Marathon training – the Do’s and Don’ts. Making Every Athlete maximise their Race Day
Congratulations on setting a terrific goal. Running a marathon is one of the most rewarding experiences a runner can partake in. It’s difficult! But if you take the right steps, and follow a bit of good advice, you’ll smash it!
Marathon training does not have to be complicated. This will guide you through a few things that should you take on board, and put you in good stead to finish your race. Taking shortcuts when training for that kind of distance is a sure way to get injured or fail before you start.
- Be honest!
- Minutes, not miles.
- Where are your weaknesses?
- Practice routines! Nothing new on the day.
Here you will find some basic principles to live by if you’re training for a marathon. If you do have further questions or are interested in our Running Logic programmes, please do not hesitate to get in touch now!
This is to yourself and to your coach if you have one (which I would advise). How often can you train? Running sessions that is. Two is not nearly enough for 99% of runners, three is what experience shows me gets completed consistently, and four is a great number to start with a couple of resistance training sessions thrown in. But you get it, it is a serious commitment. A coach of mine often said to me that 80% of marathon runners want to break 4 hours but less than 20% do. Between working and family life it can be tricky to fit in your runs, and it’s inevitable that some will be skipped (often the hill sprints for some reason). But as I said, talk to your coach, explain the situation and be real with your time. That way the most effective programme can be formulated by prioritising specific runs and blocks when they will benefit you most.
Minutes, not Miles
Human work on a timeline. This is how you should think about running. How many minutes of stress are you putting through your legs. This is what we need to manage – based on your projected or target finish time. It is easy to get into the trap of logging the miles of your longest run. It doesn’t represent stress on your body. We make take you through walk-runs which adds minutes to your body but you don’t log that many miles. Whereas if you are aiming for 4 hours 30 and you have a training walk-run that took you to 4, then your body will be in a good place in terms of resilience to cope with your race. Your stamina will come over the course of completing multiple sessions per week, thinking about how many minutes you have done. It’s the key to keeping your body strong and safe to complete a marathon!
Where are your weaknesses?
It’s a great tip not just for marathon training, but for life as well! You have 4-6 months to train for your race. It’s the perfect opportunity to optimise you as a runner. Let’s hone in on those weaknesses and make you stronger. Maybe you have completed a few marathons but your time isn’t improving. We will look at maximising the hill runs and fast tempo sessions. This will fire your central nervous system up to improve your time. Or you are a fast 10km runner but have never done the distance – building up the resilience and adding those longer runs or walk runs is going to be vital to achieve your goal. Perhaps your speeds and endurance are good, but you pick up injuries too often and miss training. Strength and resistance may need to make up a significant part of your training load. Staying comfortable at what you are good at may not allow you to achieve what you wish. Focus on your weaknesses and the strengths will take care of themselves.
Practice routines, nothing new on the day!
Shoes, socks, shorts, headbands, watches, gels, hydration, toilet breaks. Planning is so key to making the most of your race day. You want to be in a pair of shoes and training gear that you have trained in before comfortably. Do not buy a new pair of shoes, even the same model, they need to be worn in and ready to go. If you take nutrition which is advisable, be sure to practice taking gels or bars in your training. Never switch the brand on the day, or else risk unexpected toilet trips from any kind of complication. Look at the locations where toilets are and make your plan. Preparation is so important, and although these are basics – they go a long way to making your race day special. Good luck!
- Be honest with yourself and your coach about how much time you can commit to the process.
- Think of training in minutes not miles! Your body has a clock, not an odometer.
- It’s a long training process and the perfect time to focus on your weaknesses as a runner and improve.
- Make sure your routines and nutrition are well practised and prepared for race day!