This week’s segment takes on the “core” of running. That’s right, I’m talking about that midsection, you know, where that six pack usually goes. Not all of have a six pack to show off, but that doesn’t mean the muscles don’t exist. There’s more to having a six pack than having an aesthetically pleasing body. Your core has a big responsibility in supporting your body and keeping you over rotating the spine and pelvis. In fact, the three main tasks your core is responsible for while you’re running are: Continue reading Down to the Core (of Running)
Training for a marathon is not only logging in long runs and long training blocks. It includes things like speed work, nutrition, proper hydration, and recovery sessions. Without all of these things working together, your marathon will be lacking some vital components and may even make or break your marathon actually happening. It also can set you up for injury.
Many training regimes will list things like cross training, speed work, recovery day, and long runs. You can always mix and match these things to fit into your life’s schedule, but it is not advised to skip them. While missing a speed session or cross training day aren’t going to hurt you too badly if it’s once in a blue moon, it can definitely have an effect if it’s a habitually missed session. I have gone through and discussed these aspects in previous blog entries, but wanted to reiterate their definition and value.
We’ll start off with cross-training. Cross-training is an activity you do that is completely different than running. It could be biking, swimming, pogo bouncing, gymnastics, etc. It gives your body a chance to recover from running and incorporate different muscle groups. It also allows for your body to strengthen stabilizing muscles and create a more whole musculature. You typically do this once or twice per week within your marathon training. I would suggest an activity that is lower impact on your lower joints, like swimming.
The next aspect is speed work. Speed work is what you do to increase your endurance and as you might think, speed. So you think that running a marathon at a 10 minute/mile pace is completely ok, and it is, but what you may not consider is that you may not be able to consistently keep that pace throughout the entire race. Working on speed drills helps to increase your range of motion in your joints, be able to push harder for longer, makes you fitter, and will make you more comfortable at various speeds. The important thing to remember with speed work is to ease into it. If you push too much too soon, you’ll be setting yourself up for injury instead of success. Warm up and cool down. Find a partner. Always remember that it is quality over quantity.
Proper nutrition and hydration seem like no brainers. A lot of folks seem to think that if you’re logging in high mileage, you can eat whatever you want. While yes, you are burning major calories, it’s not advised to consume crap food. I like to use the dream car analogy when I talk with my clients. Think of the car of your dreams. It can be any car you want. Now imagine how you would take care of the car. Would you put bad fuel in it; bad oil? Of course not. Your car wouldn’t last. Think of that in terms of your body. Putting bad food and liquids into your system creates a bad system. A system that won’t last and give you the output you desire. I’ll also throw out a nifty little fact out for you: For every day that you don’t consume enough water for your body, your muscles have to work 20% harder the next day. That means that you won’t operate at your optimal level simply by not getting enough water. The same could be said about not eating enough to fuel your body. Training for a marathon is not exactly a great time to try to lose weight or to bulk up. You really need to listen to how your body is responding, and carbs are definitely your friend!
Lastly we come to recovery. Recovery is vital for marathon training. Foam rolling, stretching, massage, adjustments, etc. All of these things have a place and a purpose. Yes it can be an expensive investment, but it is more than worth the cost. When your muscles are tired or aren’t activating the way they should, other muscles start to take over. These muscles aren’t use to taking on this task and therefore are overworked and susceptible to injury. Sore muscles have the same effect. It can disrupt your entire kinetic chain of motion. Taking days off doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart. Listening to your body and knowing when to stop is necessary. Recovery can also be active. Yoga, swimming, and active stretching are great tools to give you some fitness without being too taxing on your body.
Putting all of these tools together will guarantee you have a strong performance for your marathon. Think of it as a puzzle. All of the pieces make it whole. Be smart. Plan ahead, and always remember to listen to what your body is saying. Learn, grow, and enjoy the experience. Lean on someone who has been successful through a marathon, and make sure your body and your mind are on the same page!
This week’s installment of future marathon training covers the running atmosphere of the actual race. Running a marathon is already an emotional event, but when you add in the details of the day it can become overwhelming very quickly. Picking the right venue and size of your race will affect you more than you may think. There are pros and cons for both. It’s mainly figuring out which is best for you.
During your training it’s important to enter some racing events to get yourself accustomed to race days. The time, prep work, nutrition, etc. that goes into a race are important and are especially important to get right when you run your marathon. Races are usually in the early morning hours, so if you aren’t used to running in the mornings, you may need to start adjusting your sleep schedule, or at the very least, get enough sleep the few days prior. It’s advised that you don’t eat or drink anything you don’t normally eat or drink, including the energy gels and pouches they tend to hand out. Your body may react poorly to digesting something that it isn’t use to digesting. Along with the smaller details like nutrition, sleep, prep, and hydration, you also have people you’re dealing with.
If crowds aren’t really your thing, signing up for a smaller and more local marathon would be a good option. Local marathons have the added benefit of not having to travel to the event. Traveling can wreak havoc on your body. Your legs are cramped in tight quarters, muscles get tight, and sleeping in a foreign bed can all add up to a rough time. When there are less participants in a race, it is much easier to get through the crowd at the start and allows you to get a more accurate time. Chances are, you will also know some other fellow runners in a local event. This gives you some camaraderie and some fun competition.
If crowds don’t really bother you, or if you’re like me and it helps to fill your competitive spirit, some of the bigger events might be a good way to go. The Disney marathon here in our great state of Florida is a pretty popular event. It can be pricey, but from what I’ve been told by friends that have participated, the sights are great and so are the medals. Crowds bring all types of runners from the super elite to the very beginners. It can be exciting to see so many people pumped up about the sport of running. It does, however, make it tough to get through the other racers in order to get a more accurate time. Traveling can be a great way to discover a town or city. You notice a lot more running around than driving around. Not to mention, you have 26.2 miles to get through. Just make sure you give yourself an extra day prior to the race to rest up and get your body prepared if you do have to travel a good distance.
Some other factors to consider are the overall atmosphere of the events. The Rock ‘n’ Roll series offer races all over the country, and in other parts of the world as well. They schedule local and big name bands to come play during the races and place a band at each mile marker to keep you going. Disney, as mentioned before, takes you around the Disney parks. The Nike’s Women’s Marathon offers a Tiffany necklace to all finishers. There is a random drawing to have the opportunity to race in the Nike race though. Bottom line is to figure out which atmosphere and how big of an event fits you best. Which is going to help you to stay calm and actually enjoy the experience? After all, it’s about the overall picture of completing and enjoying the experience.