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Training For A Half v.s Full Marathon

Posted by: on March, 21 2012

Here’s a question from Nike Running: What are the differences between sound marathon training and half-marathon training? One obvious answer is race pace work and the simple fact that to run to your potential over the half-marathon distance you need to run that pace (or faster) every seven to ten days. But the biggest difference, and the one many runners fail to understand, is that the human body does not have enough stored glycogen to finish a marathon, yet it has plenty to finish a half-marathon. What are the implications of this? Simple. Sound marathon training must include workouts that teach the body to both spare glycogen and burn fat. (Or said another way, glycogen utilization and lipid utilization are key in the marathon.) One example of a workout that does this is a 20-mile run that ends with some amount or running at marathon pace, ideally eight or ten miles. Another example is simply a run longer than 20 miles in length. Neither of these workouts needs to be done weekly for you to race to your fitness level come race day, but the flip side is you can’t consider yourself prepared for the marathon if you haven’t done some type of workout that teaches your body to spare glycogen and use fat as an energy source.

*Coach Jay’s advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.

And don’t forget, if you have a training question for Coach Jay, email him here: coachjay@nike.com.

Interested in Coach Jay’s General Strength videos? Click here to check them out.