Wednesday, September 23, 2009

P.E.I. Marathon - Cross-training, rest crucial in preparation for race

P.E.I. Marathon -
Cross-training, rest crucial in preparation for race

Special to The Guardian

Yes, I got through the dreaded and much anticipated long run last weekend.
Thank goodness for the great company of Pam and Diane. We talked, we were silent and they didn’t mind when I had to go within and put the headphones on to get the job done.
In the closing kilometres as I was fading off they were great encouragers and told me I was doing great and looking good. I knew they were lying, but I love them for it!
We even met and ran with a couple of great guys who were training on the trail section of the marathon. Two more friendly faces to see on race day. All the best Dave and Michael.
So with that monster week of training behind us, we get to take it easy this week on a recovery week.
Our mileage decreases significantly to allow us to recover and get stronger for the next big training runs.
No hard mile repeats this week, no extra long runs. A couple of good quality runs will be this week’s race specific training objectives.
It is easy as it gets close to race day to try to “cram” extra miles and speedwork in. The body doesn’t respond well to this, well mine doesn’t anyway.
Your risk for injury increases when you increase your mileage and/or speed too much at once. Gradual increases in these areas mixed with a good recovery week every month or so will see the best gains, I find.
So, what to do with yourself on a down week? I actually quite enjoy the break from the extra miles and focus my energies on cross training along with banking some extra sleep hours.
Distance runners are notoriously known for not being very flexible and being weak in the upper body, core, glute and hamstring areas.
Cross-training can allow you to work on these weaknesses and round out your weaknesses to become a stronger runner. Core strengthening will allow you to hold yourself better in the later stages of the race.
Flexibility and stretching are key in keeping injury free and loose. Personally, I hate stretching and I think it is fair to say many runners do as well.
We can log a three- or four-hour training run, but feel the need to cheat a 30-minute stretching session for some reason.
Not sure why that is, but I force myself to get it done. I bought a set of deep reaching rollers and have them stored smack dab in front of my living room TV on the carpet. It doesn’t seem bad when you can pass the time stretching while watching ‘House’!
So, as much as I dreaded the long run of last weekend, I will enjoy our well earned down week in miles and intensity.
I will enjoy the extra couple hours of sleep on Sunday morning knowing I am getting stronger and have earned the rest.

Cheryl Paynter is the co-chair of the BMO Nesbitt Burns P.E.I. Marathon weekend Oct. 16-18 and will be writing a weekly article leading up to race weekend. For further information, visit

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