Marathon Training, Part 2
The miles are building! In a good marathon training plan, there should be four focus items for endurance running – we call this Endurance Periodization. Each period has a specific goal and targets a different need for long-term running success. The four periods are BASE, BUILD, PEAK, and TAPER. I built my training plan based on these periods, and my next several blog posts will discuss them and their purpose.
The BASE period in marathon training is where the emphasis is on increasing your volume of running and building anaerobic capacity. This should be your marathon training plan’s first several weeks to months based on the goal distance. Most of the running of this phase (about 80% of total mileage) is “easy running” or zone 2 if using heart rate variability.
10% of the mileage is done at the threshold “tempo pace” or zone 3, and the final 10% is done above the threshold “sprint pace” or zone 4. So what is easy running? This run can maintain a zone 2 heart rate and is considered a conversational pace. Breathing should be relatively normal. This type of running strengthens the heart muscle tremendously. It improves the heart’s stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped with one beat or contraction of the heart). It allows for improvement without overstressing the system. Easy running also improves muscle fibers. They are shown to have an increase in number and size. The mitochondria (power powerhouse of the cell) move to the periphery of the cell, which is closer to the oxygen supply that comes into the cell. This helps the body exchange fuel for energy and complete oxygen exchange more effectively. These changes in our cardiovascular system and muscle fibers occur with time spent running in this space. Not speed.
We must remember that success with marathon training occurs with consistency – not speed or pace. As my mileage increases, I am cautious about monitoring my heart rate and how I feel. Items such as stress, sleep deprivation, water intake, and dietary changes all impact our heart rate variability and rate of perceived exertion. Now that you are familiar with heart rate variability attempt to monitor your “easy long runs” maintaining zone 2 measures. Check in for the next marathon training post to discuss threshold and above-threshold training changes.
If you missed my first post on max heart rate and tracking exertion.