What exactly is cross-training?

Cross-training is basically activities in addition to running to complement your training. It’s about learning new skills and training in a way that will prepare you best for your running too. Cross-training can also help to reduce the risk of injury.

Finding alternative ways to work your system reduces the continual high impact work on your joints, and it can help avoid monotony and boredom by adding a bit of variety. It will also help your body become or remain toned, strong and flexible.

Whatever your training level, cross-training can help you get the results you want.

Is there benefit in using a heart rate monitor?

Yes there is! If you are fairly serious about your training that is.

Distance running is a strange beast; ‘the harder you work the more you’ll gain’ isn’t always true. You can never run too ‘easy’ to get a benefit, but there are times when you can run too ‘hard’. A heart rate monitor is great for controlling when to run hard and when not to.

In the hard training days, a heart rate monitor can be useful to make sure you recover sufficiently and make sure your normal runs are done at the optimum effort without turning them into high intensity workouts.

Why do I need to do a cool-down and stretch after my run?

Scientifically, we know it’s important, but nobody can agree on how much we need. What we do know is that by gradually reducing the heart rate and finishing with a few stretches we assist the clearance of the accumulated bi-products of exercise (lactic acid, hydrogen ions, carbon dioxide) while controlling the dissipation of heat. We also know that stretching while the muscles are warm also helps the clearance of the bi-products, while giving muscles and tendons a bigger range of motion. The harder you have been running, the longer the “cool-down” needs to be.

So how do I warm-up?

Generally, the faster you run, the more you need to warm-up. This is because, the faster you run the more your muscles and tendons are stretched to their maximum, and the more stress is put on your aerobic system. Sprinters can spend an hour warming-up with jogging, stretching, more stretching and more warming-up, all for a ten second race! Marathoners on the other hand often don’t do any more than a five-minute jog and a few quick stretches.

For normal runs a warm-up might be five minutes of jogging and then some quick stretches.

How long would it take to train to run a marathon?

This depends on your current level of fitness. If you are a total beginner, you could do a 24-week beginner training plan and probably get around a marathon course in about 4-5 hours. You would have to stick to the professionally structured training plan to be able to achieve that. It would be best to start with a few local races; a 5k, then a 10k race, gradually building-up to achieve your goal of the full marathon. Few would disagree that the longer you train for (in terms of months), and the more gradually you build-up your stamina, the more you will get out of your running.

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