A MARATHON OR A HALF MARATHON? Given by – The Tweedle brothers never contradict each other More Usually looking like – Do You Want To Do It? A marathon/half is a long way! At 2,000 steps per mile a marathon is 52,400 steps.
The Tweedle brothers never contradict each other
A marathon/half is a long way! At 2,000 steps per mile a marathon is 52,400 steps.
Whatever your leg speed you are on your feet for a long, long time
Is there an easy way to get through 13.1/26.2 miles without enduring the months of hardship – blisters, sore muscles, early morning runs and exhaustion?
The short answer is: not really
Conventional half training advice generally advocates 12 weeks of heavy mileage. Conventional marathon training advice generally advocates 16 to 22 weeks of heavy mileage. This includes running five or six times a week, and loading up on carbohydrates to pump your muscles full of extra energy to expend during the race itself
Consider your business, family and social schedule for the next several months. Training for a half or a marathon will take time, not only weekends but midweek as well, particularly as mileage builds toward the end of the program. It will also take energy. If there are other stresses in your life--such as studying for an exam or planning a wedding--maybe now is not the best time to run that half/marathon
In the Marathon des Sables, a seven-day, seven-marathon race across the Sahara connective tissue and muscle density drop away.
As soon as you begin a run and the demand for energy increases, the body calls upon the glucose in the blood to supply its muscles with energy. With the help of hormones, the body is able to maintain a constant blood sugar balance, by calling upon the stored glycogen in the liver and muscles to “refill” the blood with glucose.
The problem marathon runners’ face is that there is limited space available in our liver and muscles to store glycogen (carbohydrates). The amount of storage space varies from person to person, but we are able to store around 500 grams – 2000 kcals. In contrast, the fat energy we store exceeds a whopping 70,000 kcals.
The 500 grams of glycogen takes us to about mile 18 in the marathon. It is when our glycogen runs out that we hit the “wall.” When there is no more glycogen left to maintain constant blood sugar levels, the body loses energy and symptoms of fatigue and heavy limbs sets in. The body is still able to supply energy through fat and protein stores, but it cannot be utilised as quickly as carbohydrates.
Among reasonably fit male runners, aged 30-64, research suggests a death rate of one for every 800,000 “person-hours” of running. Applied to the marathon, and with an average finishing time of four hours, this equates roughly to one death per 200,000 runners
“There's little doubt that training for the race is one of the best ways to improve your health and fitness. Over the years, studies have shown that regular exercise decreases everything from high LDL cholesterol to high blood pressure”
“Running is good for you if you do it right,” says Kevin Jacobs, Ph.D., exercise physiologist at University of Miami. “It builds your aerobic capacity, so your body is better able to use oxygen, which is good for you. It can improve blood lipids and blood glucose if they’re abnormal. You sleep better. You feel better during the day.”
You could be running for charity, running to get fit or just running for the buzz that come from completing the race.
Whatever your reason, running 13.1 or 26.2 miles is an outstanding achievement that will give you an amazing feeling of satisfaction.
However, if you don't prepare, and are not ready, you could fail.
1. Want to do it
2. Enjoy doing it
3. Commit to doing it.
Positive thinking and a good mental attitude is one of the biggest areas that most people can improve on, with little or no physical effort needed.
• Your long runs will get boring, so vary your routes. Run with a group. You do need to train for “time on feet”
• Be careful not to over-train and take an occasional day off.
• All training schedules are guides rather than tablets of stone. If you think it would be beneficial to change things around, do so. If you do a hilly 12 miler that should “count” as more than 12 miles on a schedule
• To run fast you have to run fast, to run far you have to run far. If you want to run at 9 min/mile pace it is no use doing all your training at 10 min/mile pace. If you want to run 13.1 miles you want to be running more than 10k training runs.
• There are a certain number of “discomfort tables” in the jar. You can either use them up in training or leave them for the race day.
