Top Ten Ways to Survive Marathon Training
By Rick Morris
Your upcoming marathon is like a big party to celebrate your success in marathon training. All of your work was done during marathon training. Your race is the fun reward at the end of your marathon training program. The trick to marathon training is to survive your training program will no injuries, burn out or over training problems.
Here are out top ten tips to survive your marathon training, avoid marathon training injuries, stay away from over training problems and ward off mental or psychological burn out.
Go For Your Goal
There are many ways to run a marathon. You can do a run/walk combination, run the entire marathon distance, run for a specific goal pace or race the marathon. Whatever your marathon goal is, be sure your training matches your goal. If you want to run the entire distance don’t train using a run/walk combination. If you are running for a specific goal be sure to include a lot of goal pace running. Goal specific training will prepare you for the specific stresses of your marathon and help you avoid race day injuries. Specific goal training will also increase your confidence and help you prevent mental burn out.
An efficient marathon runner will take about 180 strides every minute. That means over the course of a 2 hour long run you will take around 214,600 strides. The average marathon runners will train for somewhere around 4 hours per week. With the typical marathon training program being about 20 week in length that is a whopping 864,000 strides during training! All of that repetitive stress places great demands on your muscles. Strong muscles are injury resistant muscles. Engage is a proper distance runners strength training program to increase your strength. You will avoid injuries and perform better.
Hit the Hills
Running hills is a great, functional way to improve the strength and power of your leg muscles. The stronger muscles will help you avoid injuries. Hill running is also an excellent way to improve your running economy and efficiency. Your running will be smoother, easier and more fluid. A smooth, easy stride will help you avoid running injuries.
You need periods of rest and recovery during your marathon program. Those recovery periods will help you avoid burn out and injury. While you need recovery periods you still want to train consistently during your marathon program. If you take off long blocks of time during training your fitness will fall back. If you fall behind in your training you may need to increase both intensity and mileage at too rapid a pace. Big jumps in distance or intensity is common cause of running injuries. So stay consistent and don’t fall behind.
Stay Flexible – Not Loose
It’s important to maintain a functional range of motion but you don’t want to be excessively flexible. Muscles that are over stretched not only produce less power but also provide less support for your joints. Excessive flexibility can contribute to running injuries and poor performance. Do dynamic stretches before you run and some light static stretching after your workout to maintain full range of motion without over stretching.
Mix It Up
Many marathon runners make the mistake of running the same type of long slow distance running for nearly every workout. Running the same pace every day will become tedious and may cause mental and psychological burn out. Mix up your workouts. Do some faster tempo training, high intensity interval training, hill running and tempo running. The frequently changing workouts will keep you mentally stimulated so you can avoid burn out problems. The multi pace training will also greatly increase your fitness and running performance.
Smile While You’re Running
Did you ever notice that runners who love to run not only perform better but they are injured less often and never suffer from psychological burn out? On the other hand, runners who really dislike running and must force themselves to train have many more physical and mental problems. There is a reason for that. Runners that love running always have a positive attitude. That positive attitude affects how their central nervous system reacts to training and running, especially over long distances or at fast paces. Happy runners run with a more fluid, relaxed stride and avoid many running injuries. Happy runners are able to run further, faster and easier than their more unhappy counterparts. So love your daily run. Always remember that running is a fun and positive activity and run with a smile on your face. You will never have problems with psychological burn out and you will reduce your chances of suffering from a running injury.
Take It Easy
Your training program should be composed of a progressive mix of long runs, goal pace runs, tempo runs, hill workouts and high intensity interval training. Those are your quality workouts that you do on hard training days. But you can’t train hard every day. If you did you would end up with running injuries, over training problems and burn out. Follow a hard/easy routine. Do an easy run or take the day off between each hard training session. During your easy runs be sure you are running at a pace that feels physically and psychologically easy.
You burn a lot of carbohydrates during marathon training. To support your training you need a steady supply of high quality complex carbohydrates, sufficient protein and some healthy fats. Marathon training is not a time to go on a diet. If you don’t get enough nutrition, especially enough high quality carbohydrates, your training workouts will suffer, your muscles will become weaker and you will increase your risk of injury and burn out.
Marathon training is fun but not physically easy. Your long runs put a lot of stress on your muscles. Those over worked muscles need some time to recovery. In fact it’s during times of rest that your muscles build in strength. Once your long runs reach 12 miles begin doing them only every other week. The week between long runs will give your muscles time to fully strengthen and recover before your next long run effort.