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Marathon Running Programmes: Good Or Bad?

By Author: Elaine Harvey

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There are hundreds of them out there “Run your first 10km” “5km to marathon in 6 months” “Cross train your way to your first marathon” and yes they all work. Unlike them I am not going to give you a daily schedule with a total number of kilometres.

You do have to train and get a minimum number of kilometres per week depending on your goal distance.

My key when taking any advice in life is “That’s a great idea but will it work for me”. Before you start on a running programme choose a goal and then choose a programmer that’s fits into your lifestyle.

Ask yourself the following question
Is my goal achievable at this stage in my life?
Can I sacrifice the time that is required for this training programme?
Will my family/work/social life manage this training programme?
Do I really want to do this?
Can I find someone to do this with me and if not can I do this on my own?
Is this training programme suitable for my running pace? i.e. it’s much easier to run 15km if you run at 4mins/km in terms of time allocation

The most common problem I see with runners is over-training; the person who sticks to the programme 100% is often the one who doesn’t make it to the finish line. You need to listen to your body. There is no point in dragging yourself out of bed every morning to run because the programme says so, but you can’t stay awake in the afternoon. Don’t forget that this is supposed to be your recreation and FUN. I have so many clients who I beg to take a rest day; the reply is often I am just going to do an easy 5kay or a 30km cycle, which is not rest. Rest is lying on the couch or sleeping in.

I had two friends who ran Comrades last year, Bob and Joe. Bob followed his programme to the letter, never missed a day, read every article did all his research and consulted every expert. Joe graced us with his presence on the odd run, always had some drama that prevented him from running, arrived late and had numerous injuries. Joe finished Comrades and enjoyed every minute of it even if his time wasn’t the fastest. Bob had severe cramps and had to bail with 30km to go.

There is no doubt that structure and routine is the key to successful training and results. Monitor your body and the benefits of a rest day. Rest is as important to your training as running is. In my opinion a good running programme should include the following:

Four days of running per week including a speed session, hill work, an easy day and a long run
Cross training
Rest days
Easier weeks
Room to reward yourself or skip a day if you are not feeling motivated

I think like everything in life, how we do things is determined by your personality and life circumstances so choose the programme that you can manage.

Enjoy your training, enjoy the company of your training partners and make your goals achievable for yourself.

Elaine has been working in the fitness industry in South Africa and the UK for the last 17 years. She studied a Sports Science degree at Rhodes University and started running long distance in 1997.Join Elaine’s running group on www.fitnessconnect.co.za

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