Marathon season is just around the corner, and these elite tests of endurance aren’t the kind of test you can try and flunk, they require countless hours of preparation and training. Whether it’s a half or full 26.2 miles, here are some top tips to help tackle these longer races.
Now we don’t mean run in your onesie, but we mean run at a comfortable speed. Many of you out there may be used to running much shorter distances like 5k or 10k, which tend to involve ‘running hard’, which is where your heart rate increases into its upper 10% capacity. Whereas longer races like half and full marathons are pretty much all aerobic, so you need to keep that heart rate low. Try and run at a pace where you could hold conversation whilst running.
Don’t be scared by the fancy terminology, tempo runs are simply a sustained effort run that build up your body’s ability to run faster for longer periods of time. So, find a speed just on the cusp of that ‘hard running’ we talked about previously and maintain that speed for around 20 minutes. You can incorporate these into your longer runs and increase the length of time you run for as you improve. The idea with these is to get your body used to being on the cusp of producing lactate (the by-product of running that causes the fatigue in your muscles) without tipping into that danger zone, ensuring you can run for longer.
Practice eating and drinking on the move
Even the easiest of everyday tasks can become a challenge when you’re over 10 miles deep into a race as an inexperienced runner. You should always stay hydrated no matter what the distance of your race but eating something during a half or full marathon is vital to avoid hitting the dreaded wall during the race. Practice consuming gels or dried fruits or whatever source of energy seems to suit you whilst on the go in your next training sessions.
Have a race pace
If you don’t know the speed you need to maintain, you quite literally run the risk of burning out too soon. Especially when it comes to race day, it will be easy to let adrenaline get the better of you, avoid looking at other runners and try not to shoot off from the start line. Just focus on yourself. Take advantage of a running watch that tracks your pace if possible and check it every now and then.
A shoe for your sole
Make sure you’re well versed in the shoes you run in for your longer races, don’t necessarily get overexcited and buy a new pair of shoes for your upcoming marathon, the last thing you want is to wear something you haven’t broken in properly, as it will make the marathon feel more like 262 miles than 26.2. And, if your shoes are battered and bruised, do your research before buying a new pair! Everyone runs on either the balls of their feet, heel first, or flat footed, so find out how you run and find a sole that will help cushion your point of impact best.
Tailor your diet
It’s important to pack lots of carbohydrates into your diet to give you that slow release energy for longer distances, but don’t forget to eat sufficient levels of protein to ensure your body’s muscles make the required adaptations and aid recovery. The recommended protein intake for endurance athletes is 1.2-1.6 g/kg BM/day.
If you don’t feel quite ready to take on a marathon yet, then how about giving yourself a week to run 26.2 miles instead? If that sounds good to you, then enter our very own London 2020 challenge.