“Running a marathon? Easy!” said no one, ever. Whether it’s your first run or your twentieth, here’s what Ben Pulham, head coach of Under Armour Run Crew and founder of Coached, has to say to help you get your best run.
1. Start preparing early.
Marathons are incredibly taxing on the body. It’s important to condition yourself to handle the demands of the race – begin your training early so you can be progressive and build your training volume and intensity as time passes. Plenty of runners get injured because they do too much training too soon. Start early and build up slowly and consistently.
2. Find a coach or get a training plan.
Limit your risk of getting injured and maximise your chances for success by creating a plan and following it. A plan provides a progressive structure that you can follow; a coach provides valuable feedback and answers any questions you have as you progress towards race day. It’s also a good idea to join a training program like Under Armour Run Crew – visit TripleReady for similar events.
3. Use a heart rate monitor.
Heart rate can be used as a way to monitor intensity objectively and keep in touch with how your body responds to your training plan. I recommend all runners invest in a simple heart rate monitor and use it to determine how fast to go in each session. Read this to learn more about heart rate zones and how to use them.
4. Track your progress.
Many marathon runners try to improve by pushing harder to achieve a higher pace. This is a short-sighted approach; you’ll plateau quickly (you can’t push harder forever) and it puts a tremendous amount of stress on your body. Instead of pushing harder, aim to become more efficient and produce more (a higher pace) at the same effort.
To track fitness, track heart rate against pace. If HR is constant and pace is going up over a period of weeks, you are improving and your body is responding positively to the training you are doing.
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5. Eat real food.
Stop ingesting ‘food products’ and focus on eating real, nutritious foods. ‘Real foods’ include fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, nuts and seeds, eggs. Eating clean and healthy nourishes your body, keeps insulin and inflammation levels low and improves your ability to generate energy from fat.
6. Recovery is part of training.
Training doesn’t make you better, it breaks you down. The benefits from training come when you provide ample recovery and allow the body to recover and adapt to the training you are doing. Don’t be scared to back off when you are tired or during times of high stress. Sometimes, less is more. Read this to learn how you can harness technology and improve recovery in your sleep.
7. Enjoy the process.
It’s easy to get caught up in bettering your run times. Release attachment to your goal times and other external outcomes; focus on enjoying the process of running. When you release attachment to the outcome, you are more likely to do the right things in training and enjoy your running.
Article contributed by Ben Pulham, founder of Coached.