• Keep a diary – but don’t look for improvements on every run
• Set short term goals – but don’t expect to run a 5k PB in the middle of a marathon or half training schedule (although it can happen)
• Run some races. Get used to the “feel” of a race. Get used to the “pressure” of the race – you don’t want too much pressure on race day
• You can include speed work/ fartlek/ pyramids/ track/ hill work into your schedule– but you must do distance work
• TRAIN SAFE!
The big question is - how long should my training runs be and how many times per week should I run?
There are some general rules and suggestions.
An elite marathoner might run two workouts per day and over 100 miles per week while training for a marathon, the body of most mortals could not take such pounding (and who can find that time anyway?).
• Gradually increase the overall weekly distance until two to three weeks before the marathon/half.
• Include two long runs spread across the week, perhaps one midweek, the other on the weekend.
• Include one day of faster running and/or integrate pickups into your regular runs.
• Try to run six days per week.
• The runs between your long runs do not need to be any longer than 3-6 miles.
Your body won't get used to running long distances, unless it has run those distances on a regular basis. But, the body needs rest between those runs, so the suggestion is no more than two long runs per week and moderate distance on the other days.
At the beginning of your training program, those long runs could be 6 miles each. Then, as the weeks go by, gradually increase them. Perhaps week two would see the long runs as 6 & 8 miles, week three 7 & 9, week four: 7 & 10, etc.. Gradually increase these until your two runs are closer to 12 and 18 miles.
At this point you have built an excellent base. And, remember, the other runs are there to serve a different purpose
There are many schedules. Unfortunately there isn’t one that is the “right” schedule.
One place to start looking –
Long Term – goal setting 6 or more months in advance. Devise a long-term training plan. For example, 4 to 6 month stamina and endurance building phase (base building) followed by 2 month specific endurance speed, terrain and environment training phase (sharpening), followed by a short rest and loading phase (tapering)
Goal setting, goal achievement and reinforcement. Marathon/half marathon performances do not happen accidently. They are designed and built. Use your feelings and senses during training to learn how you might feel during the race so you will be prepared.
Self assessment – learn to know your body and its responses during training runs. Learn what motivates you. Practise new tactics, eating and drinking habit. Use your training diary to learn.
Listen to your body – Do body scans – how do my feet feel, are my calf muscles relaxed, is my breathing regular, is my upper body tense, are my jaws clenched
Talk to your body – pick some key words that work for you such as relax, smooth, float and practise saying and responding to them. Then do a body scan.
Relax – Use relaxation techniques to get a good night’s sleep, to remain calm, run smoothly and conserve energy
Imagery – use imagery to see yourself overcoming obstacles and feel yourself running comfortably (smooth, relaxed and in control)
Learning to deal with discomfort – Pain does sometimes occur. Note the normal sensations of fatigue so that you will know what to expect
Simulation – Run when tired and practise dealing with discomfort. Think of problems that might arise and figure out how to cope with them. Practice running your pace. Practise passing others or having them pass you. The best way to convince yourself that you can do something is to do it.
Set realistic goals - if you can run a steady 9 minute mile pace (4 hour marathon) then set a goal of running a steady 8.5 minute mile pace
Plan the training to achieve your goals set in 1 and 2 but do not become a slave to your plan, adjust it to meet you on going circumstances
Plan strength and core stability training into your program
Once you are able to run 20 miles a week comfortably then allow at least 6 months training for your marathon
Increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% and build up to 100 miles a week
Warm up and cool down routines are essential elements of every training session
Aim for quality not quantity – If you aim is to run at 8.5 minute mile pace then you need to include sessions at that pace each week
Each week consider three sessions at target race pace, two long slow sessions and two days recovery
Gradually increase (10% increments) your long slow run at the weekend up to 20 miles
Learn to breathe correctly by using the left foot strike to commence your breathing in and out and remember to breath deeply, not shallow breathing
Learn to run relaxed and smooth with your pace controlled by your breathing rhythm
Monitor you weight and fluid intake – weight loss may be due to fluid loss
Make sure you have good comfortable shoes – change them every 300-400 miles or when the heel is badly worn
Keep a daily log – record details of training (mileage, time, how you felt, weather conditions etc.), sleep, diet, weight, morning resting pulse rate, etc..
