Training Tips - Managing Those Miles by Coach Dave Taylor
For me the hardest part of any race is making sure I’m in the right place at the right time – my bowels and bladder are happy: my shoes match; I’ve got the right kit on (the time I forgot my shorts for the Llandudno 10 is still etched in my memory!) and I’m fuelled and hydrated.
Bloomin’ Ada – it’s like a military operation!
But this is nothing compared to the work you put in over the preceding months to prepare for Race Day. And for some the long miles pounded out in the latter stages of the training schedule are a challenge that goes beyond the mere physical.
Every week that long run looms large. You know you are putting in the work and you know that the extra bit this week as you continue to build is within your capabilities. But there are times when those long runs are so daunting.
They don’t have to be. You know in your heart they are the backbone of your training, and they are what will get you over the finish line.
Getting through those long miles is all about mindset.
So here are some suggestions which will hopefully help you through those miles.
Training Point – Know you are up to the task. From the moment you started training for your race you became a HALF MARATHON RUNNER! Adopt that mindset and relish the adventure you are undertaking. Some miles will be easy, some miles will be hard and there will be aches and pains on the way but that goes with the territory. You are a HALF MARATHON RUNNER!
Training Point – Avoid that same old route. There’s nothing worse than that déjà vu feeling as you plod along a route that you could do with your eyes shut.
Plotting new routes can be a nightmare so there is always the old staple of doing an out and back, thereby assured that you’ll get just the right mileage, and you are less likely to get lost – this is more applicable to going off-road which comes up next
Luckily modern GPS technology has come to the rescue and there are lots of apps that you can use to scope out a route e.g. Strava.
In my marathon heyday I loved striking out beyond Chester to explore the countryside on my long runs. I used to get out early in the morning and remember on many occasions just stopping to appreciate the sights and sounds of the land around me. The views, the wind in the trees, the singing of the birds and the rare glimpses of other animals. It made me feel so alive! Just what you need when you’ve got umpteen miles to tap out to get home!
Training Point – some of your long runs can be done off road. These are of great benefit. The trails and hills are there to be used and are great for strength and conditioning.
If on the road your run is scheduled to be, say 12 miles and that will normally take you 2 hours then do a 2-hour run. It is unlikely that the off-road route will give you 12 miles, but it’ll give you a workout that, if anything, will be more challenging. You get the benefit of less impact from softer ground yet that very surface presents its own challenges. You are so busy watching where you put your feet that the time flies by!
Training Point – Use your long runs to work on your fuelling and hydration strategy. Find out what works for you. You can use this to break the run into bite-size chunks e.g. treat yourself to a glug of fluid every 5 minutes. It’s amazing how quickly those 5 minutes pass.
Training Point – Run with others. This has so many bonuses, the principal of which is safety but there is also the distraction factor. I remember some epic debates on the hoof when training with a group. These normally centred on listing our top ten individuals or things in any given category. Great fun!
Training Point – Be tough on yourself. If you have any leeway as to the day of your long run then go for the day with the most unfavourable conditions whether that be too hot, too wet, too windy, just horrible… This is good character-building stuff and hey, how often do you get perfect running conditions on Race Day?
Training Point – this is probably obvious but continually monitor and assess how you are doing. Ideally your pace should be pretty much even and should be the correct pace to get you home feeling that you’ve worked hard overall rather than you could have done a couple of extra miles.
Training Point – Run laps. If getting out into the wild feels like a country lane too far then how about running loops with your home as a pit stop/fuel station. This has the added bonus of having a toilet if needed.
This way you are never a daunting distance away from base.
Training Point – When you hit the last mile of your run pretend it is the final mile of the race. Get your finishing-the-race head on and give it some welly!
Just remember to keep the vision of you crossing the line on Race Day knowing that every step you took in your training runs got you there.
Vincent Boit in 2015
Amanda Crook in 2013
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