdoggie said:
<A HREF="http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,5033,s6-78-0-0-6573,00.html">Link to article by Amby Burfoot</A>
------------------------------------

Mark Allen now coaches other athletes on the power of mind-enabled performance from an aptly named Web site, shambala.com. And he believes Armstrong's success stems from his inner drive. "When Lance sets a goal," says Allen, "he's got the tenacity of 50 people wrapped up in one body."

Amby Burfoot
I dunno, I think the guy puts adequate disclaimers in his article to avoid your criticisms, about comparing apples to oranges...he's just writing about Armstrong for his runner audience...since Lance just happens to be the most famous endurance athlete of our era. Personally, I believe the last part (quoted above) is the most telling part of why Lance is so good, more important than all his physiologic blessings. On one of the recent OLN programs, one person stated that if you bet Lance on who could hold a hot coal in their hand the longest, Lance would hold it til it burned through his hand, rather than lose. For that reason, you really cannot extrapolate how well he could do in a marathon...his will is the great unnmeasurable unknown.
 

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Kerry Irons said:
This guy has to "wonder how tough the Tour really is" and then procedes to try to calculate what time Armstrong could do in a real sporting event, a marathon. Besides the fallacy of comparing apples and oranges, why doesn't he instead calculate how fast a cheetah could ride a 40 K time trial? After all, you can get a cheetah's VO2 Max based on it's weight and speed, and that could be converted to cycling performance. NOT! Any aerobic sport has a HUGE element of specificity, and this constant desire to figure out whether "my sport is better than your sport" smacks of psychological disorder. I used to ride with a cross country skier, and he simply COULD NOT resist constantly "proving" that skiers were better athletes than cyclists. This runner's article runs in the same depressing rut.

He is trying to decifer what Armstrong would run in a marathin simply by going on his VO2 numbers. It is pure speculation from a runners point of view. He never said running is better than cycling he just was curious what Armstrong would run in a marathin if he tried basically for [email protected] and giggles. Chill out dude.
 

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Get a life...

Kerry Irons said:
This guy has to "wonder how tough the Tour really is" and then procedes to try to calculate what time Armstrong could do in a real sporting event, a marathon. ... Any aerobic sport has a HUGE element of specificity, and this constant desire to figure out whether "my sport is better than your sport" smacks of psychological disorder. I used to ride with a cross country skier, and he simply COULD NOT resist constantly "proving" that skiers were better athletes than cyclists. This runner's article runs in the same depressing rut.
The article was fun and intelligently written. Wake up on the wrong side of the bed?
 

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My LA screensaver that I downloaded off his website has some pretty cool pictures of Lance doing the Dirty Duathalon. Funny to see that same intense look in his eyes trotting over a log on a trail that you see when he's climbing the alpes.
 

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T-Doc said:
Personally, I believe the last part (quoted above) is the most telling part of why Lance is so good, more important than all his physiologic blessings. For that reason, you really cannot extrapolate how well he could do in a marathon...his will is the great unnmeasurable unknown.
With all due respect, BS. It's not a coincidence that Lance has the best aerobic numbers ever measured by a national team member, and he's one of the best cyclist in the world. If you can tell me how the "unmeasurable unknown" affects one's LT or VO2 max numbers I'd like to hear about it. The "UU" might make the difference between finishing 1st and 2nd in a race, not the difference between being competitive in a race and not being so. Even with his world-class aerobic abilities, at 5'10" and 165 lbs there is no way he could run a 2:10 Marathon, regardless of how much will-power and toughness he has.
 

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Interesting ?

When Tony Rominger, ever bit the aerobic equal of Armstrong retired, he thought about training for a marathon as a new goal. He hoped to break 3 hours.

