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Stuart Taylor is the founder of PerfecTone and creator of the Pocket Personal Trainer App. He’s one of the UK’s most respected training and fitness experts, best known for his TV roles, including Head Coach on Gladiators, Total Wipeout, Celebrity Wrestling and International King of Sports, as well as being the fitness industry expert on The Apprentice and featured personal trainer on Fat Families and Britain’s Hardest. He’s also trained many celebrities from stage, screen and professional sport. And we’ve got an exclusive with him for Jogger.co.uk where he’s giving us his approach on how to reach your peak with marathon training, including some example workout plans…
Preparing to run a marathon
The marathon is the Everest of running races. The event has to be given the ultimate respect from its competitors or they will never reach the peak. This is the race that can’t be blagged and being fit is not enough on its own to get you round the 42km. In order to complete or succeed in the race, and enjoy it along the way, a training plan needs to be followed.
Preparation is everything for a successful marathon run; you need at least 16 weeks of training and if you can do 20 weeks, then even better. Going out for a jog and trying to increase the distance from time to time is fine, but to get the most out of your training you need to bring in some simple sports science.
You first need to know your starting fitness level. How far can you run comfortably without feeling like you have been run over the next day? This distance is going to be your base level to build on.
Each week of training for a marathon should include:
- Distance run: this will be your base level run on week 1 and increase each week.
- Interval training: this can be done in many forms but the idea is to bring intensity into your training. This will help you get used to running when it hurts and will improve your fitness levels.
- Short run: this should be performed at a quicker pace so will be more intense than your distance run but will be for a shorter distance.
- Stretch sessions: this is a very important part of the training plan. Before every run, you should perform a dynamic stretch routine to prepare the body. After the run, a static stretch session will help the body. Once a week, a yoga session or extended stretch session will help keep you injury free.
- Body conditioning session: this should be centered around improving your running gate. Getting your glutes firing and conditioning the muscles involved in the running motion. Concentrate on core stability and strength and muscular endurance training.
Some example marathon training weeks:
Monday: 4 miles easy
Tuesday: 6 x 800m at 80% pace, 200m walk between each one
Thursday: 5 mile run – 2 mile easy/2 miles hard/1 mile easy
Saturday: Long run 8 miles
Monday: 4 miles easy
Tuesday: Conditioning session
Wednesday: Progression run: 6 miles, 2 mile 60%, 2 mile 70%, 2 mile 80%
Thursday: Interval session: 2 x 1500m, 4 x 800m, 4 x 400m (200m rest between each one)
Saturday: Long run 14 miles
Sunday: yoga/stretch session.
What to bear in mind when marathon training
Varying your training with distance running, easy runs, intense interval training, conditioning and stretch sessions will achieve multiple goals. You will get fit, get used to running with discomfort, get used to intensity, be prepared for the long distances and your body will be conditioned for the race ahead.
The most common reason people fail to reach their target times in marathon running is because they didn’t get a clean lead up to the race with their training. It was interrupted by an injury. There is no way around it, marathon training is tough! You have to help your body out by listening to it. When a muscle is feeling tight or sore you have to take care. The stretch sessions are imperative to staying injury free, as are the conditioning sessions.
Nutrition and hydration are key factors you need to consider throughout your training period. You must take both seriously. Eating a balanced diet, to fuel and build and repair, is essential for you to get the most out of your training. You must also keep yourself hydrated whilst training. The body cannot function efficiently if it is dehydrated.
So you have competed your training plan. You have kept injury free, you are happy with the fitness level you have achieved, you are ready to race this marathon and conquer your Everest.
Now you need to consider race management
You should know the pace you are happy to run at. Don’t get excited at the start of the race and go off too quickly, it will ruin your race. Don’t hold back too much as you will not be able to make the time back efficiently. Stick to your pace and settle into the race. Hydrate with small mouthfuls of water at a time. Don’t drink too much as needing the bathroom is not ideal whilst racing. When you reach the latter stages of the race and it feels tough remember all that training you have put in. It will hurt and everyone around you will be feeling the same. You are conditioned to run through this pain and finish this race with courage and strength. Put the work in and the end of the race is the most fun part of it. You will conquer your Everest and you will achieve a time that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.
On a final personal note. I have run a few marathons in my time. The ones I achieved my best times on were those where I had an injury free and disciplined training plan in place beforehand. I can personally recommend training properly. It is amazing feeling to finish with a time you are happy with. Train hard, train smart and enjoy the journey.
— Stu TaylorPerfectone (@perfectoneStu) July 12, 2015