One of the keys to successful marathon training is to vary your workouts. Unfortunately, many runners are challenged with having sufficient time to complete the types of exercises necessary to prepare them for the marathon. You can’t perform the same workouts at similar intensities and expect different results. The good news is, that for no cost, you likely have access to a “universal gym” that will allow you to complete exercises that not only advance aerobic conditioning, but also improve lower body strength and help prevent injuries. If you add some track work to your workout, you can actually build speed. In this article, I will show how you can benefit from incorporating a few different 20-30 minute stair climbing workouts into your marathon training.
Regardless of where you live, there’s likely a high school or college stadium, parking garage, apartment or office building nearby with enough stairs to complete some very challenging workouts. For marathoners, the benefits of training on stairs include:
- Improved VO2 Max which means you can run harder and for longer durations because you have improved the max amount of oxygen used during intense training because you now convert it to energy quicker.
- Stronger legs, glutes, quads and calves gained without the same impact on your limbs from running.
- Builds stamina
- Variety for free. Stair workouts are like having a universal gym without the cost. Runners can complete numerous exercises like sprints, lunges, plyometric moves and various combinations of bodyweight exercises. See below for some workout suggestions.
- Increase speed by warming up with strides and incorporating 200m-400m intervals between sets
One potential drawback of stairs is the possibility that your stride may be shortened when you’re trying to adjust to shorter step distances. This can be problematic if you include stairs into your marathon training too often and effectively shorten your stride. Longer and quicker strides help runners get faster, so when completing stair exercises, ensure you run up with quick leg turnover. Also, incorporate lunges or “bounding” strides into your regime and try to skip every other or every third stair if you can (do so safely).
I like quick reps because the increased leg turnover helps to build speed and improve running efficiency.
Start all workouts with a warm-up of walking up the stairs for 10 minutes or jogging a mile. Many high school or college stadiums are built around a 400m track. Follow this with light stretching. Workouts include:
- “Bounding” up steps by striding powerfully enough to skip to every other step. Ensure you use your arms to keep good form. Walk down.
- “Hopping” up the length of steps on two legs. Use your arms to swing into each hop. Walk down.
- “One leg hops” are same as two legged, but keep them quick. Switch legs when you’re half way up. Walk down to rest.
The hopping exercises will greatly improve your running strength.
CAUTION: If you haven’t done any hopping exercises, ease into this one. Trust me, you may make it through the workout, but you’ll be “whipped” the next few days.
Following are my favorite stair workouts. As your conditioning advances, you should challenge yourself by:
- Climbing more flights.
- Reducing your rest intervals.
- Increasing the number of intervals or rounds.
- Use weights (15-20 lb dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand).
- Adding track intervals between sets/rounds (if you’re doing stadium stairs)
- Completing body weight exercises between sets/rounds.
Traditional Stair Workout
b) Run to top of stadium or 10 flights (skip other step/go half speed). Walk down. Complete 3 times (sets).
c) Run to top of stadium or 10 flights (go full speed/every other step). Walk down. Complete 3 times (sets)
d) Repeat (b)
e) Repeat (c) except complete 4 times.
Walking Lunges – concentrate on proper form to maximize the effect and build lower body strength.
b) You don’t have to complete these as fast as traditional stairs. This will allow you to skip the additional step while maintaining proper form. Step up with your right foot and skip to second or third step. Ensure you bend both knees to a 90-degree angle and lower into a lunge. Next, push off with your right foot, then push up the stairs, step your left leg up to meet your right and then forward while lowering it to the next lunge.
c) Continue lunging forward until you reach the top of the stairs. Keep your front knee over your toes, and chest upright.
d) Walk down for recovery.
e) Complete 3 sets (each to top of stadium or 10 flights of stairs).
