The Road to Khon Kaen: Choosing a Training Plan

Jim Damico, TCCS 126

In 22-weeks, the 14th Khon Kaen International Marathon will be held; and according to many, including our very own Ty Miranda, this marathon is one of the funnest in all of Thailand. And that’s the key: FUN! If you’re going to do a half-marathon or even a full marathon, if it’s not fun, what’s the point of all that time and energy spent on training. Most of us won’t end up on the podium but if we have fun, we’ve won anyway.

Your first question, “I’ve never run that far. Who can do a half-marathon or a full marathon?” Well, you can! Anyone in reasonable health can complete a 21km/42km course. Will it be fast? Probably not. Will you walk some? Probably. Can you have fun? Most definitely. And to do that, it all starts with training.

In the following weeks, we’ll post information about various training plans of which there are many. We’ll also be giving you information about stretching/yoga, cross training, injury prevention, nutrition and a whole load of juicy tidbits to make this event a great one for you.

But running is a workout. You’re going to be hot and sweaty. It isn’t glamorous. Training for a half or full marathon takes commitment and a lot of time. But you’re not alone, and that helps. You’ve got a bunch of fellow PCVs who are getting up early, running on sore legs, and who have the same, “I don’t want to run today!” moods as you; connect with them. Join the PCV Thailand Running FB group. Encourage each other through your running apps. You don’t have to do this alone.

Long distance running is different than running a 5k or 10k because it puts a lot more stress on your whole body. So, in order to take on the stress, you need to build up to those longer distances. It is a lot of pounding on your joints which is made even harder because tendons and ligaments are some of the slowest adapting tissues in the body. But, they do adapt with a good training plan.

Almost all long distance training plans for first-time runners have similar characteristics; you’ll have some shorter runs during the week and a long run on the weekend. Usually I look for a plan with 4-5 days/running a week. For shorter races like 5k & 10k, 3 days/week might work out but for longer distances, it’s just harder to build up your body for the increased mileage. Some plans add cross training and rest days too.

Try to decide what is your best day for your long runs, either Saturday or Sunday. For some plans you can switch days but others it doesn’t work out so well, so take that into consideration.

Because the race is very early (4:15 for the marathon & 5:25 for the half), you should at least do your long run in the mornings to get your body used to running earlier in the day. For your weekday runs, if you don’t have time in the morning, consider splitting your run into a short morning session and another later in the day.

Last but not least, I would like to recommend, especially if you haven’t been a runner, to adopt a run-walk interval, at least for the long runs. There is nothing wrong with adding some walking breaks into your running. Ultra-marathoners, those who race distances longer than the marathon, “always” run/walk. Some coaches recommend a 4-min run/1-min walk ratio but you should try different ratios to see what works best for you. Much easier to drink while you’re walking.

But,  say you’ve found yourself with a lot more extra kilos around your middle than you came to Thailand with and your bike is gathering dust because you have easy access to everything in your village. What then? Can you still do the Mini Marathon? You betcha! There’s still plenty of time to lose a little weight and build up your heart and lungs along with your legs. The easiest way to do that is to start one of the C25K (Couch to 5K) training plans. The key is to start and we’ll be walking you through everything that goes along with that in the coming weeks.

Following a training plan helps your body adjust to the demands of longer distances and reduces the chance of injury during training. By adapting and not getting injured, you should be able to have fun, even when the going gets tough.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be telling you more about training plans, running apps, losing weight, stretching/yoga, energy boxes, Thai running vocabulary, overtraining and injuries, a T-shirt contest, where to buy running shoes in Thailand, where to stay in Khon Kaen, what to expect during a race and what to pack. And finally we’ll give you a race report along with suggestions to keep your running habit going here in Thailand, including the Wings for Life World Run on May 7th.

Next week: Running T-shirt Contest!!!

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