As we move forward from late summer into early fall, many runners move up from 5 & 10k-level training and racing to heavy-duty marathon training. For those now preparing to tackle the Whole Enchilada this fall, here are some thoughts and advice on the DOs and DON’Ts of marathon training that could help you avoid injury.
DO ramp up your mileage at a sensible rate. The basic rule of thumb I have always followed personally and believe in professionally is the,
10% per Week Limit If you are running 30 miles/wk presently, the most you should run next week is 33 miles, the week after 36-37 miles, then 40-42, etc.
DON’T increase at a greater rate if you want to avoid overtraining difficulties. And, DO back the mileage down every four weeks or so to give yourself a chance to recover and rebuild.
DON’T rely on the weekly “long run” to get you through the marathon.
DO plan on working your way up in both weekly and weekend mileage. The tenet here is the
1/3 rule Your long run should not be more than a third of your total weekly distance. In other words, if you are planning on running a 10 miler on Saturday or Sunday, you should have run at least 20 miles the other 5 or 6 days of that week, for a total of 30 miles for the week. A 15 miler would require 30 miles during the week, a 20 miler 40 miles, etc. The weekly base is just as important as your overall base to keep that long run from being too stressful on the body.
DON’T change horses in mid-stream. Same goes for your shoes.
DO replace worn shoes, but stay with the same brand and model that has served you well up to now.
DON’T be looking for that “magic bullet” you think is the answer to your prayers for a faster, less painful marathon. And – I shouldn’t even have to mention this –
DON’T try a new pair of shoes, of any kind, the day of the race or even within the week before.
DO concentrate on running as your primary form of training.
DON’T experiment with cross-training regimens, weight-lifting, crystal pyramid magnetic pilaticized meditation stretching, or heavy doses of baking soda (I had a friend who actually tried this once – the results weren’t pretty) unless you’re already used to this sort of thing. Gradually and intelligently building up your tolerance for running long distances will prepare you best to run the marathon, which in most jurisdictions is still quite a long distance.
Unless you have a specific time goal, and you are an experienced marathoner, DON’T experiment with aggressive speed (interval) training. Occasional “pick-ups” during normal runs are OK if done at a moderate pace; speedwork on the track, however, is more likely to cause injury than high mileage, so be judicious and cautious in your approach to this.
DO listen to your body, but at the same time, DON’T be overly paranoid about every little twinge or tweak of pain. Muscle soreness is to be expected to some degree with heavy training (especially the day or two after long runs), and is not an indication that you need to stop running. Sharp or deep, boring pain that comes on during a run and continues to increase is a different matter, however, especially if it causes you to limp or alter your normal gait pattern or running stride. In this case, you would be wise to take a day or two of rest, try again, and if it is still there, seek professional help before resuming your training.
DO have a great time preparing for your race, and have an even better time running the event! Good luck to all!