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  • The Marathon Aftermath

    By Shelly Glover

    You may not have given much thought to marathon recovery. After all, you trained, ran, finished and got your medal. With a wave of blessed relief, you realize the pressure is off. Now what?

    Coping – The First Few Hours and Days

    What’s more painful than running a marathon? How about the fatigue and soreness of the hours and days afterwards? Expect it, its part of the deal. Marathon recovery goes backward. At first you’ll feel worse instead of better. Whether you are bragging or licking your wounds, quicken recovery with our tips for rehydrating, refueling, and reducing soreness.

    Keep Moving. When you finish the marathon, it’s a hike to get your medal, a hike to get your blanket and a hike to the baggage and family reunion area. That’s good. Moving prevents stiffness. A 15-to-20 minute walk is helpful. More is better if you can manage.

    Drink and Eat. Refuel with carbs and fluid soon. Drink until your urine runs light yellow or clear. This takes a while. Of course how long depends on what you drink. A swig of beer can go straight through you and cause further dehydration. With beer your urine will be clear, but you’ll still be dehydrated. At least you will think you feel better.

    Ice. Contain swelling in painful areas by icing for 10minutes or so. Repeat along with ibuprofen for the next few hours and days to combat inflammation.

    Stretch Lightly. Limber up, but don’t overstretch fatigued muscles.

    Closure. Go ahead, hang around after the race to celebrate. Share stories of the gory and glory. When you’ve gathered the strength, or friends to assist you head home for the shower. You’ll feel better. The shower is optional for your friends. Some runners say a hot bath or whirlpool relaxes and loosens their muscles. Experts resist. They say heat increases inflammation and body temperature. They suggest instead cold showers or baths. No thanks. Not for me!

    Stop and Shop. Take a nap. The day’s caffeinated gels and excitement may keep you awake, but just resting a bit is a good idea. Later, go for another walk (15 to 30 minutes) and stretch lightly, or swim to combat stiffness and help you relax. My personal solution to movement and relaxation: go shopping! Every good effort deserves a reward!


    The Morning After

    Take a bath or warm shower to loosen up. Treat injuries first with ice. Walk and stretch gently. A professional massage speeds recovery. Schedule one 24 to 48 hours after the race and another a few days later.

    The Next Few Days

    Get plenty of sleep. At night, go to bed early. Other times take naps. Shuteye boosts immunity and heals the overexerted body. The first few nights after a marathon, runners often have trouble sleeping. If that includes you, at least lie in bed and rest often. On the other hand, if you are having trouble staying awake, don’t worry. Your body deserves the extra downtime.

    Refueling and Rehydrating

    It takes three to five days to refill glycogen stores. Runners often don’t go for carbohydrates hard enough after the marathon. Forgetting to munch with an eye on nutrition prolongs fatigue and delays a comfortable return to training.

    Returning to Training – The Reverse Taper

    Rebuilding. One predictable truth about runners is – if something works, they’ll change it. Case in point, if a runner runs a strong marathon, the urge is to jump back into training with a little more mileage, a little faster, a little harder, or a little more of something. This is how success breeds failure. After your great marathon effort, don’t be so anxious to start training your heart out and improve. Actually take a few easy runs to enjoy the scenery.
    Hold Back. Even if you feel strong, you’re only as strong as your weakest (or sorest) spot. Take one recovery day for every mile of your race. Um, for the math challenged that’s about 26 days or roughly a month. Recovery rate depends on the runner and the marathon. It’s usually easier to recover from a good marathon than a disappointing one.

    Biopsies done on marathoners show muscle cells take up to a month to recover from the microscopic damage inflicted during a race. Besides recovering from soreness and blisters, you need time to ignite the desire to train.
    Recovery deserves as much planning as your premarathon schedule. Think of it as the premarathon taper in reverse – a few off days, then a few short runs, then a gradual increase in weekly mileage until you reach your normal, pre-marathon peak level.

    To Run or Not To Run?

    Many veterans insist on running the next day, perhaps even the evening of the marathon. They believe it helps recovery. But a study by Dr. Costill at Ball State University in Indiana indicates you may be better off not even running a step for the first week. Researchers compared a group that didn’t run for a week with a matched group that ran easily for 20 to 40 minutes a day. The nonrunners scored better in tests for muscle strength and endurance three days and a week after the marathon.

    Why pound away on muscles that need time to repair? If you insist on working out, stick to 30 to 60 minutes of nonimpact aerobic exercise. Swimming is particularly good with its natural massaging action. Frequent walks help too.

    First Few Return Runs

    After a few days of nonrunning, try two to four miles per day or alternate days the rest of the week. Increase mileage the second week to no more than 25 to 50 percent of normal and to no more than 50 to 75 percent during the third and fourth post-marathon weeks (but less than this is okay). By the fourth or fifth week you may be ready to resume normal mileage. For example, this may be 40 miles a week compared to 50miles at peak marathon training.

    Pace and Speed Work

    Forget about for awhile. Run easy according to how you feel. First aim to run without soreness. Then gradually get back to your normal training pace. Hard runs aren’t advisable for a month or so.

    Ease into speedwork. If your body is ready and willing, about 10 to 14 days after the marathon try a light speed session. Controlled fartlek or a tempo run will help you ease into quicker running. Repeat this (or put it off) the next week, or try a few long intervals at 10K pace or slower. By the fourth or fifth week, you may be able to run harder speed sessions.

