Performance Physiologist Bruce Wardrop discusses the key questions you should ask yourself before takng part in the Waterford Viking Marathon
For 2017, Waterford Viking Marathon has teamed up with the Department of Health, Sport & Exercise Science (DHSES) in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) to provide expert training information in the run up to the event. Regardless of your chosen race distance, now is the optimal time to get your training underway. In this article, performance physiologist Bruce Wardrop poses some key questions to consider before you start:
1.How fit are you?
Honestly evaluate your current fitness level & choose the race that is right for you. The Waterford Viking Marathon has all bases covered here – with the relay, quarter, half and full marathon there is a race to suit everyone. If you have just completed a couch to 5k program it might be a little ambitious to aim for the full marathon! On the other hand if you are a regular runner looking for a challenge, the half or full marathon might be right for you.
2.What does your life look like between now and race day?
It is important that you can realistically complete the training required, particularly for the full marathon. Consistency is critical and typical marathon training plans will require you to run 4-5 times per week, with a long run each weekend. Will your current personal / work / family commitments permit this? Do you have upcoming events that could compromise your training? These are important factors to consider when planning which race to enter & which training plan to choose.
3.Which training plan will you follow?
There are lots of freely available training plans available online for all race distances. With a little research, you should be able to find one that suits you. The right plan for you should match the number of weeks until your race, the time you have available to train and your current fitness level. For example, if you currently run 15-20miles per week choose a plan that reflects this; don’t dive into a 40mile per week programme!
4.Do you need a coach?
Working with a coach is a great way of taking the guesswork out of your training. A good coach will provide you with a training program individually tailored to your ability and ambition. They will work to keep you consistent and motivated during your training and can be a great source of knowledge. The downside is the cost, although it shouldn’t work out too expensive. If you think a coach would be right for you, start by asking for recommendations in your local club & check out the options available.
5.Have you any injury concerns?
Injuries can’t be prevented entirely, but steps can be taken to avoid many of them. There are some common injuries in running, often simply referred to as “overuse injuries”. Many of these are caused by over ambitious training schedules, which contain too much mileage or that build up mileage too quickly. This links back to question 1 – how fit are you? If you are honest with yourself and choose the appropriate race distance & training program, you should avoid problems like these.
6.Are you a “one-speed-wonder”?
Most training programs will require you to perform different types of sessions during the week, each based on a different training intensity / pace. A common problem is that many people will complete all their mileage at more or less the same pace – they are a one-speed-wonder! Learning how to vary the pace in your training sessions is critical to progress, particularly if your goal is to complete the race in a particular time.
7.Have you a training partner?
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that we are more likely to stick to a training plan if we arrange a training partner. It is harder to duck out of a session if there is someone waiting for you! Signing up to a race with a friend or as part of a relay team is a great way to help you stay motivated and get through your training. An alternative might be to hook up with a local training group for some of your weekly sessions.
8.Do you know how to recover?
Often when preparing for a race, the sole focus is on the training program. It is important to remember that training is the stimulus for your body to get fitter, but that adaptations actually occur during recovery. Make sure you pay attention to your recovery, at minimum ensuring adequate sleep & nutrition, to maximise results from your training.
Answering the questions above should help you decide which race to enter and how you can start to prepare. As the race approaches we will be publishing more detailed articles on individual topics to help you prepare like a pro!