Did you know that fewer than 25% of marathoners have broken the 4 hour barrier? The 4 hour marathon requires an average pace of 5 minutes 38 seconds per kilometer, which is a moderately fast pace for most runners. The typical 4 hour marathoner covers the first half (21,1 km) in 1 hour and 52 minutes and the last half in 2 hours and 8 minutes.
The first part of the strategy is to come prepared. A 4 hour marathon can’t be done by someone who has trained little (unless you’re an elite athlete). You’ll need to have finished at least a 12-week marathon training plan, and preferably 16 or 20 weeks. Every program needs to have 4 crucial training elements:
1. LSD (Long Slow Distance Training)
These are the most important training sessions for any marathon runner. Just remember 2 things, run long and run slow. For a serious preparation for a sub 4 hours finish time you will need to run 3 times 32KM with an average pace of between 6 and 6:15 minutes per kilometer. Never skip the long runs, these are crucial!
2. Interval Training
To become faster you need to train intervals and you will need to do this at least once in 3 weeks. If you want to read more about interval training continue reading here. Make sure you always stretch before and after the interval training. These sessions are the once that will get you injured if you do not warm up properly.
3. Recovery Training
The day after the LSD Training treat yourself with a 5 km jog, average pace 6 to 6:15 minutes per kilometer.
4. Taper Period
The tapering phase is a critical part of your marathon training. During the last couple of weeks of your training, it's important that you taper, or cut back your distance, to give your body and mind a chance to rest, recover, and prepare for your marathon. Do your last long run or long race three weeks before the marathon. With two weeks to go until race day, cut distance to about 50 to 75% of what you had been doing. You're not going to make any fitness improvements with two weeks to go before the marathon. Try to remember: Less is more. Running less reduces your risk of injury, gives you time to rest and recover, and allows your muscles to store carbohydrates in preparation for the big race. Sleep is also an important part of the tapering process. You don't need to sleep for excessive amounts of time, but try to get at least eight hours a night. If you want to get a pre-race, deep tissue massage to loosen up your muscles, do it at least a week before your marathon. A deep tissue massage can have the effect of a hard workout on your muscles, so you don't want to do it too close to the race.
Now it is all about to stick to your race strategy. Run the first half of the marathon at 5:20 - 5:30 minutes per kilometer. Do not start to fast! You will pay the price after 32 km. The best way to keep to your strategy is to follow a pacer that runs for 3:50 or 4 hours.
To finish a marathon under 4 hours it is all about the final 10K. Marathoners run marathons for this part of the race. It’s the point at which the body can run out of fuel if you’ve under-trained, ran too fast for your conditioning, and/or taken in insufficient calories. This is typically the part where runners “hit the wall”, running low on sugar reserves. If you’ve paced yourself appropriately and have taken in 300-500 calories through the first 32 km, you should have enough glycogen to sustain you through the end of the race.
The last 10 km in a marathon is not just a physical test, but a mental one too. You’ve been running for about 3 hours and have around another hour to go. That can seem daunting.
You’ll see runners around you begin to struggle, some may be walking, limping, even sitting down on the side of the road. The mental key to this section is to stay positive. Smile when it hurts. Laugh away negative ideas in your head. Offer some encouraging words to nearby runners, “looking good” or “finish strong” or “you can do it”. You will run faster if your mind stays positive. If you begin to feel weak or dizzy during this last part, try to get some quick calories into your body. Most likely, your body is running low on fuel. Prepared carbs like gels, and sugary foods like candy and soda pop can quickly rejuvenate you. If you do hit the wall in this section, down as many carbs as you can and keep moving at a slower pace, even if you’re just walking. Recovering from the wall can take 10-30 minutes, so try not to hit it.
Continue reading at #iamintosports...