Extract from the January 2012 issue of Runner's World
Whether you’re looking to cross the finish line for the first time or set a super-fast PB, the marathon is hard. That’s why we asked top experts to help runners realise their dreams
EACH YEAR, MORE THAN 30,000 Australian and New Zealand runners finish a marathon. Some embrace the 42.195 kilometres to kick smoking or apathy. Others use it to mark major life milestones like turning 40. Many train for marathons just to find out if they have the grit and discipline to go the distance.
Preparing for that distance isn’t easy. Getting through more than 100 days of training requires heart, hard work, and commitment.
In the following pages, leading experts provide sound advice for how to achieve a range of very different marathon goals. Let their stories inspire you to take up your own 42.195 challenge – and gain the confidence and fitness that will endure long after you cross the finish line.
WHAT’S YOUR GOAL? FINISH MY FIRST 42.195
JO BARNS 50 Victor Harbor, SA
LIKE MANY FIRST-TIMERS to the marathon, Jo Barns hit the ground running in pursuit of her first 42.195K. “I figured it was a good goal as long as the body would hold up,” he says. In the past, she’d be happy to enter the occasional fun run. So as a happy lower mileage runner, why 42.195? Because of a brother’s encouragement, a birthday and a friend’s dream, of course. “I was approaching my 50th birthday and my brother had said to me, ‘you need to run a marathon’. A running buddy had also let me in on her dream of running a marathon so I thought why not?” says Barns. Barns’ sensible goal of a rock solid training plan and plenty of experts’ advice helped her reach her goal of crossing the line. “The encouragement and support of spectators along the way was incredible (3:51:28),” she says. “What an amazing experience.”
NEWBIES NEED TO KNOW
Coach Susan Paul addresses newbies concerns about running ongl
MOST NEWCOMERS are intimidated by running 42.195 kilometres. “It’s natural to be overwhelmed, but once you break the race down, it’s very achievable,” says Susan Paul, an exercise physiologist and coach.
Q. When can I start training for 42.195?
A. You need to have logged at least five to eight kilometres three to four times a week for a minimum of about 12 months. This “base” conditions tendons and ligaments and prepares them for long runs.
Q. Should I follow a training plan?
A. A good plan, like the one on the opposite page, increases mileage over an appropriate time frame. Doing too much too soon is a common newbie mistake.
Q. What if I miss a workout?
A. Call it a rest day and don’t try to make it up. If you miss most or all of a week, scale back the following week’s mileage by 10 per cent, then resume regular training.
Q. What if I can’t finish a workout?
A. You may be going out too hard or running too fast for the given distance. Try slowing down. If that doesn’t work, the plan may be ramping up faster than you’re adapting. Repeat a week, then move on.
Q. How will I know I can run 42.195 kilometres if my longest long run isn’t that far?
A. After building your weekly mileage to a peak of about 64 kilometres and doing several 32-kilometre long runs, you will be fit enough to run 42.195. In that final 10K, the challenge is more mental than physical. Make a plan to combat self-doubt – station friends along the final stretch, eat a treat at kilometre 37, or repeat a positive mantra.
Q. Why do I have to do speedwork?
A. Fast running strengthens your heart, boosts the efficiency of your cardiovascular system, and builds power in your legs. It also helps improve your form. When you run slower, you tend to get sloppy with your movements. Running fast helps streamline form and protect against injury.
HAVE YOUR BEST FIRST
Wear the shoes and clothing in your long runs that you plan to wear on your big day. Sip the sports drink served on the course, and take gels and other fuel at the same intervals you will during your 42.195-kilometre.
On long runs and on race day, avoid the urge to overdress. Bundling up can cause you to overheat and get dehydrated; plus, you’ll have to carry those extra layers a long way. You should feel slightly cool for the first couple of kilometres.
On race day, first-timers often get caught up in the excitement of the crowd, go out too fast, and flame out long before the finish. Run the first half conservatively – you should feel as if you’re running too slow. Focus on keeping your breathing relaxed.
*Purchase the January issue of Runner's World to read the whole article *