    Anytime during your four-week “reverse taper” feel free to back off training. If you feel fatigued or sore, run less. Take plenty of extra rest days until you’re back to normal. Don’t run on an injury – damage is compounded in postmarathon legs. Remember, recovery is priority for at least 4 weeks after a marathon. There’s no need to rush: Research shows you won’t lose much, if any, fitness.

    Depression and Rebound

    Your emotional post-marathon experience depends some on your personality type, according to Maryellen Duane, Ph. D., clinical psychologist at Winning Lifestyles.

    Duane knows what’s she speaks. A 10-time marathoner, she’s on the frontlines as head of the New York City Marathon Psyching Team.

    Newbie’s often have a different post experience than veteran marathoners, she explains. “For first-timers, finishing the marathon is a lifetime experience. They often
    revel in feelings of accomplished and pride. Like having your first baby, there’s nothing like your first marathon.

    Rebound with your post marathon rush to tackle projects or lifestyle changes you’ve been trying to get up the nerve to do. You know, write the novel! Go get that new job! Start that internet site!

    As per Lombardi-ism, “It is time for us all to cheer for the doer, the achiever – the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it. “Thanks, Vince. The doer is you. The achiever is you. You proved it finishing the marathon. Now go recognize a new challenge and do something about it!

    But alas – not all runners rebound from happy marathon experiences. Some runners must rebound from unhappy experiences.

    Unhappy competitive marathoners tend to focus on a single negative aspect of the race (for example finishing time) instead of the overall positive experience. They miss the pleasure. Come on all you narcissists; we are talking about you. That should at least make you happy!

    Even if you ran a good race, you may feel down for a few weeks. Allan Steinfeld, NYRP top honcho, at the AfterMarathon Clinic compared the let-down to postpartum depression. (Here we go with that baby simile again...) “Your ‘baby’ has reached the finish line and your long-sought-after goal, around which your life revolved for months, has been achieved, leaving you feeling empty, “ he explains.

    It’s okay to cool serious running for awhile. Shoo away the blues by delving into stuff you had to give up while consumed by running. Duane suggests setting another challenge for yourself. “Enjoy your marathon accomplishment, and then focus on a non-running goal. Try yoga, or cross country skiing. Run in a new place. Do something novel to avoid staleness.” Not only does this nurture a positive focus, but helps avoid injury too.

    But, don’t forget to run. Training during the winter months is a good investment in your future.


    Recap

    • Generally the first week after a marathon you run very little or a few miles here or there.
    • The second week try running about 10 to 20 percent of your base mileage going into the marathon. Some 15 to 20miles for the week is usually more than enough.
    • The third week after the marathon, it is ok to come back up to base mileage.
    • The third or fourth week try a little light speed training such as modified fartlek or
    • a tempo run.
    • After four to six weeks competitive runners, depending on conditioning, may return to racing. Novice and casual marathoners may want to take a little more time and return to racing within five to eight weeks.

    Race & Training Analysis

    After weeks and months of training a runner races the NYC Marathon, gets a time and moves on. That’s that, it’s over, done, kaput, fine and the end. The course is run. You’ve been there and done that. Onward ho, you cry, to the next race!

    Slow down. Hold on. Back up. The finish line clock isn’t the only valuable feedback from a marathon. A backward glance helps direct and focus where you are going with training and racing goals. Most marathons aren’t all good or all bad. While the event is vivid, mentally play back the episode. Take the time to set down what went right – and wrong into specifics.

    The objectives of analysis are to:

    1. Reinforce what you did well.
    2. Learn from your mistakes.

    Here’s a key to looking for clues in your marathon performance:

    Race Time
    Record your splits. These are your times along the way (i.e. at 2miles, 10K, 1⁄2 marathon, 20miles) How was your pacing? How does your time compare to your goals, other marathons, predicted time, and training partners?

    Weather
    It makes a difference in how your run. Write down specifics for accuracy.

    • Air Temperature
    • Wind
    • Rain
    • Humidity
    • Snow
    • Sun Glare
    • Heat
    • Cloud Cover

    Course Conditions

    • These variables can speed or slow your time.
    • Hills
    • Drainage slant or camber
    • Mud and puddles
    • Pavement conditions including fallen leaves, loose gravel, stones, oil
    • Car and spectator inference
    • Aid station bottlenecks
    • Runner crowding conditions
    • Crowd support

    Marathon Goal Time
    First-timers may have wanted to just finish. Others may have wanted to run the second half faster than the first. Still others may have wanted to beat another competitor or have enough energy to show off to the crowds on First Avenue. Mental Preparation. Record your motivational techniques. Maybe use a few from out list:

    • Visualization
    • Course memorization
    • Progressive relaxation
    • Themes such as songs or slogans to keep you sloggin’ along
    • Mental rehearsal

    Race Strategy
    Make notes on how you planned to run the course. Did they work? Eat and drink. Record what you did and if it was successful. If it gave you less than optimal results come up with an alternative for next time. Cover three areas of intake – before, during and after the marathon. Here are a few suggestions to trigger your memory.

    • Breakfast
    • Medications
    • Sports foods and drinks
    • Supplements
    • Miscellaneous foods on the course

    Shoes and Clothing

    • What did you wear?
    • Did the clothes rub or bind?
    • Were they the right warmth for race conditions?
    • Any ideas for improvement?
    • Which socks worked out?

    Aches and Pains

    • Notes what hurts when and where.
    • Transitory aches
    • Sharp pains
    • Blisters
    • Discomforts
    • Cramps
    • Where fatigue appeared first
    • Trips, slips, dips and zips that can result in pulls, plunges and pains.
    • Menstrual cycle status

    Training Review

    • How many total miles did you run in training?
    • How long was the taper?
    • How many long runs of 18 to 23miles did you complete?
    • While marathon training, how many races did you run and what was their quality?

