Adapt the training to the characteristics of your main competition

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If you want to be successful at your main competition, you should not just blindly follow the training plan but also analyze the specific requirements of the race course and include them in your training. If, for example, you do a city marathon, you have to consider totally different aspects than someone who puts a mountain marathon race bib on his chest. These tips make sure your competition will be a success:

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Try to include the characteristics in your key workouts. Here are some examples:

  • Flat marathon: do your long run and the medium speed on flat course. Deliberately go for altitude when doing steady runs.
  • Flat road race: do your interval on the track and on the road alternately. Look for a hilly course for the other training sessions.
  • Mountain race: do your key workouts primarily on hills. Still, make sure you do some fast runs on a flat course occasionally so you do not unlearn to run at fast pace on the flat.
  • Hilly race: do your medium speed workout in particular on a hilly course similar to the race course. The other runs can be flat, hilly, or on real hills.
  • Special case: Jungfrau- Marathon. Do your workouts on hills after a long pre-exhaust on a flat course. Do several trainings on hills in the preparatory phase where you run uphill at least 1 hour. Do 3-4 cross-trainings where you simulate the forecasted race duration. Cross-training is a mix of different sports. For example: 2 hours running, 2 hours cycling, 1 hour hill-running.
mountain running
To include the charatcteristics of your main competition in your training is crucial – especially in mountain races

Running surface

Get your musculoskeletal system used to the strain you will face on race day.

  • Pavement: do your intensive workouts and the long run on pavement; steady runs can be done on dirt roads.
  • Dirt road: you should do the intensive workouts on dirt roads. As for the remaining runs, you are free to choose.
  • Track: interval workouts are done on the track. All other runs can be done off the track and you are free to choose.

Start time
Do your key workouts at the same time as your main competition if possible. When preparing for a marathon, this is important for the long run in particular.

Nutrition
Nutrition is very important especially during competitions that last longer than 1 hour. Prepare the eating during competition in advance; it is very important to get used to the product of the official nutrition provider if you do not want to bring your own products.

How often should you train?

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You should coordinate your training frequency with your previous training volume, your running goals, your ambitions, and, of course, with the rest of your life. Always remember that training and recovery go together and need to be in a healthy relationship. Moreover, be advised to gently increase the training frequency if you want to remain symptom-free. One additional session per week per semester is as good as it gets. Ideally, you do not increase overnight but gradually: do one additional run this week but run the usual 3 times, for example, next week. The following week, run 4 times again etc.

The table below should help you find your optimal training level. At the same time, you should absolutely keep working on the other fitness factors (strength, agility, speed, and coordination).

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Your performance varies, depending on how often you train.

Finally, you have certainly asked yourself how often you have to train to reach a specific goal time. The table below shows the number of training sessions that are required for a set marathon and 10km time.

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How often do you have to train to reach a specific goal time?

We are aware that there are always exceptions to the rule. Try it out and prove you can do better, if possible!

Keep on running!

Your running.COACH

More successful thanks to smart competition planning

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During our career as professional runners, we always knew how to get in top shape for day X. We succeeded not least because we deliberately allowed a trough once or twice a year. This, in turn, let the peak be even higher.

Sabrina Mockenhaupt, Frank Shorter, Paula Radcliffe, Viktor Röthlin

In addition to the training break that led to the trough, the smart well-measured use of preliminary competitions helped us to achieve our peak at the right time. We would, therefore, like to give you advice on how to optimally prepare your main competition, too. Because there is something that cannot be brushed aside: if you want to be able to access your maximum power on day X, you need a certain dose of race intensity in advance. Ideally, not all the preliminary competitions are the same distance because when you run in different intensities, you build different skills that develop your performance level.

You should coordinate the timing of your preliminary competitions with your main competition. Otherwise, you won’t get the full benefit. Beware of making too many preliminary competitions because the actual training and the process of getting in shape would suffer.

Here is an overview of the nature and timing of preliminary competitions with regard to the standard distances:

5K

  • 2-3 preliminary competitions spread over the last 12 weeks of preparation.
  • Last competition 7 days before the main competition, maximum 3K.
  • Decrease race distance before increasing towards main competition. For example, 5K, 1500m, 3K, and main competition.

10K

  • 2-4 preliminary competitions spread over the last 14 weeks of preparation.
  • Last competition 7 days before the main competition, maximum 5K.
  • Decrease race distance towards main competition, shorter final competition. For example, 15K, 10K, 5K, 5K, and main competition.

Half marathon

  • 3-4 preliminary competitions spread over the last 16 weeks of preparation.
  • Last competition 14 days before the main competition, maximum 10K.
  • Increase race distance towards main competition, shorter final competition. For example, 5K, 10K, 15K, 10K, and main competition.

 Marathon

  • 3-4 preliminary competitions spread over the last 20 weeks of preparation.
  • Half marathon as “mandatory element”, ideally four weeks before main competition.
  • Last competition 14 days before the main competition, maximum 10K.
  • Increase race distance towards main competition, shorter final competition. For example, 10K, 15K, half marathon, 10K, and main competition.

We keep seeing that many runners make mistakes in their competition planning and in the week following the competitions. If you follow these 5 hints, you are on the safe side:

  1. Less is more: selectively search preliminary competitions that are appropriate for the main competition and do them with the necessary focus. This way, you get the motivation for the following weeks.
  2. Hold back when it comes to races longer than 15 kilometers.
  3. Take enough time to recover from a competition. If your race was longer than 10K, you should not race the following week.
  4. Let the intense (group) training be two to three days after the competition. Instead, do a recovery session or a steady run according to the plan.
  5. For all marathoners: do 2 per year maximum and prioritize them in the settings as “main competition”.

Do not underestimate your arms!

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Christian Belz
Christian Belz

Increased runs, barefoot running, weight exercises, running technique, stretching – the ‘running to-do list’ gets longer and longer. Before you talk to your boss about a reduction in your workload, or you start having problems with your life partner, I want to provide clarity. running.COACH’s tips will; motivate you to give your running workout a a change of pace now and again, highlight the important points of running, and ultimately bring more joy to your running.

So here’s today’s tip:

Top runners seem to fly over the asphalt. Their ease makes you, frankly, quite jealous. The winners of most races are often the ones that appear to be the most relaxed. However, if you take a close look at the majority of runners, you’ll find most have relatively big long strides and very low frequency. A closer look shows that the arms are not carried properly. We know that arm work controls the leg work, so it should become clear that we need to focus on our arms as they are our clocks!

Arms Checklist:

  • The movement should be done from the shoulder joint and not from the elbow.
  • The angle between the upper and lower arm should be less than 90 degrees.
  • The hands should be relaxed and gently closed with the thumbs pointing up and directly in front of the body.

Your running form is something that you most likely have not thought too much about, and breaking old habits is not easy. It will require much practice, yet if you recognize the flaws in your technique and are diligent about changing it, your running will improve. I’d advise to you the following exercises:

  • Concentrate on your arm work during your ‘technical’ runs (hill sprints, coordination runs, tempo runs), and practice after each running.COACH workout.
  • During every workout, build in short sequences (30-60 seconds) where you completely focus on your arm movements. For example, after 5, 15, 25, 35 minutes, and then on a track for back and forth 100 meter ‘striders’.
  • Trot weekly for 6 x 30 seconds in place in front of a mirror and observe your arm work and movement. Go through the above checklist step by step.

Technique is not everything. But without technique everything is nothing.

By Valentin Belz