Author: Reece Barclay
Note: This article is supporting content to the Optimum Nutrition for Health and Performance course and is for educational purposes only. It does not reflect the opinion of Glanbia Performance Nutrition, nor is it intended for product marketing purposes.
So coming to the pointy end of the training plan for early season marathon runners? Here are some top tips from Elite athlete and Coach Reece Barclay
• An overall progress check of your athlete/yourself if you are the athlete. How has the plan gone so far and how does the athlete feel? Are they suffering from any injuries or concerns, are they happy with their mileage build up ready for the last push? If the answer to any of these questions is NO then these issues need to be factored in before setting the final key phases of the training plan. One final last overview of the whole plan and the athletes condition is key to race success.
• 12-4 weeks out from the event is the key time for the correct levels of training stimulus as it will have the most physical benefit for the athletes during the race. This stimulus will ideally be the closest to race intensities and duration in sections but will also still contain a good rounded spread of low intensity, strength and conditioning and recovery sessions.
• If you are behind on your mileage does a new target need to be set? It is really easy in the last 12 weeks to put too much training in to try to catch up if you are behind. It is often worth just reworking the plan to smooth things out and keep volume and intensity increases small with no big jumps.
• Finalizing the race plan is key at the start of this period. You will have been building towards a plan and target pace but now is the time to review this and factor in likely weather conditions, physical condition up to this point along with terrain, feed stations and other run support. With this now reviewed build a specific race plan and adjust certain training sessions to replicate parts of the is race plan so the athlete is comfortable on race day with their physical condition and ability to deliver.
• Train with race day nutrition and full race day kit and equipment to make sure there are no surprises. This will also reduce any pre anxiety around kit and equipment so that on race day the athlete feels ready, calm and relaxed.
• Whilst most research shows sessions which stretch physical fitness during this last 3-4 week period will not have direct race day benefit, this last phase is still very critical. The balance between reducing overall training stress in this period so the athlete is fresh and ready to perform but not letting fitness levels and physical condition drop is key. This is where knowing your athlete or yourself as the athlete is key and the psychological can become more important than the physiological. Sessions during this period should build confidence as freshness returns and activation sessions can replace longer hard workouts. High intensity can still be present for shorter durations than before with the athlete being left with the feeling of “plenty more to give”.
• Reduce the athlete pressure so they can perform at their peak. If they feel calm and relaxed they will deliver well, so belief that their work has been done and they are ready to deliver is key. The athlete should not be focused on possible outcomes or target times, they need to be focused on their process and their key triggers for smooth form.
• Talk about and plan for negative events and outcomes. For a number of reason things may not go to plan on race day so this must be looked at with a season/career thought process. Running through an injury or illness my feel like giving everything but other races and personal health are big considerations here and the athlete should never feel under pressure to make a poor choice on race day.