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!

 

And now, Houston's best 5K and 10K races.

Houston's best bucket list races within 30 miles

Photo via: Pixabay.com

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

I published my list of world's best bucket list races. Last week, I wrote about the best races in the US. There is one last list to complete this series: The best races in Houston. They are not only easier because they are local, but they are 5K and 10K races. These races are great starter races. They are also the best because they have great giveaways. So get your pens out and started planning your races.

Hot Undies Run

June 22, 2019

Our awesome party-loving friends at FFP (Fun, Fitness, and Philanthropy) have built this event up to what it is today. A lot of beer-loving, underwear clad Houstonians running for a cause. The Hot Undies Run is a 2 mile pub crawl that takes place every year in Rice Village.

The cause, this year, is for Girls on the Run, a non-profit that empowers young girls through the sport of running. This run has raised $80,000 in donations to date. Community partners Buffalo Bayou Brewing keep this party going with their local brew. Just to let you know how live this party gets. You can hear tales of runners chugging beer from one participant's prosthetic limb.

9/11 Heroes Run

September 7, 2019

The 9/11 Heroes Run is for runners, walkers, and ruckers who want to show appreciation and support for the fallen soldiers and first responders of September 11. This event takes place at City Hall. It is put on by the Travis Manion Foundation. This race is held all over the world and proceeds go to help veterans and their families thrive.

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what a rucker is. It is a participant who dresses up in full soldier and fireman gear to complete the race.

Photo via: Pixabay.com

Run Houston! Clear Lake

September 22, 2019

So, I'm going to be honest. Run Houston! Race Series was not really an original choice for me. Fred gave me this idea. If you remember, he wrote an article last year on his virtual race in San Fransisco. I got to see his medal and it was a beaut. Coming up on September, 22, you can run a 5K or 10K race on the University of Houston Campus. This is Race #4 in the 5 Race Series. Other locations include Sugarland, Sam Houston Park, Minute Maid Park, and Clear Lake. Don't let Fred be the only one to collect all 5!

Hot Chocolate Run

February 1, 2020

This race starts from Hermann Square and is for the biggest chocolate aficionados. Hot Chocolate Run is a 5K or 10K race. You get exercise and at the end each runner gets an awesome medal decorated like chocolate as well as a fondue tray with a banana, rice crispy treats and other dippables. That sounds all cool, but I think the best thing is instead of a t-shirt, you get this awesome hoodie! I'm running it for the hoodie.

Bayou City Classic

March 14, 2020

This is my favorite 5k and 10K race. It takes place at City Hall every St. Patty's Day Weekend. This is the oldest 10K race in Houston and benefits Houston Parks Department. Things that you can expect to see are music at every corner. Bagpipes. The Blues Brothers, and Gypsy Dancers.

The costumes. Oh the costumes. One year, there was a centipede dressed as a St. Arnold's Beer six pack. There were 2 girls dressed as the 80's. And the cutest kids ever. I can't go on enough about this race. The last thing, you get the most giveaways at the Bayou City Classic. Usually, there are a couple protein bars, but when you leave, you bag is filled to the brim with goodies. All this makes the Bayou City Classic my pick for first time 5K's.

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