Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Improving your marathon time

This is in response to a question posed by Ian on how I went about improving my marathon time from sub 3 to sub 2:30 in the past 5 years. Here goes.

Keeping things simple, the keys to my training which have led to the improvement in time would be:

1) Consistency - don't get too caught up on running massive kms. I average about 80 to 90 kms per week in the build up to a marathon. This reduces risk of injury, keeps the body fresh, and allows you to monitor progress as you repeat similar sessions. Not having to miss sessions builds confidence.

2) Get your basic sessions in each week. A big (read massive) turning point for me was starting to run track in 2007 - with the aim of improving speed through all the race distances (the quicker you can run a lap, the quicker you will run a marathon). In addition I would do regular races (failing that tempo runs) - my philosophy is that races push you much more than you will in other sessions. Plus the bread and butter long run (between 2 and 2 and a half hours with varying amounts at marathon pace). I have also done some longish mid-week runs in the past, focusing on hilly routes, to develop leg strength. Plus recovery runs when required. And don't be stupid - if you're feeling tired, take a rest day.

3) Weight. Since I've been running marathons my weight has dropped 7kgs or so. No surprise that the more weight I have lost, the quicker my times have become. I haven't taken this to the extreme, nor do I intend to, but a few kgs can make a big difference over 42.2kms.

I can't think of anything else off the top of my head but I'd say the above sums up my improvement in a nutshell.

Anyway, today I did another easy run. My 9.5km local loop in 39:06. It was a fabulous late afternoon for a run. The sun was shining and it was 16 degrees. How good is that? And my calf seems a little better. All good.


Ian Gallagher said...

thanks Matt, some great advice.

had a feeling you were going to mention track work.

Something ive never done before but i'll definitely look into it.

agreed with everything you said about running more shorter races - certainly something i havent been doing.

Samurai Running said...

Yes terrific advice Matt.

I've never done any decent speedwork but just recently, after finding out my goal marathon had been cancelled I decided to work on my shorter distances with a view to running another marathon late in the year.

I've downloaded a 33 minute 10K plan and finding the paces almost impossible to hit but if I can get close and improve my speed like you said that should show up in my marathon times.

Although it is hard for me to run with my heart pumping out of my chest, it is, even after a few weeks, starting to be a little easier and it definitely is an exciting change from running long and slow all the time.

Thanks again for the advice and I hope the calf comes good.

BeerMatt said...

Thanks Scott. I just had a read of your blog - sorry to hear that your plans have been thrown out. Great blog BTW.

I could never break 35 minutes for 10km (I got down to 35:10 in May 2005). I started track training in July 2007 and ran 34:38 in March 2008. That improved to 34:31 in May 2008 then dropped again to 33:30 in June 2008. So a big improvement in my 10km time in less than one year. Stick with it and the results will come. Good luck.

Brick said...

Good advice Matt,

This week I am just moving back to Marathon training after my last 100 miler.
This prompted me to look in how your going, fats as always I see.

Again thanks for the advice going to do the Macleay River Marathon in June. Close to South West Rocks NSW.