Biokinetics and musculoskeletal rehabilitation06/07/2021
Adherence to home exercises03/11/2021
Running a marathon is never going to be easy. It takes courage, strength and a lot of mental preparation to succeed in running a full 26.2 miles. How you prepare for such a race is extremely important if you want to achieve your goal.
Firstly, you need plenty of time to prepare for the race (average of 20 weeks) and secondly, you need the correct strategy to boost your fitness, strength and endurance to marathon status.
The following are 10 training methods that you should include in your marathon training programme to give you the best possible chance of performing at your physical peak on race day:
1. Long runs
By this I mean a distance of around 16 miles or longer. The purpose of a long run is to improve your endurance. The most beneficial pace to adopt for these runs is around 10 – 20% slower than your marathon goal pace.
This slightly lower intensity will still provide enough stimuli to maintain the movement pattern required to meet your marathon goal pace without being too intense therefore allowing ample recovery time for other training sessions.
This is a run of between 10 and 15 miles. It will reinforce physiological benefits gained from the long runs. The pace for these runs should be similar to the long runs. However, if you had a hard day on the previous workout then run at the slower end of the pace range.
3. Marathon pace runs
These are either medium/long or long distance training runs. Let’s use a 16 mile run as an example. Start at a comfortable pace for the first 5 miles and then finish the rest of the run at marathon race pace. This is to prepare your body as specifically as possible for the big day. Also try to choose a course which mimics the topography of the actual marathon course.
4. Lactate threshold runs or tempo runs
An effective way to improve lactate threshold is to run at lactate threshold pace or a few seconds faster per mile either as one continuous run or a long interval session. The running intensity will be enough to start accumulating lactate in your blood. The more time you spend close to your lactate threshold pace, the greater the stimulus to improve.
A 10 mile tempo run for example would look something like this: 2-3 miles to warm up, 5-6 miles at just above lactate threshold pace and the remainder to cool down.
5. Recovery runs
These runs should be done at a relaxed pace and are relatively short. This is to circulate fresh oxygenated blood around the muscles to help speed up recovery. When you have finished the run you should feel refreshed rather than tired and fatigued.
6. Aerobic runs
Aerobic runs are a moderate effort of a distance up to 10 miles. They should be slower than your lactate threshold runs but faster than your recovery runs. They should also be shorter than medium/long runs. The idea is to improve aerobic conditioning and to top up your training volume.
7. Speed Training
Speed training will help to improve running form and therefore efficiency. The objective is to stimulate the nervous system so you have a faster turn over through the running gait and a longer stride. To begin, start with a 3 – 4 mile run at a steady pace to warm up. Then using a 400m athletics track (if possible) sprint 10x100m with a 100m walk or slow jog between each leg. Focus on running form i.e. staying light on your feet, use a full stride length with full hip extension and flexion and keep your shoulders relaxed throughout.
8. Intervals for V02 max
V02 max intervals are much bigger than speed training intervals. They are designed to improve your body’s ability to use maximum amount of oxygen when the demand for it increases through intensity. The intervals range from around 400m to 1500m fast runs/sprints followed by an active rest period. However, this type of interval training isn’t the main priority for running a marathon. It is better suited for shorter distances of up to 10k or half marathon. Plan these runs before an easy day rather than a hard day.
9. Cross training
Cross training refers to strength and conditioning exercises to build overall strength in the muscles and tendons. This can contribute to improved running economy and increased capacity to tolerate longer distances.
10. Rest Days
Adequate rest is extremely important to maintain the gains from all the hard work you have put into your training. Knowing when to rest and when to perform the above training strategies can make or break your training goal, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
It’s important to remember after an intense training day such as speed training or intervals, the next day should be an easy day or a rest day. You can also adjust training load per week for e.g., on weeks with high volume (more miles) then reduce the intensity (intervals, fast pace etc).
As a keen fell runner myself and having trained and treated many marathon and ultra-marathon runners I understand the stress and strain we put ourselves through in training for such an event. Running injuries can cause a set back in your training plan and if you have any issues and need some help or advice please do get in touch.
Remember… “A marathon is hundreds of miles; the finish is the last 26.2”