How do you run a faster marathon? I have been asked numerous times ‘Nate, what do I have to do to run faster'.
Getting fit and running fast is no different than building a house.
They both require extensive materials, time and effort to build.
I will discuss 3 key ‘house building' pillars that have helped me run at a much higher level in this post.
They say your home is one of the best investments you will ever make. I totally agree but your health is an even greater investment.
You have to believe in what you're doing.
So, it doesn't matter if you're a beginner or an elite athlete. No one gets results without a plan or a willingness to pursue that plan.
What can make you a better runner? Well there are a lot of ways to get fit. You can pretty much google anything these days and get an answer.
I believe these three key points will bring you closer to running a breakthrough performance at the marathon distance.
The Bible states that a person who has a strong faith and commitment to what they do digs their plot of land on strong ground. It isn't quick sand.
It is the perfect kind of ground suitable for the largest, best built homes.
So, if strong winds, torrent rain and bitter temps attack that home it will not be destroyed. The reason being is it was built on an extremely strong foundation.
You are no different than that home.
Getting fit is not easy. Remember, trying to better your personal best time may not come in your time frame.
You may want it now but your achievement may come 2 to 3 years down the road. Perhaps, sooner.
Building Your Home
Running is similar to building a home in that you have to invest your time before that beautiful house.
Here are a few three key ‘house building' pillars to assist you in running your best time.
In addition, I used these tips to get under the 2.20 and 2.30 marathon barriers.
Running fast is like building a house.
What do I mean by ‘gathering the materials'.
Think of all the things you need to do in order to start this year in better physical shape than you were in last year.
Running entails getting your ‘materials' in order.
What are they?
Invest in Yourself
So, getting a few pair of training shoes is a good start. You should change shoes every 3 to 400 miles.
Your goal may be to lose weight or run a 10K for the first time. So, making a goal is part of your ‘material' tool box.
I set challenging goals, that is the way I have always done things.
Once you have everything in order.
Your goal is set, you have your equipment.
Build Your Base Mileage
The next 4-6 weeks will be simply be about laying a mileage base.
What is most important thing you can possibly do to prep yourself to run a faster marathon?
You have to motivate yourself and get out the door.
It is a major hurdle all of us have to get over.
Consistency, motivating yourself to go run when you don't want to is the winning half the battle.
I can assure you this will make the difference.
There are clubs you cannot belong to, neighborhoods you can't live in, schools you cannot get into, but the roads are always open – Nike
The roads are always open.
Lay your foundation.
Foundation meaning miles. It could be 10 miles a week at first, then 20 the next and so on. You don't jump into sprints before warming up and training is no different.
Long Term Vision
Foundation first, results later.
I usually spend between 4-6 weeks running very easy mileage, no sprints, or checking splits.
Drop the watch before you go out the door.
Do you know the distance of your run? Well, pace should be completely irrelevant.
Your foundation depends on if you will run a faster marathon or not.
I have wanted to quit after putting in the best quality work of my life and still missed the mark.
What kept me going was the love for what I was doing.
Maintain Your Enthusiasm
It goes back to not being afraid to fail.
At least, if you have given every ounce of effort you possibly can give you will have no regrets.
You simply need to put in continual miles, day in and day out until your foundation is laid.
You can then begin to branch out and start the ground work in building your house, your race.
I perform best usually on 12 weeks of preparation.
That being said, I would not advise stretching your plan out any further than 20 weeks.
12-16 weeks is optimal and I will write about this, at length, on another future post.
You need to start thinking progression.
You really have to find tune what works best for you. That being said, when it comes to running fast, training slow will not prepare you to run fast.
The only time you should be training ‘slow' is on easy recovery runs.
So, pay close attention to your heart rate after hard training sessions.
I am a a big advocate of heart rate monitors.
They can help you from running faster than you should after hard sessions.
I have known many runners over the years who got too caught up in running too fast.
We call it ‘anaerobic' in the running community.
Your body builds up lactic acid at a faster rate than it is being cleared and it really is a counterproductive pace.
So, running faster over consecutive days doesn't always work.
It is a stressful point in any training plan when the stressful, hard work begins.
Remember, your house's ability to weather the storm is going to be built around how smart you are in your build up.
PRACTICE GOAL PACE
You have to start thinking about a pace you want to run and practicing running at that pace.
Have you ever watched the Kenyans finish a race? How do they usually look when they come in?
Relaxed, almost as if they did not even race. Why is that?
They took their easy days easy. In addition, they spent a significant amount of time training at or below their race pace.
Remember, some of the best Kenyan and American runners I have trained with run extremely slow on their easy days.
Runners who can average sub 5 minute pace for 26.2 miles, that is extremely easy pace.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO RUN ‘SLOW'
Kenyans and the ‘smart' runners I have trained with have a complete disregard for what pace they run at on recovery days.
My easy days are very, very easy and my hard days are very, very hard – Franker Shorter, Olympic Silver Medalist, marathon
So, if an Olympic champion can take it easy and relax on recovery days than so can you.
Save the race for the race. You simply can't expect to maintain a 12-16 week training block by not being aware of your recovery pace.
Closing remarks on this pillar
1) take your easy days easy, forget pace, relax.
2) focus on training at goal race pace
3) learn to lengthen your goal race pace effort.
The longer you can spend at that magic pace, that goal pace, the better prepared you will be to maintain it once you have tapered (dropped your mileage).
The marathon, is one of the most complicated events out there to master. You will have ups and downs. I had to run slow before I eventually ran a fast marathon.
The best advice I can give, in closing, is to be smart.
Build your house on a strong foundation, take it one week at a time and think long-term. Fitness does not come overnight and neither do results.
Practice Race Pace
The longer you can go at goal race pace the better equipped you have made your body' ability to clear lactic acid at maximum effort and this is what you are looking for come race day.
Remember, race pace efforts are not tempo runs. Race pace is working at 90-110% effort and should only be practiced after two to three days of easy recovery
You want it to feel effortless, almost as if you are on cruise control.
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