It is often said that the hardest thing about training for a half and especially a full marathon is actually getting to the start line in one piece. The human body, unlike a machine, has an in-built capacity to adapt to any extra workload you put on it.
All can be going fine, and you have a really good “feel good factor” as you watch your training progress, then all of a sudden, you may feel unwell or have an ache or pain somewhere. How can you prevent this happening and how can you recognise the early warning signs if it does happen?
- Build up the workload gradually. As a rule of thumb you should never increase your total weekly mileage or your long run by more than 10%.This can vary depending on previous experience and current fitness.
- Embrace the hard day/easy day principle. This allows the body to recover so it is rested before the next effort.
- Learn to listen to your body. Don’t talk yourself out of training but be prepared to ease back or take an extra rest day if your body is “grumbling and rumbling” at you, or you feel unwell.
- Realise that rest is an integral part of the training schedule.
- Ease off early. An easy day or two at the first signs of injury or illness, can prevent something” snapping” and you having to take even more time off as a result
Imagine your body is a rubber band. When you stretch a rubber band between your fingers, as long as it is not pulled too hard, it will always return to normal shape. If you pull it too hard it will stretch beyond the point of normal return and could well eventually SNAP! Similarly you are stretching your body when you are asking it to take on an extra workload, and if you don’t allow it to rest and recover, you run the risk of getting injured, or ill, or both.
So remember when you are following any schedule, whatever you are training for and whatever your standard, the rest or easy days are there for a reason: to allow your body to recover before the next big effort.