How far do you need to run to win a league title?
Thanks to data from Maidstone United analysts Antonio de Vivo, Ben Fuller and Nathan Morris, we can reveal the team covered 4,206km in 40 National League South games this season - that’s 2,614 miles or 100 marathons.
They performed 19,613 sprints for a total sprint distance of 468,488m or 468.5km.
Midfielder Sam Corne ran more than any other player, which should probably come as no surprise given his all-action game.
The team’s best physical performance came in the 3-2 win at Eastbourne in February where the Stones covered a total distance of 128km, a total sprint distance of 15,970m and 637 sprints.
Maidstone used just 27 players in the league this season, with injuries kept to a minimum.
Sports science played a huge part in that, with the players’ every move tracked by GPS vests.
There was no hiding place and with a manager as demanding as Hakan Hayrettin, the players knew they had to hit their targets.
“You can’t have a run of consistency like we did if there’s no science because you can’t monitor it, it’s impossible,” said de Vivo. “You can’t just do it by thinking about it.
“Being a coach, it’s very difficult to monitor your training loads, the fatigue of your players and manage it like that, and that’s what we did.
“You can’t have that consistency if you don’t have the numbers to back it up.
“How many players did we use? Not many.
“And if you look at the midfield, how many changes did we make?
“We had changes not because of muscle injuries or fatigue or strain, it was because of impact injuries, more physical damage than anything else.
“We played literally the same three midfielders over and over again by managing them in training.
“You look at the matches, that’s one thing, but it’s the training that counts and that’s where the GPS works because we could monitor them.
“Credit to the two sports science guys, Ben and Nathan, for making sure the numbers were there.
“We would have instant feedback in matches, we could say, ‘This player’s not running, he’s not hitting his targets.’
“You can’t hide from the numbers and it also becomes a motivational thing for the players in the sense that they hit their targets and I think in the last eight to 10 games they were exceeding everything.
“Actually, when you look at it, when our numbers were at a certain level, we were winning.
“When they dipped, we were not winning. A notable one is Slough away.
“When you look back into the numbers, we didn’t work that day, so there is a significance in the intensity of the amount of work you do, versus your results.”
Hayrettin bought into the power of sports science, appreciating the benefits it provides.
With so much for modern-day managers to focus on, every bit of help is gratefully received.
“There’s a subjective view in a manager’s eyes, because he will see certain things,” added de Vivo, who is also the club’s dentist.
“You don’t know who’s running more than the others, you don’t really know their intensity unless you can look at the numbers.
“You can have a guess if you’re watching one player but the manager is watching his group of players, he’s watching the opposition group of players, he’s watching the ball, he’s watching the incidents that are happening.
“You can’t actually monitor if someone’s hiding or not.
“So that’s helped and that’s why with Nathan and Ben we were getting live tracking so we could tell the manager on the day what was going on, and then his focus is on the actual play.”