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Marathon Training For Your Personal Best

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“Training became a science. I believed in the plan and I knew it would make me a better runner. It eventually changed me into an international athlete.” - Novice marathon runner

Dear colleague,

That plan and other training advice and guidelines are contained in the new Peak Performance workbook Marathon Training for Your Personal Best. The quote reminded me of an important lesson I learned early in my athletic career -- motivation is useless unless it’s properly directed.

Below, we explain more about this novice marathon runner and what he achieved. I’m sure his enthusiasm will fill you with determination and purpose -– because the plan he refers to is based on scientifically proven methodology.

This new marathon workbook is written for people across the entire spectrum of ability and commitment, from novice to experienced runner. There are chapters on training plans and schedules, conditioning, nutrition, injury and performance.

Send for your copy today and take advantage of our special discount. By ordering from Peak Performance online, you will save 42% off the original price. Instead of $59.99, you pay only $34.99 (£21.69).

Usually, I wish my running colleagues luck in their next big run -- but you’ll find this workbook brings you all the luck you’ll need in your marathon.

Best wishes,

Sylvester Stein


Peak Performance

How two runners achieved marathon success
The best introduction to the new Marathon Training for Your Personal Best workbook are these two quotes from two very different runners:

The novice:“At the age of 30 I was just an average bloke. I was stuck in a rut with a stressful job that had long, unsociable hours. I was overweight, taking no exercise and enjoying a smoke and a drink. Then something happened. Training became a science. I believed in the plan and I knew it would make me a better runner. It eventually changed me into an international athlete.”

The experienced runner:“The athlete must achieve a balance by doing just the right amount of speed training. The initial goal of the training program was to condition myself to be able to run 110k per week. The major indication that this phase had had its desired effect was that I started to finish the long runs so fresh that I wanted to run further on the following long run.”

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Read on to find out more about these two runners and their incredible success stories.

Marathon Training for Your Personal Best

This comprehensive marathon-training workbook carries advice-packed articles such as these:

Muscle training – contrary to popular belief, your performance will slide if you ignore your fast-twitch fibres

Warm-ups – why so many athletes waste their time with stretching routines when what’s needed are sport-specific drills?

Hydration– how fluid loss reduces performance. How to beat it with the aid of glycerol

Recovery - a detailed, tried and tested training schedule for the non-specialist prepared by the ultimate runners’ guru Tim Noakes, whose massive tome Lore of Running is accorded near-biblical status by most serious athletes

Whatever your experience, if you intend to do well in a marathon you’ll need a training plan that will suit you. Here is the book’s complete contents list:

  1. Six-month training program: a comprehensive schedule for the non-specialist, tested in the lab and on the roads
  2. Beginner to elite performer: how a former couch potato applied training science to compete at the Commonwealth games
  3. Endurance training: the vital contribution of fast-twitch muscle fibres
  4. Warm-ups: why stretching doesn’t work. A new-style dynamic, sport-specific routine for runners
  5. Recovery: how to make recovery an integral part of your training success
  6. Hydration: could glycerol be the secret ingredient for hydration?
  7. Running risks: lies, damned lies and statistics: the truth about the incidence of injury, illness and death in marathon running
  8. Performance standards: the inexorable decline in Northern European endurance running
  9. Science section: • Metabolic markers of peak performance • Injury risks for marathon ‘virgins’ • Carbohydrates and perceived exertion • Why distance running can be bad for bones • Why stiffer legs make running easier • Nature and nurture in Ethiopian endurance running success

Here are some further selections from the Peak Performance Marathon Training Workbook:

Tried and tested marathon training tables

Our first training program is for runners wishing to complete a marathon comfortably with a low risk of injury and with the highest possible probability of success.

The training table will ensure the runner (who is training for 160 minutes per week and who has successfully completed at least a 10km race) will be able to complete a standard marathon in a further 26 weeks.

The key to the program is the gentle extension in daily training volumes, with emphasis on the long runs, which increase by 10 minutes every second week.

