Dec 06, 2007|
The Standard Chartered marathon is coming up this February. It might seem a little premature to mention it at the start of December, but actually, it’s far too late for couch potatoes whose new year resolution was to start training for it. Ideally, you need six months to train yourself up as it’s potentially lethal to run a marathon with no training or preparation whatsoever, according to Duncan MacFarlane of the Institute of Human Performance at University of Hong Kong. But fret not, Dr. MacFarlane and Professor Stanley Hui of the Department of Sports Science at Chinese University of Hong Kong have given us some tips for a crash course in marathon training.
The most important thing for a marathon runner to accomplish, according to MacFarlane, is getting “quality mileage.” Prepare your body for the long distance as well as the pounding on the road. Hui has a similar tip: “Make sure you train progressively and build up your stamina.”
Up interval trainings
Interval training is essential for competitive runners, but not so important for novices, MacFarlane tells us. Interval training 1-2 times a week will improve speed and muscle strength, which will help runners in the first and final stages of the marathon.
Using free weights and leg-press machines are perfect for resistance training if you do it 2-3 times a week. It’ll help tone your muscles and prepare your body for high muscle tension, explains MacFarlane. Try three sets of 10-15 reps. Running up a hill is also good for resistance training.
Power up with squats
Single-leg squats tone muscle while improving balance.
Listen to your body
The last thing you need during this crucial period is to get sick or injured. Sleep early and skip your training sessions for a day or two if necessary, Hui advises. Keep healthy by consuming plenty of antioxidants, glutamine and carbohydrates, which will boost your immunity and energy levels. Go for beans, raw spinach, blueberries and fat-free milk.
Frequent massages will keep your muscles from overstraining; this means faster recovery times and less chance of injury. Go for massages after intense training sessions because that is when your muscles are the most tense.
Though often overlooked by runners, the tapering phase is essential to running a marathon successfully. 2-3 weeks before the day of the race, gradually decrease the intensity and frequency of your training sessions. Studies show that immunity levels and muscle strength improve during tapering.
Run a mock mini-marathon
7-10 days before the marathon, amateur runners should run the full length of the marathon, but only once, insists Hui. Plan and obtain the shoes, clothing and snacks you will need on the day of the marathon. Always try your snacks well in advance, in case your body has trouble digesting them.
Taper some more
After your last long run, you should taper your workouts dramatically. Hui recommends mild callisthenic exercises to maintain muscle flexibility, but avoid strenuous activity.
Load up on carbs
During the final week before the marathon, increase your carbohydrate intake while decreasing your fat consumption. Begin carbo-loading three days ahead, Hui suggests, and try avoiding sugary and oily foods because they may stimulate bloating and discomfort.
This one speaks for itself.
Eat up and stay hydrated
The night before the marathon your meal should be high in carbohydrates such as pasta. Make sure to wash it down with plenty of fluids. Don’t go for new, unfamiliar foods that may result in digestive problems during the marathon.
The most important thing to remember is to tailor your trainings to suit your lifestyle and physical ability. “Running and training for a marathon is like baking a cake,” MacFarlane says. “There are 15 million ways to bake a cake, none of which are necessarily the best. You just have to find a method that works for you.”