Marathon Tips THERE are four weeks to The Witness Maritzburg City Marathon and that puts us slap bang in the middle of peak training. The primary emphasis of training now is endurance work, which should be about easy running in the fat-burning zone. This is the training that will enhance our conversion of blood fatty acids into carbohydrates and, hence, into energy. The only way to improve this energy source is to train at that base pace with a limited amount of running at marathon paces and two to three sessions at the 10-kilometre and five-kilometre race paces. This combination of paces ensures we maintain the “gear box” of speeds, but the slower midweek long run and the weekend long slow run are the foundation of the marathon performance on February 23. There are a few ways of determining the correct pace for these runs. The most accurate would be to take your age from 180 and keep your running below that heart rate for the entire weekend long run, and at least three-quarters of the time in the midweek run. The last quarter of the midweek run can be increased to marathon pace. If you have been training for over 18 months, you can add five beats to the heart rate figure, but don’t go over that. Another guide would be to take your best marathon time, work out the pace and add at least one minute. So a three-hour marathoner would run the long run at 5:15 per km or slower, and a 3:30 marathoner at six minutes per kilometre, and a four-hour marathoner at 6:40 per kilometre. Then there is the conversation test where you run with your training partner and maintain an easy conversation. This is the least accurate method. Because this is so easy, it is possible to focus on running style while you run. From earlier tips, you will know that by maintaining a high cadence of around 85-90 strikes per leg, per minute, and also a slight lean forward, powerful core runners will become more efficient in their running, gain more from their momentum, reduce the risk of injury and produce faster times. The challenge is to ensure that you have the shoes to compliment the change in action to fore/midfoot and natural striking. One of the greatest protagonists of barefoot or natural running is Zola Budd Pieterse, who now heads up the promotion of Newton shoes in South Africa. A forward lean and forefoot landing creates a natural momentum as the centre of gravity is brought ahead of the landing point. Introducing such shoes during the quality sessions two or three times per week, assists in the “rote” learning of a new running style. Transition to flowing running style does not happen overnight. This will be just one of the instantly helpful points shown to all runners in a free 30-minute practical at Collegian Harriers Club on February 6, starting at 5.15 pm. The session is open to all.