Run – Walk Marathon Race Strategy

On 28th December 2012 by Rachael Woolston
Try stair sprints at the end of a long run for psychological strength

Try stair sprints at the end of a long run for psychological strength

What do you do if you’ve crashed out of marathon training with an injury? Give up entirely or readjust your approach to the race?

This is the dilemma I faced while training for the Mumbai marathon.

I’d run the Lake Garda marathon in October 2012, and took no time off before entering training for a 12 mile off road obstacle race, the Spartan Beast.

My legs were probably already feeling it, when they finally gave up after completing a half marathon on steps, devised by a runner in Brighton, Anthony Pope (@BrightonStepRun on Twitter).

I ignored all the signs, and my own advice that I give to others that I coach about strengthening the glute muscles and core.

Result? My ITB became so tight  that even dry needle treatment resulted in the needles coming out, bent at right angles.

It took me out of training at a critical point and left me unsure about flying to Mumbai to run the marathon on January 20th. But then I got to thinking, what if I just broke the race down into segments, running some miles and walking and stretching the rest? Suddenly, it seemed possible both psychologically and physically.

A little research showed that I am, of course, not alone in taking this approach.

Renowned running coach, Jeff Galloway recommends taking walking breaks, not only to avoid injury but to improve your time.

‘By using muscles in different ways from the beginning, your legs keep their bounce as they conserve resources,’ he explains. ‘When a muscle group such as your calf is used  continuously, it fatigues soon, causing the weak areas to get overused.

‘Shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles, you distribute the workload among a variety of muscles, increasing your overall performance capacity.’

So, how should you break a marathon down into walk-run breaks? This all depends on your training and marathon experience.

For beginners, Jeff Galloway recommends one minute of walking for every three to four minutes running.

I’m not a beginner and am going to attempt five sets of four miles at either 8min miles or 8min 30secs. Walk periods will be for one mile at 13min miles.

Leaving me with 2.2miles left to go it on mental strength alone.

It will be slower than my first marathon in Lake Garda. But it will get me to the finish line when just a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure about running at all.

Now, the only problem? Getting the Mumbai marathon organisers to get me moved out of the over 6hours starting pen.  Wish me luck.

 

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