This weekend includes the first progressive run of the sixteen week marathon training programme.
What is progressive running?
Progressive running, in its simplest terms, means gradually increasing the pace of a continuous training run. This can be done in increments of time or distance.
How will progressive running help me with my marathon training?
By gradually increasing your pace during a run you are giving yourself the best possible opportunity of achieving a negative split (running the second half of the race quicker than the first). It also helps you maintain a good pace when you are starting to feel fatigued (in scientific terms it can help raise your lactate turn point).
What evidence is there of the benefits of progressive training?
The marathon world record is getting ever closer to the two hour mark. In fact, the improvements in marathon times in recent years are quite remarkable. This is largely due to the amount of speed and strength endurance training the top athletes are putting in. Many marathon victors and world record holders have had to run negative splits to achieve their titles. Hence, running progressively coupled with the ability to utilise speed endurance in the final stages of the race are key components to being successful at this distance.
The Virgin London Marathon site provided me with my own personal favourite statistic following my run last year. From the 35K mark to the finish, the electronic chip system was able to tell me that I overtook 770 other runners in this final part of the race, whilst only 4 runners overtook me! Believe me, it was great to be feeling that good towards the end of such a tough distance. I attribute this to the progressive runs I do on the weekend that build on the interval work from the mid week sessions.
Some of the top runners refer to the marathon as a 20 mile run followed by a six mile race. I think this describes it pretty well.
Enjoy your training.