Okay, you just finished your last marathon a few weeks ago and now you getting ready to ramp up for your next marathon.
What the first thing that you should do?
Go examine the course layout. Look to see if they have an elevation chart for it. If they don't, check out www.marathonguide.com. They list nearly every marathon in the US along with a course map and elevation chart.
So with the course map and elevation information in hand, it is time to build your training plan.
But wait, do you really need this information to create your plan. Well, my answer is both yes and no.
In the last month before the marathon, yes, you would want to tailor your workouts to fit the type of course that you will be running.
But in the months leading up to the race, the answer swings the other way.
In the months leading up to the race, your best option is hills, hills, and more hills.
There are two primary reasons why a steady diet of hills works best. First, hills whip you into shape much faster than any other type of workout. 2nd hills put a lot stress on the body but not in the same way that track workouts do. Hill workouts strengthen core running musculature much more because you are working against gravity. Hills are like an outdoor weight room for runners.
Basically, there are two types of hill workouts: short hills and long hills.
Short hills are no more than 100 meter in length and are used to build power. To build power, you can try one of these two alternatives: sprinting or bounding. Either one will get you ramped up pretty fast. But expect to start with about 6 reps and work up to 10 reps. And, you should never get anaerobic during this workout.
In my opinion, long hills should be considered anything between ¼ mile and 1 mile. So when you start running these longer hills, you will find that you get two benefits. You get the core running power similar to the short hills but you also build aerobic power. The body needs to work harder to overcome the resistance of gravity over a longer period of time.
So when should you use these workouts. The short hill repeats can be thrown in at the end or the middle of a recovery run. Because they are less taxing, it doesn't have a major impact on the recovery process. For longer hills, consider doing them no more than once per week and do a different distance each week and different locations. This breaks up the boredom of running the same workout every week.
Well, there you have it. If you want to improve, go to the hills. It will improve your running faster than any other type of workout.
Tales from a hills.