All running must be done at a comforExercises pace, without concern for speed (second law of training). The essential feature during this period of running is not to become breathless or overly tired. The average training pace will probably be 5 to 7 min/km; if you are able to train at that pace, you will be able to run the marathon.
If after some months you are still unable to run comfortably at 7 min/km or better, this indicates that your V02max is too low to allow you to complete a marathon in under 4:30:00 (see post 2). Runners in this predicament might as well accept their genetic limitations and restrict their interests to shorter races.
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Resist any desire to start running earlier than is indicated on the schedule, bearing in mind the risk of injury occurring after 10 to 12 weeks. Why the risk of injury is so high during this stage is unknown; this phenomenon has also been noted in army recruits who become most prone to injury after about 2 months of training.
Evidence indicates that the bones in the lower limbs undergo some demineralization during the first 3 to 5 months of training before becoming stronger after about 10 months (Kuusela et al, 1984; see post 14). Unfortunately, fitness starts to improve dramatically after about 10 weeks of training, and the novice will want to start training more intensively at the very time when the bones are weakest. For this reason, it is best to start slowly so that both the extent of bone demineralization and the rate of fitness enhancement are reduced.
Interestingly, there are few studies of the real distances people run in training for a marathon. Researchers from Glasgow University (S.J. Y. Grant et al, 1984) studied 88 runners in the 1982 Glasgow Marathon and found that the average distance run was 60 km/week for the 12 weeks prior to the race and that distances ranged from 24 to 103 km. The authors concluded that no relationship exists between weekly training distance and marathon time (as also shown by Franklin et al, 1978) and that despite apparendy inadequate training, runners did not slow down dramatically after hitting their predicted “collapse points” at about 27 km. Thus, the authors could find no evidence for the “collapse-point theory” proposed by K. Young (1978), which holds that runners who do not train more than 101 km/week collapse during the race and are reduced to a shuffle when they race distances that are more than 3 times their average daily training distances for the last 8 weeks before the marathon. Finally, as in the study of Franklin et al. (1978), these novice marathoners were unable to predict their marathon times accurately. However, the accuracy of their predictions did improve the nearer those predictions were made to race day.