RUNNING STRONG

How to train for the Houston Marathon without putting in the extra mileage

There are a lot of ways to train for a marathon. Getty Images

Have you ever thought about running a marathon, but don’t want to strain your legs from the extra mileage of training? Or have you trained for a marathon and would love to do it again, but without the daily slog of training and pain? Welll.. there is actually a way to save your knees. Through various cross training workouts paired with of course some running. As a runner, I know the strain your knees can take from running. I suffered from patella tendinitis throughout my college career while running cross country and track. I was a Division I, 800-meter runner and despised running cross country, but was forced to. I hated the training because it killed my knees. But I learned a few very good lessons that I will forever help preach to save knees around the world.  

With cross trainings, paired with running and different types of workouts, you can run that marathon you wished to train for again. For some of those training for the Houston Marathon, January 20th 2019, you’re already a few months into your training, then well you’re in the midst of the hard part. The last 2-2.5 months will become the hardest part of training before you start to taper down. If you’re training for the marathon in January, this November and December will be the most important to save your knees.

Everyone’s training plans will be different. Most will increase mileage weekly by about 10% of your baseline to your peak. Your baseline is going to be your average weekly mileage before you started training. But if you’re running the Houston Marathon, at this point you are probably past the first few months of building your mileage. This is where I would suggest throwing in some cross training 1-2 times a week and cutting down running to 2-3 times a week also. Find an even balance for yourself. Or even with your “cross trainings/running” workouts taking place of a running workout.

This would be substituted with sprints, tempo runs, fartlek training, backwards running. Each of these workouts have specific goals: improving aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, running speed. Be sure to change your terrains on these runs, especially the long runs. These trainings all help alleviate mileage. On none running days you can also be sure to add in a mix of swim, bike, lifting weights, agility, etc. Lifting weights can make you stronger, and the other cross trainings can work your muscles and lungs to become more powerful.

While you start to build up your mileage, and only being two months away at this point, you should never pass running 45 miles. I’ve PR-ed on my full marathon when running between 35-40 miles a week peaking at 45. Through some research, it shows statistically anyone training above 45 miles a week can burnout, overtrain, and could possibly get injured. Along your cross-training workouts be sure to incorporate are short high intensity bursts of cardio into weight lifting for one hour. Run three times a week and no more. On one of your cross-training days if you take a few cardio exercises from below, and push through for one minute, then incorporate some other weight exercises (below), for 10-12 reps. Repeating this whole circuit 3-4 times, should get your heart rate pumping and endorphins running.

Burpees, jumping Squats, jump rope, plank, Bicep Curls, Jumping Jacks, Mountain Climbers, Static Lunges, push-ups, etc. All of these will get your heart rate pumping, then you can do some push-ups, free standing squats, sit-ups, tri-cep and bicep curls, etc.

It is just as critical to recover as it is to train. So as part of the training process remember to rest, recover, stretch, and roll out! Please remember to roll out on a foam roller, for as least 30-45 minutes. Static stretches are super important like pigeon pose, especially after running. If you’re hamstring or lower back is really bothering you, be sure to grab a lacrosse ball and dig deep into those areas with it. Again, I will reiterate it is just as important to rest with off days, yoga days, stretch days, you name it. This is another common mistake most runners make, and do not see that they are only burning themselves out without proper rest.

Another common mistake is trying to make up for lost time on mileage. Everyone gets busy, slammed at work, gets sick, or maybe even the most non-ideal scenario, an injury. But hey, life happens. So when this does, just pick up right back where you left off. Do not try to double your workouts to try to make up. Three weeks leading up to your big race you should start to taper down on mileage. A common program builds for 13-16 weeks, with the second 20-mile-long run coming at the end of the 13th week. Then you can start to taper off, from 15 to 10 during weeks 14-15. The sprints and temp runs would taper down as well, with a final 8-mile tempo run at marathon goal pace, just about a week to 10 days before the marathon.

One thing to keep in mind before you get off to start your training or continue your training, don’t make a common mistake most runners do. When you train, do not race your training by going all out and exhausting yourself. If you cannot hold a conversation, or your heart is over 140 beats per min, or you regularly need to stop, you probably need to take it a notch down and slow the pace. Even though you may seem you are not training hard enough, it is imperative to slow down to a good pace, so you do not burn out. And with the help of this article …. hopefully you will be far from burning out as you train towards your next marathon! Good Luck!

 

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