6 Marathon Training Tips For All Levels

This week is week 3 of marathon tranining and I can’t believe we just ran 10 miles yesterday. It’s amazing how fast your body can get back in shape. Just a month ago I was struggling to run 5-6 miles. Shooting to run anywhere from 3-6 miles today depending on how I feel. I want it to be a longer recovery day but I can only run at 2pm so it will be HOT. 95 degrees and 50% humidity. And I just do not want to run on the treadmill, so we’ll see…

Anyway, today I’ve got some great training info for you from the author of Running a Marathon For Dummies (and many other running related books), Dr. Jason Karp. I am following his intermediate plan in the aforementioned book. 

I sent him a few questions related to training that I thought might benefit other runners as well. Let’s get into it!

Training for a marathon? Check out these tips and insight from Dr. Jason Karp! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

1) What are your suggestions for adjusting pace in tempo runs or track workouts when it’s hot/humid?
Adjusting pace is okay as long as you are still running at the correct pace given the conditions. For example, if you’re doing a VO2 max interval workout on the track and it’s hot and humid, you still want to run at your VO2max pace whatever that pace may be on that day. It’s hard to know exactly by how much the weather will affect someone. Your VO2max pace may be a few seconds per mile slower on a hot/humid day, so adjust the time for your reps. If someone has a heart rate monitor, the pace can be adjusted by heart rate. For example, if on a cool day, you’re running at 7:00 mile pace at 100% max heart rate, but on a hot/humid day, you reach 100% max heart rate at 7:10 pace, then run at 7:10 pace that day.

2) I’ve seen you mention that exercising 250 min. per week and watching your nutrition will easily help you lose weight. Do those 250 minutes include easy runs? Or just hard workouts? What other tips do you have for getting to your race weight WHILE marathon training?
The number 250 is based on the 2009 position statement from the American College of Sports Medicine. It includes aerobic exercise. My next book is all about running for weight loss. Even though the subject tends to be made complicated, it’s really easy€” — to lose weight, you must expend more calories and consume fewer. So, when marathon training, don’t replenish all of the calories after long workouts. Only replace the calories you need to fuel your running and recover from workouts.

3) What do you think of cross training? Your plan has 1-2 days of rest. Do you think adding a day of cross training like cycling or swimming is beneficial? What about cycling in the AM and running in the PM, to get more cardio in but less impact on the legs?
I promote cross training for runners who aren’t running a lot of miles. In that case, cross training can definitely help with cardiovascular improvement. However, if you want to be a better runner, you must run. Swimming won’t make you a better runner.

4) Can you explain the running science behind the tempo runs and track workouts, and how they can help one achieve their marathon goal pace?
This can take a long time to answer. I’ve written entire books on this subject! Briefly, tempo runs help your endurance by training you to hold a faster aerobic pace by raising your lactate threshold, which is your fastest sustainable aerobic pace. Track workouts can help a variety of things, depending on what it is you’re trying to accomplish with the workout. For example, VO2max intervals can help improve your heart’s ability to pump blood and oxygen because you’re running at the maximum capability for your heart to do its job. Anaerobic workouts can recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers, improve your speed and the ability of your muscles to generate energy anaerobicall, without oxygen.

5) If you had to pick the ONE thing that I MUST do in training, what would it be? (i.e., long runs, tempo runs, sleep 8 hours per night, nap, etc.)
Train consistently and progressively from week to week and month to month and year to  year.

6) I know many people in the same boat as me, trying to BQ and feeling it is impossible. They are also in the same boat as me in terms of time goals. Dropping from a 4:30ish marathon to a BQ marathon time of 3:30ish. Do you think that is realistic?
It depends on the person’s genetic ability and the commitment he/she makes to train. With adequate training, most runners can run much faster than they are. Can someone go from 4:30 to 3:30? That depends on how much training went into that 4:30. If the person ran 20 miles per week without any other types of workouts, then I’d say probably. But if that person ran 60 miles per week and did tempo runs and interval workouts, and is still running 4:30, then a 3:30 is probably out of reach.

So there you have it folks! Some great info from Dr. Jason Karp. I’ve been stuck around 4:30-5, but I know I still have a lot I can do. Like running more, running more consistently throughout the year, doing more tempo runs, strength training, etc. So we’ll see what happens for NYC Marathon!

Who else is running a fall marathon?

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  1. I’m fortunate to know Jason and I’ve been to a couple of his sessions at IDEA World. He is a great coach and knows so much about how to be a better runner. Great tips.

    BTW, I went from a first time marathon time of 4:10 to (eventually) a 3:16, so taking big chunks of time off can be done with hard work and proper training.
    Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs recently posted…Taking A New Look at Stretching: The Core FourMy Profile

  2. Like Debbie, I had the pleasure of attending one of Jason’s sessions at IDEA World. He is very knowledgeable!
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…The Perfect 10 WorkoutMy Profile

  3. If you are looking to take that much time off your marathon time, I’d recommend having a backup goal–that happened to me last year and I realized there was no way I could BQ at Chicago with the conditions I was running in. But I wanted to salvage the race and still be happy. So backup plan it was!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…This or That….Juxtaposition in RunningMy Profile

  4. Great interview! Very educational!
    Carmy recently posted…Trails to Check out Near Niagara FallsMy Profile

  5. Wow, this is awesome advice! I love cross-training though, so I’m nervous about really kicking up the gear with my mileage when I start marathon training next month. And I see the theme that consistency is more important than anything!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…How to Track Goals With the Believe Training JournalMy Profile

  6. How interesting and great that you are already back up to 10 miles. I agree that consistency is key for training at any distance.
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Finding My EdgeMy Profile

  7. I am not training for a marathon but adjusting my training due to the heat and Florida humidity is the hardest. I am learning to not be so hard on myself :)
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…ZOOMA Summer Challenge Week OneMy Profile

  8. This looks super helpful! I just shared it on my Twitter.
    Michelle Rogers recently posted…Celebrating a new fitness certification and blogiversaryMy Profile

  9. Great info…I especially appreciated his “condensed” explanation of VO2max workouts….in words that I can understand ;-)
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Juxtapose me this….My Profile

  10. These are all excellent tips. I have never had the desire to run a marathon, I have only done a half. I think these are great tips for any distance.

  11. His take on cross training is interesting. I’ve heard most trainers rave about the benefits of cross training, including when training for a marathon.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…2016 Goals Check InMy Profile

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