Common Marathon Training Roadblocks
By Rick Morris
In a perfect world your marathon training program would run as smooth as glass. But, it’s not a perfect world and it is a very rare marathon training plan that goes off without a hitch. There are almost always some stones in the road to your marathon success. No worries, you can always overcome those problems. Here are some common marathon training roadblocks and how to overcome them.
Are you having problems getting in all of your marathon training? Lack of training time is one of the biggest causes of marathon training failure. Are you in a time crunch? Having problems fitting all of your marathon workouts into your work, family and social schedule? No worries – just make some adjustments and concessions. Focus on getting in your most important workouts first. If you have additional time you can do the others. What are the most important workouts? In my opinion, by far your most important marathon training workout is your weekly long run. That is where you build most of your endurance and mental toughness. Get that one in every week up to 12 miles. Then you can switch to every other week, as long as you have sufficient time before your marathon.
The next most important workouts are your goal pace training and lactate threshold running. Both of those are critical in developing your goal pace efficiency and stamina.
Third is your hill training. Hill training is multi-functional workout that builds your running strength, power, stamina and improves your running economy. Fourth in line is your speed workouts. Speed training is more important for competitive runners, but even recreational runners will benefit from a weekly speed session. Last in the order is secondary medium distance easy runs.
So, make sure you get in all of your long training runs, and really try to do those weekly goal pace or lactate threshold workouts. If you have any additional time do your hill training and speed training. Only do your secondary easy paced runs if you have the time.
You will take hundreds of thousands of strides during your marathon training. All of those footsteps and strides can, and often do, result in overuse injuries. Can you avoid the injury bug? Yes, you can avoid it or if not avoid it completely, at least minimize it. Consistent strength training, especially lower body strength training, will make your muscles, joints and connective tissues more injury resistant. Also be sure do make all increases in both distance and intensity at a very gradual rate. If you are already bit by the injury bug, be sure to treat and rest the injury early. If you continue to stress an existing injury it may increase your recovery time.
How are your long runs going? Any problems with energy during the final stages of your long runs? If you’re having a long run power outage you may need to make some adjustments. Keep in mind that you are always going to struggle a bit as you go longer and longer each week. One of the principles of training is overload. You need to take your body further than it has been to increase your endurance. But if your overload is turning into a full blown power outage you need to takes some steps.
There are two primary causes of long run power outages. You are probably either using too much power early in your run by going out too fast or you don’t have enough stored energy because of poor nutrition. Be sure do at least the first half of your long runs at a pace that feels moderately easy. Going out too fast will empty your fuel tank before you reach the end of your run. You can help refill a draining fuel tank by rehydrating with a sports drink frequently during your run. Also be sure you getting enough calories and carbohydrates to fuel your training. Marathon training is no time for a diet.
I’ve done more marathons than I can count and I think I have been sick during half of them. It’s not because I’m a sickly person, it’s because the very long and hard training in the latter stages of marathon training tends to depress your immune system. That makes you more susceptible to infections and viruses. If you are frequently sick during marathon training try to increase your intake of anti-oxidants. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. You should also consider taking an anti-oxidant supplement to help send reinforcements to your over stressed immune system. You should also include more rest days if you are frequently sick as illness is a sign of overreaching or over training syndrome.
Get Up and Go, Got Up and Went
Marathon training is hard even when you are fully motivated. Without the positive driving force of motivation, marathon training can be brutal. Have you lost your motivation? Has your get up and go, gotten up and went? You need to reach out and get it back. You had a reason for wanting to run a marathon. Every day renew your commitment to that goal. Always remember why you are running a marathon.
Sometimes the hardest steps of marathon training are the first ones. If you get up in the morning and are hesitating to head out the door, take it one small step at a time. First, put on your running shoes. Now that the hardest part is over, just promise yourself you are going to go out and run just two short miles. Once you begin running you will most likely get into a nice rhythm, start feeling great and continue with your planned run.
If all else fails, stop and remember how fortunate you are that you are able to run. There are many that aren’t that lucky. Count your blessings, stop feeling sorry for yourself and get out there.