Skater Hop Steps
b) Start by stepping your left foot on the far-left end of the second step. Next, push off with your left foot and hop onto your right foot, placing it to the right side of next step.
c) Continue climbing the stairs, while alternating sides, until you reach the top or go up 10 flights.
d) Walk down for recovery
e) Complete 3 sets
Combination workout (1)-(3) – this workout really works your legs. Be careful – the first time I completed this workout, I was really sore the next day.
a) Complete 2 x 400m at 10k pace after last round of Skater Hops
b) Complete as many push-ups as you can in 1 minute
c) 10 minute cool-down
Gym Exercises – when stairs aren’t available or weather is poor.
a) Stairmaster interval workout
1) 30 seconds hard, then 30 – 60 seconds of recovery
2) Repeat for 20 to 30 minutes or complete a tempo workout for 30 minutes at a comfortably hard effort (you want to break out into a sweat and get your heart rate up).
b) Treadmill incline interval workout (similar to stairmaster)
1) After 5 minute warm-up, increase incline to 5% and speed to 5.5
2) Round 1 – adjust your speed and incline each 2 minutes by .5% & .5 up to 7% & 7.0 after 6 minutes. Adjust back down to 4% and 5.0 for 2 minutes.
3) Rounds 2, 3, 4 – repeat round 1. On last round, go up by .5% and .5 the last 1 minute (so you’ll be at 7.5% and 7.5).
4) Complete 5 minute cool down at 0% incline and 5.0 – 6.0 or pace that allows you to slowly reduce your heart rate.
You can always add difficulty to these workouts by including body weight exercises between each rep. Consider adding push-ups, sit-ups, planks or burpees. To break up each round or set, I perform half the exercises at the top of the stairs and then the other half at the bottom. Remember that even when you’re fatigued, the most efficient conditioning occurs when you maintain focus on good form.
15 Minute Strength Workout for Runners
Marathon Training Tips for Busy Professionals
Getting the Most out of Your Marathon Training
Are you “stuck” at a certain half or full marathon time and wondering what you can do differently with your training so you can make improvements? I’m often approached by runners with this request. They are following a 16 -20 week plan and putting in miles each week, however the results don’t meet their expectations. A common root cause is that their plan doesn’t have sufficient recovery between difficult workouts. Eventually (much sooner if you are older (40+) runner) they don’t get the full benefit of the training that they desire. In this post, I will offer a solution that has proved successful for one of the world’s best marathoners.
Olympic marathoner Meb Keflezighi switched a few years ago from a weekly to nine day training cycle, also called a microcycle. He realized that he needed more recovery between hard and long workouts. I was intrigued by the concept, so I did some research to find out more. What I discovered is that extending the training cycle from 7 days to 9, 10 or 14 days is not new. The main benefit of rethinking how to train is primarily to enhance recovery.
The typical seven day cycle is how we’ve always trained, but it really doesn’t have any meaning to the human body. What we really want to do is apply a stress or hard workout and then allow the body to recuperate. To get the best results, we need to incorporate both the workout and recovery to ensure adaptation.
How The 9 Day Cycle Works
A 9 day cycle works because we can actually incorporate 3 micro-cycles of 3 days each into the cycle. On day 1 we can complete a hard/stress workout like a long run. Days 2-3 would be recovery runs at an easy pace with cross-fit and conditioning or plyometrics on at least one of these days. We would then complete 2 additional micro-cycles in the same manner. The other hard workouts would include tempo and some kind of intervals (doesn’t have to be on the track). I recommend scheduling and completing a tune -up race, like a 10k or 1/2 marathon during one of your cycles.
Not only does a slightly longer training cycle make sense for older and injury prone runners, but it can be particularly beneficial for busy professionals that don’t always have the time to fit in the challenging workout necessary for a half or full marathon.
Long Runs, Tempos and Track Work
The longer training schedule allows us to keep the same workouts such as track, tempo and a long run, that are all part of a typical seven day cycle, but now we can spread these workouts out more. The end result is that the runner will be recovered and ready for higher quality training.
One of the challenges with extending your training cycles is being able to complete your long run on the weekends while still giving yourself recovery time. For those not limited to running long on weekends because they have some flexibility in their schedules, a mid-week long run as called out in the extended cycle may be perfect.
Alternatives to 9 Day Training Cycles
Another option to nine day cycles is two week or month long blocks. The same approach would be to plan for specific key workouts within the period and then take however many easy days necessary. A two week cycle may be easier to fit in the typical weekend long runs that many complete with a group.
