Ever wondered if you’ve been doing marathon training wrong all this time? Put those worries to rest with these key pointers from Coached’s Ben Pulham, who debunked some common beliefs live on Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon’s first Running Clinic.
1. Volume is not as important as you think it is
There’s a widespread misconception that mileage, or running more, gets you a better end result. But not all mileage is equal. Always remember to look at external variables like weather conditions: running 50km in a cool climate is significantly easier than running the same distance in the scorching sun. Moreover, different people respond differently to the same training. So while you should continue distance training to build strength and endurance, don’t get caught up in mileage for mileage’s sake. ‘More’ is not always the answer.
2. Running faster every training won’t make you fast
It’s a wrong assumption that in order to run fast, you have to train for speed. For example, people aiming to run a 60min 10km tend to train by increasing their pace. The problem here is that pace does not take effort into account. If you’re constantly pushing yourself, you’re placing strain on your body and stressing your muscles and ligaments. This is a fast track to injury and a short-sighted way to improve. You also can’t push your body’s limits forever. Instead of chasing a faster timing, instead focus on improving your running efficiency. Focus on improve your aerobic system and your body’s speed output will improve.
3. Ease off the carb loading
When it comes to nutrition, it’s common thinking that carb loading = good. But the fact is, you probably already have enough carbs (grains, cereals etc) in your usual food intake. Instead, opt for a diet that’s lower in carbs but high in healthy fats – think avocados, nuts, fish etc. This regulates your insulin levels and you begin to generate more energy from fat, which conserves your glycogen stores. In turn, this allows you to run at a higher pace and at a faster timing, without relying on consuming stuff like sports gels.
4. Starting fast is not a good way to race
Don’t start fast and slow down when running a marathon; this is a flawed strategy. Actively work at either keeping a consistent pace throughout the race or picking up your speed slightly towards the end. This is especially hard to do as the start of a marathon often masks how hard you’re working. You feel fresh, the atmosphere is exciting and the adrenaline is flowing; other runners may start fast as well and ‘set the pace’.
However, starting too fast burns your glycogen, dehydrates you and fatigues your muscles at a higher rate, resulting in burnout by the second half of the run. It’s better to start conservatively while your body is under less stress (and often while the weather conditions are more favourable). Start conservatively – you can always pick up the pace later. So when you’re actually starting to push, you have the energy to go all the way.