How To Run A Faster Marathon

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Having completed his first marathon in Milton Keynes, in May 2016, clocking a time of 3 hours 50 minutes and 18 seconds, under the guidance of FitFun personal trainer, Altesse, Christophe Blanchard set a new target for himself and his trainer for Paris, April 2017- 3 hours 30 minutes. Christophe had only taken up casual running 2 years before contacting FitFun, and decided to give marathon running a go. 

The training approach

To prepare him for his first assault over the 26.2 miles distance a clear and concise programme was put in place, this covered a weekly one-2-one training schedule, with a big focus on developing core strength, as well as a whole-body muscle strength and endurance approach. We also used these sessions mainly as non-impact training days to allow for some recovery for the ankle, knee and hip joints from the running sessions during the week; utilising various training equipment such as the battle rope, kettlebells, boxing and TRX. The boxing and battle rope sessions allowed Christophe’s cardiovascular system to be challenged without the impact of running. Introducing Cross-training principles in your marathon plan can help with injury prevention, rehabilitation, and play a part in active recovery. Cross-training also helps maintain enthusiasm for training, offering a short break from what can become a repetitive routine leading to boredom, making it possible to consistently give maximum effort, and ultimately to perform better during races.

In addition, swimming, spin classes and yoga were added as part of the 5-6 days training week. swimming provides a full-body workout with minimal risk of injury, which makes it an excellent choice for cross-training. Spinning kept the intensity high on his leg muscles, maintaining the speed gains he had acquired doing tempo runs, which are shorter distances i.e. 3-5 miles, challenging his lactate threshold – the body’s ability to prolong the onset of lactic acid build up.

Lastly, the inclusion of yoga goes a long way to improving the general health of muscles, especially when engaged in a routine of repetitive use. Yoga stretches the muscles that are tight, which in turn increases the range of motion in related joints. Increased flexibility decreases stiffness, resulting in greater ease of movement, and reduces many nagging aches and pains. A fantastic bonus for any athlete, and in Christophe’s case he was able to finish his first marathon in 3hrs 50 minutes 18 seconds, only 5 mins off his goal time. For a first time marathon that’s something to be proud of.

Add Weights

Our marathon plan also included gym weight training sessions, as the right strength training programme, accompanied by a healthy nutrition approach, can help you lose fat; being lighter is beneficial for a distance runner. As a general rule, runners move more efficiently when they are at the low end of what’s considered a healthy body mass and body fat percentage.
Improving leg strength can benefit your running speed. Also, strength training has the bonus of Injury prevention. For the Paris Marathon in April 2017, there was some fine tuning to do to make gains towards a faster finish time; we worked hard to further strengthen the glutes and to encourage more activation of this muscle group. This is often a neglected area; the quadriceps and hamstrings tend to be overly worked, while the glutes are almost asleep, increasing the chances of injuries such as IT band syndrome and runners’ knee. During a run, the glutes hold our pelvis level and steady, extend our hip, propel us forward, and keep our legs, pelvis, and torso aligned. Under-strengthened glutes can affect the entire kinetic chain. Resistance bands are an essential kit where glute training is concerned; they can be done anywhere and work the glutes in a number of angles, coming in various tensions allowing you to easily track strength progress with minimal fuss.

Nutrition

An effective nutrition plan should always be tailored to you the individual, as the immediate goal in terms of body composition will vary. That being said, the approach you take should ensure you get enough calories to fuel your training to maximise performance. Not only do you need the optimal amount of calories but the focus should be on the right calories; eating lean protein whether from lean meats, poultry, fish and pulses; unrefined carbohydrates, and essential fats from oily fish and nuts for example. By weekly monitoring and planning his meals, Christophe approached the Paris Marathon weighing almost 3kg lighter with 1 percent less body fat in comparison to the Milton Keynes race.

Being successful in achieving your goals should never be left to chance. Otherwise you may not attain your targets. At FitFun we work with our clients through an educational approach, so that they can always replicate the success they obtain as it has been for Christophe.

To run a marathon in 3 hours 29 minutes & 44 seconds in the heat of Paris, at 25 degrees, is no easy feat. But all the hard work done during the preparation phase paid dividends in ensuring he could compete against the elements.

 

Contact Altesse on altesse@fitfunactive.co.uk

*Improved performance related to running, for example, vary greatly from one individual to another. In addition food intake, cardiovascular function and health plus the levels of exercise and physical exertion vary in different people. This means results will also differ from person to person. No individual result should be seen as archetypal

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