For Armstrong to run a 2'20" marathon would probably require 3-5 years of specific training. Running 3 miles, cross-country in just over 20" is nothing special. Armstrong is a genetic marvel, no doubt but look at your world class XC skiers. Bjorn Daehlie, the greatest Olympian of any sport all-time, had a VO2 max greater than 90. XC skiers also do alot of running. A current Swedish Olympian, Per Elofsson ran a 10K averaging under 5 minutes/mile...he was carrying 165 pounds on a 5'11" frame. His VO2 is also high 80s/low 90s. He'll never win a marathon but a Kenyan will never win a XC ski race. Methinks it was the '94 Olympics when a Kenyan champion runner entered a XC ski race. He finished last, about 10 minutes behind Daehlie. Daehlie in fact greeted him when the guy finished...what a sportsman!

Athletes like this are good at their chosen sport but to become a champ in another discipline is almost impossible. Too many years of training are required.


spankdoggie said:
<A HREF="http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,5033,s6-78-0-0-6573,00.html">Link to article by Amby Burfoot</A>
------------------------------------

Some people think lance armstrong is a pretty decent cyclist. Me, I'm fascinated by his running. After all, Armstrong won the first distance race he ever entered, way back in fifth grade. The kid obviously had legs, guts, and stamina from the get go.

Unlikely as it seems, Armstrong also won his most recent running race. This time it was a run-bike-run affair called the Dirty Duathlon in Rocky Hill, Texas, back in December 2002. An upstart named Jason Saeger beat Armstrong by more than two minutes in the midevent 12-mile mountain-bike leg, but Saeger paid for his audacity. Armstrong spanked him bad on the concluding 3-mile cross-country race, running the fastest leg of anyone in the competition (20:16) and winning the event overall.

In between his first and last running victories, Armstrong turned to the Tour de France. Last summer he won it for the fifth time, surviving a series of blips, flips, and clip slips that made his victory just about the most dramatic thing ever to appear on Reality TV. This year's Tour begins July 3, and I can't wait to follow Armstrong's quest to become the first six-time winner.

Still, when it comes to endurance sports, I see things through a runner's eyes. I naturally wonder how tough the Tour really is, and what kind of marathon Armstrong could run. The answer hinges on stuff that's familiar to runners--aerobic fitness, biomechanics, lactic acid, and energy supply--but also less-familiar things like power output and gravitational force. Most important, there's the je ne sais quoi that separates the champs from the chaff.

The best runners are incredible oxygen-delivery machines who know their max VO2 and use the impressive numbers to bolster their confidence. Armstrong knows his max VO2, too. His longtime friend, confidante, and coach, Chris Carmichael, has had his star pupil tested on several occasions. In one, Armstrong jackhammered oxygen into his legs at the astonishing rate of 83 millimeters per kilogram per minute.

This figure wouldn't mean much if it weren't for the pioneering research of famed running coach Jack Daniels, Ph.D., who first published his Oxygen Power tables in 1979. According to Daniels, who's rarely off by more than a smidgen or two, a max VO2 of 83 is roughly equivalent to a 2:06 marathon.

The problem is, Daniels is talking about the oxygen power of runners on treadmills, not of cyclists. No one can say exactly how the two differ, but they do. Triathlon legend Mark Allen has lived in those narrow spaces. Allen is the fastest runner ever to win six Hawaii Ironman Triathlons. In 1989, he closed with a 2:40:04, still the Hawaii record, after first swimming 2.4 miles and then biking 112 miles.

Always a strong runner, Allen had a lightbulb moment one year at the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile in Washington, D.C. He was warming up, doing some strides, when he noticed other top runners doing the same. "They seemed to be floating across the road, with a light stride and a quick turnover," he says. In contrast, Allen felt that he was thumping the road with his well-developed leg muscles. "It's tough for a lot of triathletes and bicyclists. We tend to have bigger legs and to run more stiffly."

