Great North Run 2011: 90-Day Conditioning Program2 PDF Print E-mail


Great North Run 2011:  90-Day Conditioning Program2

Column #121, 18th June 2011

If you have plans to take part in a half marathon this year, then hopefully you have a worked out your strategy for getting to the start line in the right condition.  If not, I might be able to help and if you are already on the ball I may be able to add some value to your plan.

Training for the Great North Run

An extremely popular half marathon in the North East, UK is the Great North Run.  It is just over three months away and the deadline for getting a race number is upon us.  If you need some support during this time, read on for some great conditioning tips.  But first answer these questions to gauge where you are in your progress:

  1. Are you injury free?
  2. Are you on target to improve your performance?
  3. Is your strength and conditioning a priority at the moment?
  4. Do you get the most benefit from recovery time?
  5. Have you laid a strong foundation on which to build?
  6. Is your nutrition enhancing your performance?

If you can answer Yes to these six questions, then you can continue browsing the internet, otherwise read on  to fill in  the gaps in your program.

Half Marathon Conditioning

Conditioning yourself for any half-marathon takes planning.  Whether you are a fun runner or elite you must strengthen your weaknesses and capitalise on your strengths to achieve your potential and target time.  In writing a 90-Day Half Marathon Conditioning Program that could be individualized, followed in a simple manner and which delivered high-class information, it was essential that it included the following topics:

  • Conditioning the Athletic Mind
  • Running Training Plans
  • Corrective Exercise and Strength Programs
  • Integrative Health Therapies
  • Effective Recovery Strategies
  • Nutrition for Performance

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s pioneering strength coaches, ultramarathon athletes, movement therapists, soft tissue experts, nutritionists and anatomists.  Now I get to cram as much of this information into a 90-Day program for everyone to follow.  Below is a description of these topics and exactly why they should be part of your program.

Conditioning the Athletic Mind

Many runners are passionate about running because of the mental state and ‘zone’ sensation that it creates.  A way of removing the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life and creating a clarity of thinking.  It is great that running delivers this to us, but what about the mind-set that we in turn, contribute and bring to our running?  The top runners work at this a lot and everyone can learn from these strategies to be more successful with improving running performance.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if you skip this stage and just focus on the miles per week, then you’ll miss reaching your potential by a long shot.  Various techniques and strategies are discussed in further detail in the 90-Day Program, some of which are really simple and others more challenging….but that’s a good thing.

As part of your training program have you set your goals for short, medium and ultimate?  Actually, rewind………there is another essential step to take before we set our goals.  First you need to identify the values and reasons behind why you are doing what you are doing (eg half marathon).  What makes it real to you?  In addition this process should include some form of assessments.  Miss this out and it is all but impossible to set effective goals, monitor your progress and design the right programs and plans.

A lot of the above happens at the beginning or early on and then gets revisited during the training program.  If you really want to achieve an ultimate athletic mind set then you need to do some conditioning for your mind too.  This is when it gets fascinating.  Our attitudes to our performance, confidence, set backs, barriers, challenges, training, race day and more are pivotal in determining our success.  Learn some quick and easy tools that give you the mind set that only knows how to progress and succeed.

Running Training Plans

This is the fun bit, what it’s all about:  Getting the miles in each week with different training sessions and watching your progress each week towards race day.  This is the backbone to any half-marathon training program.  With all the athletic mind set conditioning in the world, I doubt that 6 months of that alone would have much impact on performance.

There are lots of good running training plans out there, all slightly different and combining different training techniques, volume, intensity and rest days.  Tempo training, long runs, interval training, hill work, cross training all feature.  To be honest as a regular runner or someone who is committed to a half-marathon, this is the easy part, this should be what makes you tick.

However, you’re looking for the edge.  The secret of how to get the edge is in how you plan all the running around everything else.  Too much and you get injured, too little and you don’t have the stimulus to reach your peak fitness.  The running is what you are aiming to get better at.  The everything else is a combination of complementary strategies that enable you to respond to the training in the most effective way.  Put simply – if all you do is run, run and run some more, you will not reach your peak.  Luckily there is a boatload of ways to do this.

Corrective Exercise and Strength Programs

Another key strategy is to have an Exercise and Strength Conditioning program individualised to you.  Corrective Strength work takes your posture, flexibility, movement patterns, muscle imbalances, fitness levels, strengths and weaknesses and fine-tunes them for enhanced function and running performance.  Work with an exercise specialist who can assess your current level of performance and design programs for your goals and you could follow exactly the same running program you completed last year and get vast improvements.

Having worked with novice marathon runners and International ultra-marathon runners, this conditioning serves to win races, achieve personal bests and stay injury free.  If for example you are doing the Great North Run, you definitely don’t want to be in the 27% who started but failed to finish the 2010 run.  Ensure that you are in condition for this physical and mental challenge.

Integrative Health Therapies

There are many therapies that can help you improve and train for a marathon.  Part of how you plan your running training and exercise programs depends on the additional therapeutic work that you do.  The structural, postural, psychological, detoxification, energy, recovery and strength benefits are often a foundation for the running training to build on.  Here are a few therapies that are structured into the 90-Day program:

  • The Bowen Technique
  • Biomechanics and Podiatry
  • Colonic Hydrotherapy
  • Functional Diagnostic Medicine
  • Metabolic Typing and BioSignature
  • Sports Massage
  • Remedial Massage
  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Active Release Technique

Are you embracing the new developments and knowledge we have about human function or are your athletic training practices stuck in the 70’s?  Of course, hold on to what works, but look for advancing your outlook too.

Effective Recovery Strategies

If you have scheduled your training well, you will have factored in your rest days where you repair and recover.  But what do you do on these days?  Do you have strategies that increase the speed of recovery, repair muscles and get the most out of the work you have been putting in?  If you have trained for a half-marathon before then you have something to compare against.  This time round focus on some recovery strategies that enable you to recover faster and train harder, leading to better results.

If you are someone who already has the motivation, determination and discipline to complete all the running miles each week and carry out your strength and conditioning and even get the cross training sessions ticked off without fail, then this is where you need to focus.  If you want all the above effort to come to its deserved fruition, then your motivation, determination and discipline to rest, recover, heal and repair is an unequivocal must.  Are you getting the most out of:

  • Enhancing Sleep/Circadian Rhythm
  • Active Recovery sessions
  • Energy Exercises
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Breath Work
  • Detoxification methods
  • Sports Massage
  • Self Release Trigger Points

Nutrition for Performance

The body needs food for fuel.  The energy is used by each and every cell in the body.  The approximately 100 trillion cells in the body make up the organs and tissues in the body and all of them require energy to function in order for the body to run efficiently.  This includes muscle fibers and the energy to complete long-distance races.

Put simply if you do not eat the right foods in the right proportions, then you will not provide the optimal amount of energy for your training, recovery and races.  There are many general principles we can all follow during a conditioning program and in addition there will be fine-tuning, individual principles that are required to reach optimal performance and health levels.

And here’s a clue – the secret is not about pasta parties and carbo-loading.  This is archaic and inaccurate.  Sign up for Free conditioning tips and Special Reports at the Running Conditioning Facebook Page to find out more.


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Jack Walton
Written on Sunday, 05 June 2011 00:00 by Jack Walton

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