Tag Archives: marathon

5 Keys to Marathon Recovery

Figuring out the best path to a complete marathon recovery is challenging.  Your body is torn up.  Your mind is fried.  Getting up and moving, let alone taking a lap around the track, is the last thing you’re looking forward to. but how you recover can have a huge impact on when marathon recoveryyou’re ready to start training again.  Here are five ways to make sure your marathon recovery helps you get back to business as soon as you want.

Keep moving.  One of the most important aspects of marathon recovery is movement.  This doesn’t mean a tough track workout two days later or taking off for another race.  Giving muscles some easy work to do the day after beating then up has been shown to help speed recovery but it has to be just that, easy.  A very slow jog, air squats, a few push-ups, sit-ups and 30 minutes of yoga works wonders.

Mobilize.  Just getting out there are easy jogging a mile or two won’t get the job done.  You need to work tired and abused joints through a full range of motion to keep fluids moving around.  This is how you make sure muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones get the blood, oxygen and nutrients they need to repair while clearing out the debris from when they got damaged.  Foam rollers, bands, softballs and a lacrosse ball are all part of a well built marathon recovery kit.

Eat up.  You definitely burned a ton of calories covering all of those miles.  Replacing them and giving your body the nutrients it needs to repair damaged muscles is paramount.  Replenish fluids with sports drinks or salted water as soon as you cross the finish line.  When your tummy is ready, chow down on calorie loaded like bananas and yogurt.  Put your feet up and rest a bit until you’ve processed those and can head for pizza and ice cream.marathon recovery

Sleep.  Getting an adequate amount of sleep will help you recover faster than just about anything else.  It can be tough to shut down after a big race so try taking a warm bath, meditating and turning off all electronic devices.  Here’s a great piece on how a solid night’s shut eye can make a big difference in your marathon recovery.

Go easy on the celebration.  Yes, those free beers taste delicious but they’re just going to cause more trouble for your already hostile body.  Dehydrated muscles aren’t aching to lose more water.  Even though there are carbs in there, make sure you mix in plenty of other fluids with those post race party beers.  A long walk or standing around for a little bit won’t do any harm but you do want to get off your feet for a few hours as soon as you can to start the healing process.

If there are other marathon recovery traditions you swear by, like ice baths and massages, stick with them.  Just make sure you don’t neglect these key elements of getting your body ready to go back to work.

Coach Meredith

Hill Running Basics

Hill running is a major tenet of most training programs from 5k to ultra marathon.  If it’s not a regular part of your running workouts, a special hill work session is usually scheduled at least once every two weeks in a quality training plan.  To be successful running hills, you have to be good at going both up and down them as well as have the power and endurance to do it more than once.  To rock the next hilly race course you face, here are a few tips to help you build the hill runningstrength and power it takes to go up along with the control and balance required to get safely back down.

Pick the right hills.  Not all hills are created equal.  While there are lots that can help your hill running improve, training on one that’s too long, too short, too steep or not steep enough can render your workout ineffective.  Running a long, gradual hill can increase strength, ankle flexibility and reduce neuromuscular inhibition, leading to better coordination.  Sprinting a short steep hill will help build power and decrease neuromuscular inhibition, making it easier to run hard and fast.  Choosing a hill that matches your workout is key to getting the most out of it.

Run at the proper speed/tempo/heart rate.  Sprinting all out up and zooming willy nilly back down your favorite local hill isn’t an effective way to train.  Plan your hill running workouts to target specific zones of strength and cardiovascular effort by working out on the right one at the correct intensity.  Practice a downhill tempo that’s faster than going up, practice using gravity to help you recover on the way down and be sure to take appropriate rest between repeats.

Downhill matters, too.  Leaning back on a downhill is common, we are trying to slow down to maintain balance.  Unfortunately, leaning back ignores a chance for a gravity induced, no effort increase in speed.  Keep your spine straight and perpendicular to the downhill surface to take advantage of a bonus pick up in pace while increasing your stride rate to get the most out of the hill’s ‘easy’ side.

Treat hill running like strength training.  Don’t let it take over your running schedule and be sure to allow your body some extra time for recovery.  A good hill workout should be done once every 8-10 days or even once every two weeks.  If your normal route includes some hills, that’s great, but to really get the most out of them a special hill only workout is your best bet.

Use these hill running tips to help build your training plan and find success on the next hilly race course you face.

Coach Meredith

Building Weekly Mileage

One of the first things you want to consider when deciding to increase your weekly training mileage is if you really need the extra volume.  If you’re prone to injury because of previous ones, short on time or just running to hit a mile goal rather than get a quality workout, ramping up the weekly mileage might not be something you need.  In contrast, when you’re graduating from the 5k to the half marathon, adding to your weekly mileage can be important part of your training plan.  To be successful, you’ll need to increase your endurance and strength enough to handle the kind of strain running 13+ miles puts on the body.  This goes for any increased race distance, 5k to 10k, half to full, full to ultra and so on.

Increasing your weekly mileage can be intimidating.  There are lots of ways to approach building the increased fitness needed to rock a longer race distance and no matter which method you choose there are a few things to weekly mileageremember that will you stay injury free.

The 10% rule.  This classic weekly mileage increase theory calls for adding no more than 10% of your previous week’s total number of miles to this week’s schedule.  If last week included 20 miles, this week you could safely up that to 22.  Gradually building weekly mileage can help prevent overuse injuries like stress fractures and general over training but the 10% rule itself doesn’t necessarily need to be followed.  Work with a coach to take into account the surfaces you run on, other parts of your training plan and lifestyle factors before choosing how many miles to run each week.