Carmichael says Armstrong moves oxygen as well as anyone, burns more fat than most endurance athletes (a good thing), and is able to cycle very hard without producing much lactic acid (a very good thing). Still, he agrees that cyclists don't easily convert to runners. "Running and cycling might seem similar," says Carmichael, the moving force behind the trainright.com Web site, "but there are distinct differences. And they require different kinds of animals to perform well." For one thing, the top Tour riders weigh 30 to 40 pounds more than the top marathoners; Armstrong checks in around 165 pounds.

To get a better understanding of cycling, I called David Swain, Ph.D., from Old Dominion University. Swain's planning a 3,400-mile coast-to-coast bike ride this summer, but once ran 2 miles in 10:54 in army boots. Swain tells me that the Tour is basically three events--long peloton rides, devastating mountain climbs, and muscle-crunching time trials--while the marathon is just one.

A marathoner simply has to get his skinny aerobic butt to the finish line as fast as possible. If he encounters hills along the way, that doesn't much change the physics involved. A Tour winner has to mesh colliding worlds. He needs to be fit, lean, and strong. The five- to six-hour peloton rides demand a high level of aerobic fitness. The mountain climbs require serious pedal pushing, but from a lean frame. If you carry too much weight, gravity pulls you backward. A Kenyan 10,000-meter runner on a bike might perform quite well in the Pyrenees. But the same Kenyan would get crushed in the time trials, which demand brute power. I happen to live in the same community as bicycling's Olympic sprint champ Marty Nothstein, and I've seen him compete. His 6'2", 215-pound body dwarfs his bike as he attacks the pedals in a piston-pounding frenzy. To win the Tour, a rider has to be one-half Kenyan and one-half Nothstein. And that's a rare breed. "You have to be an unbelievably superb athlete to do it all," Swain says. "We're talking one in a million."

Last summer, Spanish physiologist Alejandro Lucia, Ph.D., wrote "The Tour de France: A Physiological Review," in which he noted that the first Tour winner was a French chimney sweep. "The recent winners are highly trained, professional cyclists," he wrote, "whose lifestyle is oriented to reach top endurance performance."

Lucia, who has run a 2:52 marathon, says that riders must be ready to call on their superhuman skills at any time. "A rider must be able to perform for three weeks in the face of accumulating fatigue without knowing when he will be called upon for a maximum effort," he says. "Days that are supposed to be easy can turn difficult."

Whew! It's enough to make you feel thankful for even-pace marathons. Not that Lucia thinks it's easier to win the Boston Marathon. "It's very difficult to win the Tour," says Lucia, "but it's even harder to win a big international marathon, because there are so many great runners worldwide and far fewer Tour participants."

So how fast could Armstrong cover 26.2 miles? His coach, Carmichael, says, "Lance will probably rip me when he hears this, but I don't think he'd run faster than 2:30 to 2:40." Allen says 2:20 to 2:30. Lucia says sub-2:20 but not sub-2:10. "What are those guys thinking?" asks Swain. "With his aerobic engine, Lance could run 2:10 or better."

But the greatest athletes have more than the best bodies--they have the best minds. "The Europeans don't train as intelligently as Armstrong," says Lucia. "They are stuck with their old thinking, their traditions."

Mark Allen now coaches other athletes on the power of mind-enabled performance from an aptly named Web site, shambala.com. And he believes Armstrong's success stems from his inner drive. "When Lance sets a goal," says Allen, "he's got the tenacity of 50 people wrapped up in one body."

Amby Burfoot
 

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I really enjoyed the article and all the guessing about how he would do in a marathon. A sub 2:10 marathon based only on his VO2 Max? Sounds unreasonable. But I can't find myself caring enough to take the fun out of the speculation.
 

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too big

It's a curious thought, but I think Lance is just too big to be that successful as a marathoner. Elite runners are in the 100-120 lb. range. He'd be consistently good in trail running, I'd imagine.
 

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Wow...lighten up....

