The Calm Before The Storm:
Tips Before You Begin Your Marathon Training
The air is colder and the days are shorter which signals the end of one training cycle and the beginning of the next. If you’re like most runners, the end of the calendar year is a time for you to ease up on your training, reflect on the year you’ve had, and begin to prepare (at least mentally) for the upcoming running season of 2014.
As a rule, it is important for runners to incorporate an off-season into their training plan. This period of time is critical to recharge one’s physical and mental batteries. The idea of an off-season is not to shelve running entirely, but rather run without volume or purpose; don’t worry about how far or fast you go. If you have been nursing aches and pains, then this is the time to allow healing to take place properly – go ahead and take few days off while you’re at it! This time allows you to enjoy other activities such as snowshoeing or skiing, giving you a nice departure from the pounding running can inflict on you.
What the off-season is not is lying horizontal, everyday, so much so that your family has drawn a chalk outline around you; It isn’t about gorging yourself on Figgie pudding or dear departed Aunt Esther’s 60-year old fruit cake either! Go ahead and enjoy the holiday parties with family and friends, but remember the work it takes to shed yourself of the excess pounds you might gain.
If your goal is a spring marathon, like VCM, you need to allow sufficient training time to prepare your body for the rigors a marathon dishes out. Most training plans are anywhere from 16 to 24 weeks in length, with some shorter or longer. Most experienced runners can handle the shorter training times, while beginner and novice runners would benefit from the longer schedules. My rule of thumb for beginners considering the marathon is that they be capable of running anywhere from 15-25 miles a week (more is better) and that they are currently running at least 3 days a week. Remember, you don’t need to start a marathon program in marathon shape, just running shape.