Training for the Full Distance Marathon
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
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.