Life Fitness

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Marathon training: short sessions best in the long run

Catherina McKiernan:

Published 18/08/2014 | 00:00

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Make sure you are adequately prepared for running a marathon

Recently a physiotherapist attending my ChiRunning workshop told me his clinic was extremely busy from people requiring treatment for running-related injuries.

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More and more people are out running. In a way I think as a nation we have gone from one extreme to another with a lot of people becoming totally obsessed with exercising. In my opinion, some are doing themselves more harm than good.

Research has shown that running 30 minutes three or four days a week is enough to help you lose or maintain weight, improve cholesterol and blood pressure and keep fit and healthy.

I ran four marathons and from my experience I would not be a fan of the distance. I ran three fast marathons in the space of 14 months. I was at the height of my career, young and full of energy and enthusiasm. Looking back this wasn't a sensible thing to do, and all the long miles and hard training caught up with me.

There are many other ways to enjoy running without having to put your body through a gruelling 26 miles, but I know many people have their sights set on running the Dublin marathon at the end of October.

If you think you are up to the task of running a marathon, you will need to take certain steps and it's not a decision that you should take lightly. Give yourself plenty of time to endure the highs and lows and everything in between as you go about your training.

You don't want to run every day, instead run every other day and fill in the gaps with rest days and cross training. Choose exercises that make you move in different ways than running to give your joints a rest and build strength. Cycling or swimming allows you exercise aerobically without the added impact.

Increase your weekly mileage by just 10pc per week. Take recovery weeks as well as recover days. The long run is the most essential component of the training schedule. Long runs train the heart to endure the distance, teach the body to burn fat as fuel and trains you how best to pace yourself.

There are several schools of thought on the long run. Some believe that a maximum long run of 20 miles will carry you through the full distance. Others believe you should run the full distance in training. When I was doing marathon training my longest training run was 22 miles and I knew on race day I would be able to run the last four miles.

The very best to all of you who are running the Dublin marathon and be kind to yourself. Your body needs plenty of sleep and good nutrition in order to recover properly.

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