Coaching Costa Rica: The Final Push

Photo: Sam Wells for

Mario Fraioli updates on Cesar Lizano’s progress as the Olympic Marathon approaches.

It’s been far too long since the last installment of what was supposed to be a weekly column, and for that I apologize. As I type these words I’m en route to London to reunite with my athlete, Costa Rican marathoner Cesar Lizano, who will line up for the Olympic Marathon on August 12. It’s hard to believe that after seven months of preparation we’re almost done putting the finishing touches on the final product.

Six weeks have passed since my last update and a lot has happened during that stretch. After the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon, where Cesar finished third to U.S. Olympic marathoners Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall, he returned to Costa Rica to begin his final phase of preparation for London. It also marked the start of an intense 8-week marathon-specific block of training where Cesar would reach peak volume (roughly 180 kilometers/week) and do a lot of running at or around his goal marathon pace of 3:10-3:12/K, which translates to a finishing time in the range of 2:14-2:15 . Also during this period, he would run two races: the 10,000 meters at the Central American Track & Field Championships in Nicaragua on June 17 and a half marathon in his hometown of San Jose, Costa Rica on July 8. With such a tight window of time before the main event on August 12 we couldn’t afford to back off the training too much heading into either of these events, but Cesar competed well in both of them. In a tactical race in Nicaragua he led for most of the race before getting oukicked on the final lap, running 31:37 (a track personal best) to take home a silver medal. At the Correcaminos Half Marathon, Cesar ran strong for third behind a couple of Kenyan runners, posting a time of 1:08:09 to cap off a hard block of training five weeks out from his peak race.

Arriving in London this past Tuesday, Cesar is getting acclimated to life in the Olympic Village and prepping for one last hard session on Friday — a longer marathon-specific workout which will cap off this final 8-week block of training. From there, we begin the process of winding down, freshening up and getting sharp for the big day. More harm than good can be done in the final two weeks before a peak race, so we’ll put the horses in the barn, take care of any nagging niggles and just wait patiently for the opportunity of a lifetime.

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