Rules of the Program
One rule of training with extended cycles is that you’re not allowed to cram missed workouts at the end of the cycle. You’ll have to incorporate these missed sessions into your next cycle of training. Also, it’s essential that your rest days and easy days remain in place. Unlike most 7 day schedules which typically have Tuesday track and Thursday tempo runs and don’t allow much room for a missed workout which could result in 2 hard workouts back-to-back, the 9 day program allows for sufficient rest between stress workouts.
Another challenge is simply adjusting your schedule. Give yourself time to adjust and allow your body to adapt. Make sure you try a couple of nine or 10 day cycles before you decide to switch back.
A few of the runners that I coach have agreed to try a day schedule over the course of this Summer as they train for a Fall Marathon. I am currently using something similar to the following schedule as I train for the upcoming Vancouver Half Marathon. If all goes well, I will use this type of schedule as I complete my marathon training for Portland.
Typical 9 Day Training Cycle
Day 1 – Long Run (90 minutes – 2 hours+ as called out in your plan)
Day 2 – 30 – 40 minutes easy + 20 minutes conditioning (core and strength work)
Day 3 – 40 minutes easy
Day 4 – 60 minutes (15 minute warm up, 30 minutes of fartlek or intervals on the track or hills, 15 minute cool down)
Day 5 – 40 minutes easy
Day 6 – Rest or Cross Fit (elliptical, stationary bike or rowing machine)
Day 7 – 60 – 75 minutes (15 minute warm-up, 30 – 45 minute tempo or some kind of increasing uptempo pace, 15 minute cool down)
Day 8 – 40 minutes easy
Day 9 – Cross Fit + 25 minutes conditioning/strength training
All runners must find a schedule that works best for their needs and abilities. This may mean you need to extend your schedule. The good news is that doing so can help you avoid injury and help you achieve your goals.
Why are so many people quick to put down or explain why they can’t stand running on a treadmill? I have a few friends who claim they will never run on a treadmill. They claim that when they’re running on the road or in nature, they enjoy being able to take in all the sights and sounds. They also like the camaraderie of a group run that they can’t get with treadmill. I understand these arguments, but I believe that running on treadmill 1-2 times per week is a viable means to supplement your training for any race, even a ½ or full marathon. The question is how to best incorporate use of a treadmill into a marathon training plan? The good news is that Derek LaLonde answers this question and others in his book, “How Not To Hate The Treadmill.”
I recently read Derek’s book and was very impressed with his level of detail into such topics as goal setting, treadmill workouts, smart eating and how to get positive results using a treadmill. This book is one of the most comprehensive resources about Treadmills and Treadmill training. The purpose of the book isn’t to convince you to abandon the roads. Instead, implementing Derek’s suggestions will definitely give any runner a fresh perspective on using a treadmill and integrating this often maligned piece of exercise equipment into their training plan.
As a busy middle aged professional, who travels weekly, I use a treadmill a few times per week in hotel gyms or on days when the Pacific Northwest weather turns wet, cold and is generally unsuitable for outdoor running. Typically, my sessions last 35-45 minutes. I run at a progressively faster pace (6 – 8+) with a steady incline to 2-3 degrees. I like to add 15-20 minutes of conditioning exercises to complete a full hour workout. There’s nothing exciting about what I do on a treadmill. My goal is to simply get in an easy day and avoid taking the day off from running. I have never used the treadmill to complete any kind of speed or tempo runs.
“How Not To Hate The Treadmill” is far more than a listing of treadmill workouts. In fact, Derek doesn’t get into details about any workouts until page 100. Instead he devotes the first three sections of the book to the benefits of using a treadmill, getting motivated, setting goals and creating a positive environment. He describes one of the best things about using treadmill is that it can force you to maintain a certain speed. During tempo or harder lactate training workouts, a treadmill can be set so a runner maintains a target heart rate for prolonged periods. The runner can then focus on breathing and good form without having to continually check heart rate. Also, the runner can use the incline feature to increase one’s heart rate without having to speed up.
The workout portion of the book is very detailed. Each workout is customized to be performed on the treadmill. Examples of some of the workouts discussed include:
- Hills – Although not appropriate for those who don’t own their treadmill, Derek discusses how to complete downhill training (very important when training for races like Boston). Details of 6 different hill workouts are provided. My favorite is “Walk the Plank – Incline to Exhaustion.”
