Marathon Minus Six
by: Ian Kemp
Summer's here! Daylight saving is here (or almost here, depending on which state you live in)! The swimming season's here, it's time to forget about road running for the next six months, right? Wrong! Now is exactly the time to start planning and putting into action your 1998 Marathon campaign!
Perhaps you want to finish your first marathon next year, or perhaps you have done one or two, and now you want to record a good time. In either case, if we start now we have an excellent chance to nail it.
There are probably as many marathon programmes as there are coaches, but much of what is written seems to be geared to the elite athlete, or is adapted from the elite athlete's training regime. For those of us who are not in the elite, I believe in keeping it simple, and applying the following three principles:
- Do lots of running
- Don't get injured
- Stick to your guns
(Thanks to Chris Wardlaw for the first two!) In this article I want to address principle no. 3, the other two will be dealt with in more detail in later articles over the next six months.
Stick to Your Guns!
To complete the marathon there are two major challenges for the ordinary person, the first is motivation, the second is time management.
How to get motivated? I have found it very helpful to develop a written down plan, to keep your mind on the 'big picture'. Simply get a diary or a wall planner from somewhere, find out when your preferred marathon is scheduled, and write it in! I have even prepared a simple planner for you, in Microsoft Excel format, which you can download here!
If you cannot find your local marathon in the Cool Running calendar yet, have a look through last year's calendar & the race reports, to get the approximate date which can be confirmed later. My target is the Canberra marathon, which is to be run 6 months from today. This event has the advantage of being early in the season, so if my training is disrupted for any reason I can compromise by refocussing on another marathon later in the year. In my year planner I have two later marathons pencilled in 'just in case'. Other marathons in April or May include Brisbane, Bathurst and the Fletcher Challenge (NZ).
Using the planner, 6 weeks before your target marathon, write in '20 mile #2'. 6 weeks before that, write '20 mile #1'. 2 weeks before that, write '21TT' and 4 weeks before that write '21TT'. Now you have the basis of your programme, and you can see that your first half marathon time trial is only 2 months away! We will put more detail on the planner in the next couple of articles, but now you should be feeling motivated!
Now is the time to set the habits which will carry you through the next six months to a successful completion of the marathon. Decide now: when will you run? Early in the mornings? Afternoon? Evening? The answer is your choice, but you need to lock in some habits which will make it easy to do that daily run.
For me the answer is to get changed & go running straight after work, before coming home. If you can run home from work, or get up early each day and run, you are already at an advantage. If not, now is the time to establish those habits and test them out.
Don't Get Injured!
More on this in a later article - for now, read Phil Parle's article on prevention of injuries. Remember that most injuries are caused by sudden changes in training regime - so avoid any sudden increase in weekly kilometres, or in the length of your longest run.
Do Lots of Running!
Again, more on this later. For the time being, try to consolidate on your current volume of training. By this I mean: work out how many k's per week you are running now, and try to maintain this consistently for the next 4 weeks, (then take and easy week with less k's). The only exception is that if you are currently doing more than about 60km per week, you may consider reducing your weekly k's to 60-65, for a month or so.
Action Plan for This Month
Bearing in mind the points above, what I want you to do this month is: decide on a marathon, and mark up a year planner. Read Phil's article on injury prevention. Sort out your time management issues, by establishing some habits whereby you can consistently run a given k's per week for the next four weeks. Then come back to this page in a month's time for the next step, 'Marathon minus Five'!
Ian Kemp, Cool Running Australia, 19.10.97