Dwaynebarry said:
With all due respect, BS. It's not a coincidence that Lance has the best aerobic numbers ever measured by a national team member, and he's one of the best cyclist in the world. If you can tell me how the "unmeasurable unknown" affects one's LT or VO2 max numbers I'd like to hear about it. The "UU" might make the difference between finishing 1st and 2nd in a race, not the difference between being competitive in a race and not being so. Even with his world-class aerobic abilities, at 5'10" and 165 lbs there is no way he could run a 2:10 Marathon, regardless of how much will-power and toughness he has.
Hey, give the attitude a rest...I never suggested he could run a world record Marathon...my comment was related to the writer asking Chris Carmicheal and other experts what they thought his times would be...and my point is that it would be hard to predict just by looking at his numbers, since, IMHO, what sets good athletes apart from great athletes is their competitiveness. Numbers and lab tests are not the last word in performance prediction. Surely you have met people with talent who could not acheive...the problem being between their ears, not their cardiovascular system. All I'm saying is that LT or VO2 max not withstanding, his real talent is his will and ability to withstand pain...make his competition suffer more. Whether this would this would translate into a sub 2:30 Marathon is simply a guess.
 

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Interesting article- Lance might be a bit too big, too old, and not have a perfectly honed stride that the elite marathoners need to run world-class times. But he was a Tri-geek, is in insane shape and is extreme determined- so I would be surprised if he did run a very good time without much training and a superb time after a year's training.
 

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Coolhand said:
Interesting article- Lance might be a bit too big, too old, and not have a perfectly honed stride that the elite marathoners need to run world-class times. But he was a Tri-geek, is in insane shape and is extreme determined- so I would be surprised if he did run a very good time without much training and a superb time after a year's training.
No doubt, but a superb time would be like a sub-2:30, maybe if once he had cancer and came back stripped of a lot of his body mass and took up running instead of returning to cycling he could have done sub-2:20. But 2:10 marathoners don't have Armstrong's build, they typically are extremely little people probably because in running you are essentially braking with every foot strike and re-accelerating as you push off.
 

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Dwaynebarry said:
No doubt, but a superb time would be like a sub-2:30, maybe if once he had cancer and came back stripped of a lot of his body mass and took up running instead of returning to cycling he could have done sub-2:20. But 2:10 marathoners don't have Armstrong's build, they typically are extremely little people probably because in running you are essentially braking with every foot strike and re-accelerating as you push off.

Yeah not too many well built elite marathoners- but man they are scary fast in person.

Probably a better comparison would be how would Lance do if he wanted to do a Tri again. Probably pretty darn well, especially after some event specific training.
 

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Dirty Du Perspective

litespeedchick said:
My LA screensaver that I downloaded off his website has some pretty cool pictures of Lance doing the Dirty Duathalon. Funny to see that same intense look in his eyes trotting over a log on a trail that you see when he's climbing the alpes.
I'll chime in a bit since I was at the event covering. Lance hurt bad after the event--I talked with shortly after he finished and more later once he'd recovered. Homeboy was cooked. That being said he also told me before the race that he'd only run once or twice in the two weeks before the event so he didn't expect much in the run.
 

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Interesting article

In his day Burfoot was quite an amazing athlete himself. That being said, he should know better than to say or imply that "X" VO2 max equals a time of "Y" in a marathon.

A friend of mine who at the time was doing the dissertation for his Phd in exercise physiology explained to me once that while VO2 max is a very important component for any endurance athlete, it is far from the only important thing. I've often heard distance runners quote Steve Prefontaine's (U. of Oregon distance standout in the 70's and former American Record holder for 5000 and 10000 meters) as having one of the highest recorded VO2 maxes ever for distance runners at 88. While that may be true, my Phd friend shared with me that one of Prefontaine's more famous contemporaries, Frank Shorter, was tested at 69 and he has a gold and a silver medal in the Oly marathon to show for it. As for myself, I was tested at 72 but only have 10K and marathon PR's of 31:30 and 2:33. I had friends in the same lab study who tested in the mid to high 60's who could always spank me by a minute or more in a 10K on the worst day of their lives.
 
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