Running certainly is not for everyone, but one thing is for sure – if you want to be lean and fit, then long distance running will certainly help you achieve these goals. All marathon runners carry very little fat, and the pace at which the top runners race at is pretty intensive over a 2 hour period.
If you feel that marathon running is only for the professional and most dedicated runners, remember that every year thousands of people enter marathons each year to raise money for charity and to challenge themselves. In fact, London Marathon is actually to worlds largest charity fund raising event, with all the major charities and many smaller ones being represented by the “fun runners”.
We have already talked at length about the health benefits of running. It really is one of the best ways to get fit and improve your long term health.
Paula Radcliffe’s Marathon Training Tips
Paula Radcliffe was the best female marathon runner in the world (at the time of writing). She recently shared some of her training tips with Patrick Barkham from the Guardian. If you are planning to run a marathon next year, or are just making a new year resolution to do more exercise, then these tips may help you.
For added motivation, remember that Paula is now in her mid thirties and is a mother, and has no tummy fat on her. Running can be a great way to lose weight (although we actually recommend a combination of intensive interval training and weight training). Remember though that Paula is a seasoned pro, so her training routine is not one that can be adopted by a novice runner.
Paula Radcliffe’s Running Advice
Paula Radcliffe’s first marathon training tip is that if training for a marathon, you do not need to run every day. In fact, as you should be training for longer distances, daily running can lead to overtraining problems, such as muscle fatigue and injury. Also, after a long run, take a proper rest. Paula Radcliffe takes two weeks holiday after each marathon. That is two weeks with no running at all.
Paula Radcliffe prefers to break her running down into shorter runs. She runs either five 2km runs, or six one mile runs, on any particular training day. This is to ensure that she is always training to run at her marathon pace. She then does an additional long run each week. As training progresses, and the marathon is getting closer, she starts to extend the long run up to 10 miles.
Of course, this type of running requires time and planning which the average amateur runner does not have! But many amateur runners to break their running up into 2 or 3 runs a day, usually an early morning run before work, a lunch time loosener, then a longer run after work.
Paula Radcliffe’s Compression Socks
Paula Radcliffe recommends knee length compression socks (similar to flight socks) to aid circulation. In her case they help to reduce stiffness in the calves. These are becoming more popular in athletics, with many track and field athletes wearing compression socks, especially women high jumpers.
Training for a marathon is very mentally demanding. The training itself is often a greater challenge than the race. However, when training it is vital to learn from these challenges, as they will help you cope when you hit “the wall” during a marathon. If you can overcome it in training, you should be able to overcome it in a race.
If you do feel pain and are hitting that wall, then learn to distract your mind from the pain. Paula’s advice is to count to 100 three times. Usually by the time you have finished the last 100 count, the pain has subsided.
Paula’s Best Tip for Marathon Training Success
Paula’s best tip for marathon training success is that you have to enjoy running a lot. If you love to run, then you will always find the motivation and will to succeed. For her running is a way to cope with stresses and worries of everyday life. For Paula running is in her words, more of an addiction than a job. She does not need to run everyday, just 7 days in every 8!
If you follow this plan of running mostly shorter runs at your race pace, and run every other day, then you will see great improvements. Before finalizing your running schedule read up on some more marathon training advice.
Other Long Distance Running Tips
Long distance runners in a way have an advantage over other athletes. They can be totally focused on one part of training – running. They do not need to supplement the core training with weight training or plyometrics to build strength and power. Running improves running more than anything else. Also it is important to keep your weight down (remember from high school, work=mass x distance) and this means keeping both fat and muscle to a minimum. Carrying bulky muscles will only slow you down in long distance running.
In addition to keeping an eye on fat and muscle, you should ensure that you eat a well balanced diet, with larger than normal amounts of carbohydrates. Carb loading may be a myth for many sports, but for long distance running, keeping glycogen levels high for as long as possible is essential to ward of cramp.
For Paula Radcliffe marathon training is both a job and a way of life, and she loves her life! You can catch up with Paula on her website, PaulaRadcliffe.com.