For whatever reason, November is a big month for marathons. There have already been a number (Suntrust Richmond, Philadelphia, Athens, and Ticino to name a few), and there are more coming up.
With that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to share some of our marathon training trips for those of you brave enough to be running this month, or any time after.
Marathon Training Schedule:
It is very important that you have training schedule, and preferably start training 18 weeks before the marathon. Whether you’re running for the first time or are aiming for a personal record, you will need to plan properly. Trying to run too far too soon could result in shin splints or other injuries, which clearly slow down the training process. In addition putting in too much effort on a particular run can lead to strains and sprains, so you need to rest when sore in order to properly gain strength back, and remember not to push yourself too hard.
Good nutrition is critical but before and during the race if you hope to excel. When you run long distances, your energy requirements increase. Since you burn lots of calories when running, you need to boost your calorie intake, and it’s best to do this by digesting more carbohydrates. It’s also important to increase protein in your diet (lean chicken, tofu, vegetables, etc.) as well as protein shakes/bars before, during and after running to keep the intake at a steady level. Before the marathon, have a power bar, banana or anything that will prevent cramping without making you feel heavy.
Fluid intake, be it water or sports drinks, needs to increase as well; you need to stay hydrated at all times so muscles can get the proper nutrients. Since we sweat when running, we lose significant amounts of water and it’s crucial to drink while running to restore levels. To stay hydrated:
1. Drink before running – Drink up until two hours before the start. Excess body water will be passed as urine before you start to run. Two hours before, however, stop drinking; you don’t want to run to the bathroom before the race!
2. Drink while you run – Just before the gun sounds, you can start drinking again. Once you’re moving, you’ll sweat off any excess liquid before it reaches your kidneys. You also need to drink frequently while training, especially during warm weather; you will run faster and recover sooner. Carry a water bottle if necessary.
3. Walk to drink – Don’t try to gulp it down while running through the aid stations. You will be able to drink more if you stop or at least walk. You’ll lose a few seconds, but in the end it’s worth it. Also, try to switch off between water and sports drinks. This way, the body is in taking sugar and the nutrients it needs.
4. Drink after running – Chocolate milk or muscle milk is a good choice. This helps restore protein quickly to the muscles, and prevents cramping. In addition, it adds the significant nutrients that were lost.
After the Marathon:
Generally, it takes a minimum of two to three weeks for the body to recover from the strain of running 26.2 miles. Return too quickly and you increase your risk of injury. Some experts suggest resting one day for every mile you run in the marathon, thus 26 days of no hard running or racing! You should however stretch at least twice a day to keep muscles from cramping. A week off should give your body enough time to recover, and it’s okay to run a light two or three mile jog, but nothing too straining on the body.
Marathons can be extremely rewarding to participate in, but make sure to take care of your body, and good luck everybody!
If you have any experience you would like to share, you are welcome to leave a comment below. Thanks!