    Summary
    This is where you play sportscaster and recap the event. Make a few notes on each topic:

    • Best parts of race
    • Lessons learned
    • Comments
    • Goals for next marathon

    Post-Marathon Cold
    One in seven marathoners will get a cold during the first two weeks after the marathon. Yuck! That’s a six times greater risk than controls who did not run a marathon. Maybe marathoning should come with a Surgeon General’s warning, “Marathoning may be bad for your health.” Yeah, well, before you start running away from running, look at it this way: six out of seven marathoners do not get colds after running a marathon. Now, which is the newsworthy headline?

    The take home message here is that exercise at mild to moderate levels increases immunity. The intense level of marathon racing lowers immunity temporarily to upper- respiratory tract infections, e.g. colds. Young rookie marathoners are more at risk than veteran competitors.

    Stay healthy:

    • Wash your hands frequently
    • Get your rest
    • Avoid unnecessary stress
    • Eat properly
    • Avoid that sneezing, coughing germ-incubating co-worker
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  • Long Distance Race Checklist

    Marathon/Half Marathon Checklist

    1. Get your packet early at EXPO – have time to look around – it’s fun
    2. Make sure you have YOUR CONFIRMATION
    3. Have your number pinned on your shirt the night before – it must be in front
    4. If you want crowd support – iron on your name or something to your shirt – people will yell what is printed to cheer you on!
    5. Tie the chip in to your shoe the night before
    6. Have an alarm or wake up call (not that you won’t wake up several times during the night)
    7. Remember to Body Glide the areas needed before you put on shoes, shirt, shorts
    8. Remember nothing new to wear today
    9. Double tie your shoes
    10. EAT breakfast
    11. Hydrate – hydrate – hydrate. Take at least one bottle of water with you to start
    12. Take an OLD SHIRT to put on for prerace warmth that you are willing to throw aside somewhere as the race begins or in the first mile or so (there are organizations who will pick up these shirts and give to shelter)
    13. Have a pair of cheap gloves (found at Meijer or a hardware store) or socks for your hands that you can throw aside
    14. If drizzling or raining take a garbage bag and wear it over your body until the start – there may be one in the race package
    15. Have a BATHROOM strategy for prerace – I suggest a trip to the porta-potty early for any bowel movement and use an empty water/Gatorade bottle (wide mouth) for while your standing in the huge line up to start – just squat and go
    16. Have a meeting place decided for afterwards – it is hard to find your family or friends if you don’t – there is a runner reunite area that has letters that you can use to meet someone
    17. Bring for afterwards: sandals (you’ll be glad to get out of your running shoes!), extra shirt (probably long sleeve), Ibuprofen, stretch or sweat pants, towel or towelette, and any personal special food/drink you like (there’s plenty at the event but some people have picky stomachs and may want that special item). Check in your bag if you do not have someone to carry it.

     

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  • Speed Training

    MULTI-SPEED TRAINING.... WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

    Each race distance has its own unique physiological requirements and places a different set of stresses on the body. When training to excel at a goal race, it is important to structure a training program to contain the proper mix of workouts for the chosen distance....hence the principal, “specificity of training.”

    For example, in the 5k the most important training intensity is VO2 max (5k race pace), followed by lactate threshold, endurance and then speed. This doesn’t mean that lactate threshold, endurance and speed should be ignored; they all need to be part of the training program. It just means that for best possible performance in the 5k, there needs to be a mix of all of these variables with an emphasis on VO2 max training. For the 10k, VO2 max and lactate threshold training are equally important. For the half marathon the training emphasis shifts to lactate threshold with endurance being second. For the marathon, endurance and lactate threshold training intensities are both emphasized while VO2 max and speed are of lesser importance.

    Pace (P) runs are used to train the body to run at goal race pace for the marathon and sometimes the half marathon. Pace runs are not differentiated for shorter distances as the race pace for distances below the half marathon is usually at or below lactate threshold, and is at VO2 max for the 5k.


    Endurance/Easy and Long Easy Runs (E)
    Purpose: Building Aerobic Conditioning, Train the Body to Conserve Fuel

    Aerobic conditioning can be any distance runs (or run/walk) of 20 mins-3 hours in duration. Depending on your goal time, fitness level, experience and race distance, the distance of you aerobic conditioning runs will vary quite significantly. These runs are done at about 45–1:30 min/mile slower than marathon race pace, 1:00–2:00 slower than half marathon race pace or 1:30–2:30 slower than 5k race pace. This should correlate to 65–80 % of your maximum heart rate.

    Regardless of what distance you are training for, aerobic conditioning represents the majority of your training program.

    Endurance long & easy runs will:

    1. Increase the number of capillaries that can bring oxygen-rich blood to your muscles
    2. Increase the amount of oxidative enzymes within the muscle cells that help to use
    3. oxygen more efficiently
    4. Train the body to conserve valuable muscle glycogen supplies and use fat as fuel
    5. Strengthen the tendons and connective tissues
    6. Improve pulmonary capacity

    Pace Runs (P)
    Purpose: Building Aerobic Conditioning and Train the Body to Run at Goal Marathon/Half Marathon Pace
    Pace runs are shorter runs at goal marathon or half marathon pace. For the marathon, they are run at @ 20–30 seconds slower than lactate threshold pace or .45-1:30 faster than endurance/easy runs. For the half marathon, they are run @ 1:00–2:00 faster than your endurance/easy runs or just slightly slower than lactate threshold pace.