- Speed Work – Tempo runs and speed ladders are discussed. You can go all out with the Stairway to Heaven workout where you continue to raise the pace by 5 mph every ½ mile until exhaustion
- Long Runs, Aerobic workouts & Running Games – If you really want a tough full body workout, try running at tempo pace and get off the treadmill every 5 minutes to complete a set of push-ups, dumbbell squats, pull-ups and other conditioning exercises.
Derek finishes the book with a few sections on how to balance proper nutrition, sleep and staying motivated to train. Finally he gets into great detail about how to properly train using a heart rate monitor. This includes a plan on how to determine your maximum heart rate using a treadmill.
It’s clear that Derek LaLonde is not just very knowledgeable about treadmills, but he’s also well informed about long distance running and proper training methods. He’s been training on a treadmills for 15+ years and clearly enjoys the experience of “pounding the rubber.”
If you’re interested in diversifying your training (something I strongly advise to help avoid injury), then I recommend you purchase, read and implement the strategies discussed in How Not To Hate The Treadmill. The book is available as a downloadable e-book. It’s an easy read. The worksheets are helpful to set goals and the heart rate charts can be printed out for easy reference. I’m always open for new and effective marathon training ideas. How Not To Hate The Treadmill, provides fresh concepts that will help any runner vary their workouts and achieve their goals.
For your convenience, I have included a link to purchase How Not To Hate The Treadmill. You will also notice in the sidebar that there’s a banner ad for this book. Full disclosure…your cost won’t increase in any way if you buy by going through these links, but I will be compensated if you do make a purchase through them.
TREADFLIX – ACTUAL COURSE VIDEOS FOR YOUR TREADMILL
If you’re really interested in something different and unique you really need to try Run Chicago, Run Boston or Run New York. These are 1-2 hour videos taken directly off the courses of each of these world famous marathons. The concept is simple. Download the video onto your iPad, tablet or laptop and then place it in front of the treadmill. Set the treadmill to whatever pace you desire and then play the video. It’s genius.
I’ll admit, I haven’t had the opportunity to try any of the videos yet, but I do have plans to fully try out at least the Chicago and Boston videos because I’ve run both of those marathons.
Following are some screen shots of each product. You can click on each image to be brought to the purchase page.
I travel almost every week for my “day” job. In order to complete either 600am or 900pm workouts I have to accept that I must use the hotel’s gym to continue my marathon training. Fortunately, I’m not against using a treadmill. Although I don’t find a treadmill to be very exciting, I can tolerate 30 – 45 minutes in front of a TV or listening to a podcast. I like to add some weights or body weight exercises to my treadmill workouts to give myself a good workout.
Usually my treadmill workouts are gradually increasing the treadmill speed up to 7.5 – 8.0, so I can complete 4 – 5 miles within 30 – 40 minutes. I also put the incline at 1.5 to 2.0. I really should try to investigate and try some actual workouts into my routine. These would be workouts where I very speed up to 9.0 and incline to 5+. I’ll plan on doing that in subsequent posts.
I recently met with a gentleman from Canada who has developed separate videos for Chicago, Boston and New York marathons. It’s a really cool concept. Up to 2 hour long videos, shot in HD and accompanied by music. I haven’t had a chance to watch any of the videos yet, but if they’re as good as my friend Derek says they are, you should check them out. They are at www.treadflix.com
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I either have to learn to run in a lot of rain or run on the treadmill. I’m fortunate to belong to a local a gym, but on the days where I can’t find the time to run or get to the gym, I’m stuck. If only I had a treadmill……..
If you’re considering purchasing a treadmill, I’ve worked with a friend to put together the following buying guide.
The path to successfully running a long distance running event can be filled with ups and downs and there are going to be times when outside conditions, a work schedule, or some other inconvenience is going to mean that you can’t get a daylight training run in. Sure, you can go for a run after dark, but most people prefer to train in high visibility for safety reasons.
One fantastic investment you can make, budget permitting of course, is in a home treadmill. Treadmills can be a perfect addition to a home gym, or perfectly fine as a stand-alone piece of cardio equipment because they allow you 24-hour access for training. Of course though, treadmills come in all shapes and sizes and the price can vary greatly from model to model.
