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TRAINING TO RACEWALK YOUR FIRST MARATHON OR HALF MARATHON

By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

I believe in a minimum 6 month training program for marathon or half marathon walks.  If you can comfortably racewalk ten miles now, you should be able to racewalk a marathon in 6 months.  If you can comfortably racewalk five miles now, then you should be ready to do a half marathon in 6 months.  There are many coaches out there with an equal number of marathon training programs.  Any number of them might work well for you.

 
   
 

Mary Mahon, racewalker extraordinaire and grandmother of 12, racewalks over the bridge in the Iron Girl 5K in Clearwater, FL.

 

There are also national training programs to encourage you to train for a marathon or half marathon.  The goal of many of these training programs is to get you to raise money (a worthy goal in itself) for the charity.  However, they rush walkers and runners through a four-month training program, which in my opinion is not long enough to successfully and comfortably complete a marathon.  The key word is comfortably.  True, many of the participants slog through the marathon on race day, but they often feel terrible afterwards, some get injured, and worst of all - many give up their exercise program right after the marathon is over.

My goal for you is to complete (not compete necessarily) the marathon and feel good at the end of it.  My second goal is for you to stay racewalking years into the future.  If you follow this very conservative program - you should feel fine the next day rather than aching and not be able to racewalk for the next week.

DO THE MILES THAT ARE ON YOUR PROGRAM

Remember that when 8 miles is on the program, that is what you should do - not 9 or 10.  When there's a back-down week of less mileage, stick to the lesser mileage no matter how good you feel.  Racewalkers who have followed this program (from those who have done Disney to the New York Marathon to Marine Corps to San Diego) have enjoyed their marathon experience and felt good afterwards.

On the back-down mileage days (not the build-up mileage days) - you can go a little faster (#7 1/2 intensity on a scale of 1-10 - - 75% of max heart rate).  On the longer mileage days - stay under a #7 1/2 - - under 75% of max heart rate.

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN MARATHON TRAINING

Never racewalk when you are injured.  Long walks require more stretching and more icing. Spend a good 20 minutes or more stretching after your long walk and then look for sore areas to ice. Be pro-active with ice.  Soak your lower body in a cold tub of ice water after long walks.  Chilly as it is, you'll recover much quicker if you'll do this.

Never do more mileage than the program calls for, however, if you feel worn out - it's OK to do less mileage.  Listen to your body when its asking for a break.  Do not increase the distance of your regular weekly walks, only increase the long walk.  Keep the distance of your regular walks the same as usual - assuming that you're racewalking enough now.  You should be racewalking at least three days a week when you start this program.  That is the absolute minimum.  The minimum mileage per week for starting the Half Marathon program would be about 12 miles.  That will increase because of the long walk once a week.

WHAT SHOULD YOUR LONGEST WALK BE?

There are differing theories as to whether you should do the full distance of 26.2 miles before the actual marathon.  I believe that you should get close if you don't actually do the exact distance.

Some marathon programs only take you up to 20 miles.  That means on race day - you still have another hour and 10 minutes to hour and a half of walking time that your body is not used to.  You'll be more confident at the start line if you know your body has done much closer to the full distance.  I vote for no less than 24, and I'd prefer 26.

WHEN TO DO YOUR LONG WALK OF THE WEEK

You can do your long walk on any day of the week when you have enough time.  Most racewalkers find that Saturday or Sunday morning is best which is the reason that the dates listed below are for Saturday or Sunday.  Pick one.  Do not do a long walk on both days!

You may wish to start earlier in the morning when your mileage increases beyond six miles.  When you start increasing to longer walks of 13 miles, you may wish to start even earlier. As your long walk increases in duration - remember to bring Gatorade as well as water, and even some snacks to consume after walking for 90 minutes to two hours.

 

IF YOU WANT AN INDIVIDUALIZED TRAINING PROGRAM

Keep in mind that this is a general training program designed to fit a variety of needs.  If you'd like a personalized, monthly training program to tell you exactly how many miles you should do on each day of the week and how to fit in your racewalking with your other exercises - an Individualized Training program is available for the same price as a private Racewalking lesson.  Call 727-394-WALK or e-mail Bonnie@AceWalker.com for information on a complete marathon or half marathon training program designed just for you.

One last caveat - if your longest walk to date is 2 or 3 miles, I do not recommend that you train for a half marathon this year.  Instead, work toward a 10K (6.2 miles) three months from now, a 15K six months from now, and aim for a half marathon nine months from now.  You can be ready to do a full marathon in a year.

Keep in mind that this is a general training program designed to fit a variety of needs.  If you'd like a personalized, monthly training program to tell you exactly how many miles you should do on each day of the week and how to fit in your racewalking with your other exercises - an Individualized Training program is available for the same price as a private Racewalking lesson.  Call 727-394-WALK or e-mail Bonnie@AceWalker.com for information on a complete marathon or half marathon training program designed just for you.

One last caveat - if your longest walk to date is 2 or 3 miles, I do not recommend that you train for a half marathon this year.  Instead, work toward a 10K (6.2 miles) three months from now, a 15K six months from now, and aim for a half marathon nine months from now.  You can be ready to do a full marathon in a year.

*Although the program says the long walk for a half marathon starts at 5 miles and the full marathon long walk starts at 10 miles, that is only for people who are already doing that distance regularly. If you're not there yet, start where you are and work up from there.

For example if your longest walk of the week is currently six miles and you want to train for the full marathon, you shouldn't start with 10 miles just because that's on the program. Instead, look at the Half Marathon Training Program for the mileage where you are (6 miles) and start there. Inch up your long walk mileage week by week until you're at the 10 mile long walk on the Half Marathon program. Then, switch to the Full Marathon program if you wish.

If you want to train for the Half Marathon, but your longest regular walk is one or two miles, you may contact Bonnie@AceWalker.com for a personalized program for you.  Or you can do it yourself by starting with two miles as your long walk and working it up from there - no more than 10% each week until your long walk is five miles. Then, you're ready to move over to the Half Marathon Training Program.

So if you're ready - here's

Bonnie Stein's Easy-on-the-Body Marathon and Half-Marathon Training Program.

Long
Walk Day

Marathon

Half Marathon

 
Long
Walk Day

Marathon

Half Marathon

Miles

Miles   Miles Miles
Week  1 10 5   Week 16 9 8 1/2
Week  2 7 5   Week 17 18 9
Week  3 11 5 1/2   Week 18 10 7
Week  4 7 5   Week 19 19 10
Week  5 12 6   Week 20 10 7
Week  6 8 6 1/2   Week 21 20 11
Week  7 13 6   Week 22 10 7
Week  8 8 6 1/2   Week 23 22 12
Week  9 14 6   Week 24 10 8
Week 10 9 7   Week 25 24 13
Week 11 15 7   Week 26 10 7
Week 12 9 7 1/2   Week 27 8 8
Week 13 16 7   Week 28 6 6
Week 14 9 7 1/2   Week 29

Marathon

Half Marathon

Week 15 17 8  

 

 
2007 by Bonnie Stein. All Rights Reserved.

LIMITS OF LIABILITY AND DISCLAIMER - The authors and publishers of this newsletter have used their best efforts in preparing the articles and information contained within it. Additionally, you are advised to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. The authors and publishers make no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages.

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