Marathon: Run Less, Run Faster
Posted on February 03 2017
THE "FIRST MARATHON" TRAINING MINDSET
This year I'm lucky enough to be joining them, after taking a wee hiatus over the past couple of years from running marathons. In my hiatus I've explored more functional forms of fitness which has more latterly meant Crossfit.
The increased resistance training and more interval-based style of training has profoundly changed my mindset. You see, 2008 Sam got himself to the marathon start line by running somewhat like a donkey. At a gate. I would run "empty k's" falsely believing I would be better prepared for what is probably a distance more appropriately driven than ran: a 42.2km battle with both body and mind.
As the years ticked by I diversified the strategy somewhat and incorporated some more meaningful marathon training workouts like Kenyan hills and other forms of tempo training but still my focus was on mileage. As I spoke to more runners, I realised this high mileage strategy was quite a luring yet mis-guided concept for first time marathoners. On the personal front I would run a marathon or two a year with only marginal improvements in time, but still that same ecstatic feeling of accomplishment that keeps bringing a runner back for more.
In 2014 in large part possibly due to my poor high-mileage strategy my piriformis blew out, taking with it most of the sensation in my right leg and foot. I battled this for a few months, and misguidedly continued training so I could finish the marathon which further aggravated the situation.
OF DOLPHINS AND WALKING
In no part did the dolphins dissuade me from swimming, in fact the dull murmur of their chatter was quite comforting, but I just found the whole task of swimming laps boring and looking at the bottom of the pool wasn't "doing it" for me. So I took up what every young man aspires to do: walking. Not the kind where you get to don a cool set of boots, and maybe arm yourself with some ropes. Nope, the sort where you tear around the neighbourhood under the cover of darkness to avoid your well-intentioned neighbours offering you a lift.
ADDING RESISTANCE AND VARIETY
I will not:
- run "empty k's"
- "forget" to roll-out/stretch
- most likely ever look not like one of those identikit images the police release after a servo's been held up in the "official race photo" (seriously where do these photographers hide?)
- incorporate resistance training in the form of Crossfit (thanks to the good folk at The Nox) to improve core strength, and explosive power in my legs and add variety to my program.
- listen to my wife, the long-suffering Caro about nutrition, rest, and sleep.
- run only three times a week for the next 16 weeks.
SO IS 48 RUNS ENOUGH TO RUN A MARATHON?
But logic would suggest if you factor in less kilometres, but make them more meaningful, the results will vastly differ from what might be achieved by the "first marathon mindset". On a very basic level then for 16 weeks then it could be suggested that:
- 1 x per week factor in a varied tempo run
- 1 x per week factor in a long run that builds until the 13th week of training, and then tapers back. As your training plan progresses so should your time spent "at marathon pace" in these endurance runs.
- 1 x per week factor in some alternating hill work and track repeats.
- 2 x per week factor in some lower-impact cross-training in the form of swimming, resistance training, cycling etc'.
SO HOW DO YOU RUN LESS AND RUN FASTER?
So strength training is a vital component of your marathon training not only because a stronger core and legs will drive you to the finish line quicker, with reduced fatigue but also, and perhaps more importantly as an injury prevention measure.