Intensity first.  Instead of adding a few miles each week, try increasing the intensity of one of your workouts.  The higher intensity workout will give you benefits such as increased bone density, maximal fat burning and improving running economy.  A short, high intensity workout will take less time than logging lots of long, slow miles and can protect you from overuse injuries.

Get strong and mobile.  Prepare your body for increased weekly mileage with strength training.  Build stronger, more adaptable muscles through bodyweight exercises, weight lifting and mobility work.  Keeping muscle balanced and loose will help keep injuries at bay and allow muscles to repair themselves as quickly as possible.  A bodyweight workout can be just as effective as the traditional recovery run at helping your body repair after a challenging session.

Quality over quantity.  Pay attention to those newly added miles.  Are they hard?  Are you just pounding the pavement?  Getting a quality workout is going to go a much longer way towards being successful at your longer race distance than running without a specific purpose.  Don’t be afraid to stop increasing your volume if you feel the quality of your workouts decreasing.

Think about these four factors before jumping into increased weekly mileage and you’ll have fewer injuries and faster race times.

Coach Meredith

Race Day Etiquette: Runners and Walkers

Race day can be a stressful time.  Whether you’re chasing a new PR, trying a new distance or just easing back into things from an injury, adrenaline is flowing and the race environment can race daybe electric.  You’ve trained, you’ve fueled, you’ve arrived and you’re ready to rock.  Here are a few things that can help ensure both you and every other participant has a great race day experience.

Respect your corral.  Line up in the correct one, if you’re assigned.  If there aren’t corral assignments, ask around and try to line up with a group that has the same goal time.  If you plan on running 10:00 miles refrain from starting with your friend who will be running 8:00s.  Why?  Slower runners at the front can cause traffic jams.  Faster runners will be forced to pass, adding distance and costing valuable seconds when aiming for a new PR.

Water Stop:  If you’re drinking, stay close to the tables and don’t crowd at the first one, you’ll get faster, smoother service further down.  If you’re not thirsty, stay in the middle and keep moving.  No matter where you decide to grab hydration, know what’s going on around you before coming to a complete stop.  If you can’t get fluids down smoothly while running, try a power walk or step to the side.  Done drinking?  Try to aim that empty cup towards a trash can.

Walking:  Walkers are racers, too.  Just like at a water stop, if you’re going to take a walking break, make sure those around know it’s coming.  Make for the edge of the course, put a hand up or even shout it out.  This will prevent you from being run over or into and keep you out of another’s race day way.

On course:  Stay skinny.  Whether you’re running or walking, stick to traveling one or two wide.  Courses are often on narrow roads or trails, sometime with moving traffic only a cone’s width away.  Lining up three or four across and not allowing enough room for someone to pass can irritate other participants and cost them valuable seconds they’ve worked hard to shave off.

Finish:  One of the best parts of race day is the Finisher photo right after you receive that fancy new bling.  If you’re waiting for a friend to come through for a photo-op, step to the side or even consider a location away from the hustle and bustle.

Snacks:  We all need to refuel, rehydrate and relax after a race.  Take only what’s been allocated for you in the finisher area.  Those who finish behind you deserve the same nutrition, fluids and goodies you do.

Pack these race day etiquette tips in your drop bag and everyone will have a smooth event experience.

Coach Meredith

How to Use Timed Runs

There are lots of methods people use when training for a race.  Whether a 5K, 10K, half marathon or Iron Man, every runner has a different program, but the goal of each program is the same: finish in less time than I did before.  To reach this goal, every runner needs to run for time.  There are different types of timed runs out there, and each one serves a different purpose.  Short times runs, tempo runs, and distance runs can all fall into the timed run family and each one is valuable to any training program.

Short timed runs serve as benchmarks and baselines, giving you a sense of what your race pace will be by letting you know what kind of pace you can maintain over a period of time.  They are a great way to evaluate improvement in your fitness level and give you an idea of what your next goal should be.

Tempo runs are used to increase lactic acid threshold, or the point at which muscles feel fatigue.  They accomplish this by teaching to body to work when it’s already tired.  Tempo runs start with an easy pace to warm up then slowly increase to reach 10K pace for a short time in the middle, before finishing with another block of easy running.  A 30 minute tempo run would consist of 10 minutes warm up, ten minutes at a comfortably hard pace, with a peak at 10K pace around 15 minutes, then finish up with 10 minutes of easy running.

Your long timed run is there to make sure you can finish your race.  To be successful, determine how long your longest timed run should be, estimate the time it will take you to finish your race.  If you’re racing 13.1 miles and comfortably run 9 minute miles, you can guess you’ll finish in about two hours.  Your timed runs should build up so your body is ready to work for two hours.  If your body isn’t prepared to ahead of time to work for the amount of time it’s going to take you to finish, the end of your race will be tough both physically and mentally.

No matter what flavor of timed run you plan on doing, they are a great tool when you travel.  Running for time means you don’t have to measure new routes or waste time on the internet finding something, or somewhere, that’s already been measured, giving you more time to relax.  Running for a predetermined time is also perfect on days when you don’t feel 100%.  You can run for 45 minutes without caring how far you go or worrying you didn’t get a good enough workout in because you know did what you set out to do.

Have questions about running for time or training for your next race?  Contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com!