Types of Marathon Training Runs

Running 42.2km (26.6 miles), on race day takes a significant amount of time and energy. It takes 17 weeks of dedicated training once you’re at the point of being able to run a 10km run, non-stop. It’s a huge undertaking. But it’s not just putting on a pair of running shoes and going out for […]

Health Running Brian Webb

This article was published on January 27th, 2014

Types of Marathon Training Runs

Photo credit: Jay Minter

Running 42.2km (26.6 miles), on race day takes a significant amount of time and energy. It takes 17 weeks of dedicated training once you’re at the point of being able to run a 10km run, non-stop. It’s a huge undertaking. But it’s not just putting on a pair of running shoes and going out for a run that’s going to get you from the start to the finish line. In fact, there are a variety of types of marathon training runs required over the course of the four months of training that build strength, endurance and speed.

Conditioning the body using a variety of marathon training runs disciplines the body to perform at it’s peak performance on race day. At the end of the training you will have the confidence to make it through to the finish line, upright and smiling.

Here is a simple breakdown of the types of training runs to prepare you to run a marathon:

Long Slow Distance

Long slow distance, or LSD, runs, are the ultimate foundation for a marathon runner. These runs build endurance, stamina, and a consistent pace. These long, steady runs build strength at a slow pace.  They are much slower than the planned marathon goal pace. Runners should be able to carry on a conversation very easily and comfortably for the entire duration of the run. If you cannot, run at a slower pace, until you can speak non stop without difficulty.

Tempo Runs

These runs simulate race day conditions and help to improve both speed and pace. They are done at a steady pace, above the lactate acid threshold. The higher lactate acid builds tolerance, give the body the opportunity to continue to exercise with higher than normal lactate in the blood. This improves the ability to run faster with the same amount of energy. Tempo runs burn carbohydrates for energy. This burns more calories with higher intensity. These runs are done at 85% of the maximum heart rate and it should be difficult to speak while running.

V02 Max

These runs are designed to build leg muscle strength. These runs should be incredibly tough, to the point where it is impossible to speak during running. The heart rate should be above 90% of maximum heart rate.

  • Hill Training – Repetitive runs up and down hills. The uphill run should be at over 90% of maximum heart rate and the downhill portion should drop down to below 60%. The goal of these runs is to improve running form and both cardiovascular and muscle strength, while operating in a consistent effort throughout the repeats.
  • Speed Training – Speed training takes place in the last quarter of training. These are done as interval training. The increased change of pace builds determination, strength and speed. Speed training is much faster than race day pace, pushing the body dramatically beyond the comfort zones, while maintaining impeccable running form. It requires the body to perform at 95% of maximum heart rate.

Race Pace

These days are to mimic the actual pace you will be running on race day. Throughout training your body needs to be accustomed to knowing the feeling of this pace. It’s an important pace to know and recognize because it is all important on the big day.

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