Posted in Achieve, Health & Fitness, Sports on 14 March 2012 | by Amit

Running For The Rush – Preparing For The London Marathon

Those of you lucky enough to bag a place at the London Marathon this April must be buzzing with excitement. The 26 mile slog around the capital is one of life’s ultimate challenges, with honour bestowed upon men brave enough to tackle such feats of physical endurance. With the London Marathon only five weeks away it’s time to get serious about your training. You’ve probably been stepping up the efforts in 2012 but additional advice and encouragement never goes amiss. Especially from those in the know…

 

That’s why Elysium thought it wise to seek the knowledge advice of a few seasoned pros in the health & fitness world to lend you a helping hand. Step forward former Olympic 400m runner Iwan Thomas, former Gladiator & Olympian Wayne Gordon and leading fitness scientist Anna Holder.

A marathon is undoubtedly hard work so preparing your body in the right way will help you get through this demanding challenge. We’ve broken it down into five key areas essential to success in endurance sports, and with the guidance of fellow Olympians and experts, you’ll be in safe hands.

 

Preparation

 

To get your body and mind ready for the challenge ahead, the right preparation is crucial. As Wayne tells Elysium “Getting prepared for a long distance running event won’t happen overnight but it isn’t something that should seem unreachable. Make sure you invest in a good pair of trainers and set yourself a training program that will help you reach the required level of fitness by race day.”

 

Exercise

 

This is how you’re going to build up the fitness level needed to compete (…or simply complete) a long distance endurance event. “The key to exercising for a marathon is to slowly build up your fitness over a long period of time” highlights Iwan.

 

This all makes sense so far, and you’re probably thinking those gym hours on the treadmill or pounding the pavements has prepped you enough. But here’s where a little science might help your understanding as Anna explained: “Ideally you should be building up a good ‘base’ of endurance fitness through the off season (e.g. winter) with plenty of long low-to-medium intensity sessions, then adding some higher interval sessions later on. The longer, slower sessions will help your ‘economy’ whereby your body learns to become really efficient at a set of movements, using less energy for the same level of performance. The higher intensity sessions will boost your fitness and improve speed.”

 

Diet

 

You’re not going to be running nowhere without the right type of fuel so diet is one of the most important factors. It can mean the difference between finishing or not, and even shaving seconds off your personal best time.Wayneadds food for thought “You’ll need to have a well-balanced, sensible diet which includes unprocessed foods. Increase your carbohydrate intake with foods such as oats, sweet potatoes and brown rice, to ensure sustained energy release throughout the day. Also always make sure you stay hydrated through your workout.”

 

Anna added “During training, stick to water for sessions under an hour and use sports drinks, gels and bars (whichever suits you) during longer sessions. After longer or higher intensity sessions, consume a snack with some high-quality protein and carbohydrate (like flavoured milk or peanut butter on toast) within 30-60mins of finishing and then eat a proper meal including plenty of wholegrain carbohydrates and fruit or vegetables within the next few hours.”

 

There’s good reason to believe that fuelling your body with the right foods is key to getting the best performance from it. Your body is craving food after a workout to help with the repair and regeneration of muscle tissue. Anna helped get our heads around the concept “This reduces the stress hormone response to exercise and so helps prevent suppression of your immune system. It optimises muscle recovery, aids rehydration and replenishes muscle glycogen stores ready for your next training session.”

 

Rest

 

We all love our rest, (afternoon siesta anyone?) but it plays a far deeper role in the maintenance of your body when training for endurance activities. “Rest is obviously important for endurance running and they are a key element of my training programme. I will usually have three rest days a week when training seriously in order for my body to fully recover and be able to train as hard as I can. In the lead up to the race I will make sure I rest for four days and stock up on carbohydrates to ensure I’m fully prepared” said Iwan.

 

Injuries are also more likely if your body is not properly rested, and fatigue can leave you open to illness. As Anna warns “The last thing you want is to get injured or come down with a cold just before the big event, so make sure you schedule recovery days into each week, particularly on the days after longer runs or high intensity sessions. Consider getting a sports massage on a regular basis to aid recovery and help maintain muscle condition.”

 

Avoiding Boredom

 

Running long distance can be a lonesome experience – typically a couple of hours with no one to talk to, and just your thoughts for company. You might have the comfort of music spurring you on, but there’s only so much of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ a man can take.

 

Variety is key to motivation, as Anna suggested “vary the type of training that you do during the week and you’ll find that your fitness improves more rapidly. Integrate other activities like spinning classes, martial arts and walking into your weekly routine to add another dimension to your training and help avoid boredom.”

 

Iwan adds “The main thing I do to reduce boredom is setting small goals throughout my runs. This keeps me motivated and breaks down the long runs.”

 

So there you have it. Whether you’re already committed to running the London Marathon this year (exact countdown from today: 1 month seven days), or decided that 2012 is the year to get involved with endurance sports – the advice above should prove invaluable in reaching your goals. The euphoria of crossing the finish line, building up your fitness, raising money for charity, or simply having an amazing story to tell at the next dinner party – such feats of endurance is a huge accolade to hold.

 

For more details on the London Marathon visit Virgin London Marathon

 

About the experts:

 

Iwan Thomas is a K-Swiss elite ambassador and uses the K-Swiss Blade-Max Stable trainer. For further information, visit: www.kswiss.com

 

Wayne Gordon is ambassador for ICON Health and Fitness, enjoying workouts on his NordicTrack Treadmill (www.nordic-track.co.uk) and Proform Exercise Bike (www.proformfitness.co.uk)

 

Anna Holder is Lead Scientist at Ki Performance exercise and fitness tools. For further information, visit: www.kiperformance.co.uk

 


 
 
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