R16 Blog: Are you ready to take on the lake?

By Hayden Shearman // The Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon is ONLY ONE MONTH away, people. Which means it’s time to get race ready: learn your race pace, sharpen your speed, conquer your fear of hills and add that final touch of mileage.



The final month of a marathon build is half taken up with the taper and half taken up with probably the biggest block of training in your entire marathon build up. So here are the key boxes you’ll want to tick during this final big block of training over the next 2-3 weeks:

The Final Touch of Mileage

I usually do my longest run about three weeks out from marathon day. This allows time for your body to recover from this big run and means that there isn’t too much of a gap in which you could start to doubt about completing the marathon distance.

As I mentioned last blog, this longest run will usually be about 35k or 3.5 hours (whatever is shorter). But I will also flesh that out with some good mileage during the week. You’ll still want to keep to the 10 per cent rule (only adding another 10 per cent of total mileage each week).

Conquer Your Fear of Hills

A few weeks ago I described all of the hills on the Rotorua Marathon course. There’s nothing that will kill you in there, but it’s the combo of distance plus hills right at that time when you’re starting to fatigue that is the nasty side of this picturesque lake.

To combat this, I recommend including some hills in the middle and back half of your long runs (just cruise them at a conversational intensity). But I would also do a couple of sessions over the next three weeks where you run harder uphill, such as:

  • marathon-paced efforts during your easier runs;
  • uphill strides to end easy runs (bursts of 10-30secs at a fast, but controlled speed);
  • fartlek sessions over undulating terrain (e.g. 6x3mins at about 10k race intensity with 2min recovery jogs);
  • hill reps (e.g. 6x1min or 4x2min at 10k race intensity uphill).

A couple of these sessions where you focus on good technique (pumping the arms, quick cadence, standing up tall) will give you the confidence that you can cruise over the hills in the back half of the marathon (remember, the Rotorua half marathon is mostly flat).

Sharpen Your Speed

As you go through the month of April, your focus will gradually shift from mileage and quantity to speed and quality. You will want to bring about this transition by including some of the hill workouts above and/or some mild sessions of strides or tempo runs on the flat. Then transition into doing a couple of key workouts in the three workouts leading up to race day. Here are some of my favourites:

  • 40-min Tempo Run: Run for 40-mins at a pace you could hold for one hour max (somewhere around 10k to half marathon race pace). This is often called your lactate threshold and is a great pace for teaching your body to flush out fatigue while on the go.
  • Progression Run: Start with 15mins at half marathon pace, 10mins at 10k race pace, and finally 5mins at 5k race pace. This teaches you to backend the effort of your run and also reminds your body that you’re not just a long, slow distance diesel engine—there’s a Ferrari in there!
  • 6x10sec Strides: Great to do at the end of an easy run, these fast, controlled runs leave you feeling full of speed and energy. A perfect start to a busy day at work!

Learn Your Race Pace

Hopefully, by now, you will have done a race over a shorter distance (e.g. a 5k, 10k or half marathon) that gives you a gauge of your current fitness. Use the finish time of this race to estimate your equivalent finish time in the marathon.

Online calculators like this one provide very good estimates, but for first time marathoners can often over-estimate how fast you will go (so I will usually add 2 per cent to the estimate for newbies).

You will want to start including gradually increasing bouts of running at this speed in your runs and especially in the second half of your long runs. I typically start with 3k at marathon pace in the middle of a shorter, easy run and then 2x 3k in a long run, and eventually work my way up to about 2x 8k in a long run (this workout two weeks out from race day is gold and gives you a great gauge of how achievable this pace is).

Aside from letting your body adapt to this pace, one of the main reasons I do this race pace work is to create the muscle memory necessary for slotting straight into race pace on the day. When the adrenalin is pumping and you are tapered and fully trained it is VERY easy to rush out at the start of a marathon and burn way too many matches in the first 5k of the race.

Instead, if you are accustomed to your race pace, your body hillock straight into it far faster than any GPS watch could ever tell you.

Keep up the great work team. Drop back in two week’s time when I’ll be chatting more specifically about the taper.

Happy running.

This is the ninth 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).

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