Written by Tore Amundøy, Head of Education at Friskis & Svettis
Vary the training towards the race
Regardless of whether your goal with the marathon is to complete or to run faster than you have done before, variety is a good key word for success. Both to stay motivated to complete the training leading up to the race, to make progress - and not least to stay injury-free.
Several different research projects have shown that it is an advantage to vary the intensity of the training when improving your endurance. If you train more times a week than two (which can be tactical if the goal is to run a full marathon) it is wise to vary between hard training and calmer training. Intervals or continuous runs where you push the body and train at an intensity that is somewhat uncomfortable, often up to the anaerobic threshold, will give a good effect - if you put calm workouts between these. Read more about aerobic and anaerobic training here.
Intervals are tiring and it should be, but it should not make up most of your training leading up to a marathon. And if you are new to running and the goal is to train to complete, you strictly do not need to run intervals to be able to complete a marathon. But it can be motivating to vary intensity and not just run long, calmly - at the same pace. If you train 4-5 sessions, no more than a maximum of two sessions should be of high intensity. Instead, prioritize a long long trip a week, or every 10 days in preparation for the marathon if you must / can choose. With four sessions, it can be perfectly fine to plan the week as follows: A long long trip (every 2 hours or more), an interval session and two sessions with a long run of 45-60 minutes. If you run 5-6 sessions, which is a lot, you can add an extra interval session with long intervals or continuous running where after a warm-up you run 20 minutes or more, with higher intensity. Then you have two increases a week where you really push your body.
Also vary the surface when you run. There is a lot to choose from; treadmill, tartan, terrain, gravel and not least asphalt. Many people are of the opinion that all training must take place on asphalt because the race itself will be on asphalt, but it is wise for tired legs to vary the step so that the monotonous load is less. If you have sensitive legs, then a forest road and path are a better alternative than a short career on the asphalt, and then get load damage from the combination of hard ground, little variation and unfamiliar load on the body. Then forest trails are good both for the coordination and for the variety - and not least for the head. It is not only because the surface is softer that running on a rough surface is injury-preventing, but you get a variety of strain on the legs. If you run 3-4 times a week or more, it is a good idea to have more than a pair of shoes, so that the variation here is also there. And then different models. Preferably a little lighter that you can use for intervals or a little faster trips.
Once you are in the process of training and have gradually come up in slightly longer trips, both in terms of time and distance, it is not unlikely that the body at some point says that this increased load is felt. Even if you think you should endure the training and have been good at varying both intensity and surface, it is not certain that Achilles, bone membranes, knees, hips and are on the notes. It's a cliché, but listen to your body. Is it just a little extra soreness after a workout that has been a little out of the ordinary, or is it a "pain" that has not been there before. If it persists for a few days, the chance of it disappearing by itself is small, if the load is maintained. It is preventative to exercise alternatively a few days until the pain disappears. Cycling, spinning, elliptical machine or roller skiing / skiing are all activities that can give a high and good heart rate, and a good effect on fitness. But like everything else, you get good at what you train on, so it can rarely replace running completely. If you do not get better after a few days, it is important to find the cause of the pain. Maybe the body is screwed together in a way that makes it a good idea to have support in shoes or possibly insoles. Maybe it's the classic "too much, too hard and too fast" in training that makes the body say no. If the pain persists, seek out healthcare professionals who are good at training. Pills are rarely a solution alone - unless you find the cause of the pain and do something about it. Make sure you have good shoes that are just right for your use. Here, body weight, the surface you are going to use them on and how your step is will affect the choice. If you run on asphalt, treadmill and gravel, you can mostly use the same type of shoe for this. If you are going to run in proper terrain, off the trail, on wet and rainy days, it may be appropriate with a shoe that has a good grip in the outsole and an upper that keeps the foot well in place in the shoe can be a good alternative.
When you arrive at the last week before the race, there is little you can do - besides training too much. Possibly pushing too much else into your everyday life that can steal profits. Because if there's something you need to collect now, it's a profit. If it is extremely busy at work or school, at the same time as you are moving and / or planning a wedding in the evening after the race, you may need to adjust the goal of the marathon, all other strain on the body and mind taken into account. It is best if you can set aside time in the last week to do as little as possible. Almost on the verge of getting bored. This week you will train a little. If you become a little unsure of your physical condition from not being allowed to run, then you can take short trips of a maximum of 30-40 minutes, where you gradually shorten this down the closer you get to the race day. If you need to exercise as much as three times this week, it can be 40, 30, 20 minute walks. If you run twice, 30 and 20 minutes are good options. Feel free to add the last 20 minutes to the day before the race, so that you have some circulation in your legs. Tempo here is type «with profit». That is, you should hold back all the time. If you have gotten into the habit of taking some uphill runs after some of your sessions, feel free to run 3-4 short uphill runs just to stretch the step a bit after the jogs this week.
Food and drink
No hocus-pocus this week. Eat as usual, and preferably well the night before the race. Now it is the case that the marathon distance itself starts relatively early in the day, and it is not certain that you can handle that much for breakfast. Then it is important that you have eaten well, and a lot of carbohydrates last night, so that these stores are as full as possible. Avoid trying brand new diets or foods last week, and if you eat meat and poultry, then be sure that everything is really well cooked. The last thing you need as a charge is a food poisoning with subsequent emptying of the body. And drink! It takes a lot to drink too much, so here you just have to bring the water bottle where you go the last few days. If it is hot in Oslo on race day, you will lose over a liter of fluid per hour, and even if you get some drink along the way, it is difficult to get enough when you are going to run at the same time.
Preparations for race day
Start time and place. You should have control over this, and you will find information on the Oslo Marathon's website. How do you get to the start and when do you have to travel to be out in good time. It is a good idea to check if public transport runs as normal as several streets are closed due to the race. You can find it at www.ruter.no
What do you do with your things while running? Is there anyone who suits them for you? Luggage storage? Check all this in advance, and do not pack unnecessary valuables in the bag even if it is delivered in the luggage storage.
What clothes should you run in? If it is over ten degrees, it holds with cards - both up and down. It gets hot quickly and even if the race starts early, you spend a few hours and thus the temperature probably rises during the day. Present clothes the day before, preferably with the start number on the T-shirt / singlet if you have been picking it up, and find socks, shoes and other things you plan to wear during the race. It is tedious to spend a lot of energy on the stress that comes from not finding your favorite shoes early in the morning on the race day itself.
Also pack dry clothes / shoes after the race, so that you can quickly change to dry when you reach the finish line sweaty and tired. It is a real downturn to have to go home in wet and cold clothes.
What do you eat on the morning of the race day? Since the race starts early, it is a good idea to have this planned and ready the day before. If you live in a hotel and the breakfast room does not open early enough, you should fix something to fill up with the day before. Eat breakfast that you know works, and then it's okay to start with what you've eaten before your long trips.
Then just wish good luck with the preparations!
Regards Tore Amundøy, Head of Education at Friskis & Svettis