A couple of weeks ago I was invited to run in the Vermont City Marathon as an elite runner. I eagerly accepted the invitation, having run this marathon in beautiful Burlington previously. It helped that I am already scheduled to visit Vermont for a professional certification event for Registered Dietitians the week prior to the marathon.
Two months! It’s time to ramp up the non-committal approach to training that I have adapted over the past eight or so months and starting getting my butt in gear for some marathon training.
Two months to train is not much time in the world of marathon running. So how am I going to accomplish this monumental task and start two new jobs at the same time? I might have to give up my social life for two months. Okay I can deal with that, and reduce or even quit my social media addiction cold turkey. Adios to Twitter, facebook, and linkedin.
There are so many other things I am going to do to endure I keep myself healthy, happy and injury free.
These are things that every athlete should do regardless of whether they are training for a marathon, triathlon, cycling TT, or 5K (and everything in between) and regardless of how much time they have to train for the event.
Getting enough sleep every night is important because it is when we sleep that most of the recovery process occurs. Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your health and your training because the muscles won’t recover from hard workouts
Last weekend I joined my friend Rob for the first 27 miles of the 67 miles that he was running from Boulder to Fort Collins for charity. His running companion told me, as we started the run at 3:00 am, that he had not slept in 48 hours. I do not recommend this. He finished the 67 miles, but I can only guess he felt terrible the following day.
Sleep is not only good for muscle recovery but it is also good for our brains. Sleep deprived drivers can be as dangerous as drunk drivers. Sleep also helps us keep a positive outlook on life, which is awesome!
You need to allow yourself recovery days in your training program. Recovery and sleep go hand-in-hand.
I have a good friend, Trevor, who made a great analogy about recovery that make sense. Think of you muscles as a house and your training like a bad storm. The storm comes through and damages the house. You need time to re-build or fix the house, but if another storm comes through right after the first you have had time to make only minor repairs. If there are non-stop storms, the house will not be repaired and the damage will continue to build. Similarly, if you train hard every day, your muscles will not have time to rebuild. If you allow time to recover after training then you can make sure you build your muscles stronger so the next time you go out for a hard training session you are able to go even harder or faster.
In other words,every time you train you break down muscle fibers. You need to give your muscles time to repair after a hard workout.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. The muscles in the body are approximately 75% water by weight. Water is contained in cells, within blood vessels, and in the spaces between cells. Dehydration occurs when there is not enough water consumed to replace water lost through sweat and other immeasurable loss.
Dehydration can cause increased heart rate, increased body temperature, and decreased strength. Dehydration can also lead to medical conditions such as heat cramping, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Drinking too little water can also cause electrolyte imbalances. During heavy exercise, it might be a good idea to drink fluids that contain electrolytes. I experienced severe dehydration several years ago and ended up in the emergency room to get IV fluids. Avoid this problem and drink plenty of water.
A good rule of thumb is to get at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day. For example a 140 pound person should drink at least 70 ounces of fluids daily.
Stretch and Strengthen
This is probably the least favorite part of training for many runners. I recommend doing dynamic stretching prior to a workout such as leg swings and lunges to help get the proper muscles firing. I also recommend plyometric exercises on days when you have a lighter workout. Static stretching is also very helpful for flexibility, but do this after your workout.
Of course I am not going to overlook the very helpful but sometimes painful foam roller. The foam roller can be a very useful tool for runners because it helps loosen up tight IT bands and hamstring muscles.
I am a registered dietitian and know that nutrition is important. When you are training for a marathon, it is VERY important. When you are training for a marathon, it is VERY important. In some of my prior posts, I have explained some of the benefits of proper nutrition. My plan during training for the marathon includes eating frequently and focusing on nutrition before, during and after my training. I believe that a nutrition plan is just as important as a training plan.