Train­ing for the Full Dis­tance Marathon

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Training Run - By Nigel Gray

Thekey to a great race at Iron­man is hav­ing a great run, but many ath­letes fail to run to their po­ten­tial. There are a num­ber of rea­sons why. There is no one op­ti­mal plan, but there are some gen­eral prin­ci­ples to con­sider and fac­tor into your plan.

Cru­cial Com­po­nents to Con­sider Be­fore Set­ting Up a Run Pro­gram

En­durance: Your abil­ity to run the whole run af­ter a 3.8 km swim and 180 km bike Speed: How fast you are able to run it Dura­bil­ity: Your body’s abil­ity to han­dle the pound­ing of run­ning a marathon off the bike

Per­for­mance Level

Be­gin­ner: Al­though an ath­lete may be sea­soned at the shorter dis­tances, if he or she has not done a full dis­tance race, it is nec­es­sary to fo­cus on build­ing an en­durance base and the dura­bil­ity to han­dle that dis­tance. This is what will al­low the be­gin­ner ath­lete the best pos­si­ble per­for­mance. At the same time it will also build the foun­da­tion needed to be able to run an even faster marathon down the road. In­ter­me­di­ate/Ad­vanced: Th­ese are ath­letes who have shown in pre­vi­ous races that they have the en­durance to run a marathon off the bike and are now look­ing to run it faster.

Key Things to Look At For a Full DIs­tance Run Pro­gram

Fre­quency: The num­ber of runs per week. Run­ning fre­quency can make a big dif­fer­ence in an ath­lete’s train­ing. It’s a way to get in more to­tal vol­ume (en­durance) and it’s good neu­ro­mus­cu­lar train­ing, im­prov­ing your run­ning econ­omy (en­ergy ex­pended to run a given pace). Be­gin­ner ath­letes should aim for three to four runs a week while more ad­vanced ath­letes can run four to seven times a week as­sum­ing they are not prone to in­jury. Long Runs: Long runs are a nec­es­sary part of any full dis­tance run pro­gram, but there are a few dif­fer­ent things you can do with your long runs. Be­gin­ners should just try to add time to their long runs, fo­cus­ing on a com­fort­able pace and be­ing able to com­plete the given dis­tance. For more ad­vanced ath­letes, pacing be­comes im­por­tant and adding in blocks of goal race-pace ef­forts or even slightly faster of­fers a lot of ben­e­fit (ie: three to four times 20 min­utes at goal pace with five min­utes easy in be­tween in the mid­dle of a two hour long run). Some ath­letes can ben­e­fit from do­ing a dou­ble run on their long run days. For ex­am­ple, run­ning a morn­ing run of one hour and forty-five min­utes to two hours, then a sec­ond run later in the day of 30 min­utes to an hour. This is a good way to get in more time run­ning but with a lit­tle less im­pact than in one con­tin­u­ous run. Run­ning off the bike: Get­ting used to run­ning off the bike is im­por­tant for phys­i­cal and men­tal prepa­ra­tion, and all of your long rides should have at least a 20- to 30-minute run off the bike. In terms of longer runs off of long rides th­ese need to be done with cau­tion, a 90-minute or longer run off a long bike poses a high risk in terms of in­jury and over­train­ing. In most cir­cum­stances it is not nec­es­sary. In­ten­sity: This is usu­ally the part of the plan that poses the high­est risk in terms of in­jury and over­train­ing so needs to be ap­proached with cau­tion. One way to boost speed is to work on it 12 to 18 weeks out from your race, then as you get closer to the day you fo­cus more on race spe­cific train­ing and up your vol­ume and start to cut back more on the in­ten­sity. When work­ing on speed for full dis­tance races the safest bet is to work on your func­tional thresh­old pace, or ftp, (fastest pace for a 60 min­utes all out run) this can be done with longer in­ter­vals (four by 2 km at just faster than ftp) or tempo runs ( 30 to 40 min­utes tempo at or just be­low ftp). Con­sis­tency: This key to any as­pect of train­ing is con­sis­tency, putting in the work week af­ter week, month af­ter month. It is the cor­ner­stone of long term pro­gres­sion. It’s al­ways im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that in an full dis­tance race, the foun­da­tion of a good marathon are made on the bike. Bike en­durance, proper pacing and nu­tri­tion are keys to run­ning a good marathon. You need to be able to ride well and get off the bike with en­ergy to run, so do not un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of the bike to the run. Too many ath­letes blame sub- op­ti­mal runs on run fit­ness while bike ex­e­cu­tion fit­ness or nu­tri­tion may have been the real is­sue. Keep th­ese in check and run to your po­ten­tial. Nigel Gray is head coach of NRG Per­for­mance Train­ing. Nigel has worked with ath­letes all of abil­i­ties for the last 15 years and has been rac­ing as a pro­fes­sional triath­lete for 20+years.

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