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Maintaining Marathon Fitness

Your marathon is firmly in the diary and you’ve found a training plan that is going to help you achieve your target PB. Everything is looking good, your calendar is prepped with key training sessions, the new shoes are raring to go and your motivation is high. Nothing is going to hold you back from smashing out a new personal best… except when your marathon is postponed or cancelled…

If you’re anything like me, having a target race really helps with focus and motivation for my training. I launched into the New Year with my eyes firmly set on the London Marathon. I had a target time in mind and things were looking good. However there are always challenges and hurdles to overcome, from torrential rain disrupting training to a global crisis postponing races. So what do you do when you’ve put in three months of hard training and you want to maintain that fitness?

First of all, don’t panic. There will be more races and your own marathon may be rescheduled in the future. If you’ve shown commitment and dedication to your training the first time around, you can do it again. It will be hard work, however with the right frame of mind and focus, you’ll be ready to go again after a reset.

It’s very easy to want to keep up your marathon training, week on week, month on month, building upon the miles each time, especially if your training has been going well, you’re injury free and have reached a peak in your fitness. The only way to move forward is to accept that you will lose some of this in order to stay fit and healthy. If your Spring marathon has been postponed until Autumn, there’s little point in attempting to maintain the same volume and intensity of training that you’re used to. It could lead to overtraining, injuries, tiredness and fatigue. The last thing you want is some enforced rest, so the key is to take your foot off the gas and maintain a healthy level of training. Cutting back the volume and intensity will help you to recover from your hard training block so that you’re ready to go again and give it your all.

If you’re still able to run, have a think about the ways that you can vary your training to keep it interesting. Seek out new routes, set yourself some personal challenges, throw different sessions into the mix. If you’ve mainly been running on the road, have a look at some alternative trail routes. See if you can come up with challenges like running to roads in your local area containing the letters of your name or instead of doing your regular tempo or speed session, have a play around with a fartlek session using local landmarks.

Cross-training is a great way to maintain fitness whilst also trying out different sports. If you’re predominately a runner and have access to a bike, gym, or home exercise equipment, have a think about throwing some different sessions into your week. There are lots of different workouts that you could do to add variety to your training and prevent overuse injuries through the training of different muscle groups. You can also use cross-training as active recovery, for example, going for an easy cycle ride the day after a longer run.

Home workouts are another way to maintain fitness and build muscle that will help your training when you’re ready to focus again. Have a think about different workouts that you can do to help build your core stability. These will really help with running posture and technique and you’ll hopefully notice the difference when you pick up the training again. If you need some ideas there are lots of apps available that give you daily workouts to do.

The key is consistency. As long as you keep training consistently and reduce the intensity/volume, you’ll be able to maintain your fitness. Ensure that you get enough sleep, eat healthily, drink lots of water and recover well. SiS REGO is a key ingredient for my recovery. Whether I’m in peak marathon training mode or not, I always ensure that I’m replenishing glycogen stores, vitamins and minerals that I lose during exercise.

The key to all of this is to enjoy maintaining your fitness. Train for the love of what you do and don’t worry about pace or times, the pressure is off… for now.

  

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Tom Wake
Written By

Tom Wake