A training program is necessary for all sorts of runners, including advanced marathon runners, because it prevents pain and injuries. It also helps you to achieve your goals within a timeframe.
An advanced marathon training plan may differ among different runners, and finding the right one for you can be overwhelming. But that’s where we step in and help you out.
You need to keep in mind that it's not just about the speed or mileage. It should be about how your body can work comfortably with minimal risk of injury. Different factors that affect your training plan, including your level, your health, age, intensity, etc. However, it follows these basic principles:
#1 Listen To Your Body
You know best what your body can or can’t take, so it’s important to listen to it. Stopping when your body tells you to doesn't mean that you are weak or slacking off.
You should take it more like a smart move and recognize your true physical limits. Usually, your body speaks through aches and pain. If you don't feel well, reduce your two-hour run. However, if your body feels good, you can extend for about 15-30 minutes more.
When you're feeling sick, go home and get some rest until you feel better enough to run again. When should you cut back? The key is discipline and confidence in yourself. You should only cut back when you see it necessary.
If you are afraid of cutting back on your training, you could create an unhealthy habit of it, and you might end up pushing yourself too much.What you can do is have a training log and take note of anything your body is saying. Write down details about how you feel after training.
That way, you can learn how your body reacts to certain types of exercises. For instance, how did you feel after running an extra thirty minutes or an extra mile? How about when you ran uphill or on soft ground?
If you never get a minor injury, it could mean that you aren’t pushing yourself enough. However, you also shouldn’t take minor injuries as a badge of honor. Listening to your body helps you identify areas of your training that you need to modify.
You should be able to differentiate whether the pain is from hard work or an injury. Since your body is constantly giving you feedback, you can identify areas that you can improve to enhance your running performance further.
#2 Alternate Easy And Challenging Training Days
Another fundamental principle that all runners need to follow is to alternate easy training days with hard training days, including long runs and speed work. You shouldn't have two straight days of hard training, even if you missed a day of training.
While some may be able to do intermediate-advanced training levels two days in a row, just keep in mind that you shouldn't push your body too hard. However, only you can identify when too much is too much. Go back to the first principle, which is listening to your body.
Remember that before any workout, you should always do a warm up. This involves gradually preparing your heart, muscles, lungs, and tendons for the exertion you’re about to do. Then, as soon as you finish, you can cool down.
Cooling down involves gradually bringing back your heart, lungs, and other functions to normal rates. It prevents injuries and also helps prepare your body for the next exercise. When doing stretches during the cooling down phase, try to hold your positions for fifteen to twenty seconds.
#3 Add Variety To Your Training Plan
Imagine if you had to cover over 60 miles per week by just running a continuous pace. Doesn't that sound a little uninspiring? A monotonous training plan can quickly lead to mental and physical stagnation.
Adding variety to your training plan can keep you mentally fresh and keeps training more fun and interesting. You’ll find that you can do more when you’re having fun at the same time. Try incorporating interval training, tempos, hill climbs, trail runs, fartlek training, etc.
To make it more interesting, try running with others. Although some would prefer solitude, finding a running mate or group can provide support, advice, and motivation. You can also learn from one another so you can perform better.
#4 Stay Fueled And Hydrated
Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for a successful training period and can help improve your performance. You should drink lots of fluids all day long and not wait until you feel thirsty. You should also eat high energy food to boost your energy for better performance.
During your training runs, you might want to test the kind and quantity of food and drink works best for you. You may also want to consider getting the food that will be available on the course.
That way, you can begin to adapt to it before the race. If unfortunately, you can’t tolerate the food they will be handing out, then you will need to find a solution weeks before the race. You should also practice your timing both for drinking and refueling.
One meal or one day is not enough to fill your muscles with glycogen. That's why you start a carbo-loading a few days before the marathon. However, it doesn't mean that you should overeat or eating as much as you want.
Carbo-loading means you are loading on carbs as a source of your calories. The carbs are stored as glycogen in the muscles and glycogen is the most accessible form of energy.
When you run out of glycogen, you will feel a sudden loss of energy. When you run out of energy, it could either slow you or stop you from finishing the race. You could even increase the risk for injury from feeling faint.
While proper carbo-loading won't make you fast, it does allow you to be more consistent. It makes you run your best and avoid hitting the wall.
#6 Taper Before Your Marathon
The tapering period is one of the most important aspects of your training. During this period, which is the last 21 days before the marathon, you run less and rest more. You reduce the mileage of your weekly runs and your long runs. This allows you to recover from your workouts and prepare for the marathon
Three weeks before the race, you can reduce your weekly mileage by to about 85-90%. Two weeks before the race, you can reduce it more to 70-75%. Finally, during the week of the race, consider giving yourself an extra rest day. You should also reduce your daily runs by 50-60% or your regular mileage.
You should only enter a marathon if you've already conditioned your body for the challenge. It takes a lot of time, effort, planning and discipline to train for a marathon. However, the rewards are also great because it gives you a sense of accomplishment and a healthier body.
Advanced marathon training plans vary from person to person, but it follows basic principles. You have to listen to your body, alternate easy and difficult days, add variety, maintain proper nutrition and taper.
It’s important to find the perfect plan for yourself so you can gradually achieve your goals.
Do you have any questions? What tips or principles can you add to this list to help improve advanced marathon training plans? Use the comment section below for your questions, concerns, and comments.