How To Build?
In this post I will attempt to share with you the guidelines that I try to follow when it comes to building up training for a marathon. Holding a number of PBs (Personal Bests) myself and having completed numerous marathons over the years, I hope that my experience in this area can be of benefit to you as well. So our final part of the marathon training series. In this post we are going to look at how we take that new found endurance from the 16 week training plan and start turning it into a full marathon.
We have 15 weeks to go, with a manageable increase in mileage each week to build up an impressive mileage count, Brighton Town Press (brightontownpress.co.uk). Any new runner has a fitness level but also a confidence level. Even those without prior experience will have the carrot of time to train for a specific event or maybe just want to be able to complete 30 minutes when they start running. It can be difficult to run further and further on a weekly basis.
It’s very tempting to do speed sessions from time to time but once you start doing this it can be hard to go back and the mileage could suffer. The following represents an idea of how to build up your long run. Not every runner follows this progression plan so this isn't a hard and fast rule. There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to building up for a marathon. It can take months if not years to prepare for a full marathon.
Running my first marathon in 2014 I found the biggest struggle was getting the confidence to start out slower than I thought I could. It’s hard to swallow that a half-marathon pace is all you should be pushing when you feel fit, healthy and ready to run. But if your just looking to finish without walking or cramping up then these slower paced runs are key. It gives you confidence when you hit your key sessions at 4 – 8 min pace once a week.
The other benefit is that it’s usually quicker to get into a good rhythm for your long runs with a brief period of easy running. Slow long runs? Yep, you read that correctly. Not that long ago I ran a marathon in 2:25, so you can be pretty sure I take regular long runs seriously. However, actually quite recently (4 months ago), my long run was the Sunday after the London Marathon as I was running another event on the Sunday before, and I really did not know how to approach this.
As this wasn't a physiological problem for me (I could hit the speedwork sessions and intervals pre-race) I decided to ease my training down for all longer runs and simply use it as race-pace practice. After working hard during December and getting your holiday weight gain under control, training has started to ramp up with the lengthening of your long runs. However, this month you may not be feeling like each run is better than the last.
Don't worry, it's normal for these long runs not to feel great at first no matter how much time off you've taken. In this post I'll discuss how to stay motivated through this period and build a solid base that will prepare you for the intensity required in the next four months". Those couple of weeks in January can play havoc with your race schedule. The most important thing is to ensure you do your long run at a conversational pace and not start off crazy fast.
This will allow you to slow down gradually towards the end without losing any pace, which will help ensure your body gets ready for the marathon distance. Make sure you have done enough mileage to be able to pick up your pace at the end. Not all of us were fortunate enough to be able to run a race to test ourselves beforehand. With only a few quality sessions to concentrate on in your training it is vital to build the foundations of your fitness now which will get you through the marathon later in the year.
This period is also prime time for injury with winter months being notoriously hard. A simple program like the one outlined above will lets your legs move naturally whilst improving your running economy over long endurance runs. It is the time of year where many runners focus on their taper period for a 5k, 10k, Half or Full marathon they have coming up in the next month or so. Driving yourself ? Well in Brighton we have main car parks where you can park and then catch a bus in to the Start area.
Going halves is a way to add the extra challenge of time trials without killing yourself. Using a half marathon race as a marathon paced long run, perhaps adding 20-30 minutes easy before and after can be a great way of building confidence around your goal marathon pace. Half marathons are usually about 2:10 so to take on the added commitment of going halves I would suggest two weeks out from your marathon you do something like 1:00 for 5km, then 51:00 for 5km (round up to 1:10).
S l o w down between these times so that you are recovering for about 15 minutes between paces; walk it if necessary. Going halves. Using a half marathon race as a marathon paced long run, perhaps adding 20-30 minutes easy before and after can be a great way of building confidence around your goal marathon pace. This is an adaptation of what's often called the 4% rule adding a factor of 2 to your half-marathon time to predict your marathon time.
Websites like marathonguide. com even have calculators that allow you to do it based on various paces. Going halves This week, I thought I’d share with you a little-known tip for building confidence for going faster than usual in your longer training runs. If you want to complete one of the classic challenges of the marathon world, such as running a half marathon or 10k race at the same pace as your intended marathon pace, then this is an interesting way of preparing for it.
A great way of getting a feel for your marathon race pace is to use a half marathon as a taper run. Running a half marathon at goal marathon pace on the right day can provide a decent approximation of what you might be capable of achieving in the longer distance. What I like about "going halves," as it's called by many runners, is that you get to run a half marathon without concern for having to run the second half of the race.
Fuelling The Long Run
Fuelling is one of the most challenging aspects of preparing for an ultramarathon and a new concept for many recreational runners. I wrote a previous post on fueling during running, this article extends that with tips on how to prepare for your long training runs in January and the reasons why you should start to fuel during them. In am sports nutrition video I outlined the importance of fuelling your long runs and why you should use your long runs as a time to try new products.
I also explained why gels are hard on your stomach and why a better option would be Clif Shot Bloks. Also, it's worth pointing out that your long run pace must be consistent. Running at a large variance between training runs will only serve to confuse your body on when it's supposed to be racing fast and when it needs to be recovering slow. To date I feel that I’ve covered the stark but motivating realities of training for a marathon.
You've learnt that it is going to hurt, that you will be psychologically tested as well as physically, and that you need to make sacrifices. Once you get used to using gels, if you decide that you prefer a different option for fuelling perhaps an energy bar then experiment with this on your long runs and make a judgement about whether it works for you or not. You're free to go out at your goal pace and enjoy the experience.
This course was considered very hilly, and even some experienced runners were struggling towards the end of the race. Running downhill, the route then headed into Brighton, heading back South towards Brighton station. Here runners took in some sights of central Brighton before heading back out via Old Steine and West Street to finish just short of Preston Park, close to the start line. The race then climbed onto the Downs along the South Downs Way, before turning back to a climb through the Hollingdean woods and then back to Brighton along the old track bed of the Southern Railway.
The route eventually turned into a loop heading back toward Preston Park. Race participants were rewarded with a medal at the finish line in Preston Park for completing the course. The second running of the race took place on 15 April 2011. The race opened to 12000 entries, with 8600 participating on the day. The course start line moved to Shoreham Beach, and took in some of Brighton's most stunning sights including Hove Lawns, Hove Lagoon, and the Seven Sisters.
The route was altered so it no longer passed through Rottingdean. The route then took a right turn onto the sea front from where the runners went a short distance along the seafront before doubling back to flyover above Brighton race course and around the racecourse itself. The route headed north along the seafront to Peacehaven and Seaford for an 8 mile run on sand in Marine Park. The second running took place on the afternoon of 14 April 2011 and opened to 14,200 entries.
The race now has over 13,000 associated runners who are raising funds for 600+ local and national charities as well as the Brighton & Hove Park Keepers Charity, raising over £2. 4 million in 2014. Going halves, is a term I use in association with taking part in a half marathon, usually as part of a full marathon training plan. The aim is to help you build confidence around your goal marathon pace. There is a Drivers meeting room at the start area with catering facilities which you can use during the race.