Fall is an exciting time of year for marathon and half marathon runners. Cool, crisp mornings mean perfect weather for distance running. If you have been training for a marathon or half marathon over the past several weeks, you have likely been following a race plan. If you are preparing to start training, you are likely looking for the best method to perform well on race day and to avoid injury.
There are several things to consider while training for a marathon or half marathon. Whether this is your first long race or you are a seasoned marathoner, treating your body right will help you not only before your race but also in recovering after.
When people think about marathon training, one of the first things that comes to mind is the concept of “carb loading.” Carbohydrates before a race can be beneficial in giving your body a boost of stored energy before a long run. However, Nutrition is a huge part of training from day one.
As you start logging several miles on long runs, consider nutritional supplements to eat during your outings. Energy gels like GU Energy, Power Bar Gel and Hammer Gel can give you some added fuel to get through a running slump.
Over the course of several weeks of training, your body will be burning more calories than normal. This is not an excuse to over-indulge in your favorite carbohydrate heavy foods. Rather, balancing your meals with lean proteins, plenty of leafy greens, healthy fats and whole grains will give your body the energy it needs to perform well from day one of training through race day.
Hydration is just as important during race training as nutrition. Make sure to drink water consistently throughout the day and night, not just before hitting the pavement. Consider Electrolyte replenishment in the form of dissolving tabs or sports drinks.
Both seasoned runners and first-time racers should rely on some sort of training schedule to follow. There are a number of great schedules out there. Most suggest incorporating 2-3 shorter runs during the week and one long run over the weekend. This long run should increase each week as you approach race day. Do some research and ask fellow runners for their best training plan. It is best that you find one that fits best into your schedule and that isn’t hard on your body.
Just as important as the running portion of your marathon and half marathon training is cross training. Running multiple days each week is tough on your joints. Beyond running, incorporating strength training, yoga, cycling and swimming can help with speed and stamina. It also breaks up the monotony of running.
Recovery is vital to race training. For both marathon and half marathon race preparation, there are several days in which your body takes a beating from a long run. Be sure to stretch before and after your runs. It is also key to refuel your body with lean proteins and healthy fats. Muscle repair is essential to help avoid injury and build strength. Also be sure to hydrate all day after your runs.
Running is great exercise and has wonderful benefits for your body. But even for seasoned runners, competing in a marathon or half marathon is a big trauma to your body. It is very important to allow your body to heal and recover after a long run. Take the day off every time you have a long run. After the race is over, be sure to take a few days off. It is also beneficial to schedule a massage for the day after your race to decrease muscle soreness and inflammation.
If you do sustain an injury during race training for a marathon or half marathon, be sure to consult an orthopaedic surgeon. Don’t try to push through training no matter how much you want to complete this goal. It is important to address any running injuries as soon as they develop to avoid more serious issues.