Blog by: Todd Gilmore, Ironman Coach
So you signed up for a marathon! The reality has now set in, how to prepare. Questions may be racing through your mind, “I have never ran more than 21 km”! Or, you have completed a few marathons and now your feeling, “I want to go faster”. What should the aspiring marathon finisher do. The short story, start early, use Lila Exogen and learn the suggestions here in greater detail.
If you signed up for the marathon on a “whim” (late and a quick decision), but are not physically prepared, you could do yourself more harm than good. Our bodies are not instant like social media. Muscles adapt 2 – 3 times faster than our ligaments. Our internal systems (energy, digestion, immune, metabolic, etc.) can take significantly longer. Failure to understand this will undermine an athletes result or worse, their long-term health.
Training for any event is much more than training the muscles. A patient athlete is training their mind, muscles, ligaments and internal systems. They are giving their body time to adapt to the training stresses. These adaptations take time and critical to longevity. But those who do will be feeling a lot better at km 30 than others. After all the race begins at km 30. The rest was just a long warm up.
Dr. Phil Maffatones’s philosophy of base building in zone 2 is very applicable to patience. It is in this patience period that the groundwork of success is laid. Therefore the patient athlete will give a minimum of 6 – 10 months to prepare for a Marathon. If this same athlete starts using Lila Exogen in this time frame prior their chosen A race, the gains in performance can be maximized.
The marathon training preparation time is dependent on your current running volume (time per week). If the athlete follows classical rules (10% volume increase per week), respects the process, and gives their body time to adapt, they will do well. These old rules still apply, our bodies are not like the last iPhone version and can not be upgraded to be more efficient on a whim. We have to teach it efficiency, with patience and time. Lila Exogen will help a lot with efficiency.
Even for very active athletes, it takes time to adapt to do well, i.e. 4 – 5 months. Build base, then peak in endurance prior to getting into race specific work. The sooner race specific work can occur the better the athlete will be prepared. In this respect, race day becomes a long training day at speed. Race Specific work wearing Lila Exogen becomes more valuable training time.
What is base? Base building is the long slow runs months before the race that no one knows you did. It is essential to the preparation. Your body is adapting to running and running durations, and with Lila Exogen, under a variable but light load. Biomechanical efficiency’s and strength is being gained with each run. More importantly, running with Lila Exogen is specific strength and endurance training. Cardiovascular efficiency is being created by running and with Lila Exogen correctly applied, a tiny “tax” is applied to an athletes body making them more efficient with every use. Your body is getting better at delivering oxygen to the muscles. This takes time and consistency in training.
The added “exercise tax” Lila Exogen applies to the athlete is to be kept light and progressively increased over a period of weeks. Typical loads start as a 0.5 – 1% of the body weight. Maximum loads for endurance sports, depending on the strength of the athlete concerned, should be capped at 8%. Mature athletes may find this way to heavy, 5% may be sufficient. For activities greater than 1 hour, the mature or amateur athlete may only require 3 – 5% of additional specific functional load via Lila Exogen. From the above, a patient athlete who uses Lila Exogen in the base period through to taper, has the most to gain. Patience plays a significant role in successful use of Lila Exogen.
Many Ways to Build Endurance
A typical running plan is 4 – 5 days a week running. The other days are rest. This is however too much rest if you are serious about getting fit. Remaining active daily will help your body become more efficient. However, running 6 or 7 days a week comes with risk, injury risk. The injury risk is ever present for those athletes who do not have patience and try to “cram” training into a compressed schedule pre-event.
Whether the marathoner is a first timer, elite or mature athlete, runners statistically have an injury every 3 years. Those who cross train have much less likelihood of injury. Cross training can be very helpful to a marathoner since cardiovascular efficiency and strength is the goal. Cardiovascular efficiency is achieved in zone 2, low heart rate zones at long durations. (This not a discussion of zones, but note, base is built on all runs where the athlete can pass the talk test. Meaning at all times during the run they can run and hold a conversation).
Running only can accumulate a lot of fatigue and increase injury risk. The injury risk is greater with age and recent running inexperience. However, a rowing machine, bike or pool, are great cross training compliments to aid in a marathon goal. These activities will work different muscles, or the same running muscles in different ways, thereby adding to overall strength as well.
A bike becomes especially useful to build endurance, even more so if for a mature athlete. “Adopting” a bike to ride early in the training program means a much longer training duration can be undertaken than running training alone. This mitigates injury risk and better prepares the body for what is to come.
A rowing machine is a total body workout. It offers a boost in strength and cardiovascular fitness. Most importantly for running, a rowing machine targets the core and legs.
Swimming is all about cardiovascular efficiency and recovery. Recovery is the often over looked aspect in any training program. Too many people go too fast, too often and then do not focus on recovery as a daily habit. (A bike, if correctly used, is a great form of run recovery).
