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On 21 January 2018 In Running News

The Performance Triangle and how to use BRAT sessions for marathon training

Welcome back to Marathon Monday!

First of all, well done. You’ve committed to what is, for many people, a lifetime experience. A real test of your physical and mental strength. Once you cross the finish line, you’ll feel a sense of euphoria that’s hard to match – but you have to get there first.

There are many training plans out there, but there is no "best" plan that will work for everyone. Each runner has different needs, a different starting point, and most importantly, different goals. As different as the plans are, they are all trying to address the three core elements of what is known as the "Performance Triangle": the triade of Training, Nutrition and Recovery. 

Performance Triangle

Today, we will address the first part of the triangle, Trianing, and specifically, how you can use the sessions the BRAT Club offers to achieve particular training goals. 

Upping your game and how to use BRAT sessions for marathon training

Completing a mix of sessions will keep marathon training both engaging and enjoyable - and it just so happens that BRAT sessions can be tailored for marathon training. Combine a variety of efforts, but make sure that you don't do all of them - too many hard sessions are a route to injury. If you need any advice about how best to mix and match the sessions, please speak to our qualified coaches.

Ultimately, the marathon is an aerobic activity, that is you are breathing in sufficient oxygen to produce energy to perform a task (as opposed to anaerobic activity where you are producing lactic acid). So your marathon training will look to build your aerobic system, through for instance your long runs. However, improving your running economy is also important. This is where speed and interval sessions come into play. Over time your training will progress (e.g. long runs get longer), but it also needs to be specific. There is no need to work on your 100m sprint speed when you are trying to run a marathon.

When you are using BRAT sessions to work on your running economy, you should be working at the upper end of your aerobic system. You will variously find this described as your threshold pace, 80-85% of your HR max, Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) of 7-8 out of 10 or 4 out of 5, and sometimes your 10k pace. Your long, slow run should be truly slow as this is where you are training your body to oxygenate your blood. You should be able to talk comfortably. Ideally, you want to build in some hill running for leg strength and work towards a longer midweek run to add additional mileage later on in your programme. 

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So how can you use the BRAT sessions to achieve this potent mix of performance enhancing sessions?

  • Monday Steady Run - You can either work at an easy effort (4-5/10 RPE) for mileage or 2-3/10 RPE for recovery, or push yourself harder by moving up a group so that it becomes Marathon Pace (6 RPE) or even Threshold / Tempo (7 RPE). Speak to your Monday Run Leaders who will help you pick the right groups.
  • Tuesday / Thursday track sessions - A great way of benchmarking your performance, but also to learn pacing. These are shorter and often quite hard sessions and should be worked as such. It's a heady mix of hill reps and medium to longer intervals on the road and the track (check with Rich Carney, what the schedule is). The importance is to be consistent with your repetitions. Make sure that you don't do too many of these sessions, as they are well above Marathon Pace, will fatigue you, and could lead to injury if you overdo it.
  • Wednesday Intervals - Dipping in and out threshold (8 RPE) for 30-40min sustained effort will tax you and will be an opportunity to work hard with others.
  • Saturday Park Run / Hill Repetitions - A combination of ParkRun (5k time trial) and hill repetitions/ off road runs will build your stamina. You can also "do the double" and complete both sessions to get used to the changes in pace once you have build up adequate mileage.
  • Sunday Long Run - Although no planned BRAT session, Sunday is perfect for your long run. This should be at an easy pace, conversational and social (if you have those of a similar pace to run with). Progress by no more than 10% distance or time each week. If you are looking at >4 hours for the marathon, stop once you have run for 3.5 hours as you need to be fresh for the next weeks sessions so post training recovery is vital. 

All of these sessions, in any combination will help build your fitness towards your marathon goals. What should also be remembered is the importance of NOT training. Rest days and recovery are just as important as the actual training. We will cover R&R in a future article.

Hopefully this has given you a quick overview of some areas of marathon training. What sessions do you do? How do you find them? What suggestions or plans are you following on your route to the marathon?

Read 3064 times Last modified on Monday, 22 January 2018 13:21