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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How to train for three half marathons and one marathon per year

Dear Gary
I have just completed my 7th Rotorua Marathon and would like some training suggestions.

I am 65 years old and run 3 ½ marathons and 1 marathon each year – the ½ ‘s to keep me fit for the Rotorua Marathon.

I have heard people say that they only do 1 long run per week but my training schedule says 2 long runs per week (I have attached my marathon and ½ marathon training schedules). Do you think that I may be over-training? You will see from the schedules that I run in km’s not “time” as I usually run between 7 and 7 ½ min km and if I run by time I do not run enough km.

I would also like some advice on the time between my runs. I run the Cathay Pacific ½ in February each year, then the Rotorua full in April/May, the Taupo ½ in August (training starts now) and the Auckland ½ in October/November. Most of these training schedules overlap each other and I was wondering if after finishing 1 race, I should go right back to the beginning of the training for the next race? If not, what do I do until it is time to start full training again?I have heard that after one race you should start where you finished off the last – is that correct? I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards Carol
Gary Moller comments:
Carol, I think you are right to be doing one long run per week and one shorter long run as well. Just one long run per week increases the possibility that this single run will be too long and exhausting and compromise your final potential fitness.

I do not like rigid schedules. Have a basic structure to your week, month and year and run according to how you feel. Every run should be different over varying terrain and courses. Run by time and how you feel rather than rigid distance. So, this Sunday you might run for about 2 hours over trails. Next week you might do 2.5hrs around the flat coastal road. If you find yourself in a running rut - get out of it. Run free!

You could even add a 3rd long run during the endurance buildup of each training phase. Other than one fast short run of about 5km, you could cut out all the other runs to ensure that you recover sufficiently between training sessions. With age your need for longer recovery between workouts and exhausting races increases, so ensure there is adequate recovery for your stage in life.

Following an exhausting marathon, it pays to have a complete rest with only gentle exercise and stretches and concentrate on a full recovery before resuming a futher buildup over the best part of 3 months to another peak, starting at a level well below where you finished the previous buildup. If the half marathon is not too physically wasting, you do not have to go right back to scratch, instead starting back a little below where you peaked with a further 8 week buildup to your next event.

As you get older, speed training is more important - not less. Rather than just doing 1/2 and full marathons which are a grind on joints and muscles and slow you down, why not go run cross country and 5km road races most weekends? Do them for fun - run some hard and others easy depending on how you feel on the day. Enter Masters Games that are held around the country in places like Hamilton, Wanganui and Dunedin and world-wide and do the 400m and 800m. these are great social occasions and the short events exhilarate without causing excessive wear and tear on the body. These short races will give you the pace and strength to run your longer marathons and half marathons faster and more efficiently and with less distress.

Take a look at my Super Smoothie Recipe and have these daily to aid recovery. You would also be advised to take daily glucosamine and chondroitin to ensure that your joints can handle the daily wear and tear of the running that you are doing.

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