The program is a slight modification of the one used successfully to train 26 novices to complete a marathon within 36 weeks of their first 20-minute walk. It helped the writer achieve personal best times of:

2:50:20 for 42k/marathon

3:59:49 for 56k/35 miles

6:49:00 for 90k/56 miles

All marathon runners need to see this program because it will save you a great deal of wasted time. It debunks two common myths:

1. There is no relationship between weekly training distance and marathon time.

2. Despite their apparent inadequate training, the runners taking part in the program did not slow down dramatically after hitting their predicted ‘collapse point’ at about 27k

What’s wrong with long, slow distance training?

For the first 6-8 years of my running career (Tim Noakes writes), I trained exclusively by running long, slow distances. However, I now firmly believe that this training approach, which emphasises distance training to the virtual exclusion of speed work, is not the best way to train for any distance, including ultra-marathons.

I endorse Roger Bannister’s view that high-mileage distance training does not increase racing speed. The athlete must achieve a balance by doing just the right amount of speed training.

This is why the evidence shows that the fastest middle-distance and cross-country runners are the best at all distances, even the very long ultramarathons.

The initial goal of this training program was to condition myself to be able to run 110k per week, a distance that I have also found to be optimal for the majority of recreational runners who have major time constraints.

The major indication that this phase had had its desired effect was that I started to finish the long runs so fresh that I wanted to run further on the following long run.

At the same time, my average training speed increased and the hills I ran became much easier.

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The novice runner and his story

Keith Anderson gives a personal account of his life as a runner who, at the age of 30, was stuck in a rut with a stressful job that had long, unsociable hours.

He was overweight, taking no exercise and enjoying a smoke and a drink. Then something happened to change him into an international athlete.

Keith describes how his running at the time was based on enthusiasm: he just put his shoes on and ran with no knowledge about what he was trying to do, no concept of pace or recovery and no plan.

Eventually, recognising this would lead to frustration, disappointment, and failure he changed his approach to running. With his new plan, training became a science. Although other athletes enjoyed a joke at his expense, he believed in the training and diet plan and knew it would make him a better runner.

“Each time I ran I knew exactly why I was running, I knew what was the correct intensity and duration and what that run was going to achieve’

As the plan progressed, the writer found that nutrition has such a fundamental effect on performance it requires as much focus and planning as the physical training. With his new balanced diet he stopped feeling fatigued and breaking down.

Although having the wrong diet sounds like an elementary mistake he found this is an area where a lot of up-and-coming athletes have problems. With the right diet, times and race results both improved.

As a consequence of the combined plan, results improved dramatically. Not only did the writer win his category but he was usually finishing as the first non-Kenyan in 9th or 10th place overall and running close to world masters (over-40) records.

Utilising fast twitch muscles

You would normally think of maximising fast-twitch muscle fibre potential in order to enhance speed and power. But, contrary to common belief, failure to train fast twitch fibre for endurance events will result in lactate threshold being reached early, holding back your performance.

Here’s why: unlike the 100m sprinter, who can ignore his slow-twitch fibres altogether in training without damaging performance, the endurance athlete has to train all fibre types in order to maximise sustained muscular energy.

Most people are born with a relatively even distribution. However, for a variety of reasons, losing fast-twitch speed and power ability is a bad idea. For example, at the end of a closely fought marathon there may be a need for a sprint, requiring fast-twitch fibre input.

Fast-twitch fibres have to be trained accordingly; it’s no good turning a runner into a plodder with an emphasis on slow-twitch, steady state work, if they are needed to produce a sustained kick and a sizeable energy contribution.

Why you should drop that old-style warm up routine

It is a common human failing to look very hard – maybe too hard – at something and still fail to see what’s staring you in the face. This may explain why coaches and athletes have continued to keep faith with the old-style warm-up despite mounting evidence that it doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

Marathon Training for Your Personal Best explains how to replace the old generalist approach with a much more dynamic, focused routine, specifically tailored to our chosen sport. The various drills warm up our muscles specifically for the movements that will be required of them in the activity to follow. In this way specific neuromuscular patterning is switched on and specific, functional range of movement developed.

