Marathon Training 101

This weeks Marathon Monday is about training for the marathon.  You could talk to ten runners and get ten different theories about training for a marathon.  However all would agree that the runner must run a long run once week while training.  Recreational runners usually try to reach a maximum  single long run of about 20 miles in their longest weekly run and hit a total of about 50 miles total in a week.  More experienced runners will have  long run that is over 20 miles and have a much higher weekly total.  The greater weekly mileage can offer greater results in terms of distance and endurance but also has a greater risk of training injury.  Elite male marathon runners will have a weekly total mileage of over 120 miles a week.  Elite female runners will have a weekly total mileage of over 100 miles a week. 

Most training programs last five to six months with a gradual increase in the distance run both total weekly mileage as well as the weekly long run.    Most trainers recommend a weekly increase in mileage of no more than 10% every other week.  One should also gradual increase the weekly long run.  Some individuals find it easier to increase by minutes rather than miles.  For example some think it is easier to add 20 -25 minutes to a long run rather than adding 2-3 miles.  The end results is the same but mentally it may be easier to finish a run that is 20 minutes longer. 

Finding what pace to run the training runs can be difficult for the novice runner to figure out.  My high school coach use to tell us to run a pace that you can still have a conversation without being out of breath.  Of course this is for easy runs.   during hard workout you will not be able to have a conversation.  You can also use a heart rate monitor.  To read more about heart rate monitor training for a marathon read the article/ blog called Heart Rate Monitor Training For A Marathon.

During the last two or three weeks before the marathon runners typically reduce their weekly mileage by as much as 50% to allow their bodies time to recover and be fresh race day.  This phase is known as “tapering”.  Many runners also “carbo-load” or increase carbohydrate intake during the week before the marathon to help store more glycogen.

Many runners refrain from eating solid foods race day to avoid digestive problems.  The marathon is 26 miles 385 yards wich means you have a lot of running and time to warm up.  It is recommended that you do some light stretching before the race.  I ave had friends that take aspirin before the race or after 10 miles to prevent muscles pain.   This sounds good but you have to be carefull pain is your bodies respond to an injury.  You don’t want to take an aspirin the mask the pain from a possible injury because you could make it worse. 

This is a basic overview of training for a marathon.  If you are a runner that only wants to finish a marathon this may be all the training you need.  The key run and have a single long run a week.  The more elite runners will have tempo runs (run a few miles than run 5-8 at marathon pace and run a few more miles) as well as the weekly long run.

Next weeks Marathon Monday will be about the marathon race – pace, etiquette and water consumption dangers.


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