Like everyone else, I have been glued to the TV this past week waiting for updates on the horrific situation in Boston. At the time of the bombings I kept thinking that there was something about targeting a marathon that made the situation even worse. I couldn’t put it into words. Bonnie D. Ford from ESPN.com wrote an excellent piece that gets at what I was feeling in my gut, and is a great piece of writing:
Remember racing as a kid? There weren’t crowds and bands and refreshments and numbers and expos. There was you, your buddy, and the light pole down the street — first one to touch it wins.
Now, thanks to the magic of GPS and smartphones, you can have that same kind of fun with your running.
Like a lot of other websites, Strava lets you track your run with your phone and upload the data to their site. But Strava also keeps leader boards for each route and sets up challenges.
Find out who the fastest around the pond at Piedmont is. Create your own route and be king of the neighborhood hill — until someone else finds your route and comes to challenge you.
It’s a great resource to keep your runs exciting, and to find new routes to tackle.
Today we’re going to talk about the most basic rule of distance running: train long to run long.
Whenever you’re running a long race (anything longer than you run on a regular basis), your first goal should be to get used to the distance. Even if your goal is a new PR, you can’t focus on getting faster if you’re not comfortable with the distance.
So how long do you have to go? And how often do you have to do it?
If you’re training for your first half-marathon and your goal is simply to finish the race feeling good, I recommend at least two runs at 10 miles or longer. Ideally one of those would be 11-12 miles. That still leaves the last mile or two of the race as “uncharted territory” but it minimizes the risk of something going really wrong.
If you’re shooting for a specific time goal, the number of “long” runs will depend on your weekly mileage. If you’re running over 50 miles a week, you should be running a 10+ mile run once a week, and can most likely include three runs of 13 miles (or more) leading up to the race. If you’re running less than 50 miles a week, you can still include two to four runs over 12 miles in your training plan.
That familiarity with the distance will help you both mentally and physically on race day.
I’ve had a copy of RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald sitting on my bookshelf for over a year. I don’t know why I didn’t get around to reading it sooner, but I finally picked it up a couple weeks ago and after the first chapter I was wishing I had read it sooner.
As the title suggests, RUN focus on the mental side of running. But instead of just listing the usual visualization exercises, etc. it tries to marry the mental and the physical sides of training — using the mental side of training to dictate training instead of the other way around.
A lot of what I read seemed like common sense — so simple, in fact, that it was stuff that I had forgotten it. A couple main points really stand out that are easy to incorporate into your own running:
- Do the training that gives you the most confidence in your ability to race well. By focusing on those workouts, you make the point of training to improve your confidence in your racing ability. Then, when you step to the line your mind and body are ready to tackle the challenge ahead.
- Do the training that you enjoy and have fun with it; it will keep you motivated to train more! Of course you will occasionally have to do workouts that you don’t enjoy, but if you do more of the training that you enjoy and less of training that an article or a training program tells you you have to do, you’ll have more fun and ultimately train more.
As I said, it seems simple, but it also makes a lot of sense to me.
Every idea that he presents (including existentialism and running, which was awesome) is easy to read through and backed up with published studies to defend his position. So even if I didn’t agree with everything he said, it gave me a lot to think about. I definitely recommend checking it out and seeing what ideas you can incorporate into your own running.
How much water do you need for your long run? How many gels, gu’s, chews, or jellybeans?
Those are some of the toughest questions to answer when you’re training for a marathon or half-marathon — but knowing the right answer can make a big difference in how you feel and how you recover.
The Portman Calculator takes the guesswork out of planning for your next long run. By taking into account your intensity and duration, it gives you a good guide of what you need to take in during your exercise.
It’s a great way to make sure you’re getting the most out of all the hard work you’re putting in!