I never considered myself to be a runner. Until two years ago when I signed up to a local running club and slowly but surely, hard tortuous running transformed in to something that I could almost describe as pleasurable.
So, one year on, and with my training regime at a plateau, I decided that I wanted to run a marathon. I guess it’s something I’ve always wanted to achieve and now was the time. I knew it would be one of the most rewarding experiences but no easy feat. First I had to choose the race. The notorious London Marathon without a doubt. Then the training began.
This involves everything from buying the essential kit to eating the appropriate diet, taking part in pre-marathon races and avoiding injury. What follows are useful hints and tips for anyone insane enough to take up the challenge of a marathon!
Training plans can be found in books on the topic of marathon running training, magazines for runners and at the numerous running web sites available today. Most major marathon races maintain official web sites with a page devoted to how to train for a particular race. It’s important not to get caught up in the initial excitement by choosing a marathon training plan unsuited to your individual experience and abilities. In other words, first time marathon runners should stick to a training plan that is tailored to training for beginners. To do otherwise is to invite burnout or even worse, one of the common running injuries by attempting to keep up with a schedule that is just too demanding.
It is important to start the training programme 14 weeks before the event. However, if you are a complete beginner then you’ll want to start a lead-in programme before you begin your specific marathon training.How It is important to start off gently and progress over time. The main aim at the beginning is to establish a routine of regular running. Then you can build the frequency, intensity and duration of your running as the weeks progress.
It is very important to vary your training. Doing the same type of running can make the training boring and see you plateau instead of progress. Include different types of running and you will see better marathon results. Below are examples of different running training.
Easy runs (ER)
This is your marathon start point. An easy run will feel 50%- 60% of your maximum effort. These should feel easy and relaxed.
Steady runs (SR)
These build your aerobic base and the foundation of your training. A steady run is done at around 60%-70% maximum effort.
Threshold runs (TR)
These runs feel slightly uncomfortable but are great at improving your running economy. Threshold pace feels 80%-85% of maximum effort level.
Long Runs (LR)
This is very important in marathon training. As the date draws closer you progressively build your mileage in one single run. Expect a 3 to 3.5 hour run at the later stages of your training. Long runs can be done at 50%- 70% maximum effort level.
Fartlek running (FR)
Fartlek means ‘speed play’. It is best done on varied terrain for different amounts of time or distances with varying amounts of recovery.
Interval running (IR)
You clearly specify how long you are going to run for and how much rest you are going to have. Interval running is done at a pace that is difficult to maintain. Intervals are done at 85% + of maximum effort level.
Hill running (HR)
This involves running over a hilly circuit. On the ‘up’ part of the hill it should be 75%-85% of maximum effort.
Marathon Pace (MP)
This is your marathon pace. This should feel comfortable but one you will have to work hard to maintain as the mileage increases. The key is to master control of marathon-paced runs so that you feel under control for longer!
It is also fundamental to consider a strong conditioning programme alongside your training programme. Too many runners just run!
Obviously, it is important to run as marathon training, but recovery is equally important. You should not run every day. Your body needs to rest between runs so it can recover from one run to the next, getting stronger between each run. A hard race/ session will deplete your body’s stores of glycogen and your muscles will need at least a day or two combined with an appropriate recovery diet to completely recover from your effort. The tapering period is a critical part of your marathon training. During the last couple of weeks of your training, it’s important that you taper, or cut back your mileage, to give your body and mind a chance to rest, recover, and prepare for your marathon.
Anyone who has received treatment from myself knows the importance of the notorious Foam Roller- love it or hate it; it has been my saviour throughout training. The introduction of the foam roller came about as our attitude towards massage therapy changed. The foam roller provides daily soft tissue release at an affordable cost. The technique is simple: get a foam roller and use your body weight to apply pressure to the sore spots or tightness. One of the main benefits is for injury prevention and performance enhancement. While the foam roller can be used on almost any area of the body, I have found it works best on the lower extremities. There is no universal agreement on when to roll and how often, but techniques are used both pre and post training session. It’s a great way to warm up and recover from strenuous exercise and one of the best things about using the foam roller is that it can be done on a daily basis.
This is a great way to prepare for the big event. It helps you experience what it is like to run with a large group of people and to manage pre-race nerves!
Stay Strong and Motivated!!
You must draw on every ounce of physical and mental strength! There’s no escaping that at times things will be really tough. Staying positive is the key to success!
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