Sunday 22nd April 2018 is the date of the 37th London Marathon. Spring seems like a long way away from mid-Autumn but if you are running the London Marathon, if you haven’t started training yet, I recommend you do. Here is some guidance to get you started.
Length of training: Most references suggest a minimum of 16-20 weeks of training is required to run a marathon comfortably. Of course, this does depend on your entry level of fitness/running and how fast you want to complete the distance.
Total miles and frequency of runs: Most references suggest 3-5 sessions a week of running. As we will come to later, running isn’t the only consideration when training for a marathon so I’d suggest 3-4 runs per week with 2 other sessions involving strength and flexibility drills. Total miles required to run a marathon will vary from person to person and their fitness/running entry level but a rule of thumb is 35-50 miles a week towards the end of the training. Over a 20-week programme assuming a low level of entry fitness/running, total miles will be around 400. There are plenty of training programmes available online. The London Marathon official website is a good place to start: https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/trainingplans/
Types of runs: Most programme suggest a mixture of shorter and longer runs. Many people run a shorter distance 2-3 times a week with a longer run once a week. Towards the end of the training, the longer runs will be 18-22 miles and will take a significant proportion of the day such that these are usually the longer weekend run. Amongst the shorter distance runs, I recommend that everyone adds speed drills. These may take the form of short sprints during a longer run or a session devoted to sprinting only. Professional guidance should be sought if you are new to such drills.
Other types of training: Any runner should engage in strength and power drills. Some runners state that running makes them strong so why bother with specific strength training? Although running will provide some strength, specific strength training is required to enable to train the body to deal with all those footsteps. It’s not just muscles that strengthen during strength training, so do ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Performing the same action over and over again as one does in running can lead to tightness in some structures. Hence the recommendation to spend a part of every session devoted to stretching and range of movement. If this is to be performed during a running session, the recommendation is that it is performed pre and post run. Check out this blog post for more details on strength and power training: https://www.superfituk.co.uk/blog/strength-power-training/
Rest: One to two days off from training is recommended and one to two sessions of not running but training is also recommended. This allows the body to change and adapt appropriately to the training and reduces the risk of injury. Taking steps to sleep as effectively as possible is also strongly recommended. Duration and quality of sleep are important to allow the body to recover from training.
Nutrition and hydration: If you were training regularly before, you will need to eat more calories a week when training. A rule of thumb is 500 calories per hour of training. Of course, this depends on your weight and the type of training engaged in. Within your diet you also need to be consuming enough protein. Again, a rule of thumb for an endurance athlete, which you will be if training, is 1.2 to 1.4 grammes per kilogramme of body weight. The following website allows you to enter a food and it will tell you the amount of protein in grammes per weight: http://www.proteincontent.org/ Sweating and the increased breathing rate associated with training will also mean you will lose more water than when not training. Another rule of thumb is taking in 500 mls of fluid per hour trained. Again, this will depend on how hard you train in any session and how warm the temperature is where you trained.
There are many other considerations regarding preparation for running the London Marathon, which I will return to closer to the race date. For more specific advice or to have a training programme put together please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org