Why you need to stop rushing for the Holy Grail | By Mark Blomeley
There is an ever increasing trend that recreational runners want to run marathons and ultra-marathons. While I think it’s fantastic that so many more people are entering the sport with defined goals, it’s important to understand that running 42.2km or more is not something you can just decide to do overnight.
Predictably, the trend of more people wanting to complete a marathon has brought with it the trend of more coaches or “online experts” offering programs to get to a marathon within a 3-6 month time period. Sometimes these programs work, but normally it’s due to good luck rather than good planning. Often these programs lead to injury or illness because the progressive overload each week, without any easy training weeks, takes a toll on the body.
Ultimately most runners run because they enjoy it and want to do it long term. Yes, there’s some people that add a marathon to the bucket list as something to do and then move out of the sport. However, most runners actually want to keep running for some time to come. So, why race to complete the marathon if it’s going to negatively impact running long term?
My personal preference and the way that I encourage my runners is to think of a marathon as a 2-3 year goal. Put it out there as something to work towards. When you put it out there as a longer term goal it enables you to set some building blocks towards that ultimately goal. For one, you can build a solid aerobic base and running efficiency that will make the marathon much more achievable. Additionally you can build some speed concentrating on shorter distances in the meantime.
If you’re focusing on 5km or 10km events and trying to do them well, you should have a long run that is anywhere from 10-15km. If you’re consistently completing this length of long run over a 2 year period you’ll develop a strong aerobic base. Additionally you’ll do more speed work which will improve your anaerobic threshold and the ability to run at higher speed.
Using this long term strategy enables you to be smarter with your running and therefore reduces injury risk, keeps you motivated long term and will enable you to run a better marathon.
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