Training for the Big Run
Follow these 10 tips to make your next run your best and your farthest.
Step 5. Train to train
"Most people start running with a health or fitness goal in mind such as
losing weight or being healthier rather than a specific race," says
master's champion runner and coach Gordon Bakoulis, author of How to Train
for and Run Your Best Marathon. "You should really be doing a base of
10 to 20 miles a week before you start training for your first long run."
Once you have established a baseline, then training can begin. Remember that
the amount of time it takes to train for a race depends on the distance as well
as your fitness level, she says. In general, marathon training can take
anywhere from six months to a year.
Step 6. Slow and steady...finishes the race.
"For building up distance, the 10% rule works best,"
says Bakoulis. "Never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% over
the week before. This helps to prevent the injuries that occur when you run too
much or increase your weekly training program too quickly."
Here's how it works: Let's say you now run 10 miles a week, run
11 miles the next week, then 12, and so on. "Within 8-10 weeks, you will be
running 20 miles a week, and what's more, this gradual increase will help you
grow stronger and fitter as a runner," says Bakoulis, who has completed 26
marathons. "The 10% rule is good to follow no matter what type of race you
are gearing up to run. It's tried and true."
Step 7. Feel the need for speed?
Speed training involves intervals of running at faster-than-training speed,
Bakoulis says. "Training pace is a conversation pace -- meaning that you
can hold a conversation while doing it," she explains. "Don't introduce
speed training until you can run 20 to 30 minutes at a conversation pace,"
she says. Remember, "if your goal is just to finish whatever race you have
set your sights on, speed training is not necessary," Bakoulis says.
However, "if the goal is to maximize performance, then speed training is
important." Speed training gets your body used to racing conditions. Many
road runner clubs offer speed-work classes, or you can do it yourself by
sprinting the stretches and jogging the curves at your local high school once a
week during training.
Step 8. The long and short of it.
The basics of any training program involve a combination of
hard runs, easy runs, and long runs. "Alternate your days with hard runs
and easy runs," Bakoulis says. "You can do this by running every other
day or by running roughly twice as much on the hard days as the easy days."
Don't add miles to implement the hard runs. Instead, figure out how many miles
you are doing now and divide them up so that you are running more on the hard
days, less on the easy days. Get it?