How To Run A Faster Marathon
There are millions of people around the world who are seeking how to run a faster marathon.
What I respect most is not how fast these runners have run but by the simple fact that they were willing to ask for help.
The Bible states that
You have not because you ask not
I have been asked this question several times over the years and will be writing some key points that I have learned from the world’s top exercise physiologists, runners and coaches that I hope will be of assistance.
How to run a faster marathon can be answered by changing habits.
We all are creatures of habit and often times what we think is the proper way of conducting our training, much like our thinking, tends to take us farther away rather than closer to our goals.
I have attached a list of common mistakes I have made as well as many that I have seen others make that will take you further away from running a faster marathon.
You want to be on the look out for these in your own training to combat yourself against wasted time and thoughts.
1. Comparing yourself to others
One of the common mistakes I have seen many runners make as well as myself over the years is comparing ourselves with other athletes.
We see what other runners have done and feel inadequate when we have not made the next big leap in training or results that they may have made.
Stop wasting your precious mental energy on comparing yourself with other runners.
Do you want to know how to run a faster marathon or being an expert on how fast Bernard Lagat ran in his last mile?
Do you want to set new personal bests or spend time on letsrun.com reading the gossip forums?
You can but I can promise you this, it will not get you any closer to your marathon goals.
Focus on productive actions that will bring you closer to your goals, not further away.
I tend to think of this as similar to people who would rather watch television and give their time to that but complain about never having enough money.
Why do people need more money and why do so many of us find the time for things that don’t bring us the results we seek?
Plenty are living paycheck to paycheck and not paying attention to specific roads that will free them from that concern.
Stop doing that.
Build a money making machine that will work with or without you.
The ball game or reality television has become the mainstay and while people are earning while they sleep, others are slaving away at jobs they have no passion for and not getting payed enough to live.
The problem is the majority are traveling through rush hour traffic when there are backroads that can get us to our destination faster, more efficiently and with less stress.
2. Faster long runs produce faster marathon times
Be careful with this.
I didn’t say faster long runs guarantees faster marathon times.
What they do guarantee you is a much better chance of running a specific marathon goal time provided you prepared in a specific way in training and were disciplined enough to slow down for recovery.
22 mile long runs at 8 minute mile pace do not make 2:37 marathoners.
There are no short cuts in this sport.
Wanting to run a faster marathon is not enough and as badly as I wish it was easier to do it, there simply is no way around it.
There must be commitment and there is an enormous difference between interest versus commitment in our sport.
Runners seeking to run a faster marathon have to become more accustomed to training at or below their goal race pace.
I was once a 2:43:36 marathoner who was seeking to break 2:22:00, the old 2008 USA Olympic Trials “B” standard time (since lowered to 2:18:00) back in 2007.
How does anyone go from a 6:14 average per mile for the distance to 5:25 per mile?
Alternating the speeds at which you conduct your long runs.
3. Expect Challenges
If you set a personal best how determined are you to improve upon your time?
Are you willing to delay gratification?
I ran my personal best for the marathon distance a little over 7 years ago and 7 years later am still trying to improve upon my 2:19:35 PR.
What has been my greatest asset is my willingness to endure.
How willing are you?
The closest I have gotten since was the 2:26:42 I ran to take 5th place at the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon.
I ran a less than stellar (for me) 2:32:57 at the 2013 California International Marathon with two emergency stops included.
The chase goes on into 2015 and I will obtain my goal.
You have to have immense focus and discipline to seek out goals and if your goals are not challenging, if they don’t test your mental and physical limits, you are selling yourself short.
Expect the journey to be challenging but don’t get discouraged along the way.
The best runners in the world have all experienced the same let downs as we all have.
World-class marathoners around the world have dealt with DNF’s (did not finish), hit the wall or ran times they are not expecting.
I’ve been there and understand how it feels.
You have to commit to your marathon goals and be fully aware that even the best runners, like yourself, may fall into a rut where even they don’t feel motivated to put in the work.
It happens, just don’t get too comfortable for too long.
Breaks in training are needed to recharge and get excited to train.
Remember, disappointments and challenges are not a reason to quit or believe you are not capable of achieving your dreams and goals.
We all can ask more of ourselves.
Greatness lives in us all, some are just more determined and persistent than others.
It took me 18 years of running before I broke the 2:20:00 marathon barrier.
I can assure it was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life as an athlete.
Countless injuries through my teenage and collegiate years but I was too determined to let up.
The best I ever ran for the half marathon while in college was a 1:13 but I always saw myself as having the capability of breaking that old 2:22:00 goal.
My point in all of this is to get you to thinking about the days where everything clicked in training and in your races.
How did you feel?
What were your thoughts?
How did you conduct your training?