    Pace runs will:

    1. Share many of the same benefits of long, easy runs
    2. Train your body to run at goal marathon or half marathon pace

    Tempo (T) and Lactate Threshold (LT) Runs
    Purpose: Build Stamina by Raising your Lactate Threshold

    Lactate threshold and tempo runs train the body to tolerate moderate levels of lactic acid in the blood while running at significantly faster pace than aerobic, “easy” conditioning (where there is very little lactic acid production). Lactic acid is the by-product of “oxygen debt” when we try to run fast for any length of time.

    Stamina (or speed over distance) has become synonymous with the term lactate threshold training. Your lactate “threshold” is the speed just below the point at which lactic acid is being produced at a faster rate than it can be removed from the bloodstream Threshold pace is at your 10-mile race pace, 25-30 seconds/mile slower than 5k race pace, 10–15 seconds/mile slower than 10k race pace or 20–30 seconds faster than marathon race pace. This correlates with an effort of about 85–90 % of maximum heart rate. It is very important that lactate threshold runs are done exactly at or right below lactate threshold pace. If you train too fast, the desired outcome will not occur and it will be difficult to complete the entire workout at lactate threshold pace.

    Lactate threshold running can be performed as either:

    1. Continuous “Tempo” runs of 15-45 minutes, or
    2. Long “Lactate Threshold” intervals of 3-15 minutes with short jog breaks in between.

    Lactate Threshold/Tempo runs will:

    1. Enable you to run further at or near your lactate threshold running speed
    2. Improve the speed at which your lactate threshold occurs
    3. Run more comfortably at the same pace
    4. Improve your running efficiency at all race distances of 5k or longer
    5. Help prevent overtraining

    VO2 Max Runs (VO2)
    Purpose: Increase the amount of oxygen-rich blood your heart can pump to your muscles and the amount of oxygen that can be used by your working muscles

    Your VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen that you can take in, process and use to provide the energy you need to run. The upper limit of your VO2 max (also known as aerobic capacity) is in large part genetically predetermined. However, most runners have not “maxed” out their functional aerobic capacities. Fortunately, well-designed training can have a significant impact on improving your VO2 max.

    VO2 Max workouts are medium length intervals of 600 – 2000 meters at current 5k race pace and eventually, as improvements occur, at realistic 5k goal pace. In between each interval jog 50 – 90 % of the time it takes to run the repeat. These workouts will increase your aerobic capacity to its upper functional limit. Anywhere from 2 1⁄2 to 5 miles worth of intervals should be part of every VO2 max session (for example 5 x 800 meters) At this running speed, your heart rate will generally be at 95 – 100% of maximum.

    Like lactate threshold training, it is very important that the intervals are run at the proper intensity and that the recovery time is within the time range. Too long a recovery will cause the heart rate to drop too low to stimulate the best possible improvement in VO2 max. Running the repeats too fast will stimulate the anaerobic system more than the aerobic, and will make it difficult to finish the workout.

    VO2 Max Runs will:

    1. Increase the amount of oxygen-rich blood your heart can pump to your muscles by increasing stroke volume
    2. Increase the amount of oxygen your muscles can extract from the blood

    Speed Workouts (S)
    Purpose: Increase leg turnover, improve running mechanics and form, buffer lactic acid

    Speed workouts are done at significantly faster than threshold pace and there fore the accumulation of lactic acid is expected. Your anaerobic capacity is your body’s ability to buffer and tolerate this inevitable build-up of lactic acid in the bloodstream. Anaerobic running occurs when the intensity of your running does not allow you to produce energy through the intake of oxygen alone, therefore forcing the body to derive increasing amounts of energy from the breakdown of muscle glycogen. A high anaerobic capacity represents a high tolerance of lactic acid buildup. Being able to continue to run while lactic acid is building up is critical to racing well.

    Speed workouts are repeats of 400 meters or less that are done at about 15-20 seconds faster than 5k pace (it is important to remember these are not all-out sprints). Rest periods are longer and are determined by how long it will take you to be able to perform the next repetition at your target time.

    Speed workouts will:

    1. Benefit the anaerobic system so your body becomes more efficient at converting fuel to energy in the absence of adequate oxygen.
    2. Improve running mechanics and form to become more efficient
    3. Buffer lactic acid causing your body to get used to performing with high levels of blood-
    4. lactate.
    5. Improve leg turnover
    6. Improve finishing “kick”
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  • Predicting Your Goal Race Pace

    If you have run a marathon or half marathon recently, you will have a rough idea of what your goal pace should be for that distance. For many Run Camp participants, however, the upcoming event will be the very first half or full marathon. Others may not have run the distance for an extended period of time and fitness levels may have changed. So how do you select your goal pace? Your training run and lactate threshold pace can give you a general indication, but a recently completed race of another distance can often be a great predictor of what your goal pace should be. Races used for prediction purposes should be run at a best effort. Also, races closer in distance to the goal race are a more accurate predictor than a much longer or shorter race. For example, the half marathon is a much better indicator of marathon time than a 5k is.

    For the half marathon, a recent 5k, 10k, 10 mile or even marathon time can give you an excellent indication of what your half marathon finishing time or goal pace should be. You can use the following conversion factors to determine the corresponding half marathon time and then use a pacing chart to determine the appropriate pace.

