If you have ever talked to anyone who has ran long distance or if you understand the basic powers of the Google you will have probably come across every assortment of training programme out there. There are as many ways to ready yourself for a marathon as there are to cook an egg (and yes that does include cooking an egg badly, breaking the egg before it even gets near the frying pan and ending up with one that’s gone off). It is enough to say that at the earliest opportunity you should come up with some sort of a training plan, whether it be a detailed day-by-day guide to what distance, speed and type of run you should do or a more general idea of who you’re meeting up with at the weekend to jog with.
No matter what programme you may end up with, there are basically three key ingredients to the types training you should include - short runs, long runs and tough runs.
Short runs: The salad in the sandwich of training, that everyone can do. These are the short runs that fit most neatly into a working week, where you get out and do anywhere from 5 to 15 k at a nice easy pace. They help build up the miles and get your legs and lungs accustomed to what’s to come.
· Nothing really important to remember for these except not to forget your house key, which is easily done.
Long runs: The bread and butter of marathon training. This is how every week you incrementally (fancy word for slowly) build up a long run from 8, 10, 12 all the way to 22 miles if you can. For first time runners, the longest run should come about a month before the marathon.
· Important to remember for long runs is that you should generally run these a good deal slower than what you would expect to run in a marathon; that you should never do long runs in a brand new pair of runners; having some refreshments lined up along the way for the longest distances is good; and the more company you have while running these the quicker they seem to go by. Of course having someone who is intent on explaining to you non-formal linear equations, technological developments in quick-drying concrete or Turkish torture techniques from the early 20th century for the entire run may have the opposite effect.
Tough runs: The meat in the sandwich (or tofu for our vegetarian marathon running friends). These runs generally last less than an hour but are often the hardest sessions. Tough runs add pace to your overall run, helping you take minutes off last year’s time. There are many types of tough run you can do and you will know them by the following:
· You come across a lot more sweat/spit/phlegm and all the stuff that will derail any first date.
· You find yourself cursing towards the end of it, either in general, at yourself to keep yourself motivated or at your soul-mate because it was their idea to do the tough run in the first place. (Don’t mind the latter, they will understand).
· You will deeply appreciate the company of a club doing it because on your own it can be hellish.
Other runs that you may come across over the course of your marathon training, which may have no or little relation to it:
· Dawn runs – Nice morning runs, which mean you have the whole day in front of you, not to be mixed up with the legendary Irish thoroughbred race-horse from the 1980’s.
· Home runs – More likely in baseball but may metaphorically end up in your marathon training when everything works out.
· School runs – Occasional reasons why you might have to cut that long run short when you realise you have forgotten it’s your turn to pick up the kids.
· The runs – Can happen at the end of a long period of training when feeling run down and slightly ill. Not good.
Today’s run – Tough Run - Hill Session 8 x 150 metre runs sandwiched by slow 10-20 minute run either side.
Of course I forgot if it was 8 or 6 x 150. With the nearby hill up a cul de sac is closer to 200 I decided that 6 was a safe bet and any extra energy I could use later on core work. It worked out because I arrived home just as some friends arrived for Sunday lunch. Glad it was my turn cooking yesterday.