Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to train for Marathon From Scratch?

 Featured in TABLA Paper ( A Subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings)


Take the first steps to fitness 
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Written By Rameshon Murugiah
Here’s the good news: the fact that you’re reading this column shows you are serious about your health and pursuing an exercise routine- running in particular – to stay fit. Here’s the better news: It isn’t as hard as you may imagine. You may take me for an example. I started as a novice runner and eventually progressed to being a marathoner of some standard. I have also trained about 20 people to run in the marathon. Some have gone on to represent Singapore. (Note : Ashley Liew, who has been trained by me has done 2hr 41min 55sec. The first approach to training for him was weight management rather than training for performance)

Picture 1 - Ashley Liew, at the start point of Gold Coast Marathon 2011 (3rd July, 2011)
When embarking on a running programme, the first thing to do is assess one’s fitness level. As people have different fitness levels, I tend to individualise the programme to each person’s needs.

Picture 2 - Ashley Liew (on the right), in the past and the photo on the left is his present physical state)


There are ways to find out one’s fitness, using parameters such as leg strength, hand strength and stamina. Once you get the individual’s fitness level, it is quite simple to chart a routine that will improve the person’s fitness.

Picture 2 - Ashley Liew towards the last portion of the race at Gold Coast Marathon (3/07/2011)


This week’s column will focus on those who have just picked up running (next week will focus on improving your running and the week after we’ll talk about taking on that magic number …42km) but a fit runner can still use this programme to increase his/her stamina. Remember, the key words are : progressive, gradual and systematic. 
As with any workout routine, it is advisable to visit a doctor before starting your running programme, especially if you have doubts about your health. Once you’ve got the all-clear on the medical front, the next step is to look at your weight. Not only is that a good indicator of your overall health, it also determines how well you run. After all, carrying too much bodyweight when running is bound to slow you down.

I say this from personal experience. I am 1.71m tall and weighed 54kg when I clocked my personal best time of 2hr 24min 22sec in the 1995 South-east Asian Games. When I made a return to competitive running nine years later, at the age of 39, I was much heavier and could not run well even in a 10km race. With a six-month training programme, which included workouts in the gym for two or three hours per day, I trimmed my weight to 66kg. But even that was not sufficient: I ran a 10km race at that weight and timed 55min, which was far from my personal best time of 31min 46sec over that distance.

I gradually dropped my weight to 60kg and later to 58kg… and the results spoke for themselves. In 2005 and 2006, I finished second in the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon and my 10km time dropped to 36min in time trials. In 2008, when I was 43 years old, I topped the Men’s Open Category of the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon with a time of 2hr 49min. My weight then was 54kg.

It is well established that the heavier you are, the more energy you use when running and the chances of getting injured are greater. However,  it isn’t just about losing weight. One should train hard and eat right. Some methods of losing weight to eventually run better are brisk walking, slow jogging, cycling, roller-blading, swimming and skipping.

The table on the left will help those who want to begin running… with the marathon in their sights. Of course, it will help those who just want to run for overall fitness too. It is a general programme and faster improvement can be achieved if the programme is individualized to one’s fitness. 

Table one : Get Started With This Programme.

Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
Sunday
Week
Rest
20min brisk walk
Exercise
20min brisk walk
 Optional
3-5km
Walk /jog
rest
25min walk jog or 20min jog/run
Week  1
Rest
25min brisk walk
Exercise
25min brisk walk
Optional
3-5km
Walk /jog
rest
30min walk jog or 30min run
Week 2
Rest
30min brisk walk
Exercise
30min brisk walk
Optional
3-5km
Walk /jog
rest
35min walk jog or 35min run
Week 3
Rest
30min walk/  jog
Exercise
30min walk jog
Optional
3-5km
Walk /jog
rest
40min walk jog/run
Week 4
Rest
30min jog
Exercise
30min jog
Optional
3-5km
Walk /jog
rest
45min walk/jog/run
Week 5
Rest
30min jog
Exercise
30min jog
Optional
3-5km
Walk /jog
rest
50min walk/jog/run
Week 5
Rest
30min jog
Exercise
30min jog
Optional
3-5km
Walk /jog
rest
55min
Walk/jog/run
Week 6
Rest
30min jog
Exercise
30min jog
Optional
3-5km
Walk /jog
rest
60jog jog or run
Week 7
Rest
30min jog
Exercise
30min jog
Optional
3-5km
Walk /jog
rest
60min jog
Week 8.

To date Rameshon Murugiah has four sub- 2hrs 30min timing, highest by any Singaporean, and also holds Singapore’s national record for the marathon: 2hrs 24min 22sec. Equipped with a degree in Physical Education and Sports Science, he is an Adjunct Associate lecturer at Republic Polytechnic  and is teaching in St Joseph’s Institution (flexi-scheme).

Next Issue : How to train for the Half-marathon while training for the marathon

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