You don’t want to pay a large sum of money for a treadmill that just doesn’t suit your needs. It’s for this reason that a firm grasp of what to look for in a treadmill is important. To help you with your buying decision, here are 10 points to guide you in your treadmill purchase.
Decide on where the treadmill will be placed within your home and measure it carefully. Keep in mind that most treadmills are heavy and once you place them in a given location, it is may be difficult to move it around too much. It should also have additional space on the sides and back for an easy dismount once you’re done with your workout.
The treads on treadmills often vary in length. If you are tall or an experienced runner, you might want to look for a treadmill with a longer deck that can handle your stride.
Treadmills have varying consoles for your vital signs, gadgets and connectivity. Some extra bells and whistles like iPad docks, USB ports or Wi-Fi connectivity are becoming a more prevalent as manufacturers add them to new models they roll out. The best thing to do is choose what features would help you maximize the workout you will be doing.
Since we have established that a treadmill has significant size and weight, you should check whether it would be fully assembled once delivered or will you need to put it together once it arrives. Treadmills can weigh over 100 kilos and with this in mind, assembly would definitely require more than a single person.
Good quality treadmills are often maintenance-free machines. The time spent maintaining the treadmill, such as lubrication, should be used in other important things and not with the machine. Some manufacturers have considered adding a reversible deck so that when one side is worn out, you can turn it over to a new deck.
We have discussed earlier that when you are searching for a treadmill, you should make sure that it requires the least amount of maintenance possible. Even though this is so, a treadmill still contains electronic parts that may need some maintenance at some point and being a major investment, it would be best to know what warranty comes with the unit.
Apply the acronym R.U.N.
Review the price – Keep in mind your budget. Investing your money’s worth is important and there are a lot of great investments out there.
Understand your needs – are you going to use it for power walks or running? Look at the features offered by each unit and choose which one gives you the workout you need.
Never settle for less – the expensive cost of an item does not always equate to a good buy. Inspect the equipment carefully and try it out.
This feature increases the intensity of your training without the need to increase the speed of the treadmill. It is a good feature for building leg strength for runners. Some lower priced models have only 3 levels of manual incline while larger models can give up to 20 levels of electronic incline.
You can use your goals as a determining factor for your treadmill purchase. Treadmills for running will often have speed capacity two times that of walking treadmills. SO be sure to check the maximum speed capacity before buying.
Some treadmills have programs which assists in your training goals. The configurations of the training programs can vary from brand to brand. If you are the type of runner who wants to try out these programs, search for this under its specifications when you are browsing for a treadmill in the store or online.
Purchasing a treadmill can be a hefty investment and getting the best workout from what you’ve spent is the main goal. Take your time and do some research about the treadmill that you would like. This will help you acquire the right treadmill the first time.
Good luck with your treadmill training. Don’t forget that alternatives to treadmills include stationary bikes, eliptical, stair master and rowing machines. I use all of these regularly to give my legs, ankles and knees a break from the pounding of running. This is especially important during marathon training when my mileage is up to 50+ per week.
If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
Even though Michael Jordan was a basketball and baseball player, his words are very appropriate to marathoners. In this article I’ll tell you how you can avoid hitting the wall and give you tips for getting past it if you do encounter it on your way to finishing your next (or first) marathon.
What is hitting the wall?
It is most commonly thought of as that period in a marathon (typically around 20 miles) when point where your body and mind are simultaneously tested. It’s that time in a race when fatigue starts to overwhelm your mental faculties. Simply put, running at your current pace goes from being hard to being really hard.
Rather than worrying about hitting the wall, it’s best to train properly and think ahead so you can prevent it.
Getting through, around, or over hitting the wall is part of the mystique of marathon running, although there’s a physiological explanation: when runners hit the wall, their bodies have run out of the carbohydrates needed to sustain intense physical activities like long-distance running.
The root cause of hitting the wall is glycogen depletion onset. According to the Sports Fitness Advisor the average person has about 2000 calories of stored carbohydrate. This approximately what your body’s engine (muscles and brain) is limited to prior to the race. Since the average runner burns approximately 100 calories per mile, it makes sense that most marathon runners describe hitting the wall around the 20-mile mark. Their 2,000 calories of glycogen fuel have been exhausted, which results in the overwhelming feeling of heaviness in their legs and a lack of concentration.
