The second part of our blog on how to prepare for a marathon takes us deeper into the actual physical running side of things and how you should schedule them.
20’s and Taper Off
There is some debate at what levels your longest training runs should be, some running coaches actually say that you only need one or two twenty mile runs under your belt before the big race. They base their argument that this is acceptable as the actual day of the marathon your extra adrenaline will get you through the added miles. The was a famous Olympic runner, Jeff Galloway, who contradicted this theory and stated you should get used to running just farther than 26.2 miles to build up your endurance. It is hard to be precise about this as everybody’s bodies and endurance levels differ, try a twenty-mile run and see how you cope with it, if your body accepts the longer distance then try again.
One thing that has complete agreement of seasoned runners and coaches is that your longest run should be a maximum of three weeks before the actual marathon. Taper you training runs down both in length and intensity gradually. Before the actual day take a complete day’s rest, perhaps just some light stretching and taking on the correct foods.
There are other elements that you should be addressing in the weeks leading up to the event. The first is balancing your running with other forms of fitness, and you should introduce cross-training programs into your schedule. This training may consist of general strength training, swimming, cycling or any other type of activity that targets different muscle groups and the same groups but in a different manner. It will keep your body in better overall general condition, and will also have improved balance. Take time especially to develop on cardiovascular fitness without overtaxing your body, this will give you extra capacity for your big run.
The big day arrives, and most runners get caught up with the euphoria of it all, in fact most athletes running their first marathon do not pace themselves well at all. There was actually some research in Spain that highlighted that out of forty recreational marathon runners that completed a race, nearly half had slowed by about 20% from start to finish, and the other half had slowed by 40 seconds per mile.
Your goal might be just to finish but even if this is the case it is advisable not to undergo this type of deceleration, because you will suffer greatly as a consequence. If you start your race at a tempo that you can continue till the end, then your experience will be far greater. In a way hitting the wall is the final conclusion of continued deceleration.
Following the advice in our two blogs will definitely help you to prepare in the correct manner to run a marathon. But before you undertake anything that has been suggested ensuring that you are fit and healthy enough to compete. Perhaps try a fun run, then build up to a half marathon before attempting the big one.