    5k                4.69
    10k              2.24
    10 mile        1.33
    Marathon    .472 For example, if your 10k time is 50 minutes (3000 seconds), your predicted half marathon time would be 6720 seconds (3000 x 2.24) or 1:52 or about an 8:30 min/mile pace. Likewise, if you ran the Crim in 1:30, your corresponding half marathon time would be 7182 seconds (5400 x 1.33) or 1:59 or about a 9:02 mile pace. Recently ran a marathon? A 3:30 marathon, 12,600 seconds, would correspond to 5947 seconds for a half marathon (12,600 x .472) or a 1:39 or about a 7:30 pace. For the marathon, a recent 10k, 10 mile or half marathon can provide a good indication of what your marathon finishing time and goal pace should be. Again, you would use the conversion factors below, than refer to a pacing chart to determine the appropriate pace for the predicted time.

    10k                     4.76
    10 mile               2.82
    Half Marathon    2.12

    For example, with a recent 10k time of 50 minutes (3000 seconds), your predicted marathon time would be 14,280 seconds (3000 x 4.76) or a 3:58 marathon. If you look at corresponding pacing charts, this would be about a 9:02 min/mile pace. If you recently ran a half marathon at 1:40 (6000 seconds), your corresponding marathon time would be approximately 12,720 seconds (6000 x 2.12) or 3:32, which corresponds to about an 8:02 pace. Keep in mind there can be many other factors that can impact your performance. Race time conversions, particularly from a much shorter distance, can be a bit aggressive for the first time marathoner. Training specificity, weather conditions, hydration and fueling are just some of the factors that can heavily impact performances. For example, you can have two people who ran a 40:00 min 10k. One may completed two 20-milers while the other wasn’t able to complete anything over 13 miles. The runner who trained specifically for the marathon will be more likely to run the predicted time, than one who has focused their training specifically on shorter distances.

    Reference: Pfitzinger, P., and S. Douglas. 1999. Road Racing for Serious Runners. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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  • Pace Yourself or Brace Yourself

    Proper race pacing can make or break your half marathon or marathon experience and performance. The outcome can just as easily be determined by what happens the first few miles after the gun goes off as much as what happens during the many weeks of training and preparation. What is the best pacing strategy? Should you run hard early on while you are fresh? Run easy at the start and clock a negative split? Or how about running an even pace throughout the entire race?In 2005 I signed up to run the Martian Marathon. Physically I was well-prepared. I had the training under my belt and was feeling fresh...perhaps a little too fresh. The gun went off, the adrenaline was flowing and I ran the first mile about a minute faster than my marathon pace. The 2nd mile I realized my mistake and pulled it in, but was still about 40 seconds ahead of goal pace. By 6 miles, my pace was 30 seconds ahead, and by 8 miles, I started to slow ...to a pace slower than goal marathon pace. By 12 miles it was all over....my calves cramped up so badly from the lactic acid that had accumulated; I had to stop altogether. I dropped out and walked a 3 mile short cut back to the finish.

    Three weeks later, at the Boston Marathon, I practiced an entirely different strategy. I ran the first few miles right at marathon pace. It felt very slow, but I knew I had to conserve energy for the hills that loomed beyond the 15th mile.    By mid-race, I was very comfortably cruising along the slight downhill and flat sections of the course about 10 seconds faster than goal race pace, but feeling fresh. Eventually the hills, and a natural slowdown in pace came, but the slowdown wasn’t drastic and the hills did not present a difficult challenge. Because of the warm weather and hilly course, my calves started to cramp a little during the 17th mile, but it was different than the debilitating cramps that were caused by the accumulation of lactic acid 3 weeks earlier. Pretty soon I had crested Heartbreak Hill, ran down the other side and was approaching Boston proper. Before I knew it, the finish line loomed ahead of me and I crossed in PR time. My average pace per mile was 3 seconds faster than my first mile....and my time a PR on the most challenging road marathon course I had ever encountered.

    The answer to proper pacing lies within the principles we learned earlier on lactate threshold. Your ideal half marathon pace is just below lactate threshold and your ideal marathon pace is about 20 – 30 seconds slower than lactate threshold pace. If you run faster than lactate threshold pace the lactate accumulates in your blood and muscles, which affects the enzymes for energy production and forces you to slow down. When you run faster than lactate threshold, you also use more glycogen, so you are depleted more quickly. This is especially detrimental to marathon performance as it can cause you to “hit the wall” sooner.

    The best strategy, as evidenced by both physiology and my Boston experience, is to run relatively even pacing. If you run much faster than your average pace for any one part of the race, you will likely start to accumulate lactic acid and use more glycogen than necessarily. Proper pacing can be especially tricky for the half marathon since it is run so close to lactate threshold. It can be easy to creep above the ceiling. If you attempt to run a negative split and run much slower than your average pace, you will need to make up for it later on, again running faster than your most efficient pace for another part of the race. The best strategy, is to run nearly even splits, taking into the account the topography of the course. At Boston, my time splits weren’t dead even. The first few miles I ran on pace, the middle flat and slightly downhill portions I ran 10 seconds faster, and the up hills a bit slower. The nature of the course required some variation in pace to account for the variation in effort demanded by the terrain.

    Most runners shouldn’t try to maintain dead even splits, especially in the marathon. During the marathon, your slow twitch fibers gradually become fatigued and your body begins to rely more on the less economical fast-twitch fibers. This will make both your running economy and lactate threshold pace decrease. Towards the end of the marathon, your pace will be reduced slightly. This suggests a more efficient strategy would be to run the first half just slightly (2-3%) faster to allow for the natural slowdown that occurs.

