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Training for a marathon without ruining my health

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  • Training for a marathon without ruining my health

    I'm going to be running the Boston Marathon next April. I'd like to do as well as possible, so I'm going to be training for it pretty hard, but would also like to minimize the deleterious effects on my overall health. Here are a few things I've come up with that will hopefully help.

    • Get plenty of sleep. We're usually up pretty early because of my girlfriend's job as a nurse, so early nights are going to become routine. And sleeping in at the weekend.
    • Make my easy days easy. I'll probably be doing 2-3 "quality" workouts per week and possibly one additional long run, so on easy days, I'll be making a real effort to keep the effort nice and relaxed.
    • Skipping workouts if I'm feeling overtired.
    • Keeping a healthy perspective and trying not to worry too much about performance in workouts, or the race itself.
    • Eating well, and eating enough!
    • Still maintaining strength training once every 7-10 days.
    • Not letting my training interfere with other aspects of my life; e.g. skipping a workout because we're going skiing instead.

    Any other thoughts?

  • #2
    Eating a post-run meal of protein and starchy veg will help with recovery (chicken breast and squash or potato).

    Do you have a specific training plan you're using?

    I think everything you listed is good stuff. I would make sure that no more than about 20% of your running is anything more than slow running. One day of speedwork (800 or 1600 meter repeats or a tempo run) and one run at marathon pace each week. The rest should be slow. Sounds like that's what you're looking at doing.

    Best wishes to you!


    • #3
      Yeah, the basic plan is like this:

      Mon: (optional) 6-12 km easy
      Tue: am: (optional) 8 km easy; pm: 12-21 km at marathon pace + warm-up/cool-down
      Wed: 10-15 km easy
      Thu: am (optional) 8 km easy; pm: long intervals or track + warm-up/cool-down
      Fri: (optional) 6-12 km easy
      Sat: am: long intervals or track + warm-up/cool-down pm: (optional) 8 km easy
      Sun: 30-38 km easy

      I think it's unlikely that I'll hit all three speed/marathon-pace sessions each week and I'm not going to beat myself up about it. The main one I want to always hit is the marathon pace run as I've always done best in the past when I've had plenty of those runs in the bag.


      • #4
        Where is your rest day? The body needs time to recover.


        • #5
          Probably Monday or Friday, but that kind of depends on the rest of my schedule. Although 30 mins at a gentle pace is a pretty good rest day too. I think I've got the running side of things pretty clear in my head, I guess it's the other things to consider that I'm wondering about.


          • #6
            think I've got the running side of things pretty clear in my head, I guess it's the other things to consider that I'm wondering about.


            • #7
              I think it sounds like you've got a good plan in place. Best wishes to you.


              • #8
                Good luck with training.

                My 16-week marathon training plan starts tomorrow as does a proper commitment to a primal diet. I already exclude grains and most sugars, but with intense (too much) training coming up for this marathon I want to make sure I'm fuelling my body sufficiently and like you, reducing damage where possible.

                From previously running a marathon and scouring many training plans I think you definitely need to commit to a rest day.. that's a lot of km to be racking up alongside sprinting and occasional weight work. My biggest challenge is going to be sleep.. I'm already sleep deprived due to shift work so adding in a whole range of extra workouts is going to be tough. Hoping that better excluding sugars will help with proper sleep when I get the chance!


                • #9
                  I am new to the forum, but I just completed my first marathon about 2 months ago. It was the second best day of my life and the rush of emotion of crossing the line, knowing that I did something that I never thought I could do was amazing. I wish you the best in your training and running the marathon.
                  I think you have the right attitude in your training approach. I started off training two hard following a program that was too difficult for me and I had to take days off due to minor injuries. I than switched to a training program that was more minimalistic with a maximum long distance run of 16 miles. It worked awesome and because the approach prepared me adequately, the marathon itself was easier than my training. Take a look at Hansons Marathon Method. I strongly recommend it.

                  Take care,


                  • #10
                    I think you've got a good approach going so far and have gotten great advice, but I will share a few things that I learned are vital in hindsight.

                    1. Support your unavoidably taxed adrenals with tons of vitamin c and increase it as your mileage increases as well as plenty of salt, as it is required to for their adequate function. Keep potassium levels in mind as well, as you will definitely need more than during non-training time.

                    2. Magnesium depletion can be your worst nightmare - supplement very generously. Most people who are not already supplementing with a good amount are quite deficient and this contributes to a host of problems. This will help combat the expected inflammation that affects much more than just your muscles. Supplementing with MSM is also a very effective way to address inflammation unless you are able to obtain a good amount of sulfur through your diet, which you hopefully are. (Glucosamine is a friend as well)

                    3. Keep an eye on your zinc and copper levels as well, as mineral absorption is affected by the depletion of magnesium.

                    4. Supplement with vitamin D if you aren't able to get regular sun exposure - and even if you are.

                    5. Stay as hydrated as is humanly possible.

                    6. I already know you're not in agreement with this one, but I would never do it again without taking 2 days off at the very least - skip even the 20-30 minute slow, easy jog. Overtraining is a much more formidable opponent than many people realize until it is too late, and it doesn't just affect your training, but can affect your overall health - quite possibly for a long time.

                    7. Kick butt and consider coming to the states for your next one. The experience of running the Golden Gate Bridge is one you'll never regret. Unless there's an earthquake that day.....but that's just an even better adrenaline rush!
                    Life is not a matter of having good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.

                    - Robert Louis Stevenson


                    • #11
                      You might want to consider splitting up your speed workouts. Do tempo runs for X number of weeks, hill repeat workouts X number of weeks and track workouts (think 800meters x 8) for X number of weeks.

                      You only need to do one speed session week to see a difference. 3 seems like an awful lot. Don't want to get mid-marathon burnout.

                      Good luck! You're gonna do awesome!

                      Sent from my iPhone
                      Pardon the mistypes


                      • #12
                        Bazzz do you train fasted? If not, that's something I'd recommend on top of your already well structured routine..

                        Sent from my iPhone using Marks Daily Apple Forum


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jenry Hennings View Post
                          Bazzz do you train fasted? If not, that's something I'd recommend on top of your already well structured routine..

                          Sent from my iPhone using Marks Daily Apple Forum
                          I have done in the past when training for ultras. It's not something I'm quite so concerned about with the marathon, but I'll throw in the occasional pre-breakfast run. I actually did two hours fasted on Sunday and felt fine. I am considering more of this (and maybe dropping the carbs) for two weeks, three weeks out from the race (and then getting back on the carbs in the final week).


                          • #14
                            How is the training going, bazz?

                            Sent from my iPhone using Marks Daily Apple Forum
                            Last edited by Drock; 03-05-2015, 10:51 AM.


                            • #15
                              Pretty good! I'm eating like a horse, but probably still losing a bit of weight. 137 km total last week, 153 km the week before. Getting some good hard runs in; ran a half-marathon a couple of weeks ago, 20 km at a-bit-faster-than-race-pace last week, and planning 19 km at race pace tonight. We're off to Australia for a week in two weeks' time, so that'll be an enforced easy week; although should be some good heat training! I've been taking my easy days nice and easy and don't seem to have any injury issues.

                              I'm logging all my runs on Strava: