PEP TALK TIME! Let’s get that training plan right.
When it comes to training for half marathons or full marathons, I truly believe in having an even ratio of speed work, distance running, and cross training. Making the body stronger and more powerful is going to make you a better and healthier runner.
Let’s talk about what a “rest day” is. I was the former runner who was addicted to running, which made me lose the quality of my running. I used to rack up the mileage and I was obsessed with hitting a number of miles each week. Needless to say, I burned out, and ultimately, was injured.
Think quality over quantity. Don’t drive the car until it’s a beater! REST day means REST! Your body needs time to recover.
Okay, but what I really like to call these days are “active rest/recovery days.” An active rest day means that you still do something light, such as stretching, or a light walk, but light enough to allow the body to have time to repair muscles, and prime your metabolic pathways.
When you workout, essentially you are breaking your muscle fibers down. Now, these muscles need the appropriate amount of time to rebuild in order to create a stronger muscle. If the fibers never have time to repair, because you are constantly beating them down, how are they going to get stronger?? This is also why protein is important post-workout. Your muscles automatically begin the process of rebuilding after post-workout. So the protein serves as an aid, or a catalyst, to help in the body’s existing repair mechanisms.
Difference between speed workouts, distance runs, cross training:
When I used to train, I would go “out for a run;” and I would run whatever mileage I had and then that was it. 😦 Old me became very complacent and I was actually not only not improving, but having more and more “bad runs.” The kind where you’re 400 meters into a 6 mile run and want to die.
Now, I more so focus on the quality of my runs, my speed work, and how efficient I am at using my body’s engine and muscles. The body is a beautiful thing. We can condition and train it to do anything. When I run now, I know how to pull back on my pace when I go out too fast, speed up at the appropriate times during distance runs, and I know what “60% effort” feels like. This takes training!
Speed workouts, meaning interval workouts (track workouts) are my jam! I spend a lot of time doing speed work. And at first, it freaked me out that some workouts were only 2-4 miles. But what I didn’t see was that I was really playing with my body’s engine. I was priming it like I was a race horse. I’m talking 800 meter repeats, hill sprints, and 200 meter sprints. Bringing your body to that max speed is going to make you an all-around more powerful runner becuase your body can handle a high threshold of strength and mental dedication. And being a more powerful runner makes you a better distance runner.
Quality over Quantity.
Cross training. It’s so important to incorporate a strength training regiment into your existing marathon training. When you are on mile 21 and you hit that wall, your body is going to respond better if you have some strength to compensate your fatigue with!
You have to scale down the mileage and have a more comprehensive approach to this 12 weeks. That means you have to switch up the elevation, the intensity, and the speed. According to Runner’s World, “Multiple studies show that regular strength training can improve running economy-how efficiently the body uses oxygen-by as much as eight percent, translating into greater speed and more muscle endurance.”
Adding a lifting or strength training cycle to an existing running regiment will make you a better runner. This type of cross training makes you more powerful and more efficient. It will also decrease the amount of time spent running, limiting the risk of injury.
I like that he says using “pain and soreness as your guide.” This is true for running and lifting. When you work out, essentially, you are breaking down your muscles. So the rest days allow for your muscles to have time to recover in order to rebuild; making you a stronger athlete. If you don’t have this recovery time, you will never get stronger. This is why lifting cycles, and 1 rep max percentages are imperative to know and understand.
For example, shin splints come from putting to much pressure on your tibia bone. Although, the reason you are getting shin splints isn’t necessarily because you run too much, its because the muscles around your bone aren’t strong enough to withstand the pressure put on your tibia.
Bones grow stronger in response to muscles growing stronger. It goes hand in hand.
According to Runner’s World, “if you are a serious runner and would like to run faster or farther you need greater strength endurance—especially of the hip flexor muscles—to be able to drive the thigh forward the same way and through the same range of motion (ROM) on each stride in order to maintain your speed. From analyzing hundreds of runners from the 1500 meters and longer, the number-one reason for slowing down is the inability to continually drive the thigh forward through the same ROM.”
Improving range of motion through hip joint flexion, hip joint extension, and ankle mobility exercises will make your runs smoother and effortless.
If you want to get faster, you need to start doing joint-specific strength exercises or lifts that use the same neuromuscular pathways as running. Incorporating a strength conditioning program into your existing running regiment that duplicates the neuromuscular usage of the aerobic and anaerobic pathways is how you become a better, more efficient athlete.
Start Doing: Cleans, back squats, deadlifts, and snatches.