Training for a Marathon? It's Not Just About Running!

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

As a personal trainer you come across lots of weird and wonderful goals. I’ve had people tell me they want to lose weight, gain muscle, look good on holiday or do ten chin ups. I’ve even had someone tell me wanted to look good in their Hulk outfit on Halloween!

One goal I hear pretty often though, is attempting a marathon.

My particular area of interest is sports performance, so I love to help people with goals like these. Once we’ve got past the usual info like where is it, when is it, is it a half marathon or a full marathon, my next question is "what are you doing to train for it?"

The response is very nearly always the same: "I’m running and I’m running and I’m running and when my legs feel a little sore I go on the bike or the cross trainer instead".

"Anything else?" I reply, and I’m met with a blank face that says "why would I be doing anything else?!"

Its fair enough point; if you were preparing for a marathon you would think that you would need to run and you most certainly do! But look at the world's most successful people, whether it's in business or sport; it's highly unlikely that they are just doing that one thing. They are strengthening their skills in a wide range of areas in order to support their sport or their business.

So, why are you just running?

Here are my top three training tips if you’re preparing for a marathon:

1. Strength Training

Absolutely everyone should be doing some sort of strength training regardless of your goals. The research is absolutely undeniable - strength training improves endurance by increasing your running economy.

Furthermore, the research suggests stronger people recover faster. Recovering faster means you're going to be in a better position physically and mentally for each session to get the very most out of it.

A basic full body approach with an emphasis on single leg strength and core strength and stability is a great way to start and will reap some massive rewards.

2. Jumps and Plyometrics

Power training? For an endurance event? Who would have thought!

I can assure you though, adding some very basic exercises such as box jumps, hurdle hops and jumps into your training will start to prepare your ankle, knee and hip for the impact of running and have a positive effect on your running economy.

Make sure to do things fast and powerfully - you’re not aiming to fatigue yourself at all. 1-5 reps of 3-5 sets with full recovery between each set is a great starting point.

3. Ankle and Hip Mobility and Strength

This is probably the most neglected area of all, but is arguably the most important. I’m yet to see someone running without ankles and hips, so it is vitally important that you keep your ankles and hips healthy.

Strength and plyometric training will support this, but little added extras for your glutes, adductors, hip flexors and calves will give these smaller muscles some of the extra love they need.

As well as keeping them strong, keeping them mobile through foam rolling, stretching and mobilising will speed up the recovery process and help with your running efficiency.

If you're preparing for a marathon or looking to improve your performance in any sport and would like to work with Mat, email or book a PT consultation here.

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