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Get Dublin Marathon ready

Improving your stamina, endurance and training in time for the Dublin Marathon. Check out what the Rude Health fitness experts have to say

Tom Dalton of TD Fitness

I completed the Dublin marathon in 2014 – I’m not an avid runner but it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was tough, challenging and a rollercoaster of emotions seeing friends and family in the crowd. Here are my tips:

Figure out your goal – Are you just trying to finish, or do you have a specific time goal in mind? This will dictate which marathon training you’ll have to follow and how much you need to run. I got help from an experienced runner for my training plan.

Run in the morning – You’re going to have to do it. Three to five evening runs a week can really limit your social life. If you’re not a morning person, just aim to get up once a week for your easy run. It might be hard at first, but once you’re up, you’ll be happy that you did it.

Don’t beat yourself up – I wasn’t able to stick with my training plan 100 per cent and I found that pushing myself to hit every training run when I wasn’t feeling well or hadn’t slept a lot just made things worse. Sometimes, you need to choose rest over a run in order to recover and stay healthy.

Run hills and sprint sessions – Incline running is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re helping yourself improve as a runner, no matter how short your workout.

Get the long run out of the way – I got used to having a routine where I woke up earlier on Saturday or Sunday mornings so I could run, rest and get on with my weekend.

Strength training – making muscle-building a priority is important for speed and endurance, so don’t skip it. Take a class at your gym, or set aside even just a few minutes of planking, push-ups, squats and more bodyweight exercises to your routine.

Enjoy the day – tell your family and friends to be at different mile markers of the race as it will keep you motivated. Once you complete it you become part of an exclusive club.

Carl Cautley, personal trainer and founder of Health & Fitness Together in Ranelagh, Dublin

Seasoned runners with plenty of miles on the clock might only need 10-12 weeks to get marathon-ready. Beginners should build their distances slowly. Work up through the 10K and half-marathon first, then when you’re ready for the full marathon, give yourself at least six months to start training in earnest.

Your primary goal will be to build up your mileage by gradually increasing the length of your running sessions. By race day you should be able to cover 50 miles or more per week, so build up to this gradually over the training period. Be sure to mix in one weekly long run with some shorter, faster-paced runs to build your cardiovascular fitness and endurance.

Gym work will help you preserve muscle mass and protect yourself from injury, so it’s worth mixing strength training movements like squats, deadlifts and the bench press into your training plan. Just make sure to take rest days to allow your muscles to recover adequately and keep on top of your hydration and nutrition.

Mental preparation is arguably just as important as physical training when it comes to marathons. Visualisation can prepare your mind for what’s to come at the main event, but it’s just as important to reflect on the training you’ve already done and acknowledge the progress you’re making. This will build a sense of confidence and self-belief that will help carry you over the line on race day.

Dr Brian Carson, exercise physiologist in physical education and sport sciences AT the University of Limerick

Ideally your training and preparation for a marathon should start as far out as possible from the event. There are well-designed training programmes available online, but I would suggest to begin a minimum of 16 weeks out from the event and set your goals accordingly.

Clearly if you intend to run the marathon then running should be the primary component of your training schedule. However, beginners often find a sudden spike in the volume and intensity of running a strain on the body, therefore, ‘cross-training’ using an aerobic type exercise such as cycling, can help to build your aerobic capacity or engine as part of your programme to avoid placing unnecessary load on the body and increasing the risk of injury.

It is important in the initial stages of training to build your aerobic base and exercise capacity at a moderate pace specific to the runner. Exercise physiologists refer to this as your maximal aerobic capacity or VO2max. An athlete’s VO2max is a good predictor of how they will perform in the marathon. As your training builds towards the marathon, your training needs to reflect how you wish to perform. If you intend to run a certain time, your training should reflect that pace more and more as the event approaches.

Our team (Dr Kris Beattie, Toni Rossiter, Dr Mark Lyons, Dr Ian Kenny, Dr Brian Carson) have conducted research here at the University of Limerick which indicates that strength training is also an important component of preparation for endurance running. 20 weeks of strength training in addition to a runner’s normal training has been shown to improve key indicators of endurance running including the ability to run at the speed when their VO2max occurred. The strength programme was designed to increase maximal and reactive strength, i.e. the ability to ‘bounce’ off the road. This resulted in increased running economy whereby it cost the runners less energy to run at the same speeds, another critical factor in marathon performance. Therefore, I would recommend strength training twice per week as part of a programme with the focus of those sessions on maximal and reactive strength.

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