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Why Mo Farah Lost The Great North Run and Will Come Back Stronger

By on Sep 16, 2013
Image of Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe at Bupa Great North Run

The scene was set for another sensational Mo Farah sprint finish and inevitable victory. But Sunday’s Great North Run had a twist in the tail. What explains Mo’s loss? And how will it affect his future medal prospects? Paula Radcliffe gives her view.

Last week we started our review of the top 7 reasons for Mo Farah’s consistent, injury-free success. The series was supposed to culminate in victory for Farah in Sunday’s Great North Run. But Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele had other ideas.

Below we highlight the views of Paula Radcliffe, the athlete who remains the women’s world record holder in the marathon.

Running form

A key recent focus for Farah, under the tutelage of Alberto Salazar, has been running form. Salazar has been vocal in his criticism of Farah’s condition when he first arrived at the Nike Oregon Project. A particular concern was Farah’s lack of upper-body strength, which resulted in late-race deterioration in his running form. The coach feels that the strength and conditioning work Farah has put in to tackle this issue has been the single most important factor behind his improvement over the past couple of years.

Paula Radcliffe indicates that further work will be required. As she describes it:

…he needs to learn to relax when running downhill because the race was won on that downhill section…

Ahead of the race, Radcliffe had warned Farah of the danger that Farah’s finish might be adversely affected by impact of the downhill stretch on his quads.

Race specifics

Another area where Mo Farah has developed under coach Alberto Salazar is in the area of training specificity. One key facet is the focus Salazar has placed on the sprint finish. That’s reflected in Farah’s training regime, where high-speed intervals are used as the culmination of certain workouts, mirroring the effort and fatigue that characterises the latter part of races.

But one area where Farah may well have fallen down on Sunday was another aspect of race preparation: knowledge of the course. Indeed, arguably it was something as simple as this that stood between Farah and victory on Sunday.

In Paula Radcliffe’s words:

…He needs to learn to study the course beforehand because I don’t think he realised how narrow the home straight was…

The future for Mo Farah

Where next for Farah? The middle-distance runner has revealed that next stop for him is a well-deserved break – in line with the Alberto Salazar approach to training and in particular recovery.

…This will be the longest break I’ve had since I started running – and I believe I need it. Two weeks. Just me and the wife, Necker Island for a bit and then on to the Caribbean…Mate, I’m putting my feet up, chilling out. I’m not running…

The great Haile Gebrselassie is convinced Farah will come back stronger:

…It can be great. They can both go on and break world records, why not?…

And Radcliffe? Well, for her part, the world-record holder still thinks the future’s bright.

…That defeat is going to give Mo fire as he heads into his winter training because he doesn’t like to lose…

More information about Mo Farah

For more information about Mo, including his charitable foundation, check out mofarah.com and mofarahfoundation.org.uk.

Image of Mo Farah and Bekele in action

Mo Farah in action against Bekele before the Great North Run defeat

Click below for our investigation into the remarkable impact that coach Alberto Salazar has had on Mo Farah. We’re counting down the 7 reasons why, under Salazar, Mo Farah has reached double world champion excellence while staying injury-free.
Mo Farah training secrets: continued image


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