Preparing the body for an event like this involves a serious amount of time dedicating effort and consistency to weekly training sessions. When you begin your running plan it’s crucial that you are fully focused on the task in hand. The plan should be in place to guide you through the process, executing the running schedule will be down to your ability to turn up and put the graft in.
Like most preparations, you will need to take into account some of the variables that can affect your training program. Common causes for blips in a smooth running schedule will be things such as; illness, lack of sleep, weather conditions (snow/ice) and injury. So, what should you do if you miss days or even weeks of training sessions? If you miss a day or two of training I would recommend going back to the schedule. If you miss a whole week then you should go back track the same amount of time that you skipped. And finally, if you miss more than two weeks, I would seriously think about adjusting your goals or switching to a later marathon.
Within part 2 of how to prepare for a marathon, I will discuss the importance of implementing a taper phase, nutritional recommendations and why you should listen to your body. Follow the link for 6 valid reasons for running a marathon.
The taper phase consists of a reduction in weekly mileage in order to freshen up the legs ahead of the marathon. My recommendation would be to switch the training sessions to much shorter and faster speed sessions to keep the engine revved. This will keep you both mentally and physically sharp ahead of the big event without wearing you down too much. When you’re 2-4 weeks out from the marathon, its paramount you take the opportunity to allow the body to re-charge. Once you have peaked and achieved the longest run of your prep, the following week is when you should begin your taper phase. Going into the Marathon fresh will be a massive psychological boost after months of dedicating hours upon hours of running. It wouldn’t make much sense in running yourself into the ground 1-2 weeks out from the marathon as there would be very little you could do in terms of gaining much of a physiological advantage without burning out. Check out an article by Asics on tapering off your marathon effectively.
Listening to your body:
This is something that pretty much everyone is guilty of at one stage or another. When you’re following a structured plan it’s easy to get sucked into words and numbers on a piece of paper without taking into consideration how you’re actually feeling. There will be occasions when executing your training plan to the letter will be a bad idea. For example; if you’re on the third interval of a nine interval session and you feel absolutely shocking/ pace being way off, I would recommend either stopping or replacing the remaining intervals with an easy jog.
Like I previously mentioned, no training plan of this length and difficulty will run out perfectly. My advice is to listen to your body carefully and make adjustments accordingly in line with what your body is telling you. There is a big difference between trying to push the line and training smart.
Nutrition & Recovery Protocol:
Re-fuelling correctly and consistently after workouts will restore muscle and liver glycogen stores, replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, promote muscle repair and bolster the immune system. If you optimize post-exercise nutrition you will perform better in the next training session and accumulate higher quality sessions than athletes skipping post-exercise recovery re-fuelling.
There are two post-exercise recovery fuelling windows. The first is within 30 minutes of a hard or long training session. The second is in the two to three hours post-exercise. Short easy training sessions do not require special recovery nutrition. Athletes are best sticking to their daily nutrition plan with normal whole foods meal after easy training sessions. For more information on fuelling properly for 26.2 miles check out this article by training peaks “A complete guide to proper marathon nutrition”.
30 MINUTE POST-EXERCISE
Fluid, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein are the foundation of proper recovery nutrition. Immediately on finishing a workout, start replacing fluid and electrolyte losses with a sodium containing drink or water plus sodium containing food.
TWO TO THREE HOURS POST-EXERCISE
Continue your recovery nutrition two to three hours post-exercise by eating whole food meals. You can eat earlier than this if you are hungry but do not delay this post-exercise meal by more than three hours. This meal should contain a combination of carbohydrates, roughly 20-30g of protein and some fat. Dividing daily protein intake into four or more 20-30g meals has been shown to have a greater stimulus on protein synthesis than two big meals with 40g protein per meal. For a female I would always recommend 20-30g feeding of protein and for a male 30-40g is about the sweet spot to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Calculating fluid requirements by bodyweight: For every kilogram of bodyweight you would ingest 30-40ml of water. Example; 50kg (110lb) 50×30= 1.5L or 50×40= 2L