In my first marathon, nearly 30 years ago, I hit the wall at 20 miles and slowed my pace by 2 ½ minutes per mile. It took about an hour for me to complete the last 6 miles. I painfully walked through each aid station. I was not prepared for those last 6 miles. Although I finished, it wasn’t pretty.
How to avoid “the wall”
1. Get Used to the Distance
When your body runs out of glycogen, it will start to burn fat. Unfortunately, this is an inefficient fuel source. With consistent running over a period of weeks and months, you’ll become winded less-easily. Your anaerobic threshold, which is the point at which your body draws its energy from fat, will be pushed back. You can train your body to burn fat more efficiently, allowing you to run farther and faster and burn a mixture of glycogen and fat. Proper training allows your body to calibrate the perceived effort, hydration strategy and nutrition plan.
Most training plans, including mine (26.2), limit your longest runs to 20-21 miles. This is important, particularly for 1st time marathoners, because we want to bump up against the edge of the wall, without trying to burst through it. You significantly increase your risk of injury when you hit the wall. We don’t want to adversely impact your race day performance.
2. Keep to a Consistent Pace
Proper pacing is key. You need to do your best to run at your “Should” Pace. This pace is the average pace of your long runs for the last eight to ten weeks. It is the pace you have demonstrated you can run consistently in your training. If you have been fortunate enough to complete a 10k or a half marathon, you can use that value to predict a marathon time. Use the various online calculators (like McMillan) to estimate a marathon goal pace based on this or other previous performances.
3. Fuel Your Body Properly
You can also delay the onset of glycogen depletion by consuming sports drinks and gels during the run. These foods are high in carbohydrates. I recommend taking gels approximately every 45 minutes during the marathon to provide additional energy.
Proper nutrition prior to and during the race is also key. An adequate, though not overindulgent, pre-race breakfast high in carbohydrates is ideal because carbs can be burned aerobically or anaerobically. You’ll want to experiment in training with what agrees with your stomach because some runners find that particular mixtures create nausea, vomiting or some kind of gastrointestinal discomfort.
A few years ago, I was training for the Chicago Marathon which is October every year. Most of the training for this race is during the Summer months. I learned the hard way that having ice cream and smores doesn’t sit well with my stomach if I have them the night before a long run. Bottomline, the time to experiment with different foods is during your training. The days leading up to the race and in particular the night before your race, ONLY CONSUME FOODS YOU KNOW ARE EASY ON YOUR STOMACH.
During the race, YOU MUST STAY HYDRATED. This is critical to your success and to avoid hitting the wall. No matter how well conditioned you are in on race day and how well you pace yourself, if you don’t properly hydrate, you will hit the wall. I recommend to start drinking more water than normal 3-4 days before the race. Continue drinking water and avoid alcohol in the days leading up the marathon. In a 2007 Runner’s World article, the author discusses the need to drink at every aid station. Even at the first aid station which is typically 2 – 3 miles into the race, you should drink to prevent even slight dehydration which can slow gastric emptying, the removal of food from your gut into your blood stream. You need to keep a constant flow into your system.
At the 2014 Boston Marathon, I didn’t drink as much water the day before the race as I typically drink. I thought that having to go to the bathroom all night would disrupt my sleep. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep well anyways (due to nerves). I suffered from dehydration and slowed the last 5+ miles in the 70 degree heat.
Getting past hitting the wall
There is a huge mental component to running a marathon. Although running, in and of itself, is not a complicated mental activity, your brain can essentially go on cruise control while your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and heart need more and more energy each mile. Unfortunately, your mind is at it’s weakest just when you hit “the wall” and when you may need it the most to push through those last miles. This is where the mental component comes in. It helps to be mentally prepared for your race. To a large extent, once you start to hit the wall, getting through the last miles becomes a mind over matter experience. Sometimes you need more.
Your internal dialogue is extremely valuable. Repeat positive, self-affirming statements to yourself. Avoid thinking words like “not.” Even if you’re simply telling yourself that you’re not going to fail or stop, your subconscious will only preserve the heart of the message which is “going to fail” or “going to stop.” Instead, I like to tell myself “I am strong and I always finish.”
