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Gonzo Workouts for Marathon Training
By Rick Morris
Racing a marathon is difficult and challenging both physically and mentally. Standard marathon training using a combination of a weekly or bi-weekly long run, tempo training and some speed training does a good job of preparing you for the marathon distance. However, there are times when you need some special training to help you reach a new marathon PR. Here are some gonzo marathon workouts that will present an imposing challenge to your body and your mind. These very difficult and high intensity workouts aren't for everyone, but if you're up for the challenge the benefits are very rewarding.
Gonzo Marathon Tempo Run
You're probably already familiar with tempo running - running at a moderately hard pace or about 20 to 30 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace. Most runners do tempo runs of between 2 and 4 miles. These gonzo marathon tempo runs are a bit longer. Start with one mile longer than your most recent tempo run. Each week add one mile to your tempo run up to about 12 miles. Concentrate on maintaining a strong tempo pace throughout these workouts.
Marathon Hill Challenge
In my opinion, hill running is the best workout you can do. Hill training will improve your running strength, lactate turn point, stamina and running economy. The marathon is an extreme race so your training should also be extreme. This gonzo marathon hill run meets that requirement. You will need to find a very long hill of moderate to steep incline. If you don't have an appropriate hill in your area you will need to do this one on your treadmill at a 5% incline.
There nothing complex about this marathon hill challenge. Just start climbing the hill and keep going. You should be running at goal marathon pace. Run 10 kilometers or about 6 miles on your first attempt. Add one mile each time you do this workout up to around 12 miles.
Gonzo Long Run
Goal pace long runs are a relatively common type of marathon training. An example of a goal pace long run is an 18 mile run with the first 12 miles at an easy pace and the final 6 miles at goal marathon pace. That type of workout is excellent for preparing you to run at goal pace when fatigued. This gonzo long run takes goal pace running to a new extreme but also prepares you for the surges that are sometimes required when racing a marathon.
Run 22 miles. Run the first 11 miles at easy endurance pace. Run the final 11 miles alternating between 3/4 mile at goal marathon pace and 1/4 mile at 5K pace. Run all of the final 1 mile at 10K pace.
You've heard the overused saying that "practice makes perfect". It may be overused but it is also correct. To become efficient at racing a marathon you need to practice racing a marathon. That's why you do goal pace workouts and long runs. There is one phase of marathon training that is very difficult to practice - the final miles when you are running with depleted carbohydrate levels, exhausted muscles and a high state of CNS (central nervous system) fatigue. One way to duplicate that situation is to race a practice marathon. Unfortunately that isn't a wise choice. Racing an actual marathon would place so much stress on your body you would not be able to recover and continue your marathon training. Here is a gonzo marathon simulator that's good alternative.
Perform this marathon simulator on your normal long run day. After doing a long run of around 20 miles at easy endurance pace (don't do any goal pace running in this first phase) be sure you fully re-hydrate with a sports beverage (not plain water) but do not eat any food for recovery. Rest completely for 30 minutes and then run an additional 6 miles at goal marathon pace.
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