For many, this is an unknown concept. Coaches will have to turn their old ideas on their heads. Athletes will need to throw out their old concepts about warm-ups.

But, ironically the dynamic, focused warm-up is not a new a concept. Athletes from the former Soviet Bloc were using these types of warm-ups as far back as the 1970s – decades before they came to mainstream attention in the West. Yet so entrenched were our ideas – and those of our coaches that we failed to take this lesson to heart.

A six-way improvement in performance

Here, then, in summary is why changing your approach to warming up could improve your sports performance:

1. You’ll save time and free up more specific training hours. If you were training five times a week or 250 days a year, warming up and stretching in the traditional manner for 30 minutes at a time would take up a total of 125 hours. That is virtually five days of continuous training time that could be put to much more specific use

2. The time spent specifically warming up will also improve your running action and specifically strengthen and stretch your running muscles, so boosting your performance. The lower leg is fundamental to running performance, and many of the drills described in this section will strengthen this region and so, in turn, do wonders for your power generation and force return

3. You’ll be better prepared mentally. A slow warm-up with a sustained period of stretching can switch your mind away from the dynamics of the task ahead. This may be particularly detrimental before a race or competition, when you’ll want to maintain your focus and stay sharp. On a subtler level, your neuromuscular system may not be optimally prepared if you pursue a slower style of warm-up with lots of stretching. The more focused approach will heighten the ability of your muscles to contract

4. Over-stretching your connective tissue can impair running efficiency and dynamic sports performance. If a runner becomes too flexible, perhaps in the hip and upper thigh region, energy can be wasted through inefficient leg drive and knee pick-up. And these negative effects become more pronounced the faster you run

5. Other research has indicated that the shine is knocked off dynamic activity by too much preparatory passive stretching in the warm-up. Runners’ legs need to be ‘hard’, energy-efficient, force-returning appliances, not spongy, over-absorbent ones. Too much stretching and too great a range of movement can be a bad thing. Recent research indicates that plyometric training for distance runners will develop this energy-efficiency, but so, too, will a more specific warm-up

6. Hyper-mobile joints can also make you more injury prone, particularly in impact sports

Having said all this, as you’ll discover when you read this new workbook, there are times when ‘old school’ stretching is OK.

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Incorporate sports science principles into your training week the easy way

Use our easy and enjoyable method to incorporate sports science principles and modern recovery techniques into your training week, including:

- Monitoring of resting heart rate, sleep and training quality

- Self-massage

- Contrast temperature showers

- Stretching – both dynamic and static

- Relaxation techniques

- Visualization techniques

- Social activity

- Dehydration and refueling immediately after exercise

- A high carbohydrate intake

- A variety of proteins, fruit and vegetables

- Planned days of active recovery

- Pool-based active recovery workout

- Sauna

These techniques are not expensive: indeed, most are free. To make use of them all you need is the right advice and organisation, which we provide.

By following our self-management techniques to speed your recovery between training sessions, you will optimise the benefits of training, leading to improved performance.

Maintaining hydration with glycerol

This section of Marathon Training for Your Personal Best explains how adding glycerol to your water can prolong the period of hyper-hydration for up to four hours, which explains its use by athletes seeking to enhance endurance performance in hot weather conditions.

Reply today for your special online discount offer

As a registered member of our official website, you qualify to receive a copy of Marathon Training for Your Personal Best at a discount. If you place your order today you pay our special price of just $34.99 (£21.69) instead of the full price of $59.99. And we'll pay the postage! Please click on the link below to add this item to your shopping cart and go to our secure checkout site to give your payment details.

Marathon Training is one of a series of special training workbooks from Peak Performance, the sports science newsletter. It is not available elsewhere.

Price: $34.99
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