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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.
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
Preparing for an endurance event
does take a certain level of fitness,
dedication and determination
It takes -
1. Knowledge
2. Skill
3. Experience
1. Anaerobic thresholds
2. Importance of a training program including speedwork and
long runs
3. The importance of taking fluids
1. Someone will be best and someone will be worst
2. Half the people will be below average
1. Experiences are unique
2. Everybody defines their own experiences
3. We can choose to have positive experiences with limited
skills - or we can have negative experiences even though
we have better than average skills
An endurance event is an experience
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
Marathons are bad for you
In the Marathon des Sables, a seven-day, sevenmarathon race across the Sahara connective tissue
and muscle density drop away.
Marathons are bad for you
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.
Marathons are bad for you
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
Marathons are good for you
“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”
Marathons are good for you
“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.”
Marathons are good for you
A proviso –
“Proper training seems to go a long way toward protecting you from heart
injury during the race”
Once you have made
the commitment,
however, you will
Half/marathon training is a serious business.
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.
To run a half or a marathon you need to -
Want to do it
Enjoy doing it
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 Build-up...
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
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.
Your Build-up (cont.) ...
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
How far to run?
The big question is - how long should my training runs be and
how many times per week should I run?
The answer varies for the individual person and their goals
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?).
In general, the important components in
developing a marathon/half training program
for most people are these:
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.
The longer runs:
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
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
At this point you have built an excellent base. And, remember,
the other runs are there to serve a different purpose
A training schedule –
There are many schedules. Unfortunately there isn’t one that is the
“right” schedule.
One place to start looking –
“Peaking” for the event –
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)
Psychological Peaking
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
Psychological Peaking (cont.)
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)
Psychological Peaking (cont.)
Learning to deal with discomfort – Pain does sometimes occur. Note
the normal sensations of fatigue so that you will know what to
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.
Some suggested Training Tips
1. Set a definite goal e.g. run the next London Marathon
2. 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
3. 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
4. Plan strength and core stability training into your program
5. Once you are able to run 20 miles a week comfortably then allow at
least 6 months training for your marathon
6. Increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% and build up to 100
miles a week
7. Warm up and cool down routines are essential elements of every
training session
8. 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
9. Each week consider three sessions at target race pace, two long slow
sessions and two days recovery
10. Gradually increase (10% increments) your long slow run at the weekend
up to 20 miles
Some suggested Training Tips (cont.)
1. Learn to breathe correctly by using the left foot strike to commence
your breathing in and out and remember to breath deeply, not shallow
2. Learn to run relaxed and smooth with your pace controlled by your
breathing rhythm
3. Monitor you weight and fluid intake – weight loss may be due to fluid
4. Make sure you have good comfortable shoes – change them every 300400 miles or when the heel is badly worn
5. Keep a daily log – record details of training (mileage, time, how you felt,
weather conditions etc.), sleep, diet, weight, morning resting pulse rate,
6. Monitor you morning resting pulse rate to check for signs of overtraining
7. Have a good balanced diet
8. Gain competition experience – plan races (5k, 10k, half marathon, 15
miles) into your training program
9. 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
Some suggested Training Tips (cont.)
1. 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.
2. Try to train as much as possible on soft surfaces e.g. countryside and
3. Consider having a full body massage ever 4 or 5 weeks
4. Consider the use of sports drinks to replenish carbohydrate stores and
replace fluid loss when training and for races
Hydration and Electrolytes
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
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
The week before the race –
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.
Race Day...
• Start sipping water from the moment you get up to be fully
hydrated by the start of the race - don't wait until thirsty.
• Don't eat within two hours of the start time.
• Write your name clearly on your top, so people can cheer you
personally - it's a massive psychological boost.
• Don't drive to the race - the streets will be closed off or crowded,
and delays and parking problems are stresses you don't need.
• Take an unwanted jumper to stay warm while waiting at the
start, then, as you start running, chuck it into one of the skips
• Negative splits/even pace – words to take seriously. You haven’t
entered this to get a PB for half way
Race Day...
1. Gels 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.
Race Day (cont.)...
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
The Race • Be confident in your ability. Believe in yourself!
• If it's in you to do it you will persevere and cross that finish line
under any circumstances.
• It's not about ability but rather desire and how much of it that
you have.
• Find a goal other than finishing the race that will motivate you.
• At the start of the run never look past the first mile.
• Just run with the knowledge that you will be spending the next
few hours in the company of friends.
• Make it about time rather than miles. Have fun with it.
• Never worry about what lies ahead
• The only pressure you will have is the pressure you place upon
• Don't worry, don't be intimidated, be confident in yourself and
have fun!
• Run your own race
The mental side of running “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
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. “
The mental side of running -
Believing you can
Bouncing back from failure
A new definition of winning
Appreciating fellow competitors
Simplicity in all things
Balance in your life
After the race - Recovery
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
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.
After the race – Recovery (cont.)
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