Fit Tips

Healthy and fitness tips by essential fitness gyms saskatchewan

Training for a Marathon

Whether you want to run a marathon or not, all it take is one step at a time. So how do you run a marathon? Here are some tips that may help you along the way.

(1) Mileage……training for a marathon isn’t about one long run each week…it’s about the total amount of running you do within that week. To finish a marathon, you need to become as aerobically developed as possible.

Many novice runners don’t run enough miles during the week to support a long run on the weekend. You don’t want to run 4 or 5 miles on a 2 or 3 weekdays and then shock your legs with a 15 mile run on Sunday. You may be able to get away with this once, but if you do that every week, your setting yourself up for injury.

(2) Long Runs…… avoid injuries the long run shouldn’t be more than a third of the total weekly mileage. So, if you are planning to run a 20 mile run, you should be running at least 60 miles per week. Most people training for a marathon don’t run that much, so circumvent the problem of making the long run a large percentage of the weekly total by trying a midweek, medium long run that is about 65% – 75% of the length of your long run.

By lengthening the long run a mile at a time for 3 – 4 weeks (even running the same distance a few times) before backing off for a recovery week. Keep adding miles until you reach 20 – 22 (or 3 1/2 hours, whichever comes first), and do your longest run 2 – 3 weeks before the marathon. Remember the more you are on your feet is more important than the number of miles ran.

If you have already ran marathons and you want to improve your finish time, you need a different strategy. Alternate your long runs with a medium-long run (12 – 16 miles) that combines long-slow-distance (LSD) running with segments at acidosis threshold (AT) pace. AT pace is a comfortably hard aerobic pace, about 15 – 20 seconds per mile slower than your current 5K race pace or near your current 10K race pace. These LSD/AT combo runs simulate the physiological and psychological fatigue of the marathon.

(3) Tapering……now that you have been training for months, you should be ready to taper your training so you are fresh for race day. To maintain fitness during this time, maintain intensity with AT runs and V02max intervals while reducing the running volume. (Interval training near the speed that triggers V02max can help you run faster). If you taper for 2 weeks (best for beginner runners), reduce your peak weekly mileage by 30% the first week and 60% the second week. For a 3-week taper (best for intermediate and advanced runners who have been running more than 50 miles per week), reduce your peak weekly mileage by 30% the first week, 50% the second week and 65% the third week.

Sample marathon workouts:

Acidosis threshold (at) runs

+ Recreation Runners: 10 – 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K race pace (about 10K race pace); 80% – 85% max HR

+ Highly trained/competitive runners: 20 – 25 seconds per mile slower than 5K race pace (10 – 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K race pace); 85% – 90% max HR

Comfortably hard pace;

+ 3 – 5 miles at AT pace (about 25 – 30 minutes)

+ 4 – 6 x 1 mile (6 – 8 minutes) at AT pace with 1 minute rest

+ 6 – 10 miles (30 – 70 minutes) at 15 – 20 seconds per mile slower than AT pace

V02Max intervals

+ Recreational runners: 1 – to 1.5 mile race pace; 95% – 100% max HR

+ Highly trained/competitive runners: 2 mile race pace; 95% – 100% max HR

Hard but manageable pace:

+ 5 x 800 meters (3 – 4 minutes) at V02 max pace with 2 to 3 minute jog recovery

+ 3 x 1,000 meters (4 – 5 minutes) at V02 max pace with 3 minute jog recovery