fall marathonIt’s late summer and that means that if you’re running a fall marathon, you’re probably well under way with your training plan. From here on out, your mileage and/or intensity will be picking up every week. That’s always a good feeling, but you also must handle your training with care in order to stay healthy as you build up.

To ensure this, follow these helpful training tips throughout the late summer and fall:

  • Make sure you have a good base under your legs. This is probably the number one cause of injury in runners—rushing the mileage because you haven’t laid down the base you need. If that sounds like you, I’d advise waiting until spring to do a marathon and taking the time to do things right.
  • Don’t increase your mileage by more than 10 percent or so each week. If you are experienced and have a really great base, you can go a tiny bit over. If not, make 10 percent your guideline and stick to it.
  • Don’t increase your intensity in the same week as you increase mileage. Your body can’t handle too many jumps at once. So if you are adding in a couple of miles of speedwork, don’t also increase your long run. Pick one or the other and you’ll be just fine.
  • Include adequate rest and recovery. This means running some shorter, easier miles in addition to your long runs and speedwork. In fact, more of your training should fall into that easier category than not. Also make sure you are getting as much sleep as possible at this time. Your body needs the rest to adequately recover from the extra miles.
  • Use tools like foam rollers, sticks, compression socks and the like to help facilitate recovery. If you’ve got an ache or a niggle, see a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, and/or consider taking a day or two off.
  • Focus on very healthy eating. Food is your fuel and also your friend in recovery. Eat with this in mind and keep treats to a minimum.
  • Keep up the strength work. This will help you power through the final miles of the long runs and races, and help protect against injury.
  • Try out your gear and running nutrition on your long runs. No new is good new on race day, so use this training period to ensure that what you’ll be using is the right fit for you and your body.

That’s a lot of rules, to be sure, but your goal should be to get to the starting line healthy and ready to rock and roll. Keep in mind that if you feel what you think might be an injury coming on, a few days off right away can often catch it and nip it in the bud. A few lost training days won’t have any impact come race day. It is always, always better to go into a marathon slightly under-trained that over-trained.
Final tip—enjoy the journey!