Alan Ezen – guidance on Marathon Training
Alan Ezen is a personal trainer and an experienced distance runner. The comments below are based on an interview with him, which gives important preparation tips for running the London Marathon.
After competing in three London Marathons (26.2 miles long) Alan designed a 16- week training programme covering running, general physical training and diet regime. Even if potential Marathon runners are planning a six-month build-up period that includes taking part in a half marathon he recommends following this 16-week schedule. He emphasises that it is essential to avoid any danger of being underprepared.
In the running aspect of his programme Alan has made Sunday long runs part of its main structure and this really helps tackle the distance issue. It starts with 10 mile- runs building up steadily to three 20-mile runs before tapering down with three weeks to go to the event. This approach avoids going from 5 miles to 15 miles and progressively builds up the running distance by 10% each week so minimising the risk of injury. The Sunday runs also focus on time-under-feet by building up to two hours then three hours as well as keeping at a same steady pace throughout the run and not trying to increase the pace too quickly.
In addition to the Sunday runs the programme includes three shorter 10 k (six mile) runs during the week and these runs incorporate hill training and interval sessions.
The last part of the running aspect of Alan’s training schedule involves speed sessions using Fartlek or a running track to build up speed for the event. Fartlek is an unstructured session running in between the trees at a certain pace, slowing down and speeding up. Interval sessions on a track are more structured. They involve doing 12 x 400 metre sessions with a 60 second interval or mile intervals, e.g. four one mile intervals with a 90 second rest in between the sets.
As regards general physical exercise Alan advises weight training as this helps to build up the upper body resistance needed to push through the last 10 k of the marathon.
The other essential part of the 16-week programme is diet. The main advice points are –
1. Eat good food, “getting the carbs in” by having wholemeal options such as rice and pasta. Have to remember that the “carbs” are going to be the fuel for the races.
2. Do not focus on sweets.
3. Eat a balanced diet and you are not going to go too far wrong.
4. Have more calories as you will be burning up a lot during the long runs.
It is also important three to four days before the Marathon to make sure you are taking in good quality carbohydrates, these include the Low GI index carbs like wholemeal rice and bean foods.
Alan’s key tips for newcomers to Marathon running are as follows –
• Essential to have plenty of sleep
• Important to build up to three or four runs a week.
• Keep a steady speed when it comes to running. Do not “overcook” it on longer runs. More experienced runners can obviously build in a faster session.
• Interval sessions round a track and hill sessions will help build up stamina
• Get some easy runs in to ensure you do not overexert yourself – the body needs plenty of rest and recovery time.
• The long runs are going to really help in the marathon itself and get in a base mileage before the event.
• During the run keeping hydrated and having enough “fuel” are essential.
His final words were “the London Marathon is a lifetime experience so have fun and enjoy!”