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Marathon Training — Getting Ready for Your Next Personal Best!

Whether you're a beginner runner or an experienced one, you might have a love-hate relationship with marathons. After completing your first marathon, you'll likely have the desire to achieve a personal best (PB) in the future. However, reality often falls short of expectations, and many runners, despite their dedicated training, struggle to achieve breakthrough results. In this edition of "THE HARBOUR," we will share several concepts and training methods for marathon running, hoping to assist you in continuously pushing your limits!

Preparing for a marathon takes time, ranging from three months to up to six months. The training process requires strategy and patience, often involving methods like Long Slow Distance Training, Tempo Training, and Interval Training. Adequate recovery and proper nutritional supplementation are also essential parts of effective training according to sports science.

Long Slow Distance Training

This is a training method to enhance aerobic capacity, achieved by maintaining a lower exercise intensity for a longer duration. This improves cardiorespiratory function and muscle endurance. A stronger aerobic capacity helps increase jogging speed and reduces fatigue.

Long Slow Distance Training is crucial in marathon preparation, usually comprising a significant portion of the total training time. If your weekly distance is 100 kilometres, around 80 to 90 kilometres should be completed at an easy pace. "Easy pace" refers to exercising within Heart Rate Zones 1 to 2 or being able to comfortably say phrases like "London bridge is falling down my fair lady" without excessive breathlessness while running, indicating a sufficiently relaxed pace.

Tempo Training

This is an advanced aerobic capacity training that works at the intensity which the body can break down lactic acid as quickly as it builds up, thus improving the ability to utilise lactate ions as an energy source. Even at the top speed in Tempo Training, the net production of lactic acid in the body is still zero! When using lactate testing, you'd find that the amount of lactic acid produced at the same speed after running 15 minutes is comparable to that produced after 60 minutes if you’re training at the right pace.

The maximum speed in a marathon should be similar to the pace in Tempo Training. In long-distance races, if lactate accumulates too early, you might feel fatigued around the 30-kilometre mark, resulting in a reduced pace for the final 12 kilometres. Tempo Training involves various intensities, such as using 70% of your marathon speed. You can estimate your pace based on past race results or go by your feelings, aiming to maintain a consistent high speed for at least 60 minutes.

Interval Training

Depending on the speed, Interval Training can focus on either advanced aerobic or anaerobic capacity. For example, running 1000, 2000, or 4000 meters at a lower speed qualifies as advanced aerobic training. If you feel sore after running 400 meters, you're moving into more anaerobic training territory. Interval Training is faster than Tempo training, and thus will be producing lactic acid. Thus, lactate ions have to be used as an energy source during later stages of training for the training to maintain the same speed, consequently improving the body’s ability to use multiple energy sources for running.

Interval Training pace is faster than marathon race pace. For instance, a usual Interval Training pace would be at your 5K or 10K race pace, with equal rest and running time, or even resting for half the time. For example, if you run 1000 meters in 4 minutes, rest for 4 minutes, or, as you get stronger, you can even rest only for 2 minutes.

Gradual Progression

Whether you're increasing distance or improving speed, it's important to adopt a gradual progression approach. Suddenly increasing training intensity not only fails to enhance physical fitness effectively but also increases the risk of injury. The "strongest citizen runner" Yuki Kawauchi, with a personal best time of 2 hours 7 minutes 27 seconds in the marathon, runs a marathon every week. However, from the perspective of Japanese runners, this isn't an ideal training method; some might even think it leaves him physically and mentally strained, and thus they asserted that he has never been well-prepared for a single marathon.

In the running community, there's a general consensus that increasing distance and intensity by 10% each week is the upper limit for most people. Elite athletes might break this rule under certain circumstances, but they have more recovery time and medical support, making their situation incomparable to that of average runners. So, it's best not to rush things and keep training increments below 10%. In training, "moderation is key."

Energy Systems

Glycogen is how the body stores carbohydrates, which is divided into muscle and liver glycogen. When the body's glycogen stores are depleted, performance and efficiency significantly decrease, leading to the phenomenon known as "hitting the wall." After glycogen depletion, the body learns to store more glycogen the next time. Therefore, for some longer training sessions, it's recommended to conduct them on an empty stomach to deplete glycogen stores, followed by timely carbohydrate replenishment to enhance the glycogen synthesising capacity of the body.

The carboloading method aims to enhance performance. A classical method to do carboloading is to reduce carbohydrate intake from seven days before a race and then consume a large amount of carbohydrate-rich foods during the three days ahead of the race to maximise glycogen storage.

Pre-Race Preparation

After six months of rigorous training, when you stand at the starting line, you should feel full of energy, not mentally and physically exhausted from overtraining. Therefore, in the ten days leading up to the race, you should adjust your physical condition. This doesn't mean stopping training altogether but reducing the training distance while maintaining the intensity. This allows your body to recover without losing the benefits of training. Runners generally reduce training volume by 30-50% in the ten days before a race, and on the day before the race, they do an easy run of 5 to 10 KM and include 4 to 5 sets of 100-meter sprints.

Conclusion

Training intensity and distance vary from person to person, and should be determined based on individual knowledge and experience. This article aims to introduce basic training concepts. If you're unsure where to start, seeking advice and guidance from a professional running coach is a wise decision. The Harbour Athletic Club (HAC), an England Athletic affiliate, offers personalised online training plans. The head coach, Harry Loasby, is the current Hong Kong record holder for the 3000 meters and is the first Hong Kong runner to break 4 minutes in the 1500 meters in almost a decade. With his extensive coaching experience, supported by his running achievements, he can create a training plan tailored to each runner's needs. Whatever you do, find the training method that suits you best and strive for your ideal performance!


For the Individualised 1:1 Online Coaching Program, click here.


