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Marathon Training: Week 17

Stretch yourself

You’ll recall in week 8 I introduced stretches for the calf muscles, (Gastrocnemius and the Soleus)

It’s long overdue time to introduce some more stretches for other major muscle groups.

Whilst research waxes and wanes on whether to stretch or not, the majority of research, and my personal opinion shows that stretching is useful for marathon runners to prevent injury from the extended repetitive use of muscles. You might also consider Yoga as an excellent balanced stretching with a focus on long-term health.

Stretch after your workout

My experience shows that it’s really important and much more efficient to stretch warm muscles, ideally immediately after your session. Hold stretches for 20 to 30 seconds, but don’t go into the pain zone with your stretching, just until you feel a healthy stretch. If, like me, you find stretching boring, then just do one of each stretch of the muscles that you find are tired or tight after your session. A little stretching for just a couple of minutes is better then none, and it also gives you a bit of feedback on any potential problems. If particular muscles are constantly tight and sore, it’s good pre-warning of a potential injury, and reminder to give those muscles some TLC (from yourself or a massage therapist). Prevention is infinitely better then cure!


In this standard Quadriceps stretch, note that Jane has her knees together, pointing straight to the ground, parallel (not out to the side).

She is using the opposite hand which encourages parallel knees.

She’s standing very tall and straight as if a ribbon is lifting her head to the sky (not slouching).

If she were looking in a mirror she’d see that her hips are level.

Keep your core and abs strong and tight to keep the pelvis tilted up and bum tucked under.


Downward-facing Dog (a yoga pose) is good for hamstring stretches. (Hamstrings and quadriceps are agonist/antagonist muscle pairing.) Feet and hands are hip-width apart, and the idea is to relax your shoulders to move your nipples toward your toes and raise your bum up to the sky as high as possible. Gently allow your heels to gravitate toward the floor. You’ll feel a lovely, healthy stretch right up the back of your legs and knees.

ITB and Glutes

Transition from Downward-facing Dog to One-legged Pigeon pose to stretch gluteals and hips, which in turn help to release the tension in the illio-tibial (IT) band. You’ll want to feel the stretch in the big powerful gluteal (bum) muscle. IT band syndrome is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The IT band extends from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running, as it moves from behind the femur to the front of the femur during activity.

Hip flexor

We want to stretch these muscles to allow a long stride during the toe-off phase of running. You’ll feel a stretch in the front of your groin on the side with the leg back. Holding torso upright with abs and core strong drop your crotch toward the ground. Make sure front knee is directly above your front ankle (knee at 90 degrees).

Raising your arm and leaning as Duncan is in the picture will increase the stretch.

Week seventeen training schedule:

This week is designed to be your hardest yet. Next week will be an easy recovery week, so give it an honest nudge this week.

Thursday 9th Oct

Warm-up jog; 15 minutes

Intervals x 5 of the following.

3 mins hard; pace, unable to converse. Ideally up a hill

3 mins easy jog or walk, recovery; could be back down the hill to start again.

Warm-down jog; 15 minutes

Friday 10th Oct

Well earned REST DAY.

Treat yourself to a recovery sports massage, especially concentration on tired / tender muscles.

Saturday 11th Oct

3 hrs, 30mins long, easy endurance run / jog.

Start at 8 am.

Eat breakfast 2 hours prior.

Pace yourself to jog or run the entire time, (no walking) to show yourself the discipline for race day.

Soft trails such as dirt, gravel, grass etc to avoid injury.

Stretch straight after, and ideally get a massage to aid recovery.

Sunday 12th Oct

Easy walk or hike, eg with friends or family. 60 to 90 mins. Make it scenic and fun.

Important to make it easy, to help recovery from yesterday’s long session. Alternatively, an easy bike ride or swim.

Monday 13th Oct

Warm-up jog; 15 minutes

Intervals x 5 of the following.

3 mins hard; pace, unable to converse. Ideally up a hill

3 mins easy jog or walk, recovery; could be back down the hill to start again.

Warm-down jog; 15 minutes

Tuesday 14th Oct

Warm-up 10 mins brisk walk or easy jog.

Time Trial #14. Aim to beat last week’s time. Do this in the morning if possible.

Warm-down 10 mins walking. Record your time.

Wednesday 15th Oct

Steve’s Strength and conditioning clinic:

5:30pm sharp! til 6:30 pm Meet 5:25pm at the Tennis courts on the grassy banks Lake Avenue, Frankton, Queenstown.

Alternative: 60 mins, easy pace jogging with fartlek = speed play.. with 4 x 5 mins effort (fast run) in the middle. Undulating small hills.

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