Once you have managed to run your first 13.1 miles (half marathon) and 26.2 miles (marathon), trying to improve your personal best and lowering their running time tends to be most runners’ goal.
Both distances are hard and demanding for your body and, for that reason, trying to improve your personal best is difficult and challenging.
In order to attain that, we advise you to follow these 5 golden rules to improve your performance on the 13.1 and 26.2 mile races:
INCREASE YOU MILEAGE
The amount of miles that a long distance runner runs during a training are the pillar (or should be) of a good sport season.
As you increase the amount of miles you run a week, a series of adaptations that prepare your body to cope with long distances and allow you to improve your performance occur.
For that reason, the best way to train yourself to run 13.1 and 26.2 miles is running and adding miles (without doing away with quality).
You also need to train specifically for the next races taking into account the specific tensions you will encounter the day of the race, such as: the distance, the terrain and the weather.
DO NOT OVERTRAIN
The workload should not be neither too small nor too big. In order to improve your personal best in a half marathon and a marathon, you do not need to overtrain.
If the stress generated during your training is almost the same as your body’s capacity to cope with the workload, your body will adapt increasing its capacity and will be able to deal with a higher workload by applying the same effort.
On the other hand, if the stress is excessive and you overtrain, you will reduce your possibility of adaptation thus provoking fatigue, injuries, exhaustion and a poor performance.
Basically, do not try to do more than what your body can tolerate.
CONSISTENCY IS THE RULE
Being able to run even when you do not want to do so or when the weather is nasty is the clue to improve.
In distances like a half marathon and a marathon, consistency while training is the best way to guarantee success and a better personal best.
You should try to run during cold and hot days, when you are in a good or a bad mood, alone or with friends, when you are getting ready for an important race or when you have attained your goals.
Train consistently all the week and all the year (not necessarily at the top of your intensity).
Plan and set goals you can achieve, organize your races calendar and avoid the temptation of running races one after the other.
A marathon is a special distance in which you should only try to improve your personal best once or twice a year. On the other hand, a half marathon can give you some extra licenses.
HARD + HARD =INJURY
If you wish to improve your personal best, your training plan for the 13.1 and the 26.2 miles should alternate hard trainings with mild trainings.
During hard days, trainings should be faster and longer than usual. During mild days, you should run short or medium distances in not very hard terrains at a comfortable rhythm (slow) that allows you to talk.
Training too hard during all your trainings will increase the risk of suffering from an injury, will affect your perseverance and consistency while training and will make you run slower in the end.
flickr photo by Steven Pisano http://flickr.com/photos/stevenpisano/15516394368 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license