Do you need to run extended distances in training in order to be able to complete a marathon or long distance race?
There is hardly a subject which gives rise to more uncertainty in running, than the question of extended long running workouts(Long-Jogs). Here are some typical comments: “I am training for the X Marathon and I haven’t got a single session in my schedule of over 2.5 hrs.” or “I am preparing for the Iron Man – why am I not doing lots of long runs?” and “I have read, that you should train a Long-Jog every weekend.”
People always look for – and fail to find – extremely long runs in the 2PEAK training schedules, as though continuous monotonous “kilometer pounding” might increase one’s ability to withstand the marathon distance. Well, if it were that simple, we could dispense with individual training schedules and just run as often and as long as possible. Not only does this strategy usually not achieve the hoped for result, but brings with it a likely risk of injury.
We often observe from the training logs,that much of the training volume is not run purely in the Basic Endurance Zone (Z2) but is an impure mix of training zones, which not only tires you more but also doesn’t bring the desired training effect.
What we really want
An adequate basis of endurance, or stamina is the foundation without which no sportsman (We hope our lady athletes will agree to our use of this unisex term…) can hope to remain strong and healthy – let alone to improve. The term, endurance capacity means (simplified) the ability to use the available energy in the body efficiently. The mitochondria (the energy power-centers in the muscle cells) carry out this function. These become stimulated and multiply when the sportsman trains in the Basic Endurance Zone, ie. at a moderate load only.
As soon as higher intensities are trained and especially when continuously occurring transition to other intensity zones happens, this stimulation is diminished. This is the very reason that 2PEAK keeps reminding its sportsmen to absolve the majority of the training purely on the Z2 level – and checks this by automatic training analysis.
In the base periods most of the training – up to 97% depending on sportsman and training volume – is purely Z2 work, augmented by coordination and strength accented training such as the the running drills. Endurance ability is especially stimulated by the frequency of training. Frequent training is better than long training. You can see this when you look at the pro runners, who prefer to increase the volume by carrying out separate workout sessions in the morning and afternoon.
The Advantage of Multisport
Triathletes have a big advantage over pure runners, in that they are able to train for endurance in their other disciplines, which carry less risk of injury. That is why these combinations are preferred by 2PEAK. But for the pure runners it is still better to curb the long runs and to change over to the bicycle after the run, in order to keep up the stimulation of the mitochondria.
These days accordingly, genuine pro runners train to the multisport system. And if some of them still run extended sessions, we can’t adopt that method without adaption. The pro divides his training over two or more training sessions per day, goes for a massage after training and starts his recovery straight away. We normal mortals have to rush off panting to the next appointment, so that the day’s efforts remain with us until the recovery occurs, hopefully during a good night’s rest. So we need an intelligently tailored training schedule – and 2PEAK delivers this.
The Main Question
Test question: Can you run a marathon if you haven’t covered the distance at least x times previously?
Answer: Certainly you can! Furthermore, as we have learned from the 2PEAK sportsmen over the years, better than if you had. Because it is an illusion to believe, that you have to simulate the competition distance in training. A quick check of the extremes will soon verify this: Does a 100km runner train by repeatedly running 100km in one go? Does a long distance triathlete train 12 hours at a time, in order to be able to achieve an Iron Man in this time? Long distance races are exceptional events which require a lot of the body, which assail the reserves and therefore need a proportionally long recovery time. When training, we don’t try to perform the whole event in advance – rather we try to create the building elements, which we then put together on day X.
Training for Tempo
So this is what counts: To go quicker you have to train quicker and that you can only do if you are not over tired by too many (running) kilometers. Modern running training attempts to put training loads upon all the energy-relevant systems repeatedly and simultaneously. That doesn’t mean to mix the training zones as in Fartlek training, but to incorporate planned tempo intervals and to get to feel “at home” at each of these levels. This is where many freetime runners have a problem. To exaggerate a little, they only know one training tempo. Clear differentiation between the various tempos enables training to be planned at all metabolic stages, depending upon the individual recovery status, creating the stimuli needed to get genuinely faster. Any attempt to dispense with intensities within the Z2 level only makes sense in some really desperate cases.
Endurance is augmented by training in a slightly tired state, for instance with several endurance sessions over several days in the week. The loads should be carefully adapted to the recovery rate of the individual, however and here again the 2PEAK schedule does this for you. Appropriate tapering (recovery after a planned high-intensity phase) in the pre-event period ensures that you will be ready at the start with fully charged batteries on your special day – and that you can perform at your optimum level for the full distance.