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Let's face it, marathon training is not always fun. It is especially difficult in weather conditions the United States is currently dealing with.
Regardless, where you are in the world marathon training in warmer conditions makes enjoying marathon training all the more challenging.
I am in Afghanistan where temperatures have been soaring over 120 degrees at times and my motivation is constantly being tested.
So, let's discuss a few marathon training tips that can add a little variety into your marathon preparation.
Integrate Mental Training
Over the years I have experienced everything under the sun that tried to stop me from deployments, weather conditions, other people's negative remarks over poor racing.
These are things, especially the latter, that come with the territory the faster you get.
People's expectations of you rise and when you run a descent race, they ask you , ‘what the hell happened'?
Focus On You
The quickest way to burning out from your marathon training is letting others' viewpoint dictate your thoughts and future training.
I ran a 2.26 marathon and come back to work and hear one of my bosses say ‘2.26 eh, not bad but the race winning time wasn't really that fast was it?' (the Kenyan than won ran a 2.22).
Granted, this remark came from an elite triathlete that I work with, but at the same time trying to fit in 18-22 miles runs at 2am in the morning during military training exercises, is not the easiest ways of preparing for a marathon.
I had run 2.26, my second fastest marathon time, behind my best of 2.19, under ridiculously strenuous conditions. It was a GREAT effort to me.
It all comes down to finishing the day and asking yourself, did I give the best effort I could have given today?
Let's face it, we spent the majority of our time training physically and neglect a far more potent fundamental to marathon training success, mental training.
More Then Workouts
I have always felt that there has to be more to marathon training then just doing workouts.
The physical aspect of training so to speak.
How can we train mentally?
It is more powerful than meditation and hypnosis combined.
Seek Out Alternatives
What is really cool about it is this software, once downloaded to your computer flashes split second affirmations onto your computer or laptop screen thousands of times a day.
It is barely visible for the conscious, rational thinking section of the brain but the subconscious mind picks it up.
Think about what seeing thousands of positive affirmations thousands of times a day over weeks, months and years can re-condition your mental framework and help you achieve running results you never ‘thought' you could accomplish.
I am currently using this training tool.
It is the one marathon training tip that I don't see being mentioned enough for runners training for the 26.2 mile distance.
Mix Up Pacing
Running easy for 20 miles during a long run will, for sure, build a great deal of endurance and fitness within the body but what does it take to run that goal marathon you have in mind?
Think about it.
If you want to hold 6.00 pace for the marathon distance.
Have you prepared, in training, to hold it for 5, 10 or 15 miles?
Running easy is important but when it comes to specific splits you want to hit during the event you have to train in a specific way, which doesn't come by running 8 minute miles during long runs.
A few examples of mixing up your long runs for maximum results
- 20 mile run – run the first 10 miles easy, next 5@20 seconds slower then goal race pace, last 5 miles@goal race pace
- 20 mile run -15 mile progression run in between -2.5 mile warmup, 5 miles@150HR, 5 miles@160HR, 5 miles@170HR, 2.5 mile cool down
Incorporate Fartlek Sessions
Remember, it is a 26.2 mile race.
Your body will, over time, adapt to the stress you place on it.
It doesn't happen overnight, although I wish that were the case, but if you persistent the hard work will pay off.
I trained with a 2.14 Kenyan marathoner in college back in 1999 by the name of Gilbert Rutto.
I remember quite well my first experience with longer fartleks.
It was unpleasant to say the least but truly believe it has helped me drop from a 2.43 best to 2.19 and I continue to implement it in my training to this day.
What he would do is run for an hour with 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy.
Our ‘hard' bursts were at 4.50 mile pace and his ‘easy' section was between 6.15-6.30 pace.
I lasted 40 minutes with him before spending the remainder of the run doing a cool-down.
Obviously, it doesn't have to be this intense but if you can gradually extend the amount of time you are spending at fartlek intensities the stronger you are going to be, on an anaerobic level, to the demands of the marathon distance.
A few examples could be (as fitness dictates)
40 minute run – 10 minute warmup, 20 minutes with 1 minute hard/1minute easy, 10 minute cool down
40 minute run- 5 minute warmup, 30 minutes with 1minute hard(160-80 HR), 1 minute easy (120-30HR
60 minute run-5 minute warmup, 50 minutes with 1 minute hard/1minute easy, 5 minute cool down