What to Consider When Increasing Your Running Distance from Half Marathons to Full Marathons
The step up from a half marathon to a full one is so much more than increasing your distance. Although logically this is the case, the reality of the increased training demands, accumulated fatigue, injury risk, nutritional changes etc all must be factored in.
In this article we’re going to look at the considerations you need to make before stepping up from 13.1 miles to the full 26.2 distance. We’ll look at the evidence behind the training and recovery strategies, ensuring that we provide you with all the tools to make your transition to the full distance a safe and effective one.
Time to read: 4 minutes
- Stepping up the training with low injury risk
- Nutritional requirements with increased running
- Post training and race recovery
- The benefits of Infrared on recovery
The step up from a half marathon to a full one is so much more than increasing your distance. In this article we’re going to look at the considerations you need to make before stepping up from 13.1 miles to the full 26.2 distance...
Stepping up the training – doing so sensibly
Any distance runner knows the injury risk associated with running – relative to other athletic disciplines such as sprinting, throwing and jumping, it remains the one with the highest injury frequency . The interesting point here is that the study subjects used to collect this data were elite level athletes – the least susceptible to running injuries on account of their technical proficiency and physiological adaption to the sport.
Evidence shows that there is a risk stepping up training volume and/or speed too quickly . Both increase injury risk, but the injuries associated with the different approaches vary. The point is, it’s not as simple as ‘running faster’ or ‘running longer’ – you must consider the increase carefully, balancing it out with your ability to recover.
The problem is that running injuries are often multi-factorial and are rarely down to a single cause . This means that identifying the ‘right’ amount of progression or increase in training distance or intensity isn’t an exact science.
One study notes that a pre-running strength phase is a good idea , and logically it makes sense that strengthening muscles and connective tissues ahead of endurance training is a good idea.
Given the absolute loads going through the body during the training and completion of a marathon (relative to a half marathon), improving strength of the areas exposed to the load will help to reduce injury frequency and severity. The same study also considers volume increases – based on their conclusions it would be wise to increase volume or intensity by around 10% each week.
Nutritional requirements with increased running
Like training, nutrition isn’t an exact science. We all have different metabolic rates, and our energy consumption will vary depending on factors such as size, weight, muscle mass, age, sex, training frequency, running technique and the like.
Advice from Burke et al in their 2019 analysis of nutritional strategies for distance runners and race walkers  suggest that…
Race nutrition strategies include CHO-rich eating in the hours per days prior to the event to store glycogen in amounts sufficient for event fuel needs, and in some cases, in-race consumption of CHO and fluid to offset event losses. Beneficial CHO intakes range from small amounts, including mouth rinsing, in the case of shorter events to high rates of intake (75-90 g/hr) in the longest races.
We can draw a clear conclusion from this – nutritional strategy must be individual, but it makes good sense for distance runners to focus the bulk of their energy intake around carbohydrate.
When stepping up training distances, that will simply mean more of the same. It’ll have to be good quality, clean food in greater volumes. Training and race days will need an intra-run carbohydrate consumption of between 50 and 90 grams per hour, depending on speed and distance.
Further research suggests post-marathon figures of 1.2g of carbs and 0.4g per kg of bodyweight are sufficient to replenish muscle glycogen stores . These figures are likely to be higher than those needed after a half marathon, simply because of the additional calorie burn with the longer distance.
There’s been some discussion around fluid intake as well, with some recommendations suggesting runners shouldn’t allow themselves to become dehydrated to the point that they lose more than 2% of pre-race body weight. However, a study shows that thirst-determined drinking strategy was equally as effective at maintaining running performance over the marathon distance. This means runners should look to drink as much and as frequently as they feel they need – not some pre-determined amount of frequency .
Post training and race recovery
Increasing training distances and intensities comes at a cost to tissues – you can’t expect to double the relative distance and not expect to increase the recovery time required from the running.
There’s also the impact of fatigue on technique breakdown, which can increase the risk of injury. As runners fatigue stride rates, stride frequency and stride pattern can be changed, all of which have a potential impact .
To combat this a comprehensive running recovery strategy is important. We’ve already covered the nutritional recovery, but what about the soft tissues and the connective tissues?
Infrared recovery for distance runners
Post-run you’ll be experiencing a mixture of inflammation, mild pain and potential DOMS as your body begins the post-exercise recovery process. There’s a significant amount of data showing how effective infrared fabrics are at reducing inflammation  and easing the effects of DOMS.
By reducing inflammation and reducing post-exercise pain, infrared is a key element of the recovery process. Wearing KYMIRA® leggings and socks pre, during and post run will help with the following areas of post-run recovery…
- Reduced muscle-specific wound healing time
- Prevention and reduction in DOMS
- Reduced lung inflammation
- Increased blood flow in injured connective tissues
The beauty of the KYMIRA® clothing is that it is so convenient – you simply wear it and passively allow the recovery process to take place. There’s no machinery, no additional equipment and it’s completely portable.
KYMIRA® equipment as helped athletes from all kinds of disciplines win domestic, European, World and Olympic titles. It’s trusted by professionals to help them perform at their best.