Running a marathon is achievable for most people but success will only come by putting in sufficient training of the right quality.
Have a plan and use a training log
The best way to make sure that you get the training in is to have a plan, which you follow, and record your progress in a training log. This will help to keep you motivated as you will see the progress you are making, as the times for a particular distance come down and the distances you can run increase. It will also act as a big stick when you look at it and find that you have not been putting in the planned sessions. The log will also be a great source of information when things go wrong, you can look back at the record to find out why you got injured or did not perform as you had hoped.
You can find some links to training plans in the Training Plan section of the website.
If you want to use a computer based training log try logyourrun
There is also a good training log onGood Run Guide You have to pay an annual subscription of £10, but it has lots of other features and maps of routes.
If you want a paper based one then look no further than the Ed & Phil Personal Training Log Book for Runners.
Buy it here: www.edandphil.co.uk
Include some quality sessions in the plan
Such as hill reps, intervals and other speed work. Long slow runs on a Sundy willturn you into a slow runner so you need to pep it up a bit during the week.
Make friends with a hill
Most runners will say that they hate hills, but if you make them your best friend on training runs you will not fear them in races. Indeed you will take them in your stride when all around you others will be struggling.
Try and find two suitable hills to get friendly with, one short and steep, the other long and not so steep. Your relationship with the steep hill will be a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but very rewarding. Use it for hill reps; when your legs burn and your lungs are bursting as you force out that last rep you may say some rather unpleasant things.When your race times come plummeting down you will be full of praise for your friend.
The relationship with the longer hill will be a much smoother one. Use this hill as part of your long run and get used to just grinding your way up it, especially if it is at the end of the run. Occasionally add a bit of spice to the relationship by really blasting up, but not too often.
Many people make the mistake of panting up hills, taking short, quick breaths. This means that air is only getting into the top part of your lungs and the oxygen uptake is low. Slow your breathing, down take deeper breaths using abdominal breathing and get the air deep into the lungs so the maximum amount of oxygen can get into the blood. By breathing deeper you will tire less going up the hill.
There is a good article on hills to be found on the Runners ' World website.
There is a good poem 'The Hill that is Better than Sex' by Kathy Tytler.
There are all sorts of sessions you can do from 200 metre repetitions on a track to mile repetitions.
For marathon training longer intervals are probably better so try kilometre or mile reps starting with a couple and building up to six. It is important to rest well between each repetition and try and run the last at the same pace as the first. So do not go out too fast for the early reps.
One special version is Yasso 800s which have been used to great effect by many elite runners. The aim is to work up to run 10 x 800 metres. The time you take to run 800 metres in minutes and seconds will be a very good predictor of your marathon time in hours and minutes. For example if you run all the 10 reps at 3 minutes 40 seconds you should be capable of a 3 hours 40 minutes marathon. These session are very tough, so build up gradually starting off with only a few reps of 800 metres. If you do not have access to a track, mark the distance out on a safe piece of road or in a park.
Other speed work
Tempo runs – where you run at a pace you can only just hold for the length of the run. It is important to warm up well for these efforts and cool down and stretch afterwards. Start with only a few miles then try and gradually build the distance up.
Speed play (Fartlek sessions) - as the name suggests these should be fun. In the simplest form you put in faster spurts when the fancy takes you. You can give them some structure by running fast past a number of lampposts then slower past some more then faster etc. Or you can use nature, for example, if it is windy run fast when you are exposed to the wind and slower when you are out of the wind. You can do the same thing with sunshine: run slow when you are in the sun and fast when you are in the shade and cooler. If it is very sunny and you have forgotten the sun block you might want to do the opposite.
Running consistently 3 or 4 times a week, every week is the most important thing. The next is adding some variety; if you plod around the same old circuit your body gets used to it and you will soon stop improving.
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