In comparison, think of the hard days when nothing went right.
Write down your reasons for wanting to know how to run a faster marathon.
What is your WHY?
Earn a personal record?
Prove something to someone?
Achieve something even you do not think of possible?
4. Believe it is possible
The majority of people sell themselves short.
They self sabotage themselves into believing they are less than capable when how you think could be the biggest hindrance to you making our goals a reality.
Billy Mills was an underdog going into the 1964 10,000m final.
His personal best was nearly two minutes slower than the fastest man in the field yet it was Billy’s work ethic and belief in himself that helped him achieve the gold medal and finish time of 28:24.
He had written in his journal prior to the Olympics
Believe I am ready to beat the best in the world and I will do it in Tokyo
What I love about Billy Mill’s attitude is an area of training many runners neglect, mental training.
This is what Bill said about the mind,
The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between reality or imagination
You have a marathon time goal in mind, otherwise you would not be asking how to run a faster marathon
You have to spend sometime during the day visualizing yourself running across the finish line with your goal time on the clock.
I spend about 30 minutes a day back in 2007 visualizing 2:21:55 on the clock and that mental training, coupled with many weeks of hard training on the track and roads, brought me to the 2:19:35 time that I produced.
Training is more than physical.
Studies have confirmed that athletes can create similar results of active athletes specifically by training their minds alone.
Your thoughts, what you are listening to and allowing into your mental rolodex can be the biggest doorway to unexplainable performances.
I know the importance of what I am writing because I went to a race the day before a 2:40:02 marathoner and the next day departed a 2:19:35 marathoner with a USA Olympic Trials “A” standard.
You have to believe that the cards will fall in your direction but you also have to believe it is possible, dream some big dreams, take the time to visualize and back that up with work ethic.
I can promise you, if you are patient and persistent enough, you will create the reality you dreamed of.
This isn’t fluff, it is fact.
5. Get up close and personal with an antioxidant created by every cell of the body, Glutathione.
Learn what it does and how it can help you as an endurance athlete.
I can promise you that if you truly want to learn how to run a faster marathon, you will take the time to research what 99.99% of your competition is not.
The most dangerous and successful athletes are those that arm themselves with knowledge that their competition is too entertained and distracted to seek out.
Energy production is everything when it comes to the marathon distance.
How our cells function, the toxins within the body on a molecular level and how productive our oxygen carrying capacity is the difference between a personal best and a DNF.
You can either drive the congested roads everyone follows or take the less traveled path where people get results in their racing and lifestyle.
All a choice.
Results in the marathon come when athletes are the most relaxed.
Leverage is doing more with less.
Subtract the worry of measuring up to other people, worrying about if you have put in enough miles or train aggressively enough.
Trust the process and you will have answered the question of how to run a faster marathon for yourself.
You don’t get leverage by wasting your energy on if you can run as fast as runner X.
Results come by spending less time posting your every workout on social media for your adoring friends and family to ohhh and gahhh over.
Bill Rodgers, Lisa Rainsberger (last American female to win the Boston Marathon) and Greg Meyer, to name a few did not have social media during their time.
They put in the miles and workouts and were not concerned with telling the world about how many miles they ran in a week or what paces they hit their tempo runs in.
6. High vs low mileage
Do not get caught up with feeling as though you need to run 100+ mile weeks to garner top marathon times.
There are world-class marathoners who can run 50 miles a week and pull off times that other runners putting in 120 miles a week cannot duplicate.
Quality beats out quantity every time.
Quality pace yields personal bests.
Remember the power of leverage, doing more with less.
High miles run too slow do not produce PR’s nor do they help the marathoner cope with the intense pace they are seeking to hold.
Practice in training what you are seeking to do in the race, do not wait until race day to pull off that trick.
Regardless what capability you are at, smarter training producing better results.
Anyone can run high mileage for mileage sake.
Bill Bowerman had this to say,
If someone tells you they ran 100 miles in a week disregard it. The magic isn’t in the amount of miles run but the individual
I spent years tinkering with high mileage run too slow and lower mileage run at higher intensities and found that I ran my worst at 140 miles a week and set a personal marathon best at 90 miles a week.
Yuki Kawauchi of Japan, works a full-time job in Japan, has run 2:08 for the distance and runs less than 90 miles a week.
So, in closing, how to run a faster marathon sometimes means you have to train in unorthodox ways.
Conduct long runs at faster paces alternating one weekend long run at a higher heart rate with the next relaxed pace to recover.
Think differently meaning less cluttering of your mind with television and other useless chatter you read on the net.
Choose to live healthy.
Be persistent and believe that the goals you have in mind are within your grasp, regardless how outlandish they seem.
The mind knows not the difference between what is real and a lie.