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Marathon Training: Week 3

Make it a habit - the principles of training

Our man, Duncan Wright this week discovered that instead of taking the car, choosing to sometimes walk or jog for commuting ultimately saves time. It just takes a bit of planning. For example, driving to work on Monday with a five-day supply of clean shirts and undies, means he can leave the car at home and walk/jog Tuesday, Wed, and Thurs (along with his new headlamp of course).

After missing sessions last week, Duncan noticed how important it is to make training a regular “habit”. This week, he’s off to Sydney for 3 days, which previously could’ve easily blown the exercise “habit”. However, he’s excitedly packed his running shoes, (much easier than packing a bike or kayak if you’re a coast to coast athlete!), explaining to me all the options he has, like getting up early to use his jog/walk time to explore the city, or to use the hotel gym treadmill for something a bit different, ….or to totally think outside the square, and climb up and down the 32 storey hotel stair-well for some hill simulation!

The importance of rest days

Duncan also commented how, on the long Saturday session, his legs felt like jelly near the end; but found by Tuesday, they felt surprisingly strong again. You’ll see that the training schedule is planned with some strategically placed rest days. The training schedule is planned with the “overload principle” in mind.

The hard sessions in the weekend and mid-week, challenge the body a bit more than it’s used to. By allowing recovery time (typically 1, 2 or 3 days depending on how hard the hard session was) of easy training, the body responds something like this; “Whew! That was tougher than I’m used to, I’d better rebuild a bit stronger in case he does that to me again”. And he does do that again a few days later, plus a bit more. And so the fitness increases.

In between hard sessions, our bodies need sufficient recovery to adapt and become stronger. It’s tempting to think; “If a good, hard session gets me fitter, then surely more hard sessions are better”.

I personally recall my mistakes of trying to jam more hard sessions into a week when I’d gotten behind in my schedule due to work commitments or injury. It only made things worse.

Extrapolating this out, if we keep on doing hard session after session without enough recovery days in between, soreness and tired muscles cause slower performance. For the athlete who is blindly and doggedly driven, this often makes us think “Argh, my training is getting worse, I must need to put even MORE hard sessions into my schedule.” And so begins a downward spiral, into what we call the over-training syndrome. Often over-training is recognised first by the people around us, because we’ve become grumpy and irritable.

Rest days are for Recovery Sessions

Recovery sessions are usually something to look forward to, but it’s not sitting in front of telly with chocolate. Active recovery helps flush out the by-products of hard sessions, such as lactic acid. Recovery is lighter exercise such as a walk or very easy jog around the lake edge or in a forest, or some cross training such as an easy bike, or a swim session. In addition, recovery can be enhanced by things like, massage, yoga, getting a bit of extra sleep, eating really healthy and drinking a bit extra water. If you want to go a subtle, but powerful, step further, I also suggest that mental, spiritual and emotional growth will help recovery too. This can be as simple as meditation, being loving to those around you and spending time planning and evaluating life goals.

I’ll help Duncan explore and define his goals more clearly over the next two weeks, sharing some motivation research with you all. This will be an opportunity for those readers who’ve not yet joined Duncan in his training for the Queenstown marathon, to join us. It’s not too late.

Week three training schedule:

We’re slowly introducing more running.

For now, where-ever possible, run on trails and off-road, to avoid injury. We’ll introduce some road-running sessions later to get you “tarmacized” for the road bits.

Thursday 3rd July

Walk 10 mins, jog 10 mins, walk 10 mins. Fast walk on small hills

Friday 4th July

Rest day

Saturday 5 July

70 mins total, (walk 10 mins, jog 5mins)x 4. Finish with 10 mins walk. Easy effort, Flat trails.

Sunday 6 July

Walk 40 minutes. Medium pace but still able to have a conversation

Monday 7th July

Rest day (optional swim or bike or yoga or gym 30 mins)

Tuesday 8th July

Walk 10 mins, jog 20 mins, walk 10mins

Wednesday 9th July

Rest day (optional cross train eg swim, bike, yoga 30 mins)

Thursday 10th July

Fast walk 10 mins, jog 15 mins, walk 10 mins. Small hills.

Remember, take it easy the first 2 or 3 weeks. It’s OK to halve the duration if you’re feeling sore or tired.

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