Monitor you morning resting pulse rate to check for signs of overtraining
Have a good balanced diet
Gain competition experience – plan races (5k, 10k, half marathon, 15 miles) into your training program
Plan for a two week taper in your training leading up to the marathon/half e.g. reduce training load by 60% and plan one week tapers for your competition experience races
For your training sessions consider running for a set time rather than a set distance. If your aim is to run a 8.5 min/mile pace then for a 10 mile session run for 85 minutes, wherever you like but just remember your route, and then retrace your steps. Reduces boredom of the same route/scenery and the problems of measuring distances.
Try to train as much as possible on soft surfaces e.g. countryside and parks
Consider having a full body massage ever 4 or 5 weeks
Consider the use of sports drinks to replenish carbohydrate stores and replace fluid loss when training and for races
The human body is made up of around 60% water. It is essential that you keep your body well hydrated during your training and the marathon itself
A 1% decrease in hydration, will cause around a 5% decrease in performance
Consuming glucose on training runs will prevent blood sugar levels dropping too low. An “isotonic” sports drink will not only contain 7-10% glucose, but minerals such as - Sodium and Potassium, known as electrolytes
When we sweat, as you can tell by the taste, we lose salts from the body. During training runs, make sure your fluid replacement drink contains both sodium and glucose
It is too late now to do any additions to your training. It is very much more about managing what happens on the day. Keep your alcohol content low and try to get extra sleep, because on Saturday night you will be nervous and excited and will have difficulty sleeping.
Start sipping water from the moment you get up to be fully hydrated by the start of the race - don't wait until thirsty.
A tricky business. Exactly the right amount of water must be taken in with each packet of gel. Take in too much water - and you end up with a hypotonic sports drink in your gullet which delivers too few carbs to your leg muscles. Take in too little water - and you concoct a syrupy goo within your intestines which actually drags in water from surrounding tissues and spurs diarrhoea. Pour sports drink down your throat along with the gel, and you might as well begin scouting around for a Portaloo.
David Bedford, 58, is the race director of the London Marathon and a former 10,000m world record holder and Olympiad. He ran in the first London Marathon in 1981 after a heavy night of drinking, a curry in the early hours and just an hour of sleep. He doesn't recommend this approach, saying "the second half of the marathon was probably the worst experience of my life".
His tip -
"The key is not to start too fast. Be realistic about what time you think you can do for the full marathon and go through to halfway at a slower pace, to make sure you get there feeling good about the experience. Then you can speed up if you've got it. If not, you've got more chance of maintaining your speed and getting to the finish line."
“In the later miles it will become more about the mind then the body. Maintain a positive outlook and never allow thoughts of failure to enter your mind. There is plenty of time so the only pressure you will have is the pressure you place upon yourself. Your mind will try many times to trick you into believing you can't continue. You can overcome that by running, walking or crawling forward at any pace. Ultramarathons are by definition a series of ups and downs that if dealt with properly ultimately end in a feeling of euphoria.Take care of yourself while running. Carry water, eat at the aid stations and wear the proper clothing. Be prepared to take care of yourself and never rely on aid or any other help that may be advertised or offered. “
Congratulations. Bet you never thought you were going to get there? You deserve praise for the effort put in both on the day and during those long weeks of training. In short, everyone's a winner when it comes to marathon/half running.
So how are you feeling now? Well, unless you have the mind and body of a finely tuned machine, there is at the very least going to be the odd ache or pain, sometimes in places you didn't even realise existed.
Some runners literally have trouble getting out of bed the morning after a marathon/half. Having gone through the pain barrier more than once to get over the line, the muscles and tendons are very quick to let you know when it's their turn for a little downtime. And that downtime can last a lot longer than a few days. In fact, more than a month in some cases.
It's all down to the individual and how they respond. Even if you aren't feeling the effects in the days after the race, it is a very good idea to take it easy because even the toughest of bodies will be in a state of recovery.
Now - Renewed Focus!
Use the experience of running the marathon/half in a positive way. It would be a great shame to see all that effort and experience go to waste.