Why your Autumn marathon training starts now
It might seem like a long way off – but now is the time you should be preparing your mind and body prior to starting your marathon-specific training approximately 4-months prior to the race.
So what should you be doing?
Newer, less experienced, or recovering runners:
If you’re reasonably new to running, or have had time off due to illness or injury, now is the time to focus on building a good aerobic base. It’s not about speed, but about slowly increasing the time on your feet, initially with slow runs and possibly strength training. Once you’re comfortable running several times a week (and don’t rush it, you’ll only risk injury) you can start thinking about adding in some more varied fartlek or speed sessions.
Experienced runners looking to improve their marathon time:
Now is the time to focus on building speed. The marathon is not just about endurance, when you’re trying to improve your time it becomes about running 26.2 miles as fast as you can…
Start adding some variety into your weekly training sessions. We often program intervals from 200m right up to 1000m during this period (with a recovery time or distance between each interval that varies according to the type of session and the type/level of runner). In general, the total distance covered (not including warm up, cool down or recovery) should be no more than 5/6km for 1km intervals and no more than 4/5km for the other types of interval session.
The benefits of these faster sessions include increased speed, improved form, leg speed, improved VO2max and lactic acid tolerance. The longer intervals also mimimic the race environment, as you learn how it feels to have to stay focused and train when feeling tired.
It can also be stimulating to use the shorter summer 5km and 10km races as great speed training sessions, measure your progress or – if you don’t race often – to familiarise yourself with the race atmosphere and environment.
Note: all of these sessions are very challenging should be planned carefully, with the relevant recovery period not only between each interval, but also between each session.
Enjoy your training!