Training for a marathon or sporting event can be a tough challenge, where do you start? It’s important to incorporate conditioning in to your routine to help prepare your body for the challenge ahead. Personal trainer and fitness expert, Ralph Hydes, explains why it’s not just running that will get you to the finish line.

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years as a coach is the mindset of many runners, especially distance runners, as to the type of training they do to prepare for their race. To have a successful marathon, you need to train in a way that covers all aspects of fitness, not just running. If you miss out anything, you are setting yourself up for problems or injuries. There are always a large proportion of runners that never make it to the start line due to getting injured along the way. This is usually due to the lack of conditioning to protect the body from the demands of running long distances repeatedly week in, week out.

When designing a training programme for my athletes I look at several key areas and plan a regime to follow so that all weaknesses are covered. This will include a flexibility routine, a strength routine involving weights and/or circuit training.

Weights and circuit training are great ways of providing overall conditioning for all the muscles in the body. It’s about making your muscles strong in order to cope with the demands of the endurance event. The better your conditioning, the faster you can run and the less likely you are to experience fatigue or get hurt. Circuit training involves a series of exercises working on specific muscles for certain time duration’s. You can increase the time, the number of exercises per circuit and the number of circuits and decrease the rest periods between exercises. At the moment I am running two training groups, one in Reigate and the other in Kingston, which focus on conditioning appropriate to runners. (If you are interested in joining one of these groups visit my website).

So what conditioning will benefit runners?

It’s easy to understand why sprinters need to do weights or circuit training but why do distance runners need to? Quite simply, being able to maintain your form instead of crumbling with fatigue will ensure that you run fast and strong throughout the race. Generally you need to be working on areas that are going to be under pressure, this will mean working on strengthening your glutes (buttocks), hamstrings, quads, calves and lower back. If you neglect one of these areas you can be sure that this is the area that is going to give out on you.