A beautiful crisp morning. A touch of frost and a glimmer of sun. Bath is beautiful, even in the bitter cold. The Bath Half Marathon is one of the biggest events in the Bath calendar and is certainly the biggest fitness event of the year. It’s a great motivator to mobilise the masses; anything that gets people off of their sofas and moving gets a thumbs up from us! In this article and the ones that follow we’ll be offering our own thoughts on the best training methods, nutrition and race-day prep so that you get the most out of the experience for yourself, and so that you put in a performance you can be proud of on the day. Even better, wouldn’t it be great if you could walk into work the next day, rather than looking at a flight of stairs with fear?
Avoid getting injured before the Bath Half
Up to 80% of people training for an endurance event will pick up and injury along the way, will complete the event despite the injury causing further damage. This is almost always because people simply run too far in preparation and don’t train smart.
Your body is very smart and when exposed to new stresses it quickly makes physiological changes so that the next time it is exposed to the same stress it is better equipped to cope. With cardiovascular exercise your body grows new capillaries deeper into the muscles, your cells increase their numbers of mitochondria (energy power-plants within every cell) so you’re able to produce more energy and your body becomes more efficient at gas exchange so oxygen can be more-rapidly delivered to the working muscles.
After a while, if you continue to run at your usual, steady pace and only increase the miles, the stress is no longer sufficient to stimulate further changes and you’ll reach a plateau, making it unlikely to see further improvements. Here are some ways you can avoid this plateau in your Bath Half training and continue to stress your body in ways which will ensure continuous improvement and increase your chance of putting in an awesome performance on the day:
This is just a sexy way of saying your body can get oxygen to the required muscles. Anything that increases your body’s ability to take in and deliver the oxygen to the muscles is great way to go. Anything that makes you breathe hard is going to help you. There are other things besides steady running that can do that for you…
- HIT (High Intensity Training) – short sharp exercises like burpees and squats jumps that get your whole body moving, really amping up your body’s oxygen requirement.
- Hill Sprints – great way to get your body used to hard running, while reducing the amount of stress your joints take, minimising injury,
- Tempo Runs – these are like advanced intervals. These are great for the intermediate and advanced runners, who are accustomed to working around and above their lactate threshold (the highest level of work that can be done and still be able to deliver oxygen to the working muscle. Above the lactate threshold and you’re working too hard to be able to deliver oxygen quick enough and you start to accumulate lactic acid).
- Intervals – my favourite machine for intervals is the rowing machine. Rowing is great at working all of your body including your legs, with minimal impact, which is a huge issue in a lot of runners.
Don’t forget about weight-training. Lifting something heavy is a another way to increase your muscles capacity for work, decreasing the relative intensity. In other words, “Get stronger, and the runs will feel easier”. Including resistance training in your bath Half training programme will help protect you from soreness and injury from your runs.
This is both a mental and physical attribute. The longer runs will help accomplish this. These longer runs also help you get comfortable running long distances, and dealing with the pacing, mental fatigue and aches that you may encounter during the Bath Half. So you still want to make sure you complete some longer runs. They’ll give you an idea of how fit you are. Just don’t do it too close to the event! Aim to complete an 8-miler 3-4 weeks before Bath Half and a 9-10 miler with approximately 2 weeks to go. This gives you enough time to recover and not carry any fatigue into the event.
As long a you can run a 8 miler, you’ll be fine. This is because by this point, your body has the capability to supply oxygen to the muscles at a steady rate and is able to use fat stores for the runs. The excitement and atmosphere on the day will carry you through your Bath Half.
Malachi Dingis is a former sprinter, Sports Science graduate and family man with two little girls. He joined the Health coaching team in September 2016 and by applying the most important health principles in simple, mindful ways, he has been helping people achieve dramatic health and fitness transformations for over 5 years. More..