Essential Marathon Training Advice For Women

Given that all marathon runners have to complete the same 42.2 km to finish on race day, there are naturally a lot of similarities in how they train for a marathon. However, every runner is also different, and making sure you take these differences into account as you train is vital to achieving your best performance.

Ali Nolan’s new book Marathon Mastering: The Ultimate Women’s Training Guide It was designed to help women of all levels train for marathons, providing access to the kind of ideas that elite runners have.

“I wish every runner had a strength training coach, running coach, dietitian and nutritionist, sports medicine doctor, and a bunch of other random experts in their corner,” says Nolan. “So I consulted experts I know, and I went into a lot of interviews in the book.”

We spoke to Nolan about how marathon training is different for women, and about her advice for everyone going the distance.

What are the differences in marathon training for men and women?

I think women think differently and we build differently. Obviously, in a way, there are differences, but at the same time they are very small because we all train at the same distance.

In the book I say there are five components to marathon training: running, strength training, nutrition, mindset, and recovery. I think it’s very important for women to deal with those other items that aren’t working. I think women are very important and so they accomplish the training plan, but they ignore strength and nutrition.

Another thing for women is that our hips are a little wider and our lower extremities will be more unbalanced than men’s. It’s discussed in the medical community, but some people believe this makes women more susceptible to foot injuries and leg strains. So in the book, there are strength training programs that focus on hip strength, first and foremost, butt activation, and then small modifications like calf raises that will help prevent plantar fasciitis and make everything more balanced. And then, of course, a bunch of core strength, because that fuels the lower half of your body.

Women also have weaker bodies on average, and many new runners don’t realize that you are using your upper body while running. It’s about making sure you build that strength into the plan.

Nutrition is complex because it is very individual. But every dietitian, nutritionist, and sports doctor I spoke to generally said, When training for marathons, women eat very few calories And do not realize. So he wakes people up and they say “No, carbs are good!” And just making women eat more.

Mentally, I think that balancing life and training leads a lot of women to fatigue during marathon training. It’s something I deal with a lot, so a large part of my book is about really focusing on the inside – trying to make an inventory of what your body feels and how your mind feels. This can make all the difference in your marathon training because if your mind is completely burned out, you won’t perform at your peak and you may feel disappointed. And if you haven’t learned the skills of self-compassion, which not many women have, you’re going to get sucked into this maelstrom. Maybe you stopped running or maybe you ran a lot.

The other thing is that guys have higher VO2 maxes than we do, so let’s speed up the training. This is really for the intermediate and advanced runners – lots of training on the track, hard races and that kind of thing.

Is it generally difficult for women to join in with things like keeping track of workouts with clubs?

I think that. First of all, it’s hard to motivate yourself if you’re doing the track exercise yourself. Then if you go to track the exercises, you will find that it is not an even split [between men and women].

Some beginner runners don’t realize it’s essential when training for long distance running, and when they find out and try it, it can be intimidating at first. Especially if you’re finally dead – that’s bad – and if you’re a woman going to the path exercise that might happen because of our differences.

I did some book exercises that were the most fun you could do on your own or with another friend. And I just encourage people to try. The running community, even if they are elite or faster, are very open and passionate about encouraging people who are trying something new.

How do you manage periods around marathon training?

For women at that time of the month, it is, in a very basic sense, a pain! Sometimes you just have to smile and put up with it, and get over it, but I’ll also say that if you’ve had a long day and you’re feeling crap, wait a day and adjust your training plan. This type applies to everything. If you’re not feeling your best—if you’re out of the weather, if you’re having cramps or a migraine—and try to get outside and do a good workout, you’ll end up with garbage miles. It’s better to wait and get those quality miles than to rush out and feel miserable. This will not do anything for your confidence either.

Lots of runners nowadays completely skip that. They take contraceptives, because their period gets in the way. The other thing I would say about it is that a lot of very dedicated runners, who probably aren’t eating enough calories, will start skipping their periods. Sometimes that’s okay, as long as you talk to a doctor. Sometimes it’s really bad and it can lead to osteoporosis and the female triad [now more commonly known as RED-S]. I know that not everyone has access to great healthcare, but if there is anything wrong with your body in this way, I highly recommend seeing a doctor.

Are there any other marathon mistakes that women in particular tend to make?

This was a question I asked every expert. Like I said, nutritionists and dietitians said they’re not eating enough calories. Then said physical therapists, sports specialists and running coaches Most women run very fast on their long and slow runsAnd their easy training miles. People should really use velocity charts and velocity apps. Plug in your 5km time and I guarantee people will be surprised to see that their slow training days should probably be a minute a mile slower than you actually do.

Another thing is that we don’t give ourselves enough time to recover – maybe that’s true for men, too. When our plan says a day of rest, we’ll probably sneak a mile or two because that feels good, or maybe we’ll go and do a stupid high-intensity interval class. You really should get your feet up and eat a nutritious meal. I don’t think people treat themselves well during marathon training.

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