How to Train for a Marathon on a Summer Holiday

On holiday during peak week marathon training and unable to follow your training plan? Don’t sweat it…follow our guide to staying on track even if you can’t follow your training plan

GRTW founder and coach, Rachael on holiday in Kos. She dropped her long, slow training run to do a shorter, marathon tempo run to beat the heat

Plan It

Devise a flexible plan that fits around your lifestyle or work with a coach who can support you with a bespoke, individulised plan that suits you and your commitments. Trying to adhere to a strict training plan that doesn’t allow for any wiggle room adds additional stress and can leave you feeling demotivated if you don’t manage to follow it to the letter. Remember, whilst running can be hard, it is also meant to be fun!

Head for the Hills

Work on speed and strength by incorporating some hills on your run – yes, even if your marathon is on a flat course! This will add a level of intensity to your run, building strength in the hips and quads over a shorter period of time.

Pack a Skipping Rope

Add a skipping rope to your luggage and you’ll have an effective piece of equipment to use wherever you are.

‘Skipping is a plyometric training method, which promotes neuromuscular stimulus similar to running performance,’ explains GRTW founder and running/triathlon coach, Rachael Woolston. ‘Moreover, combine it with fast skipping and it can work you both aerobically and anaerobically, both of which are used in marathon running.’

Whilst a skipping workout will not be the same as marathon training, it will help to keep your muscles, tendons and ligaments used to the pressures of endurance road run training. Try this workout to replace one of your tempo runs when you are short of time on holiday;

  • 5 x 60 seconds warm up slow skips, 30 seconds rest.
  • Follow with 5 x 1 minute fast skipping with the last two sets jumping and landing off one leg.
  • Combine with a shorter temp run of 20-30 minutes to get in an effective session.

 ‘I would recommend that you only do these jump rope workouts if you are a conditioned runner with no current history of lower limb niggles or injuries.’  advises Rachael.

Double Days

Free up your holiday time by doubling up on your runs. Can you run a shorter distance in the morning and then again in the evening? Instead of having to dedicate a whole day to the long run, double days physically put the mileage in your legs and will mentally assure you that you can cover the distance, the marathon is as much a mental game as it is a physical one.

‘If time is tight, try getting up a bit earlier and fit in an interval run before your day commences then squeeze in an easy run before dinner.’ suggests GRTW Ultra-running coach Lucja. ‘Double days are a great way to fit in some extra mileage. I would always keep at least one of the sessions as a plain easy run and be mindful to rehydrate and fuel in between sessions.’ advises Lucja.

Get Creative

Pic credit: Photo by Sebastien Goldberg on Unsplash

Even if your marathon training is peaking the same week as your holiday, don’t panic! Holidays are meant to be enjoyable – an opportunity to switch off from the stressors of every day life, a chance to spend time with family and friends or explore a new destination. Instead of spending your week stressing about that long run on your training plan, get the miles and cumulative fatigue in the legs by going for a long walk with the family where you can enjoy exploring your holiday location and spending time together.

‘Hiking with a heavy pack on is a great way of combining training with being on holiday with the family,’ says GRTW founder, Rachael. ‘Enjoy your hike with your family, add some weight and know that the endurance effect will help your endurance base and prevent you losing fitness.’

Marathon training is hard on the body and taking a week or two on holiday being active in different ways can act as a good reset for the body and mind.

‘If you have followed the rest of your training plan to the letter and you are in peak phase while on holiday and don’t have enough time to do your long runs, don’t stress!’ assures Rachael.

Whilst we all dream of the day that we’ll have an infinite amount off time to train, having time constraints can actually help avoid overtraining and make for more productive and structured training that can lead to better performance on race day.

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