Before a Marathon
Commonly, recreational runners try to run a total of about 40 miles a week while training for a marathon, but there’s a lot of variance to this as well. Compare that to most male elite marathoners who try to run over 100 miles a week, taking nothing for granted.
There a diverse collection of training programs out there, but with some things in common. Most last a minimum of five or six months and include a gradual increase (approximately every couple of weeks) in the distance run, then leads into a small decrease (approximately 1 to 3 weeks) which is designed for recovery. According to most trainers, this decrease, or taper, should ideally last a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of three weeks. Many trainers recommend a increase in mileage of no more than 10% on a weekly basis. It’s also commonly advised to maintain a consistent running program for approximately six weeks before starting beginning a marathon training program in order to allow the body to adapt to new stresses.
I had a friend who decided that she wanted to run in a marathon that was not only promoting cancer awareness, but specifically raising money for human hair wigs for cancer patients. Although she was regular recreational runner she had never run a marathon. By following these guidelines she was not only able to train in a safe and healthy manner, but successfully completed the marathon. She didn’t have a professional trainer working with her on a day to day or week to week basis, but followed several training programs online that suited her running needs. I was impressed with her dedication and her success.
During the last two weeks or so before a marathon, runners will commonly gradually reduce their weekly training by as much as 50% to 75% of the previous peak, and will usually take at least two days of complete rest to allow their bodies to recover. In fact, the last long training run might actually take place no later than two weeks prior to the marathon. It’s common for marathon runners to load up on carbohydrates while maintaining a constant total caloric intact the week before a marathon, which serves the purpose of allowing their bodies to store up more glycogen – an important note, because when glycogen levels bottom out, the body begins to burn stored fat, which is taxing on the body and can lead to fatigue.
Just before a marathon, many runners won’t eat solid food in order to avoid digestive problems. They also make a point to be fully hydrated before a race.
We probably don’t need to mention this for most people, but because of some popular magazines mentioning the use of hCG injections by some runners we want to add our 2 cents. Do not combine this kind of diet with marathon running. Any kind of restrictive diet, and certainly any that have strict limitations on caloric or hypoglycemic foods, may have unfavorable consequences not only for the race results, but for you general health. Fortunately, most runners are already trim and most are aware of such risks.