11 marathon coaching points

On Saturday I coached a great runner, Paula – who is running her third marathon, the London marathon, in a few weekends time.

I went on her second last long training run before the event, which was an 18 mile run. On the run, we talked about a lot of coaching points, and I shared it with her in an email after. 🙂 (as I do after every coaching session I do).

It ended up being quite a lot of good tips, and Paula said she’d be happy for me to share them on here, for anyone else who’s shout to run a marathon in the next wee while.

So here’s what we talked about on our run… we talked about a lot in 3.5 hours! 🙂

1. Race gear
Try on your race gear on a king run before the big day. A few days before the big day, remember to check to make sure what you’ll be wearing will be just right.

If it’s sunny, remember sun screen. Sunglasses? Dress as if it’s 5’c warmer than it is. Remember warm stuff in a bag for after. Have friends or family at the end to be there for you, or cheer you along the route.

2. Taper
The next two weeks are the taper, where you’ll do not a lot of training, but focus on getting your body to get ready for the event. Shorter runs, plenty east and plenty sleep. Don’t do anything different. And take it easy.

If you’re chomping at the bit to do something, go for a walk or read a good book or find information online, feed your knowledge of what it’s like to run the marathon. Spend some time with those you love. Socialise, get some sleep.

Re read this blog. What’s best to recover, learn about the route, get and read this months runner world. Review your training, see how far you’ve come. Eat and drink well.

3. Reviewing your runs on Garmin
You’ve done most of your training, and you might have had done good long runs and some not so good long run.

Spend some time reviewing your various long runs on garmin connect.

1. Go to activities in the old version of Garmin connect, www.connect.garmin.com/activities.
2. Click on show filters, filter so you only see runs which are 16-26 miles, Search.
3. Select up to 4 activities to compare.
4. Click compare activities.
5. Click on more detail.

You’ll see the variation in pace, and avg and Max heart rate. Then you can go into each individual run and look at the graphs to see how the runs compared. Might be an idea to compare a long run where you felt great, compared to a run where you struggled.

What was your heart rate like at the start of the runs where you felt good? Can you use his to inform what you’ll run like on the day?

Remember Pace is just a result of your effort (HR) and the conditions (weather, route, talking etc). Pace isn’t as important as heart rate and how you feel. Run strong with all you’ve learned.

4. Next long run
Let your long runs inform your next long run, and use it to help build your confidence. If you had a ‘bad’ long run, it might be good for you. Because it will hopefully prevent it happening on race day.

For your next long run, 12-15 miles, the last one the weekend before the event.

1. For a 15 miler, start out easy, HR maybe 140-150 (you choose).
2. Keep it steady and easy for 10 miles, then if you feel strong at that point, let go a little and push your heart rate.
3. Allow it to go up to 160, 165 or even 170.
4. But remember you don’t want to overdo it.
You still have 4-5 miles to go and you want to finish strong.

5. Heart rate running
Use your remaining runs to really confirm what you know about heart rate training and about your running, your heart rate and what works for you.

6. Marathon strategy
Now could be the time you get your marathon strategy pinned down. Spend some time thinking about how you’ll run it, wrote it down if it helps.

What are your goals for the day?
– Run with your heart rate at x until mile y, then let go and finish strong.
– Split the run into 5,5,5,5,5,1.2.
– Get a negative split.
– Enjoy it and talk to people along the way.
– Take in all the sights and sounds.
– Run the whole way.
– Get a PB.

These are the sorts of goals I might have, but you might think of others or have your own.

Enjoy the exbo and the whole weekend, get yourself a souvenir. 😉

A good book to read is The Competitive Runners Handbook by Bob Glover.

7. Mantras
You mentioned some mantras you could use. They were good, but I’d also like you to think of some short, to the point ones that will keep you strong towards the end.

When the pain and emotions are there – something as simple as ‘I can do this’ or ‘I’m strong’ can really help.

Try to even relate it to making others proud, use people’s names in your self talk, and tell yourself you want to make them proud. Or if if helps, imagine me running alongside you, or behind you, or in your ear, cheering you on.

8. Positive self talk
If or when it gets tough on race day, replace any negative self talk about pain or anything else, with positive self talk. It’s not hard, it’s easy. It’s not a struggle, you’ve trained for it, you’ve done it twice before and today is your day. You can do this.

Think of how far you’ve come, you are most definitely a Runner, an athlete and a marathon runner.

You can SO do this. 🙂

9. Recovery
Directly after you finish your marathon, think ‘Recovery’.

Try not to let emotions take over too much, try to be logical. You need to keep walking for a bit and let everything recover. Get warm, drink up, and get a recovery drink in you. Stretch, think of yourself first, not others.

Get a shower, some food and after maybe a lie down or a nap. Keep drinking water and notice what colour your pee is. If it’s dark, you need to drink more.

Catch up with family. Get plenty sleep after it, and once you’re back home maybe think about getting a sports massage.

If you don’t have you own, Google Fitness Therapy Glasgow, for my friend Clare who has a studio just off argyle st and finneston. Mention me if you want. 🙂 maybe wait 3-4 days after, so the wed or thu for a massage.

Take 1-4 weeks off structured training. Maybe only walk the first 1-2 weeks. Then build back in running and some circuits / strength.

Focus more on eating well and changing how you eat for health and weight loss in the 4 weeks. A good book is Athlete’s guide to recovery, by Sage Rountree. It really places an importance on recovery.

You go through a lot on a marathon and all of the training leading up to it. Make it work for you.

Reward yourself – new pair of trainers, clothes, gear, a Garmin, a day out, massage. Anything else…

Maybe spend sometime helping someone else instead of having pressure on yourself to achieve.

10. After the marathon – goals
You might feel a bit down after the marathon. All those weeks training, all over. This is the time to focus on something new. Spend some time thinking about your next steps.

Your what’s, and why’s. What you’ll do and why you want to do it. Make it important.

– What are your goals, and when do you want to achieve them by?
– What do you need to do more of to achieve your goal/s?
– What do you need to do less of to achieve your goal/s?
– What do you need to stop doing to achieve your goal/s?
– What do you need to start doing to achieve your goal/s?

Think more of what you will do or add into your life, as opposed to what you will restrict or deprive yourself of.

11. Getting a balance
Remember the chat about juggling your balls… Spend some time thinking about the balls you juggle in your life. Are they a working? Have you got too much going on? Or is it all ok? Does one ball need more focus than another?

What will you do to make your life really good? What will make you really happy? Go do it.

Good luck for your marathon, I know you’ll do great. Take care over the next few weeks and let me know how you get on.

And remember your cape. 🙂

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