Whether you are aiming for a sub four-hour marathon or are just hoping to get round the course, you still want to get the best time you possibly can. Here we share strange but effective training tricks that will hopefully help you to achieve your marathon best.
If you have a balanced running diet you should not need supplements. However, if you’re not eating a decent diet, multivitamins may help your body perform better and also recover faster.
As an endurance athlete, you depend on your red blood cells to carry oxygen to your working muscles. So a deficiency may compromise the normal increase in red blood cell count that results from training and may even result in anemia. A multivitamin high in iron and vitamin B12 is therefore a good option if you do not have a well-balanced diet. Iron is the main component of haemoglobin (red blood cells), which is important because it is essentially your oxygen carrier. As your running increases your body will want to adapt and produce more red blood cells to help you out. So help your body out by feeding it the key ingredients it needs.
Many sports scientists highlight Vitamin B12 as an important player for endurance athletes. Not only is Vitamin B12 involved in the metabolism of every cell of the body, but also has a key role in the formation of blood. The vitamin B12 and iron combo will certainly help your training.
If you want to increase your iron intake and don’t want to take multivitamins eat foods that are high in iron, such as liver, beans, nuts and wholegrains, like brown rice. To up your intake of vitamin B12 you can eat foods like salmon, cod, fortified cereals and eggs.
Regularly readjust your rest and recovery periods
When you think of marathon training most people don’t think of rest. Yet rest is a key part of any decent marathon training plan. Why? Well, in order to progress you need to give your body a chance to recover. As well as getting into the habit of allowing your body to recover, you need to remember that you cannot expect your body to recover as quickly when you begin to up your training and increase the intensity. As the mechanics of your body all work harder it will require longer periods of repair and recovery to make you faster, stronger and more efficient. So, when you jump to the next level or your training your body might need more time to adapt.
Most runners tend to work hard during the day and then train around their day-to-day responsibilities. This is a big demand on your body and you need to quickly learn to listen to your body, especially before you increase your training load. More training will require more rest. Burn the candle at both ends and you’ll burn out.
Pedal for a PB
Lots of runners make the mistake of using every training opportunity to fit in more running sessions. However, ideally you need to cross-train if you want to achieve your marathon potential.
Introducing cross training into your training has many benefits to you as a runner. Not only does cross training add a bit of variety to your training, it also has many physiological benefits. If used correctly cycling can provide the following physiological benefits:
- Injury prevention – strengthening related muscle groups and soft connective tissue
- Helps to burn fat
- Increases upper body strength
Your heart rate whilst running is a good indication of how hard you are working. When it comes to measuring your heart rate whilst cycling it is a completely different ball game as it is hard to get your heart rate high on a bike. Cycling with your heart rate at 60 to 70 per cent of your maximum heart should mean you are exercising your aerobic threshold zone.
When cycling, runners should follow these three top tips:
- Use low gears - Avoid cycling in high gears as this will stress the legs and develop your quadriceps. To be an efficient runner the last thing you want to do is add muscle weight to your legs so generally try to stay in the lower gears. Performing in the lower gears will also help burn more fat.
- Rest and recovery - Cross training is generally added to a training program on a recovery or rest day so please make sure you don’t add stress your body on these days.
- Stretch - After cycling make sure you stretch. Your quadriceps and calves will get quite a work out and the muscles will shorten. This is not great for runners, so it is extra important to lengthen these particular muscles with a stretch.