100 days to the London Marathon – Help!

For some people 100 days until the London Marthon means time to hit the panic button while for others it still feels light years away.

Whichever camp you are in there are a few simple principles that you can keep in mind to help you arrive at the start line as well prepared as possible.

1.    Start where you are: Your fitness levels right now are what thay are. Accept it. Design your training plan based on what you can do right now, not what you hoped you could do or feel that you ought to be able to do. If your longest run right now is an hour then make the next one an hour and a quarter (not 2 hours because that’s what the plan says).

2.    Increase progressively: give your body time to adapt. It is easy to increase training loads too quickly, especially if you are focused on reaching a certain mileage/long run distance in March. Too often people force it and then get sick or injured and then you miss training time and it makes the situation worse. The consequence of this is that you may not get as much training done as you would like before the tapers starts (No 4.). You need to accept that 80 days gradual progression and a good taper beats forcing it and getting hurt. Trust yourself that on race day the adrenalin and effects of a good taper will see you through.

3.    Recover well: to make sure that your body does absorb the training commit yourself to sleeping more and better while eating good quality food. Until 15th Jan you can access my Recovery course on Teachable for FREE.

4.    Taper like a champion: with three weeks to go ‘the hay is in the barn’ as the American’s like to say. What this means is that by the beginning of April your focus shifts from hard training to being fully recovered for race day. The temptation to squeeze in an extra long run can be overwhelming. Fight it. It takes 20 days for the microscopic muscle damage to repair after a long run. Go long 2 weeks before race day and you will start the race with damaged legs.

So there you have it:

1.    Start where you are

2.    Increase progressively

3.    Recover well

4.    Taper like a champion

Even Elites need to respect these principles although with some modifications if you have years of experience running 100 miles per week.

Starting a fitness routine - adaptation is a marathon not a sprint

This week I’ve seen lots of people braving the weather to put on sports kit and run. No doubt many are driven by a New Year’s desire to get fit/raise money for charity/experience nature.

Sadly, in 4-8 weeks' history tells us that many of them will be hurt or sick, they will take a break from running (or whatever their chosen activity was) and possibly not get going again for a long time, or until next January.

What we need to remember is that training is a process of breaking down the body at a micro level and then allowing it rebuild itself stronger. Each run tears muscle fibres, depletes glycogen and smashes blood cells.

Unfortunately the re-building part can’t be rushed and our enthusiasm often leads us to do too much of the ‘breaking down’ before we have rebuilt and adapted.

The mantra is to do less than you think you can/should but to do it consistently for 3-4 weeks. When it is feeling easy then you know that you are adapting and you can increase the load. This is as true for a novice runner as for an elite marathon runner.

If you live in the Zürich I will be leading some beginners running courses this spring that will guide you around the overtraining pitfalls. The first course starts in Rapperswil-Jona on 3rd February and places are limited.

Got a sniffle – to train or not?

It’s the time of year when every other person I meet seems to be coughing or sneezing and having a sensible strategy up your sleeve when the inevitable happens could save you a lot of problems.

Many doctor’s advise the ‘neck check’. Anything below the neck including a sore throat, cough, aches and pains, elevated pulse then you shouldn’t train. If you just have a runny nose or sneezing with no other symptoms, then light exercise should be OK though you should not train long/hard or race because that will supress your immune system further and leave you wide open to more serious illness.

Once your symptoms have passed then make sure to spend a few days gradually increasing your training load before attempting anything hard.

I’ve found with years of experience that a few days off beats trying to muddle though and getting properly sick, which can mess up your training for weeks. Re-frame those few days off as an opportunity to let your body super-compensate from previous training.

Saying no to be able to say yes

What’s your priority? What are you saying yes to right now?

A question I often ask business leaders and athletes alike. All too often the reply is a long laundry list of things that need doing. As much as saying yes, prioritisation means saying no to things, potentially lots of things, in order to focus time and attention on what really matters.

When you are planning your running training, what is your priority at any given time? Is it developing your sprinting speed, your all round body strength, your marathon endurance, something else?

A priority doesn’t need to be for ever. Its just what you are focusing on right now, for a period of time to achieve a specific goal.

What’s your priority?

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