You have completed several half marathons in good timing and now you want to run a full marathon.
But in doing so, you must bear in mind that a full marathon is not simply two half marathons. In terms of training, it is actually much more than that and requires you to tweak your training programme so that you will be able to run the full marathon comfortably.
Here are some tips that you can use to successfully make the transition and ensure that your first full marathon is a memorable, rather than an agonising experience.
Gradually increase the distance of your long training runs
The half marathon is 21km and you should be able to run this distance comfortably before you can realistically aim to go for the full marathon.
So you should slowly increase the distance of your long training runs. For example, if you have been covering 18km to 20km for your long runs, you should gradually step this up to 35km. However, bear in mind that you must NOT increase your distance by more than two to three kilometres per week, otherwise your body will not be able to cope with the sudden increase.
Doing these long runs also helps to improve your skeletal strength and mental endurance so that you will be able to better cope with the full marathon distance on race day itself.
Refuel yourself adequately
Running the full marathon is different to the half marathon because in most cases, the body has enough stored glycogen to complete 21km safely, but it definitely cannot store enough to run a 42km race. So you will definitely need to eat and drink to re-fuel during the run.
To figure out what is the right fuelling strategy for you, you must test different brands of energy gels, energy bars and isotonic drinks during your training runs. Only you will know what brands can bring on stomach cramps and what types will play well with your body during the run. The last thing that you want is to suffer from an upset stomach mid-race.
Combine long speed intervals into your training
To run a decent half marathon, you may be able to get away without doing such speed intervals, but doing long speed intervals during marathon training will help you to burn fuel more efficiently. It will also improve your running biomechanics, because by running at a faster pace for long distances, this will stimulate the fatigue that you would certainly feel during the marathon – without having to actually run 30km first.
A good workout to practise this would be to run at your 10km or half marathon pace and incorporate short recovery breaks in between your intervals.
But do note that these are different to short speed interval bursts where you go all out for one or two minutes. For these types of intervals, you must be able to sustain that speed for a couple of kilometres. Then in between each interval, allow yourself to have a rest for a couple of minutes.
By doing these workouts, it will make you a much more efficient marathon runner.
Doing your long runs in a group
Sometimes, the long run may be boring if you are doing them alone, so a good alternative could be to join running groups for these workouts. Running in a group will help members to motivate each other and provide buddies to talk to. Of course, there can also be an eating session or makan after the run – to give you more incentive to actually complete the target distance.
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