Monday, 19 November 2018

Marathon training pointers

Written for a runner who can run 10km and has 6 months before the date of the marathon event

Complete a ten minute stretch after every run
Stretch - calf, hamstring, quads, glutes

The longer distances you run, over the weeks, the more you develop the “bounce” you create in the calves and legs. This saves muscle energy and improves your stamina for the long distances

Muscle endurance
With longer runs, you stimulate the muscles to ue energy and oxygen more efficiently. Your legs get used to the workload you put them through, over time. Gradually increasing the distance and time of runs, over the weeks, will see this improvement continue. This process takes months to develop, but you are on track if you are already up to 10 miles today (14/11/18).

During short runs of 3-5 miles, you can consider trying to improve your running speed. These short, “speed” runs, get your legs used to running a bit quicker. When it comes to the long runs, this will shorten the time it takes you to reach the end!
Speed runs are riskier and more stressful on the legs and heart, so short bursts of 30 seconds (“intervals”) of fast running, built into a steady run, are advised.

Repetition and Overload and Injury management
After a run, the body needs a period of time to heal and adapt. The brain and nervous system learns movement and skills very fast; within minutes. However, the muscles, organs and bones need a few nights to recover. If you know this, then you can plan your runs to allow for these recovery intervals.
Recovery of the tissues is directly related to the intensity of the run. For example, if you run 10 miles on Sunday, the longest distance to date, you will require a bit longer to recover. This could be muscular, joints, energy levels and just feeling tired in the days after.

If you manage the intensity of runs, so that your standard run is at a comfortable pace and not too long that you’re over-tired for days. So a comfortable 60-90 minute run should become a standard run you can do, say, every other day. For every 3 or 4 of these comfortable runs, you should inject a longer distance/time run, and plan a few days’ rest afterward.

This will culminate in running a 13 mile run (160 mins), perhaps one every 10 days, by December, with 3 or 4 short (60-90 minutes) runs in between.

For example, if you go out for a run on a Sunday morning at 7am, you’ll be back for breakfast before 10am.

Within reason, injuries need to be treated with respect. If you have a niggle that feels worse that normal, probably best to not run on it and do some cycling or swimming. Otherwise, a niggle can turn to a sting, and it's a downward spiral from there! Rest is far better training!!!

Other Exercises
Keep other skills and muscle groups in use via the following:
Gym upper body strength resistance training: Zumba
Cycling ; Swimming

Sleep is crucial to recovery
Perhaps consider training yourself to a structured bedtime procedure, that sees you tucked up an hour or so earlier. Perhaps read books instead of watching TV (and drop off quicker!)

The runner’s body needs to be saturated with water, energy (starchy carbs), proteins, vitamins and minerals. This is required in all meals, and careful planning is important before and after a run. The muscles and liver store a huge amount of glycogen, which is released steadily as you run. After 60 minutes+ of running, these stores are depleted and they will need replacing, before improvements can take place.

You will have some idea of what suits you best. Some prefer running on an empty stomach. Some need a good feed before hand.
The body is drained of water glycogen, vitamins and minerals after a run.
During run
This is only an issue for runs beyond 60 minutes, for which only a drink is required.
Lots is made of these new energy gels that are isotonic re-fueling foods during a run. As you point out, some people find they upset their tummies when running. I imagine, from experience, that eating during a run is going to activate the stomach and disrupt the body somewhat. Ideally, some mild intake of sugary, mildly salty water, would assist and complement the running effort. Equally, on inspection of these “gels” nutritional content, there is little difference from that of a date or a fig. It depends what you want to carry.
During training runs, it might be worth trying a few of these things at the 45-60 minute mark, assuming you’re running for another hour.
Generally, water is the most important. Regular, small drinks will maintain hydration. Some people might prepare a drink with a very weak cordial and a pinch of salt. You will have plenty of runs to try these out in the months ahead!

Normal meals
Combine proteins with plants. That’s meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans and peas, combined with salads, roots, beets. For extra energy add your starchy carbs, wholemeal where possible, pasta, rice, breads, potatoes etc.

Snacks should include a protein (nuts, peas, seeds) with fruit or carrot sticks etc.


Drink 6-8 pints of water a day, to literally saturate your body with water, and get your system used to being well hydrated. At first 6-8 pints water per day will make you need the loo a lot. But after a few days the body will get used to this new level of intake, and will ensure you are well hydrated for your run.

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