    The first mile of a marathon or half marathon you want to run right at or slightly slower than goal pace. You still won’t be completely warmed up and won’t be prepared to go much faster. Once you have run the first mile, the best strategy is to find a good rhythm; a fast but relaxed pace. For the half marathon, this will be about 5 – 10 seconds slower than lactate threshold, for the marathon about 20 -30 seconds slower. At this stage, you should be cruising and saving your mental and emotional energy for the 2nd half. In the half marathon concentrate on maintain a fairly even pace for the first 10 miles, then dig deep the last 3.1 miles to bring it home. If you paced yourself well and stayed right below that lactate threshold ceiling, you should be able to run a strong final 5k.

    In the marathon, the halfway point to 20 miles is where the mental discipline of training really kicks in. At this point you are tired and still have a long way to go. Keep a positive attitude and watch your pace closely. This is where most runners start to let their pace drift, first 5 seconds per mile, then 10, then beyond. Concentrate on your splits.....at this point, most well-trained marathoners are still physically able to maintain goal pace. Sometimes, especially during this stage, it is not uncommon to have a bad patch, and then have it disappear. If you start feeling bad, press on, it may pass. Taking carbohydrate in the form of energy gels, etc often help with this. The last 6.2 miles is what you have ultimately prepared for during your many months of training and where your long runs will pay off. Dig deep here...you want to push as hard as you can, but not so hard your muscles tighten and you cramp up. Concentrate all the way to the finish line and cross over strongly (but don’t sprint at the end of a marathon)! Then Savor the fruit of all your labor...you did it!

    Occasionally weather or racing strategy may require you to change your pacing plan. If you are running into a head wind, there is a big advantage to running with a group of runners and taking turns drafting. You save considerable energy this way, but you also may need to run slightly faster or slower to stay with the group. The most you should deviate from your goal pace, however, is about 8 – 10 seconds per mile.

    Pfitzinger, P., and S. Douglas. 2001. Advanced Marathoning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

     

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  • How to Choose the Right Shoe

    Foot Type

    The Normal Foot Description: Normal feet have a normal-sized arch and leave an imprint that has a flare but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a wideband.
    Foot Characteristics: A normal foot usually lands on the outside of the heel, and then rolls inward (pronates) slightly to absorb shock. Runners with a normal foot and normal weight are usually considered biomechanically efficient and don’t require shoes with high stability.
    Best Shoes: Moderate stability shoes with moderate control features such as a dual density or medially posted midsole.
    The Flat Foot
    Description: Flat feet have a low arch and leave a nearly complete imprint. That is, the imprint looks like the whole sole of the foot.
    Foot Characteristics: This imprint usually indicates an overpronated foot that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward (pronates) excessively. Over time, this can cause many different kinds of injuries and discomfort.
    Best Shoes: Motion-control shoes, or high-stability shoes with firm, stiff midsoles and control features that reduce the degree of pronation. This type of shoe will usually feature a large of amount of dual-density material in the midsole and will appear to be fairly straight, as opposed to hourglass or peanut shaped, when looking at the bottom. Highly cushioned and neutral shoes should be avoided for this type of foot.
    The High-Arched FootHigh Arched Foot Description: High-arched feet leave an imprint showing a very narrow band connecting the forefoot and heel.
    Foot Characteristics: A curved, high-arched foot is generally termed and supinated or underpronated foot (the terms are synonymous). This type of foot doesn’t pronate enough if at all, causing it to be an ineffective shock absorber.
    Best Shoes: Cushioned shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion. Stay away from motion-control or stability shoes that limit foot mobility.
    Basic Foot Motions

    Pronations Explained

    When running, everyone has a unique motion in their legs and feet as they
    approach impact, at impact, and during toe-off…we call this the Running Gait.Typically, the foot starts by turning outward and becoming rigid to prepare for impact. (That is why most people tend to land on the outside of the hell.) At this point, the foot normally loosens up and rolls inward, and then becomes rigid
    again as the body weight is transferred over the ball of the foot, preparing for toeoff.The point at which the foot loosens and rolls inward is call pronation. Pronation is normal and is necessary to some degree for the foot to absorb shock and adapt to running surfaces.
    Over-Pronator: Someone who exhibits excessive inward motion is considered to be an overpronator. Some over-pronators are best served by stability or motion-control shoes, which assist in controlling the excessive inward motion of the foot. Conditions such as flat feet, a flexible arch or an everted heel can cause you to overpronate or roll farther than what is necessary to absorb shock and adapt to different running surfaces. Approximately 70-80 percent of runners overpronate to some degree.
    Under-Pronator: Someone who does not have enough inward motion is considered to be an under-pronator (more commonly referred to as a supinator). Underpronators strike the ground as other runners do, but their foot does not complete the motion needed to absorb shock. Usually, under-pronation is associated with a rigid, high-arched foot. Because the foot is so rigid, it absorbs shock poorly and does not adapt to changes in running surfaces. Approximately less than 10 percent of runners under-pronate or supinate.
    Neutral: Those that are right in the middle are known as neutral. Approximately 10-20 percent of runners pronate normally. By looking at the stride motion of the foot and simply discussing pronation and overpronation, we have only looked at the first portion of your stride when the foot strikes the ground. After your foot has rolled forward past your arch your foot is ready to leave the ground but before it can, your foot needs to roll in the opposite direction of pronation so that the loosened joints will tighten up again. This part of foot motion is called supination. It is necessary so that the foot becomes a more rigid lever to propel you forward.
    Type of Running Shoe
    • Geared toward extreme over-pronators and flat feet
    • Very little flexibility in the midfoot
    • Extremely supportive foundation

    Shop Motion Control Shoes

    • For mild over-pronators
    • Slightly flexible mid-foot
    • Arch support in the midsole for stability