I’ve read that Olympic Coach Bobby McGee stresses positive internal dialogue to be practiced during training until it becomes habit. He claims that such habits can have a huge influence on the body. McGee claims that some athletes succeed by acting and believing in the opposite of what their body is telling them. They “fake it ’til they make it,” says McGee and in this way avoid hitting the wall.
Experience can also lessen the shock of hitting the wall. If you’ve been through it in training or previous races, you’re less likely to succumb to it. As humbling and physically challenging as it can be, it is only temporary. That intrinsic knowledge alone can be enough to get you to the finish line and emerge from the shadow of the wall.
If you’ve completed marathons before, remind yourself that you’ve done this before. You’ve hit the wall before and succeeded in finishing.
Another strategy I’ve used is to simply break down each mile into 200 – 400 meter sessions. You can do this by identifying a point 200 – 400 meters in front of you and concentrating on getting there with the best form possible. Once you get to that point, pick out another point 300 – 400 meters in front. Continue this process, but increase how far in front you focus.
Focusing on what you can control at this stage of the game is a great way to fight the sense of powerlessness. Since you start to lose control of your desired pace as you fatigue, to avoid hitting the wall, try to think of some technique cues to improve your running form. Start with one facet of your form, like your arms or simply keeping your head up, relaxing your shoulders and chin up, forward lean and chest out are all positive for your running form. If you can regain some part of your form, you’ll start to be more efficient (and you should see an improvement in your mile splits).
Finish of Boston Marathon
(courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com
The 2015 Boston Marathon is 2 weeks away, hopefully your marathon training has been going well, you’re injury free and anxious to get to race day. This post will provide details of one of the most important runs of your entire marathon training program. I also outline other workouts for the last week of Boston Marathon training leading up to your taper.
I completed the 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathons. In each of these last 2 years, two Sunday’s before the big race, I have run a timed half marathon. In fact, I use this strategy before all my marathons. Running this half marathon at marathon pace gives my body a simulation of the race day experience. I have a course near my house that includes some rolling hills. It’s perfect because it simulates some of the terrain on the Boston Marathon course. This is the longest run I complete over the last 2 weeks of marathon training. The workout gives you a good idea of how you will perform on Marathon race day.
I start the run with a warm-up (easy jog) for a ½ mile and then I run at marathon race pace for a half marathon. Timing this run is optional. I time all of my runs, but what’s most important is that you simulate as best as possible the pace and your marathon race day drinking and gel consumption. Ideally you should have a meal the night before that is the same as what you’ll eat the night before the Boston Marathon. Although not necessary, it would be perfect to run near the same time as you will on race day. Hopefully you feel strong and easily complete the workout. If so, great, you’re nearly ready for race day. However, if you don’t feel your best during the run, don’t worry. You’ll be starting your taper shortly and oftentimes the 7-10+ day of slowing down is all that’s needed to freshen up your legs.
The balance of this 2nd to last week of marathon training includes the following workouts:
1) Monday – rest 0-3 miles and/or cross-fit
2) Tuesday – Intervals at the track or Fartlek. 1 mile easy, 2 miles at 10k pace, 1 mile easy, 1 mile at 10k pace, 2 miles recovery
3) Wednesday – 5-6 miles
4) Thursday – Tempo run. 2 miles easy, 2 x 15 minutes at marathon pace, 1 mile between each, 2 miles recovery
5) Friday – 5 miles and/or cross-fit
6) Saturday – 5-6 miles
For the last hard workout before the Marathon I recommend one more tempo run on the Sunday 8 days before the Boston Marathon. Start with 1 mile warm-up and then run 6 miles at marathon pace. Finish with 1-2 miles recovery for total of 8-9 miles. Pick a course with some rolling hills if you can. The goal is to stretch out and push yourself at a comfortable pace one last time. After this run, ensure you thoroughly stretch and eat a recovery meal that includes a balance of carbs and protein.
During the last week of marathon training, you should taper. This will include some days of 3-5 miles at an easy pace and one day of very light intervals (100-200 meter strides). Good luck on race day. You’ve trained hard, now enjoy the day.