Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Marathon Training Tips

Written by Randy Accetta

Most daily runs are meant to be done at an easy, gentle pace and a low heart rate. If you want to know if you’re running too fast, try the Brady Bunch test: if you cannot sing the Brady Bunch theme song (“Here’s the story, of a lovely lady . . .”) while running, you’re going too fast and should slow down.

Be patient when adding mileage: the time-honored rule for building a training program holds that a novice should increase mileage by no more than 10 percent each week. For instance, if you run 20 miles during one week, you could add 2 miles the next week for a total of 22. Experienced runners can get away with more, but be careful about overdoing it!

Be consistent with the long run. For example, if you’re a new runner planning on doing a marathon in December, by the end of September you should be able to do 10-12 miles comfortably; by the end of October, you should be able to run 15-16 miles, and by mid-November, you should be able to go 19-20 miles at least once. The same principle applies for novices in the half-marathon: 5-6 miles in September, 7-9 miles in October, and 10-12 miles at least once in November.

To get to the starting line, you need to be consistent with both your weekly mileage and your weekly long run. Alternate long runs each weekend rather than doing one each week. If your long run is over two and a half hours one weekend, come down to under two hours on your long run next weekend.

When you do your long run, practice your race day eating and drinking habits. The night before, make sure to get plenty of fluids and carbohydrates (rice, pasta, breads). Try a small breakfast the morning of your long runs to see what works. Also, practice drinking on the run and experiment with energy gels to help sustain your energy.

Keep a training log. Write down your workouts, how you feel, who you ran with, and your goals for the marathon. This will help you stay consistent in your training and give you a record of your incredible achievement.

As the marathon approaches, try doing something brisk. If you aren't doing so already, add a little spark to your program by turning one of your easy runs into what is called a "tempo" run. Once a week, simply pick up the pace for 20 minutes in the middle of an easy run. This will improve your fitness, make your program more challenging, and teach your body to better handle workout stress.