    Shop Stability Shoes

    • For neutral or under-pronating runners with stable feet
    • Very flexible
    • Very little or no supportive technology
    • Provides excellent cushioning

    Shop Cushion/Neutral Shoes

    • Best suited for race days or up-tempo runs
    • Lightweight
    • Highly flexible
    • Very responsive

    Shop Racing Shoes

    • Enhances the runner’s “feel" of the ground  which encourages
      a more efficient and proper running form
    • 4mm drop or less compared to 8-12mm for the average shoe
    • Little or no stability or  cushioning addedLearn more about running in minimal shoes

    Shop Minimal shoes

    Running Shoe Fit
    Fit is the most essential aspect of the marriage between your feet and a pair of shoes.
    Feet are three-dimensional and therefore need to be fit to length, width, height and
    shape. A good fit consists of the following:
    • The footbed of the shoe (midsole/insole) should comfortable and contour the bottom of your feet. The heel should be cupped, the medial arch should be positioned correctly corresponding to your arch, and the balance should feel natural.
    • The fit of the shoe's upper should cradle your heel, wrap securely through the midfoot, and give wiggle room for your toes.
    • The depth of the shoe should match the height at your instep comfortably.
    • There should be no pressure points from seams, insoles or upper fabrics that will irritate you later.
    • The shape of the shoe should match the shape of your feet. Some people have straight feet, some slightly curved. Some people need extra depth, some a very narrow heel. With 26 bones making up each foot there are many variations of shape that need to be accommodated.
    • Different foot lengths are common although usually minor. However when it is more than a half a size it requires the person to fit the larger foot and potentially use a modification for the smaller foot. In all cases try on both shoes.
    Lacing of the upper offers the opportunity to help fit a shoe more uniquely. Recently
    many shoes have added extra eyelets or replaced eyelets with gullies (pull tabs made of
    fabric). These can secure a shoe on a foot by aligning the upper more closely to an
    individual foot shape. Also the use of horizontal lacing can reduce pressure on top of the
    foot decreasing the problem of feet going numb.
    If all aspects are perfect except the fit, it is still not the right shoe for you.
    Fit is the most important factor in shoe selection.Make sure you have appropriate time to try on multiple sizes and styles.
    You should have at least 30 minutes available to select the right shoe. If you
    stand on your feet for much of the day it is important to buy shoes later in the day
    when your feet will be the largest.
    Other Considerations in choosing a shoe
    Socks     The microclimate around your feet plays a large part in the comfort of a shoe. Heat, perspiration, and friction can create discomfort, blisters, and inflammatory pain. And for persons with diabetes the loss of feeling in the feet combined with these conditions can lead to severe trauma. Choosing a sock that is made with performance fibers can avoid these problems while cotton socks will aggravate them. Although cotton socks are comfortable initially, they can absorb up to four times their weight in moisture. The combination of wet fabric and heat or friction is the environment that leads to problems. Socks made out of materials like Coolmax will move moisture away from the foot and will help with thermal regulation. Choosing between a thick padded sock and a thin sock is another consideration. This also can enhance the fit of a shoe. The way a sock is constructed plays a significant role in comfort and function. Today you'll find nonirritating toe seams, Y-shaped heels, ribbing around the arch, and friction free double-layered socks. Most people give little thought to the features of the socks they wear. However, buying a quality sock may be the best investment you can make for your feet.
    Insoles These are often overlooked in the purchase of footwear. However, they play an important role in comfort, shock absorption, and support. Insoles are most likely a very thin foam insert that is glued to the interior of the shoe. Some insoles are removable particularly in athletic shoes. Over the counter insoles are better than most that come in shoes which typically wear out within weeks. Although the technology in shoes can give you cushioning, stability, and support, sometimes it is not enough. Adding a more stable or cushioned insole can relieve pain, reduce fatigue, and prevent a wide variety of injury. Insoles may also enhance fit by taking up additional volume for narrow feet or increasing volume for wide feet. Sometimes insoles available at retail are not enough and orthoses should be fit and made by a doctor.
    Old shoes Keep track of the shoes that work well for you. And the shoes that don't and end up in the closet. Bring this information with you when you are selecting new shoes. Or better yet bring the shoes with you so that the sales clerk can distinguish what features give you the best fit and performance.
    Shoe test Although you should spend time trying on shoes in a store there is a possibility that they may not work well for you. After purchasing shoes try them on again at home and wear them for several hours. You may want to take them to a track and walk a few laps. Most shoes should be comfortable right away without any points of irritation. If you find they aren't quite right, take them back immediately and describe you problem. A good store will always help you find the right product.
    The don'ts Do not allow a marketing campaign to influence you any more than peaking your interest. Some marketing can provide excellent information but it does not mean the product will be correct for you. Do not let a friend influence you to select a specific shoe. The shoe may be from heaven for their feet however it most likely is not the right one for you. Do not buy a "team shoe". Frequently sports teams purchase the same shoe for everyone. This is not a good decision and should be avoided particularly if you have any foot problems or past injuries.
    Running Shoe Construction
    It is useful to understand some basics of shoe construction so that you can discuss and select a quality shoe. The design of each component, the materials used, and the construction of the finished product all contribute to the shoes ability to meet your needs.

    Shoes are built around a last that resembles the shape of a foot. Manufactures spend considerable amounts of research to create lasts that will match the shape of their footwear to specific foot types. The upper of a shoe is generally sewn together by hand then secured to the last and attached to the sole. There are three processes commonly used in the lasting - cement lasting, slip lasting, and injection molding. The shape of a shoe is dependant on the last shape, the lasting process, and the materials from which it is made. The materials in each component of shoes make up its quality. The following describes the basic components.

