Just a few days ago an old colleague of mine asked me what my #1 tip would be for someone who had recently started running and was now aiming at half and full marathon distances.
My response was pretty brief and I’ll share it here and elaborate on it a bit further.
The #1 advice to endurance athletes is:
Don’t get injured!! Whatever you do, train smart, don’t overdo things and through that, avoid injury!
You’ll likely want superman (or -woman) fitness and strength, run a marathon, do an ironman, and all that very quickly – but especially in endurance sports things take time.
Instead you will want to take it slow. If you can slowly build your endurance and keep on building then that really long race you want to be able to do will eventually happen.
Personally I didn’t always know this. I would sign up for races in the way to near future and try to do them being semi fit for the event, injuring myself either during training or during the race.
Since the beginning of 2010 I try to go about my build-up in a different way. I try to follow some basic rules that will leave me free of injury:
- never add more than 10% to individual runs. Another version of this rule says you shouldn’t add more than 10% to weekly running volume and some even go on to work with months and quarters.
- if you feel pain, never try to push through it. You might just be making things worse. Yesterday was such a day for me in the pool. I had to back off from getting better 50m swim time as my left shoulder started hurting. That swim was ended about 15 minutes early to avoid injury.
- avoid going all out in sports your muscles are not used to. This goes for cross-training, gym sessions etc. which are part of your training plan, but also for the occasional game of football with your colleagues.
- if you train or race with someone else who’s above your level – get them to perform at your level. Don’t try (too hard) to follow theirs as that could well be too much for you.
Following these rules has served me well so far. Only had few minor injuries over the past 12 months and every time they’ve been a result of not adhering to the rules outlined above.
Train hard, but train smart!
2011 has got to be the year of the half ironman distance triathlon for me, and the training is aimed at being able to swim 1,9km, bike 90km, and run half a marathon on the 3rd of July. Last year I did just a single sprint triathlon at 500m swim, 20km bike, and 5km run, without having any particular problems with the distance. Before that sprint triathlon I did a self-paced sprint triathlon of the same distance to better understand the distance without participating in an actual race.
In a half ironman a lot more unknowns enter the game. For instance:
- can I do the distance? In time?
- which effort can I sustain over such a period of time?
- what kind of training do I need?
- what’s my current fitness level for this distance?
- what do I still need to train?
- all the stuff I haven’t thought of…
To have answers to have all these questions when I toe the line on the 3rd of July, I’ll be repeating a self-paced triathlon this year – except this time it will be a self-paced half ironman distance triathlon.
Should be loads of fun – you can come and join if you want – for the entire event or just part of it. Venues are:
* swim: sportfondsenbad Amsterdam Oost
* bike start: Sportfondsenbad Oost
* run start: to be decided
The event will take place on the 16th of April in Amsterdam, Netherlands for anyone who cares to join. The event can be found and tracked on:
- Endomondo here: http://www.endomondo.com/event/838098
- Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=124035681003753