When preparing for a flat marathon (like the NJ marathon), you may need to modify your training plan a little to better prepare for the unique demands of racing on a long, flat course. When most runners hear the word “flat” used to describe a marathon, we think “oh, that’ll be easy”. However, that may not be the case. Flat does not mean easy, especially if you’re not accustomed to training on flat terrain. Running on terrain you aren’t used to, can lead to muscle fatigue and cramping due to your body’s lack of muscle memory for the repetitive impact load on your muscles. Plus, it can be hard for the mind because of the monotony of the course. So one of the best ways to prepare for a flat marathon course is to shift more of your training to flat surfaces.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a flat race:
Hit the Track- There is no better place to run your speed and tempo workouts for a flat course than on a flat track. You can include shorter, 400m or 800m repeats or longer, 1-2 mile repeats to your training.
Hit the Treadmill- This certainly is not the most fun option, but it can be a good resource, especially if you can’t get to the track (i.e. it’s raining, snowing, too hot, etc…) Treadmills are especially convenient for runners who travel and need to get their runs in.
Vary Your Long Runs- Try to find routes that offer flat stretches of road or path. The best way to prepare your body for a long, flat course is to simulate it with a long, flat training run. Once you have a flat course you like, you can begin to alternate it with your usual rolling hill routes.