The Marathon Series: The Four Rules of Training

Wednesday 19 November 2014 by

Welcome back to week four of my Marathon Series, as I blog my way to a marathon – from beginner to 26.2 miles. This week, we’re talking about the Four Rules of training.

As we’re still in the early stages of training, it can be easy to lose sight of what you’re aiming for, find your motivation drops off very quickly, or that you’re just not making the gains you imagined. But, if you stick to the Four Rules of training, you’ll find it’s easier to keep going…

Tree, Running, Marathon, #HoBFitness, Autumn, Yellow

Consistency

Consistency can mean anything from making sure you have a consistent training pattern (making sure your week always looks the same), to keeping an eye on your distance and speed. Keeping a consistent regime, as well as making sure your speed and distance follow the same patterns, are key to making this easy and pleasurable. Work out your limits in terms of speed and distance, and you can make sure you get consistently good runs, instead of overdoing it and feeling bad. Consistent running will make it easier for you to find – and test – your limits.

Frequency

This is the fourth post in the Marathon Series, and about the fourth time I’ve mentioned frequency. Choose how many runs you’ll be doing a week, and make sure you stick to it. My limit is around 2-3 runs a week, with rest days in between. Picking particular days on which to run also means you don’t have to miss out on social things because you’ve forgotten to run that week or have planned badly.

Duration

Building up to a marathon doesn’t mean you go out and run 26.2 miles straight away. Start small and work your way up in increments. Your first couple of months or so as a runner should be building up the duration of your runs (my three-a-week tend to have a short/medium/long run routine). If you don’t have any good circular routes, why not try an out-and-back, where you run out for 20 minutes and back for 20 minutes, then next time it’s 25-25, then 30-30, and so on until you have a nice long run sitting at about 2 hours (I’m only planning your first few months of training here – expect to be running anything up to and around 4 or 5 hours the closer you get to the marathon). This will also help to work out how fast your race pace will be. But be cautious; if you try too far too soon, you will injure yourself. A good method is making you don’t increase the distance by more than 10% each time!

Intensity

Once you have your duration all figured out, then you can start playing with speed. On your shorter runs, pick up the pace (anything from 25-75%) and push yourself. Try interval sessions; run fast for a kilometre, then your normal pace for a kilometre, then fast again, all the way around. By beginning to push the boundaries on what you deem “fast”, you will find yourself naturally speeding up, and being able to hold the faster pace for longer periods of time.

Keeping the Four Rules in mind will mean that training becomes that much easier, and you’re less likely to injure yourself. You will quickly get to know your body and what feels right and what doesn’t. Always pay attention to your body and recognise when to back off. Just because you’ve increased your distance from 5km to 10km, doesn’t mean you can’t have a couple of weeks back at 5km just to give yourself a break! These rules are guidelines, and are there to help, not hinder.

Don’t forget to let me know how you’re getting on, using the hashtag #HoBFitness. And check back next week to find out about my warm-up routine.

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