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Training - The Critical Weeks

This is the key part of your training program

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'26.2' - The Marathon Training Website:  

Marathon Training - Critical Weeks

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There is a four to five week period in your training that is really crucial to your success when you actually run the marathon. This is the peak phase of your training when you have reached the 18 mile distance in your long runs and you are looking at a couple of 20 milers over the next four weeks or so, after which you enter the tapering phase of your training. Why are these training weeks so important and what should you do about it?

High Mileage
You are at the peak of your training. Both the weekly mileage and your long run distance are reaching their highest level.

Limited Rest Days
Your training program may have started off with two or even three rest days per week, but by now you will down to one day off per week (in most programs anyway). This means your body has less time to recover, especially from the long runs.

Stick With The Program!
You must try to stick with the program at this point because there isnít much room to re-schedule long runs or catch up if you miss some runs. The intensity of each run is also important Ė if the training calls for a Tempo run make sure thatís what you do!



Avoid Injuries
Avoiding injuries during this time is very important. You canít afford to take time off! Since prevention is better than cure, itís best to be cautious. Here are a few hints:

  • If you enter a race, donít go all out Ė run well within your limits
  • Donít force the pace on hills
  • Ice any tender areas after each run
  • Stretch after your run
  • Try a brief walk before and after each run
  • If you are struggling on a hard run, go back to an easier pace and/or take a walk break

If you do have an injury or you miss several days training for any reason donít make the mistake many people do. They simply carry on with the training from the point where they would have been and not from where they are. What you should do is look at all of the remaining weeks right up to the marathon to see if you can re-organize the schedule to accommodate the missing days. This usually means less rest in the tapering period, so you have to be careful here!

Watch Your Diet
You are running lots of miles right now. Make sure your carbohydrate stores are replenished frequently and carboí load before the weekly long run. Donít forget protein though, you body needs this nutrient to re-build muscle tissue.

How you complete these critical training weeks has a definitive impact on your marathon run. Itís up to you to Ďlisten to your bodyí and not over-train to the point of hurting yourself. On the other hand, you need to do quality runs to really benefit from this period of your training.





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