Laying the foundations for a spring marathon
If you are preparing for a spring marathon, such as the London marathon, it’s really important that you use this time of year to ensure that you get some great base training done.
Base training is all about achieving good aerobic fitness, before you consider implementing anaerobic interval work. People will often make the mistake of feeling they are in good shape from a summer of sport and then push too hard at this early stage, before they are quite ready for it.
The best way to go about this is to gauge your training by feeling of intensity, rather than being obsessed about your pace. It’s better to run at a moderate intensity level and a pace that feels comfortable and right during these slightly cold and miserable winter months, rather than pushing too fast, too soon, which will only lead to the potential problems such as stress fractures, over use tendon injuries and fatigue.
If you are new to running it makes sense to get a few half marathons and 10K’s under your belt before you even consider a marathon in such a short space of time.
If you are already a seasoned runner and are used to the miles it important that you don’t neglect strength and conditioning work which is one of the key areas that regular runners will fail to do enough of.
A good way to go about your base training is to get an assessment with a running physio or a running osteopath who can quickly spot any deficiencies in movement, muscle weaknesses or poor gait patterns that might lead to potential problems as the miles build-up.
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When it comes to strength work, you can do better than a ‘one size fits all’ programme. For instance, not everybody has weak glutes, although this not uncommon. Lots of newbie runners will have a slightly “sit down” running pattern and don’t have sufficient hip drive, and that can lead to poor shock absorption and over striding. Its far better to get this ironed out at the beginning, rather than deal with injury later on.
You might want to consider a couple of quality runs such as a fartlek session, and hill session, and a longer run at a moderate pace for example 45 mins to an hour. This should certainly not be at race pace.
If you’ve got a running coach or part of a running club and a following a program that’s been individually tailored to you, then all the better.
In terms of strengthening and conditioning this should be tailored to yourself. Single-legged body-weight squats, dead lifts, lunges, planks and push-ups are all part of the S & C rituals which we should be carrying out as runners, and ideally 15 to 20 minutes, alternate days.
This will bring on your strength and control and help prevent injury.
Finally, rest is just as important as running, and going into the Christmas season many runners will swap out sleep for training. You should not do this! If you are tired and fatigued from work and late night pressures from a city job, I would always advocate at this stage, choosing sleep over running if you’re feeling ‘thin on the ground’.
There is plenty of time to catch up on millage into those first spring weeks, and at this stage it’s about getting your body aerobically fit, physically strong from a muscle and tendon point of view and not arriving into the new year injured or fatigued. Treat yourself to some new, night-visible run gear, and enjoy the run up till Christmas!
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