It’s less than 50 days to go till race day. And, keeping in mind that it takes about 21 days for our bodies to properly adapt to new training, we only have four weeks of solid marathon prep ahead of us for the Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon.
So it’s officially crunch time! And time especially to nail those long runs.
Nail the Long Runs
In the 50 days leading up to a marathon you have time for about 4-5 key long runs (with some weekends out due to tapering ahead of the race and also for recovery weeks). In a perfect world we’d have four of these long runs up over the 30k mark. But not everyone will be at this level quite yet and for some people 28k might be the absolute max you will do in training.
So, here are some guidelines for nailing these key remaining long runs:
- Obey the 10 Per Cent Rule: Even though the marathon is fast approaching, you’ll still want to keep to the rule of only increasing your longest run by 10% each week. Otherwise you risk injury and risk not making it to the start line altogether. Better to be slightly undertrained than overtrained and injured.
- Aim for 35k: The purpose of these long runs is to get your body, mind, heart and lungs used to being out on your feet for very long periods of time. By reaching a peak of running 35k in training (perhaps 4 weeks out from the race) you’ll be very confident of jumping up to 42k in the adrenalin-filled, crowd-supported environment of race day. But this comes with a massive BUT …
- But Cap it at 3-Hours 30-Minutes: These long training runs have a definite point of diminishing returns. Beyond this point, the training benefits start to get massively out-weighed by the risk of injury and general fatigue on body, mind and even soul (seriously!!!). So, as a general rule, if your longest run reaches 3.5 hours, your body will have had a really good idea of what to expect on race day, even if you’ve only covered about 26k in that longest training run. If you want to add more distance to this workout, just hop on a bike or in the pool in order to complete another hour or so of exercise in a non-impact environment.
Practice Everything … and, I mean, EVERYTHING
The other thing I have all my runners do at this stage in the race build up is to simulate race day as much as humanly possible.
Do your longest runs at the exact same time of day as the race, wear the same clothes (right down to undies and socks!), wear the same watch and shoes and lubricant and nipple plasters (!!!), eat the same breakfast, and consume the same gels (or other carb source) and fluids as you will on race day.
Don’t leave anything up to chance. Have your race kit and race day timetable tried and tested weeks before race day.
Learn from the Mistakes and Victories of Others
Finally, I put a request out on Facebook for tips from previous Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon finishers. And here’s what they recommend you keep in mind:
“Rotorua was my first marathon. You’ve already written about the hills on your blog. The other two things I would note for newbies are (1) being aware of the effect excitement has as you stand on the start line of a marathon with a big crowd. It can make people accidentally throw their race plans out the window if they are not careful. And (2) the long straights stretching into the distance over the last ten kms can be harder than the hills in the middle of the course because there is nothing to break them up. So be aware that once the hills are done the job is only just beginning.
“My main training tip for newbies is to push the last 3-5 km of their long runs a bit harder/faster than usual to replicate what the last kms of a marathon feel like.
“I ran Rotorua two weeks after mountain champs so I didn’t need to do any specific hill training. I reckon anyone in Wellington who is not running just on the waterfront or a treadmill would automatically be getting enough hills. Some other towns may want to specially search out a few hills though. Not just one hill—get used to going up coming down and going up again. I figure try to average roughly 1.5 – 2% elevation for each KM. E.g. if you run 100kms a week aim to include 1500-2000m elevation within that 100km. Need not be specific workouts though, just part of normal runs.”
“I agree with Steve, the big hills in the middle are over quite fast, so, as long as you don’t kill the downhill, your legs should come out okay. But make sure you have enough for the steady climb when you first turn onto SH33. Once you hit the airport it is 10km to go so this is really when you should start to push it if you still feel good.
[Any tips for not killing the downhill?] “Trail runners are really good at downhills, they told me just to focus on looking after your body and the pace will actually still be fairly fast.”
“Best advice I was given … 10k still to go from the airport. It seems you are close to home but you are not!”
“When I did Rotorua a few years back I knew straight away that my longest runs weren’t long enough. I reckon once per month you need to run for a very very long time. Japanese style almost. Just get the body and mind used to being in the hurt box and still asking the neurons to fire the muscles along.”
[Note: Use my points above for knowing what those very very long runs should be like.]
“I only ever did one marathon, when I was 38. Only trained three times per week to prevent injury for a fatty. Did a long run in the weekend at least two and a half hours, along with an hour of hills another day and a shorter faster run on the third day. Planned to run 3.30 and was 2 minutes late. Loved it but seems along time ago.”
Want to know all about the hills on the marathon course? I’ve detailed every single one of them here.
This is the eighth 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).