    Outsole: The outsole's function is to provide protection, traction, and durability. It can also play a role in flexibility, stability, and cushioning. Outsoles are most commonly made from rubber or compounds mixed with rubber. They also may be leather or polyurethane.

    Midsole: The midsole's function is to provide cushioning, support, stability and guidance. Midsoles are made from polyurethane, ethylvinylacetate (EVA), rubber mixed with compounds, and other foam polymers.

    Insole: The insole's function is primarily for tactile comfort although it may add cushioning, moisture control, support, and guidance. Insoles are made from EVA, polyester, thermal plastic, graphite, and foam polymers.

    Upper: The upper functions to position, support, and protect the foot. It also is the primary influence on fit. The upper consists of four distinct parts, the heel and heel counter, the midfoot saddle, the toe box, and tongue and lacing. Materials and design are wide ranging. Some are functional others are simply aesthetic.

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  • Food/Fuel Considerations for Training

    Nutrition is an important factor in becoming and being fit and in performing our best. It is
    important to have a plan that works for your body to prepare, perform and recover in training
    and racing.

    Before Workout
    For many people, it can be difficult to have anything in their stomach before running; however,
    eating prior to a longer run can be critically important when workouts go beyond one hour. We
    recommend eating one to two hours before a long run. For runs under one hour, runners do not
    necessarily need to eat but may feel better if they do – it is a personal choice.

    For most runners, eating a food with simply and complex carbohydrates like oatmeal or
    toast/jam provides an easy to digest and good start for a long run. Others may choose an
    energy bar or beverage that is formulated to provide an elevated, consistent energy level over
    an extended period of time. These typically include a balanced mix of simple and complex
    carbohydrates, some protein and fiber.

    It is good to get use to eating something prior to running by slowly introducing light foods or
    energy bars on longer training runs.

    During Workout
    During a workout or race, no matter what type, you need to quickly absorb carbohydrate-based
    calories to replace the glucose you are burning at 400 - 600 calories per hour or you will begin
    to lose concentration and energy.
    There are several alternatives to fuel the body during exercise.
    Food like fruits
    Sports Drinks
    Energy Gels/GU
    Energy Bars
    Energy Gelatins
    These are designed for easy digestion and absorption into your bloodstream. The goal is to
    provide sustained energy through a gradual rise (not a spike) in energy followed by a similarly
    gradual decline. Chews, gels and beverages are favorites due to their simplicity and agreeable
    taste.

    Also during exercise proper fluid intake is critical. Good hydration helps to prevent overheating
    and increases your blood flow, transporting vital nutrients and oxygen to your working muscles,
    which is the most important factor for a good workout. Yet during exercise water is not enough
    to keep your body properly hydrated. Your body needs electrolytes in the correct ratio to replace
    the sodium and potassium you are losing through sweat. At the same time, your body needs
    complex carbohydrates (not sugar) to maintain your blood glucose and muscle glycogen at
    levels necessary to have a great workout/race from start to finish.

    Again, some runners have some difficulty taking different types of fuel sources while running. It
    is important to experiment and find what works best for you.

    What is GU?
    GU is the most popular energy gel for endurance activities. GU is a convenient, carbohydrate
    gel formulated to energize before, sustain during, and aid in recovery after your training and
    competitions. Made with a unique blend of ingredients, GU provides: complex carbohydrates for
    sustained energy, amino acids to maintain muscle protein, antioxidants and muscle buffers to
    aid with recovery.

    Recovery Phase
    If rehydration was the only factor to enhancing performance, a conventional sports drink would
    be enough. But athletes don't just need to rehydrate, their muscles need to recover, too. Protein
    speeds muscle recovery. During prolonged exercise, up to 10% of the muscles' energy can
    come from metabolizing protein, which can come from the breakdown of muscle. Having protein
    in sports drink minimizes the breakdown of protein from the muscle during exercise. The result
    can be a quicker recovery.

    The ability of any athlete to perform at their best is directly related to how fast their muscles
    recover after exercise. Protein-enhanced recovery drinks give muscles a jump-start on getting
    back to peak performance. In fact, recovery drinks have been shown to significantly reduce
    muscle damage following exercise. Compared to a conventional sports drink, it minimizes
    muscle soreness. These are fortified with proteins, amino acids and other muscle-restoring
    elements to help hasten the repair and restoration of cells in your body.

    What do these products offer that traditional foods cannot?
    Easy portability. Bananas, as great as they are as energy boosters, quickly get beat up when
    transported in an adventurer's pack.
    Long shelf life. No refrigeration (or similar food-handling precautions) needed.
    Convenience. What you need (concentrated, specialized nutrients), when you need it (any time
    you choose) and where you need it (any place you choose).
    Which items are best suited for you? We suggest you experiment with various products.
    Stick with the ones that:

    • Deliver the best results for you
    • Feel most comfortable in your stomach
    • Offer the most appealing flavor and texture for your tastes.
    • Many products can serve more than one of these functions. But these general designations can help guide you to choices best suited to your needs.
    • How many of these items do you need? It depends on the intensity of your activity or workout. For a light training run, for example, you may not need any. A more moderate run may call for just a single item from one of these categories. The more demanding (and prolonged) your activity, the more options your body may likely need to sustain peak performance.

    Try different methods during your training so that you can be confident on race day!

    Please Note: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional dietary advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding proper nutrition for your body.

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