26.2 miles on inline skates could arguably be easier than running it but if you plan on participating in an inline skate marathon you should anticipate the need for training in order to maximize your strength and ability to tackle the distance.
What type of skater you are will also determine how best to train. If you’re in it to win it, you’ll be focusing on a plan designed to get you to the finish line first. If completing an inline skate marathon because it’s something you’ve always wanted to do is more your thing then there are plans to best suit you. You’ll also want to take into account your skill level.
A solid training plan will include cardiovascular conditioning, muscle strength, flexibility and endurance. A versatile skating regimen will make you a better marathon skater or race skater and, most importantly, will decrease the chances of you experiencing pain (especially back leg pain) or getting injured. Getting behind a good plan will increase your comfort level and speed making for a much better long distance journey.
Here is a breakdown of the areas that should be included in your training program:
The most obvious of training for inline skating marathons, cardio conditioning will help give you endurance and strengthen your heart and lungs. You’ll want to find the happy medium of cardio conditioning because if your intensity is too low you may not be helping to get into the right shape for distance skating; but too high of intensity can also hinder performance.
Don’t shy away from a bike, treadmill or even swimming as a cross-training tool to help increase your cardio abilities.
Hit the gym or find ways in your home to build muscle. Push-ups and pull ups are great as well as squats and lunges. Building your core strength which will help with balance and reduce fatigue. Until you’ve skated for a few miles, you don’t realize how many muscles are involved.
Flexibility is very important. You’ll want to make sure you stretch out everything below the waist for sure to minimize the chance of strains or muscle pulls. Quads, hamstrings and ankles need to be very flexible; but don’t neglect the upper body either.
The usual stretches are a good start but also consider yoga which not only strengthens as you stretch but also can aid with breathing and concentration.
Now you have your skates on and you’re ready to train. So, how do you build strength and endurance? Don’t stick to one way! This will train your body to strengthen to one thing. So, make sure to mix it up which not only maximizes your performance but will also decreases the onset of boredom.
• Intervals – Start off by sprinting to a high speed then cut back and cruise for a while. This will help prepare you for sudden bursts when you want to pass or have to slow down then speed up on sharp turns.
• Hills – Hills are a great way to work on your muscle strength on the way up and control on the way down.
• Long Slow Skate – You should anticipate doing this training at least once a week. Skate at a slow-to-moderate speed (we know you want to go fast but you should hold back for this). The idea is for your body to get used to being used consistently for long periods of time and not be situated in a high-cardio mode.
• Rest – 4 days per week training is ideal, any more and you might risk injury or exhaustion. You want to get your body into shape and not burn it out.
• Train with a Team – Find other like-minded folks and skate together. This will help you get the experience of skating near others and working to maneuver around people and adjust your speeds accordingly. Plus you’ll all be working toward a common goal and cheering each other’s efforts on.
Marathon and race skates are also different than your average recreational skate. If you don’t have a skate designed for the effort, you will pay the price in discomfort and lack of speed. Marathon skates or high-performance skates are feature-rich and may contain the following:
• Asymmetrical Lacing – This places the laces to the side of your foot as opposed to the instep. This provides a secure fit and maximizes each stride.
• Upgraded Frame – Aluminum frames will provide you with the best energy transfer.
• Lower Cuff – You forgo support for this feature which will allow you to push further with each stride to help you maintain consistent and high speeds.
• Larger wheels – A recreational wheel is in the 80mm range whereas a marathon skate can have wheels from 100mm and up. Larger wheels provide the skater with greater speed.
Check out the latest high-performance skates.
Now that you have the info, head out there and skate your first race. Whether it’s a 5k or a marathon, you’ll feel accomplished while staying in shape and, most importantly, having fun!
Here is a list of some notable marathons and inline skate races:
Chicagoland Inline Marathon – Chicago, IL
Napa Valley Marathon – Napa Valley, CA
24 Hour Inline Montreal – Montreal, Quebec
NorthShore Inline Marathon – Duluth, MN
NYC Skate Marathon – New York, NY
Athens to Atlanta Road Skate – Atlanta, GA