Incorporating 2 – 3 sessions per week of these suggested “cross training” activities will make every marathoner a better runner. More importantly, the runner is likely to have a longer running career. The runner may also enjoy fitness training more through the variety of this cross training approach.
A final cross training workout is strength workouts. These, to have any significant benefit to running, need to be specific. For example, boosting your squat “value” in the gym is of little value to running power. This movement is not specific to running. The large muscle groups of the leg get strong but the stability muscles and calf, as an example, do little in that movement. In addition to this, the speed of the squat, slow and controlled, does not translate to a running stride with respect to speed.
The recommended “runner” strength workout is any workout that uses the body weight plus lightweight. Lila Exogen is the perfect functional specific workout tool. Body weight workouts are a mix of dynamic and static movements focused on functional movements of the body related to running muscle groups. Wearing a garment like Lila Exogen amplifies these workouts making them more intense, thereby greater functional strength benefits.
Don’t Miss the Long Run
Completing 6 – 10 each 30+ km runs prior to a race is highly recommended. Even if the athlete used a bike to gain endurance, these long runs are essential to the body. Weekly, all marathoners should be doing a long run. Some of these long runs ought to be dedicated to testing nutrition and pace, but will also continue the endurance journey.
Note, if an athlete planned 8 each weekly long runs (that is 8 weeks) at 30 km plus. Following the 10% rule above, it will take 3 – 5 months to reach this distance if that same athlete is currently running 10 km. As mentioned above, patience and good planning means some of these long runs become part of the base work. Utilizing Lila Exogen for +/-75% training runs helps the athlete adapt, building strength as endurance grows. This is a powerful combination.
Volume or time is more important than distance. This is especially so in the early phases of training (base). Training is not about distance, it is about physical adaptation in the body. Our bodies are getting accustomed to running stress, applying an exercise “tax” to our energy systems and the athlete is building mental strength through training. Athletes who follow a distance based plan may have a higher incidence of injuries. As such, a wise marathoner should be careful of what plan they follow.
Any activity over 90 minutes should be completed by consuming some calories. Additionally, it takes 20 – 60 minutes for those calories to help you (as sugar in the blood at the working muscles). Eating in the last hour of a race or training is not going to help you. You should be eating from the moment the gun goes off or at a minimum within the first hour.
How much to eat is based on body mass, experience and food type. Recommendations would be 30 – 60 g of carbohydrate per hour. Practicing nutrition in training (eating and drinking water) is essential to any marathoner to learn their calorific needs to complete a marathon. The longer a runner is running, the more important it is to take the higher number or carbohydrate suggested & reduce pace.
Lila Exogen, but its very nature being lightweight, automatically builds a robustness into the body under each use. The minor added “tax” of the loads permit the body to develop faster. This assists to insure the runner against an injury, provided they have followed the tips in this article.
Todd Gilmore, P. Eng.
Todd is an IRONMAN Certified Coach and LILA WRT Master Trainer. Professionally he is registered Professional Engineer in his home country of Canada.
Todd has been involved in endurance sports since 2009. In his first triathlon he was nearly last out of the water. He found a passion plus a cycling and running enjoyment that carries through to all he does today. Todd is an adult who learned to swim efficiently. As a child swimming was not a priority. However, through repeated practice he now completes Ironman swims in under 1:05 with a goal to improve further. Todd’s cycling passion has lead him to cycle the length of Vietnam through the inland mountainous route. His running habit is fueled by bike fitness.
In 2016, Todd adopted a novel training plan with light weight resistance training, Lila. www.lilamovetech.com is a compression garment permitting all your workouts, regardless of sport, to be conducted under light loads. By conducting your training under light load, at your speed, you become stronger and faster.
Athletically in Triathlon, Todd has won 3 smaller Triathlons in Vietnam in 2012 and 2013. 2016 was by far his best year. It did not start that way however with a DNF at his first 70.3 of the year. Patience, a plan and experience to execute a good plan, resulted in 2 Age Group wins, an Age Group Podium and Personal Best Ironman time.
The first of the 2016 wins was the Ironman 2016 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship in Cebu where Todd won the 45-49 age group. He followed this up by winning the 45- 54 Age Group at Challenge Nha Trang (Half). The peak came in Hawaii at the 2016 Ironman World Championships. Todd smashed his personal best Ironman time by 38 minutes. This resulted in a finish time of 9:56:37, on a race 115th fastest 3:21:07 marathon. (A side benefit was that this run time also qualified Todd for the 2018 Boston Marathon, in an Ironman.) Five weeks later, with a goal to return to Kona in 2017, he started Ironman Malaysia in Langkawi. Fatigue was an issue, however Personal Best Swim and Bike times with a 3:32 marathon resulted in his second sub 10 Ironman at 9:58:35 and a 3rd place in his 45-49 Age Group.
These results were a product of continuous improvement coupled to a strong plan. Todd seeks to instill this consistency, planning, patience and work ethic into his clients. Making you a better you then a better athlete.