The Ultimate Beginners Guide To Training For A Marathon
Running is an activity that I started to embrace right after finishing up my NRL career.
I found it to be therapeutic at the end of a busy day, you can also do it pretty much anywhere, it’s mostly free (with exception of signing up to events or team training) and of course, it’s an awesome way to see a new place.
Best of all, with so many running events on around Australia and overseas, it gives you a good opportunity to have something to train for!
This year I’m training up 50 clients to run in the NYC Marathon in November and as many of the members don’t really run, we are starting from scratch when it comes to prep work. Here are some of my top tips for how to train for a marathon when you are not a runner.
The main things to note
If you don’t really run, I find that the main things people need to work on include:
- Strengthening the ligaments. If your body is not used to running, the most common niggles and injuries are likely to occur around the Achilles, hamstrings, hips if you do not prepare correctly with good mobility exercises. Make sure you start slow and build up the strength in these areas
- Learning to stick to the task at hand and complete the run/task set out for you
- Recovery. Making sure you eat correctly to recover as well as warm down and stretch
When it comes to run specific training there are a number of different types of training that you should incorporate into your program including spring training, hill sprints and of course your long run day
Fartlek or sprint training
Fartlek training is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. It is a very simple form of long distance run. Fartlek training “is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.
Sprint training however is where you do a quick sprint, say 80 – 100 metres, then you rest briefly before sprinting again
Both of these training methods stimulate neuromuscular changes that will ultimately help you boost your speed and improve your stride.
Additional benefits of these training styles include:
- Variety: Keeps your training fresh for the mind and body
- Sport Specific: Interval training can translate to many different sports
- Calorie expenditure: It burn more calories with an increase in intensity and therefore post exercise oxygen consumption
- Injury prevention: It is not as hard on the body as a continual max effort
A long run day is imperative if you’re planning on participating in marathon, however note that you don’t actually have to complete the full distance of the actual run in your training.
If you’re starting out maybe aim to run for 30 minutes, then the next week up that to 40 minutes. Each week add more time or distance to your long run day to help you build up the kms needed to complete the race distance.
Make sure you taper off in the lead leading to the event though. No use being tired or sore on race day!
If your course has hills in it, it’s a good idea to practice hill sprints prior to race day because the last thing you want is to burn all your energy on the hill because you weren’t prepared.
Find a hill that is 100- 200 metres long. Sprint up the hill and walk back.
Do this around 5 times in your session when you are starting out but slowly increase the work load.
When preparing to run a marathon, strength training is very important, because as above, you need to strengthen up your muscles, ligaments and work on your weaker areas to make sure everything is balanced and strong. You are running 42 kilometres after all!
You want to focus on the main muscle groups used in running such as glutes, legs, core and posture.
Also keep in mind that practising single leg exercises is key because you are only ever on one leg at a time when you run.
Some good exercises include Romanian Deadlifts, squats, weighted step ups and one leg deadlifts etc.
Weight bearing exercises are also important for strengthen your ligaments and joints, such as your ankle and knee joints.
Believe it or not, yoga has become the norm for athletes to incorporate it into their training schedules, especially for recovery
Yoga helps you build your strength as you tend to hold poses for quite a while (depending on the class) and you are constantly flowing into the next movement.
It is also great for balance, flexibility, mobility and mental endurance. All of which are needed if you were to be participating in any endurance event or having to lift a very heavy weight.
There are lots of professional athletes that consider yoga to be a very important part of their training schedule. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for you!
Also make sure you roll out on a roller, get massages or see a sports masseuse or physio, I also like float tanks and info red saunas to help assist with recovery
Ben is the owner and co-founder of Flow Athletic, an incredibly successful yoga and fitness studio based in Paddington, Sydney. Ben was a professional NRL player for the Cronulla Sharks prior to getting into the fitness industry. After finishing his stint with the NRL, he fell into Ultra Endurance running. In the space of 5 years, he ran 35 marathons and 5 ultra marathons all over the world. He then went on to train up 101 non-runners to run and complete their first marathon which he is doing again in 2018 with the NYC marathon.
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