Advanced Marathon training in 4 easy steps

The Marathon is one of the most difficult and, at the same time, popular distances — especially the last ten years. With the increasing popularity of this sport, both amateur and professional athletes stepped up their game, towards achieving maximum performance. Hence, for many, just finishing the race won’t cut it anymore. Today, athletes aim to break personal records. However, to get to that level, the coaching approach needs to be highly individualized, and intensive. That’s where an advanced Marathon training strategy comes in handy.

4 Steps for advanced Marathon training

1. Gradually increase the mileage

There’s no doubt that the athlete will have to perform a much larger volume of miles/kilometers; that is, compared to a novice runner’s training. Mind you, this doesn’t mean that the more miles/kilometers the athlete will cover, the better their performance. To point out, a well-structured plan is necessary, when we talk about advanced Marathon training. What does this include?

  • Progressive cycles of increasing load
  • Weeks of rest
  • A balanced ratio of intensity and volume

The training volume should increase by about 5-10% per week. Nonetheless, the coach needs to take the training background of each athlete under consideration, first. Furthermore, they need to analyze the athlete’s training data, to avoid injury and overtraining syndromes.

2. Apply the right amount of intensity

One of the most important parameters for optimal performance in the Marathon is, of course, the VO2max. According to the scientific literature, in order to improve maximal oxygen uptake during exercise, oxygen consumption in high amounts and a considerable increase in heart rate are necessary. Typically, an advanced Marathon training program requires tensions with a heart rate > 85%.

Be that as it may, prolonged and unstructured intensity training hides several risks. That said, the coach should instruct the right proportion of intensity versus total training volume. To do so, they need to personalize the whole training program based on the athlete’s unique physiology and capabilities. 

In general, many coaches choose to integrate the 80/20 ratio into their athletes’ training routine. This means that the athlete has to execute 80% of the training volume in zone 2; and 20% in zone 4, and zone 5 (above the lactate threshold). 

3. Strike a balance between load and recovery

Finding the right ratio between training load and rest for the athlete is, perhaps, the most important step towards implementing an advanced Marathon training plan. Every coach is familiar with the supercompensation theory; according to which, for an athlete to perform well, they must have certain periods of recovery, in-between the training phases. Otherwise, they won’t be making any progress; and, this will negatively affect both their performance and psychological state. 

To strike a balance between training load and recovery, the coach needs to thoroughly monitor the athlete’s training data and mental state. Also, there needs to be good communication between the coach and the athlete. If anything, communication will prove to be pivotal, in case things don’t go as planned. 

That’s why in our coaching platform, Endogusto, we’ve integrated special algorithms that will automatically inform the coach when the athlete has exceeded the critical limit between load and rest. Additionally,  these algorithms also calculate what training load is ideal for each athlete. 

4. Execute strength training regularly

Scientific studies have shown that resistance training can lead to superior performance, even for a well-trained endurance athlete; if applied properly, that is (Billat et al. 1996, Aagard et al. 2008, Talpale et al. 2010). The mechanism behind this finding is relatively simple: by improving the athlete’s maximum strength, we also improve the nervous system. 

To elaborate, due to strength training, the athlete can better cope with the forces applied during running. Consequently, they use fewer motor units and consume less oxygen for the same intensity. This means fewer energy costs, and, therefore, enhanced performance. 

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Advanced Marathon training calls for a state-of-the-art coaching platform

In this article, we’ve highlighted some of the steps that a coach and an athlete can implement to create an advanced Marathon training plan. Keep in mind, there’s also nutrition, macro designing, testing, evaluations, etc. Yet, all things considered, the aforementioned four steps are certainly the basis from which the coach can start working on the performance of their athlete. And, when it comes to a demanding endurance competition, like the Marathon, a state-of-the-art coaching platform, like Endogusto, can help work wonders towards optimizing athletic performance. 

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Advanced Marathon training in 4 easy steps was last modified: December 3rd, 2021 by Aris Myrkos