For this to be scary I guess you need to know how most people train for marathons (especially if you are new to this or even just reading for fun). Definitely need a reference point from which to measure the level of scariness.
Ok, so here's how most marathon training plans go:
Wednesday- run faster
Thursday- run slower
Friday- maybe cross train on the elliptical machine at the gym
Saturday- run really far
Sunday- run for recovery
Yep, that's pretty much it. The distances may change a bit (read: they all get longer) but things generally follow that plan.
Weekly mileage depends on the person but may average 40-60 miles or more. Yes, you read that right. Forty to sixty miles...to run 26 miles. OHHHHHHKAY, its 26.2 but that's not the point. The point is that people do a TON of running to get ready for, well.. running. Seems logical, maybe?
Here's what I want to know- where is the science that supports that rationale; because I haven't found any.
Let me say that again- I haven't come across science that supports this method of marathon training.
What I have come across is a plethora of research that shows shorter duration, higher intensity work improves endurance performance.
You may also be interested to know that it (shorter duration, higher intensity work) reduces visceral body fat (that's the worst kind-the kind on the inside-surrounding your organs), improves VO2, and improves speed at lactate threshold.
What does all of that mean?
It means you perform better and you are healthier. Nice.
Add to that the fact that shorter duration, high intensity exercise also helps to maintain (and can even help to build) muscle...
Why should you care about muscle?
Maybe because muscle mass actually helps to maintain your health and your immune system.
A slow, steady loss of muscle as we age is actually a predictor of disease (and injury). Yup, its a fact.
Running, running, running does little to preserve muscle, in fact it can speed up the loss.
Sad, because i really like running.
Well, it is a good thing that I also like resistance training. Yes, lifting weights. Those things can help you build muscle and avoid disease. But guess what?? They can also make you faster!
Having strong, powerful muscles can actually help you in your marathon training.
I know i've just thrown a big monkey wrench into your marathon training plan...but I'm only doing it because I like you and I want to help you.
So what is this, the scariest marathon training program that I alluded to earlier??
It involves resistance training and shorter duration, higher intensity runs instead of just running, running, running. And not running, running, running is really scary for people who are used to it.
What does this scary plan look like?
It may look something like this:
Monday- Squats (and a few other key leg movements)
Tuesday- Track speed work
Wednesday- Upper body work at the gym
Thursday- short Tempo, or interval run
Friday- Deadlifts (and other key movements)
Saturday or Sunday- your ONE 'long' run
While something like this may be the scariest thing ever- it may also save you from injury and illness during your marathon training.
Have questions, or need help with your training? You know where to find me :)