馬拉松訓練 — 迎接你的下個 Personal Best (PB)!


無論你是跑步初哥或資深跑者,都可能對馬拉松又愛又恨。完成人生首馬後,心頭又會湧現出 PB 的渴望。現實往往不盡人意,許多跑者努力地訓練,卻未能看到成績上的突破。今期《THE HARBOUR》會分享幾個練習馬拉松的概念和訓練方法,期望能協助你不斷挑戰個人極限!


準備一個馬拉松,短則要三個月,長則可達半年,訓練過程需要策略和耐心,方法往往離不開緩慢長距離跑(Long Slow Distance Training)、配速跑訓練(Tempo Training)和間歇跑訓練(Interval Training),而適當的恢復調整和營養補充,也是根據運動科學,有效訓練不可或缺的部分。


緩慢長距離跑


這是提升有氧能力(Aerobic Capacity)的一種訓練方法,透過在較長時間內保持較低的運動強度,進而提升心肺功能和肌肉耐力。有氧能力愈強,有助於提升慢跑速度,而且不容易感到疲勞。


緩慢長距離訓練在馬拉松訓練中佔有重要地位,通常佔據了總訓練時數的大部分。如果你的週里數為100公里,其中大約要有80至90公里以輕鬆的速度完成。所謂「輕鬆」,是指在 Zone 1 至 Zone 2 的心率區進行運動。又或者你能夠在跑步時,輕鬆地說出「郵差叔叔送信純熟迅速送出」而不需要過度換氣,這就表示你的運動強度足夠輕鬆了。


配速跑


這是高階有氧能力訓練,通過平衡身體生成乳酸和分解乳酸的速度,從而提高它分解乳酸的能力。配速跑的極限速度仍然會在乳酸生產和分解乳酸。比如,使用乳酸測試,你會發現在15分鐘和60分鐘兩個時間段內,相同速度下乳酸生成量應相同。


馬拉松的最高速度應與配速跑速度相近。在長距離比賽中,若乳酸過早累積,可能導致你在30公里處感到疲勞,最後12公里無法維持速度。配速跑有不同強度,例如使用馬拉松速度的70%。你可以參考過去比賽速度判斷。或者你可以憑感覺設定速度,以能夠穩定保持60分鐘以上速度為目標。


間歇跑


視乎速度,間歇跑可以是高階有氧或無氧能力訓練。例如以較低速度跑1000米、2000米或4000米是高階有氧訓練。如果你跑400米就感覺痠軟,那就較貼近無氧能力訓練。由於間歇跑比節奏跑快,會累積乳酸,所以在訓練後期身體必須以乳酸產生能量維持速度,從而提高此能力。


間歇跑速度比馬拉松賽的速度更快。舉例說,以5公里或10公里比賽速度訓練,休息與跑步時間相等,甚至只休息一半時間。例如,跑1000米用4分鐘,休息4分鐘,甚至只休息2分鐘。


循序漸進


不論是增加距離還是提高速度,都應該採取循序漸進的方式。突然增加訓練強度不僅無法有效提升體能,還可能增加受傷的風險。「最強市民跑者」川內優輝,馬拉松個人最佳時間為2小時7分27秒。他每星期都會跑一個馬拉松,聽起來很勤力,但從日本跑者的角度看,這不但非理想的訓練方法,甚至認為他沒有很好的準備過一場馬拉松。跟著這方式去跑,恐怕未做到好成績已令自己五癆七傷。


跑界有一般共識,每週增加10%的距離和強度是一般人的極限。精英運動員或會在特定情況下打破這規矩,但他們擁有更多的恢復時間和團隊支援,無法與普通市民跑者相比。所以還是不要太衝動,把訓練增量保持在10%以下較好。 在訓練上,「過猶不及」也是金科玉律。


能量系統


醣原是身體儲存碳水化合物的方法,分為肌肉和肝臟中的醣原。當身體的醣原耗盡,運動效率會大大降低,這就是所謂的「撞牆」現象。當醣原耗盡後,身體會「學懂」下次儲備更多醣原。所以部份長課訓練應安排在沒有事先進食的情況下進行,以耗盡醣原,然後及時以碳水化合物為主要成份進行補充,訓練身體儲備醣原的能力。


醣原負荷法是提升表現的方法。其中一個典型的醣原負荷法是在比賽前7天減少碳水化合物攝入,之後3天攝入大量碳水化合物。這會增加醣原存量。


賽前準備


當你苦練了半年,站在起跑線前,你應該感到精力充沛,而非過度訓練所帶來的身心俱疲。所以賽前十日你應該調整身體狀態,這不意味著停止訓練,而是減低訓練距離,但要保持訓練強度,令身體在恢復同時不會失去訓練成果。跑手一般會在賽前十日將訓練量減30-50%,賽前一日輕鬆跑五至十公里,並加入4至5次100米的衝刺。


總結


訓練強度和距離因人而異,需根據個人知識和經驗判斷。本文旨在介紹訓練基本概念。若不知何從入手,尋求專業跑步教練建議和方案是明智之舉。隨著教練和跑手相處的時間愈長,訓練計劃將更加精準。 本會屬下的 Harbour Athletic Club(HAC)為 England Athletic 屬會,提供1對1網上訓練計劃,能為你度身訂造訓練課程。HAC主教練 Harry Loasby,是目前3000米香港紀錄保持者,也是在近十年第一個在1500米跑進4分內的香港跑手。Harry在香港有豐富的教練經驗,能為每個跑手擬定最適合的專屬訓練計劃。無論如何,希望大家能找到最適合自己的訓練方法,取得理想成績!


有關 Harry Loasby 的 Individualised 1:1 Online Coaching Program 請按此


文:h.c.


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