Marathon runners running on city road, large group of runners

Marathon training

A few weeks ago I reported that I was planning to run a marathon at the end of October. Since then some time has passed and consequently my marathon training has progressed quite a bit. I’ve basically gotten used to the different motion and run pretty smoothly. To reduce muscle soreness and joint pain, I have incorporated a small routine of strength, coordination and stretching exercises before or after my runs. This has helped me considerably. Fatigue and heavy legs are thus forgotten.

The endurance in marathon training

One of the most important steps in marathon training is to build up sufficient endurance. Not only physically but also psychologically. In order to make that happen, my training has focused on two things over the past few weeks. Sprinkling in long workouts of up to 3.5 hours while simultaneously ramping up the overall training volume of each week.

Increasing training stimulus in marathon training based on weekly kilometres
The increasing training stimulus requires physiological adaptations, otherwise pain points will occur

I had to cut back on the number of hours I spent training on the bike accordingly. The last four weeks I was neither on the road bike nor on the MTB.

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My bike training has been creeping out quickly and significantly over the last few weeks

Yasso 800’s – The perfect marathon training?

This training session should probably mean something to every marathon runner. Named after Bart Yasso, the “Chief Running Officer” of the American Runners World, this is an interval training. After an individual warm-up you run 8-10 intervals over 800 meters. The target time should correspond to the desired marathon time (not to be confused with the pace). Between the intervals are simultaneous, quite loose, but active breaks. This is followed by a cool down.

Since I want to run the marathon in under 4 hours, that means alternating 800 meters in 4 minutes (which equates to a pace of 5 minutes/kilometer) and 4 minutes of easy rest.

Marathon training at the Waldstadion Aachen
On a flat running track it is much easier to achieve the even load required for effective interval training than on an undulating forest track.

As early as the 1990s, Yasso noticed a correlation between repeatability in the 800 meters and later marathon performance. With regard to the performance range addressed, however, no sport-scientific relevance can be determined. However, the experience of many athletes shows that this is a good way to predict the later marathon time. Thus, this is not a miraculous unit in marathon training, but rather an accurate performance test.

Twice already I’ve done the Yasso 800’s. The first time, so as not to make the load too high, with eight repetitions. Since I felt relatively fit and fast after the first two runs, I tried to keep up the pace until the end. I ran the intervals in about 3:30 on average. That equates to a 4:23 pace.

The second time went less positively. I aimed for ten reps, but had to throw in the towel after five runs. Pain in my left Achilles tendon and calf muscles set in and I knew it was better to finish the workout quietly instead of overworking my body. But this time I was much more controlled and within the given speed range during the repetitions.

Long runs in marathon training

The long runs in marathon training so far have shown me the most how hard the marathon will be. Especially in the third hour you notice clearly that the legs are already pinching.

I hope to keep such problems under control in case of emergency by controlled nutrition and enough fluids. So far, I have limited myself to one or two gels during long sessions or a coke from the gas station. During the intervals in the stadium, I had a water bottle at the side of the track, which I liked to reach for during the breaks.

The marathon course

For the route I decided on a lap of about 10.5 kilometers. On this one I have relatively few meters of altitude to climb for the Aachen area. There is only one real increase. Plus, it allows me to take on a bottle every now and then. In addition, however, relatives, friends or colleagues will accompany me again and again over a partial distance, no matter whether on foot or by bicycle.

With four laps to complete, the course is not only divided into clear sections, but I can also easily keep track of my split times. On the other hand, I don’t run in circles so much that I get bored quickly or get a spinning bug (at least I hope I do). I’ve run the course off and on in training so far. Another advantage of my route choice is the traffic situation. I run a lot on asphalted and slightly gravelled forest paths so that cars don’t play a big role and I am almost on a closed course. Twice I cross a country road, but always at clear places that allow me to continue quickly.

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