Training For A Marathon
There are millions of people around the world training for a marathon.
Jim Rohn, was quoted as saying,
People would do better, if they knew better.
Far too many people think that running mileage and doing long runs will get them a new personal best. Partly true, if racing the distance in a specific time is concerned.
Easy running has it’s place. You burn fat, your heart doesn’t have to pump as much blood to working muscles. You build endurance and general conditioning from it.
The benefits are clearly evident. How often do we notice how hard it is to get out the door in the beginning of our training. We look down at the watch and are surprised to see our pace is far off what we raced at months before.
That being said, the beauty of the body is that it will physiologically adapt, grow stronger and will supercompensate to the stress we place on it. Simply put, our bodies bounce back stronger from the stress we put it through.
There are a few tips that I have learned from some of the world’s top distance running coaches that I am certain will assist runners achieve dramatic results.
A HARDER PACE
Runners, especially those who have a specific time in mind that they want to run their marathon in, must learn to get away from focusing on doing long, slow, long runs.
Why? Think of it this way. If an athlete wants to hold 7.30 pace for 26.2 miles, spending runs that last up to two hours at 9.30 mile pace, is not going to build the lactate tolerance needed to maintain their set pace.
The willingness and motivation is there but the race specific running is not.
Runners are suffering, beating themselves up, for not hitting their goal time when an adjustment in training methodology is all that is needed.
Take Easy Days Easy
I am not talking about worrying over if your running too easy.
What runners should do is loosen up on easy days and take them for what they are, the chance to unwind and relax a bit from the harder session the day before.
Running easy certain has it’s place. It is important. If runners do not take their easy days as seriously as they do their harder track and road sessions, their hard work will not yield back a return from what they have done.
Marathoners are already highly disciplined, focused people. It is often times difficult for us to slow down when it would be in our best interests to do so.
Allow Yourself Recovery
The benefits from training happens in the rest, not the workout itself.
This is where many runners lose focus. They feel as if they have to keep pushing.
I have always said, a rested athlete is a dangerous one.
You want to get a return of your training investment. It doesn’t make much sense to tell someone you can do a 20-mile run at 5.30 pace when you don’t have the discipline to take the next 48 hours and spending it jogging to recover.
Focus On Iron
I was diagnosed with anemia in 2007 and probably spent all of my high school and collegiate years running with an iron deficiency.
This is so important for runners to pay attention to, many well-meaning, hard working professionals are missing this one.
You can have all the motivation in the world but if your body runs low on iron it’s ability to transport oxygen to your working muscles is severely hampered.
Runners lose iron in sweat.
Females are even more susceptible as they menstruate. You even lose iron through foot strike hemolysis. Every time our foot strikes the ground we are bursting red blood cells causing a break down in oxygen capacity.
I have taken a 65mg tablet of Iron per day since 2007 and keeping track of my iron intake has helped me dramatically in my race preparation.
You should always take an iron tablet with orange juice as Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron into the body quicker.
You Are In Control
We can’t control the weather conditions come race day. We can control how much sleep we allowed ourselves the week before the race.
Don’t give mental attention to something that you have no power over.
Taking your mental focus off of factors that are out of your control will save yourself a great deal of worry and heartache as you head to the starting line.
You can control what you eat, how much you sleep and how you pace yourself in the race.
Focus on these things and you will put the focus where it should be.
Implement Mental Training
How many hours do we devote to preparing physically for our goal marathon? I think it is safe to say that most of us spend 99.9% training our bodies physically but miss the importance of mental conditioning.
The great Billy Mills, the last American man to win an Olympic Gold medal in the 10,000m event, was quoted as saying,
The subconscious mind, cannot tell the difference, between reality or imagination
Believe It Will Occur
You have to start creating your reality, that goal marathon time you are dreaming of in you’re mind first, before it ever becomes to be.
I was training to break 2.22.00 for the marathon distance when I was still a 2.43.36 marathoner. I saw it in my mind and trained in such a way to do it, despite naysayers telling me it was unrealistic to think I could run such a time. I broke 2.20.00.
Dr. Masaru Emoto, an acclaimed Doctor of Medicine, found that when positive words were spoken to water crystals as they froze, they formed in beautiful, perfect formations.
In contrast, when hateful words such as ‘you fool’ or ‘I hate you’ were spoken to water molecules they failed to even form crystals at all and were deformed in shape.
The same happened when music was played. Beautiful crystals formed when Beethoven was played and formless, ugly crystals formed when heavy metal was played.
Molecules of water are affected by our thoughts, words, and feelings.-Dr. Masaru Emoto
Our bodies are made up of about 60% water. How more valuable is mental training, how we think about ourselves before and after races, now?
Focus On Strides
What are strides? These are mini-sprints. They usually cover a distance of only about 100 meters in length. The idea is to gradually increase your speed until your in a full sprint the last 20 meters or so of the stride.
Marathoners can dramatically effect their overall running pace by doing 5-6x100m strides after two of their easy runs during their training week.
What is great about strides and why they are so effective is that they are not long enough to build up any notable lactic acid in your legs.
Race Pace Efforts
What makes them so powerful is this. Think of it like this, by doing strides over weeks and months, runners are running many miles at sprint speed, well below their goal marathon race pace.
If a runner wants to hold 7.00 mile pace for 26.2 miles and is sprinting at 5.00 pace, this cumulative effective will take hold over time and assist when it counts most, in the latter stages of the race when you have to turn over on pace.
This runner will have spent 10-30 miles at or below 5.00 mile pace over a training block by this method without realizing just how powerful it really is.
Long Term Positives
It is the long-term effects that make this form of training so effective and this training is done on top of marathoners weekly training and is hardly noticed.
People would do better, if they knew better. Here are a few key tips that marathoners can take away with to run a better overall finish time and marathon experience.