The marathon is a true test of endurance that requires physical and mental strength for success. But it takes a great deal more than just fitness to get your body from the start to finish. A great marathon requires consistent training with minimal to no injuries. It requires you to be able to merge long run training with quality intervals. And it demands that you are able to recover quickly especially during the final build to your race. Each of these elements might seem unique, but they all have one thing in common: great running form.
Running is one thing, but to do it well is something else and to sustain it for 26.2 miles is another story altogether. Poor running form can lead to injury, additional stress on your body, and reduce your ability to use your fitness over time. You must develop--and maintain--good running form if you are going to realize your long-distance running potential.
Marathon Training Slows You (& Wears You) Down
Summary: Lots of long, slow (or steady) running really wears down your ability to run well. Think about it: most of your long runs incur fatigue, reducing your ability to run well. This fatigue lasts beyond that single session, bleeding into other weekly runs. Your solitary goal for these runs is to go farther, not faster. This means pacing yourself physically and mentally; part of that pacing is reduced expectations around the quality of your run as you focus on the quantity...more time and more miles. There are many consequences of running with poor form, the least of which is not realizing your potential.
1. Shin Splints & Other Maladies: Overuse injuries are some of those common among marathon runners. For many of us, marathon training represents a huge leap in the amount of running we are doing, and as such our bodies struggle to adapt to the new workload as well as the effects of all the running on our bodies.
2. Forcing Additional Recovery: Lots of running means lots of pounding on our bodies. The more inefficient we become with our stride, the more work it takes to run. The more work it takes to run, the harder each individual session -- and our training week -- becomes. The harder our week becomes, the more we have to recover from it. Few of us have the time required to recover from our running on the most basic levels, leading to a sub-optimal vicious training cycle.
A Diverse Training Program Really Makes a Difference
One of the primary ways we work on running form at Marathon Nation is through workout variety. By incorporating intervals and hill workouts almost throughout the entire training cycle, our training plans challenge your body without overloading it through volume.
These workouts encourage the development of fast twitch fibers (intervals) and leg strength (hills), both of which are critical components of good running form. We even include intervals in our long runs, as a means of both building critical race fitness but also to remind your body of what it's like to run fast.