By Hayden Shearman // Every year 2.2 million people finish a marathon. This may sound a lot but compare it to the 5.3 billion adults on the planet and suddenly, as a marathon finisher, you’re part of a select 0.0004% of the human race who have dared tackle the 42.195km.
Running a marathon (and equally a half marathon) is an incredible life achievement.
It is something that, for most us, is out of the reach of everyday life: it takes training and preparation just to get the start line and then will require huge determination to push through to the finish. And even if you are reasonably comfortable with the distance, the challenge of improving your time is a new mountain all in itself.
So with the enormity of the journey you have embarked on front of mind, now is the time to acknowledge there is some groundwork to be done. And like any audacious Grand Designs-style building project, the task of putting together a great marathon performance starts with solid foundations.
I talked about three of these foundations last week (running consistently, recovering consistently, and running happy) but this week I want to get a bit more scientific and narrow in on exactly what physiological factors are going to get us to the finish line most effectively.
So here are the top two things you need to think about for a strong marathon performance foundation:
1) Aerobic Fitness
Aerobic simply means “with oxygen”, as opposed to anaerobic which means “without oxygen”. Typically, the longer an event is the more it relies on oxygen to keep you going and, therefore, the more aerobic it is.
So a 100m sprinter or a power lifter doesn’t need to worry as much about their aerobic fitness as you do over the next five months training for Rotorua. So how do you develop aerobic fitness?
Well, New Zealand’s own Arthur Lydiard was famous for the aerobic development of his champions of the 50s, 60s and 70s and he did this through plenty of easy-paced miles (sometimes over 200km per week!).
While you shouldn’t jump straight up to 200km, the next couple of months should focus on laying a good foundation of easy-paced, aerobic running. You know you’re in the aerobic zone when you can still hold a conversation—if you’re too out of breath to talk, slow down a little.
You can also improve aerobic fitness through cycling, swimming, walking and rowing.
R16 Action Point: Gradually increase the amount of easy-paced running you do and aim to make about 80% of your running at this pace.
In a marathon, you’ll land on each leg approximately 21,000 times. Try wiggling your little finger 21,000 times and you’ll get an idea of the risks from overuse injuries associated with marathon running.
So, as well as building aerobic fitness, now is also a great time to prepare your body for the mileage to come with exercises that strengthen your raw power and also exercises that improve your stability.
R16 Action Point: Increase raw power with exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges and improve stability with planks, single leg squats, side leg abductor lifts, and supermans. Here are some 7-min workouts you can do at home without equipment.
This is the second blog of a fortnightly series all about getting you trained up and raring to go for the 2016 Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon (or half or quarter).
Be sure to grab your race entry here and check out TempoFit’s TEAM R16 to be part of an incredible community of likeminded runners of all abilities who are all training towards the Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon 2016 (quarter, half and full distances).