As the Covid-19 virus spreads across the globe, so more and more race organizers are finding themselves with no option other than to cancel their events. The first big casualty was the Tokyo Marathon, which was restricted to elite runners only. Other big city marathons followed shortly after, with postponements of the London, Paris and Boston marathons to the Autumn. Other races fell (and will fall) victim too, as sport and mass participation events succumb to the impact of the virus.
By this stage of their training for a Spring marathon, most runners should be approaching peak fitness, with just a few weeks and long runs to go, before starting their pre-race taper. They will have battled through the long dark winter months, often finding motivation hard but knowing that when the Spring comes, all their hard work will be worthwhile. Now they are faced with at least a 6-month gap before their marathon is re-run, and unexpected decisions to take about how and when to train.
As someone said to me last week, there is no chapter on this in my marathon training book, “Run Smart”! It was simply never a scenario that I would have predicted. So, to make up for that, here are some tips on how best to stay fit and motivated for the Spring Marathon that has now become an Autumnal one.
How To Stay Motivated and Fit For Marathon?
1) Start to ease off straight away
Reduce your mileage and the length of your longest run. There is no point peaking for a race that doesn’t exist!
2) Consider taking a week off
Give your body chance to recover and take time to re-focus and accept the new date.
3) Go back running after a week
After seven days, get back to your running, and keep “ticking over” with regular long runs of around 10 miles. You do not want to lose the fitness that you have worked hard to achieve during the winter.
4) Enter some racesOnce the opportunity presents itself in the summer months, consider entering some races - there are normally plenty of 10km races in the summer, and these will keep you motivated and fit.
5) Build back your marathon fitnessAssuming you have kept yourself “10 mile fit”, building back up to marathon fitness should not be too difficult. Start to do this with around 12 weeks to go before the revised race date.
6) Build up your longer run
Gradually build up your longer run in the same way that you were before the Spring race was postponed, aiming for a longest run of at least 20 miles in the 2 to 3 weeks before your marathon.
7) Stay positive
Stay confident. The race is still there for you to run, and when you finish your sense of achievement will be even greater.
8) Enjoy the warmth of the Sun
Physiologically, there are some advantages in summer training for an autumn marathon when compared with winter training for a spring marathon. You will be able to train in the warmth of the summer, when your body will adapt to warmer running. The cooler conditions of the autumn will then feel much easier. All too often, cold weather winter training results in a physiological shock when spring marathons take place on warmer days. There will also be more time for daylight training at the beginning and end of the day.
Warmer summer training will dehydrate more than winter training, so remember to hydrate well before during and after your runs, especially the longer ones.
Follow our pieces of advice is so easy. Keep your motivation and continue engaging in your marathon preparation, now more than ever!
Author: John Brewer, Visiting Professor of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Suffolk