Marathon Training

So, you’re getting ready to run a marathon. What should you do to really prepare? What should you eat, how should you train? Here are some helpful suggestions to get you on track to reaching your goal.

Key points that a good marathon training program should include.

Training Level
Before you even start training you should have a fairly good idea of your marathon goal as it relates to your running ability and experience. Don’t be too ambitious at the beginning if you haven’t run a marathon before. Sometimes just finishing the race comfortably is a good enough goal. Pick a training level you can handle from a weekly mileage perspective. You will run a lot of miles during the weeks of training. The program you follow will need to be tailored to your own marathon goal. One size does not fit all.

Vary Your Runs
Try to vary your running pace from run to run. In fact most training programs will indicate what type of fun you should do each day. For example, easy pace, hill run and marathon pace.

Alternate Your Training Days
The problem with training for a marathon is that your body does not have enough time to recover from the increasing effort as you get further into the schedule. To counter this a good training program will follow the hard day – easy day principle as much as possible. This means you will alternate lighter training days with the harder ones. For example: Day 1 – 7 miles at tempo pace. Day 2 – 7 miles at an easy pace. Day 3 – 9 miles at your intended marathon pace. Day 4 – 7 miles at your intended marathon pace. Day 5 – rest. Day 6 – 17 mile long run. Day 7 – 5 miles at an easy pace.

A good program should also include dietary advice. Many marathoners believe that eating lots of carbohydrates is all they need for training. This actually is not true. Yes, lots of carbs will fuel your running, but you need proper amounts of protein as well to help repair muscle tissue that is broken down, especially during the longer runs. You also need adequate amounts of fat, but unsaturated as much as possible.

Mental Preparation
It takes a lot of mental fortitude to get out of the door day after day (especially in poor weather conditions) and go for your required training run. Some things to help are training with a friend or a group with similar goals, taking a couple of days off if you feel down, keeping a positive attitude, and visualizing reaching your goal.

It’s not all about running. It’s about other activities that will help you build endurance and stamina. It will help you also avoid injury.

Without a proper training schedule and without commitment, you will have difficulty reaching your goal. Keep strict to your schedule. When marathon day comes, you’ll be thankful you did when you successfully cross that finish line.

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Winter Running

Many dedicated runners will brave the cold, damp air and dark, slick streets as winter sets in. Running is actually part of surviving the winter for some. Winter running can be a challenging and, at times, difficult experience outdoors. For those of you who don’t let a little snow or sleet deter a run, it is important to stay safe and comfortable during winter running. Here are tips to keep your winter running more safe and comfortable:

  1. Choose a synthetic sock. Avoid cotton socks. Synthetic sock (wool blend, polypropylene) wick away moisture and help prevent blister formation and cold feet.
  2. Run in a trail shoe. Winter running involves slick surfaces on both the trails and the street. It is important to have more support and stability on slippery surfaces. Trail shoes have more traction for these surfaces. Trail running shoes also tend to protect your feet more than lighter nylon running shoes.
  3. Dress in layers. Your first layer should be something like polypropylene that will wick sweat away from your body. For the outer layer, try a material such as nylon or Gore-Tex. This will protect your body against precipitation and wind and also let out heat and moisture from your body to prevent overheating or chilling. Avoid cotton because it holds moisture and likewise will keep you wet during your run. On really cold days you can even add a middle layer of clothing such as polar fleece.
  4. You should dress as if it is 5-10 degrees warmer than it actually is. When you first step outside, it should feel a bit cool. This will allow your body to heat up during your workout without over-doing it and perhaps dehydrating when running in the cold.
  5. Avoid uneven terrain. In cold weather it is more difficult to adjust to uneven terrain because your muscles do not react as quickly. Choose level streets and sidewalks and choose trails with fewer rocks, roots and dips. This will help minimize your chances of developing muscle strains and sprains.
  6. Warm up slowly. Although this may seem obvious, it is a common mistake in the winter. It is cold out and you will want to start running as soon as you close your front door. But, your muscles take longer to warm-up in colder weather. Your chances of injury increase when you do not take the time to warm-up properly.

Sometimes the most challenging part of winter running is stepping out the door. But once you’re out, happy trails.

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Bay Area Mud Runs

Bay Area mud runs have exploded in popularity over the past few years. You may even be thinking of signing up for a mud run if you can run up to 12 miles, which is the distance of most mud run.  But beware of the obstacles that are going to present themselves throughout the run. This is what you want to be training for.

It is incredibly important that you incorporate running into your training regime. This is going to help build up your stamina and hopefully keep you in the race until the end. You will need to run at least three or four times a week and build up the amount you run on a day by day basis. You need to constantly improve yourself to ensure you can run over the distance of the race.  Remember, some of your stamina is going to be taken up by the obstacles.  This means that if you are running a three mile race, you should be able to run at least seven miles. Make sure that you run up hills, up stairs and up anything else which will make the run more challenging. Try not to run on flat surfaces constantly – that isn’t the best training for obstacle courses.

Being agile in water is also important. A few mud runs involve swimming, so be prepared for any challenge. In addition, swimming is a great way to build up your stamina, and every little bit is going to help towards a successful run.

You also need to build up your upper body strength since the majority of courses include some sort of pulling obstacles (e.g. climbing ropes, climbing over walls, cargo nets, etc).  Combine push ups with your running activities for more upper body strength.  For a fun challenge, devise a course for yourself (e.g. run some, do push ups, run some more, do a different type of exercise, and so on).

Work on your agility! Mud runs tend to involve a lot of obstacles to jump across or avoid. Don’t just jump up and down. Learn to jump from side to side. Work on that footwork and don’t stop working on it.

Remember, in most cases a mud run isn’t a race. It is a challenge to get to the end. This will be one of the most physically demanding things that you have ever done in your life.  If you can train to the point where you can make it to the end, you are already doing better than most people.

If you’re looking for a mud run in San Jose, the Gladiator Rock ‘n Run will be held on June 15th-16th, 2013.  The event is for all shapes and sizes. Perfect for anyone who wants to have a great time and challenge themselves. Save $5 off the registration by providing promo code: LIFESPORTFIT5 (must be in all caps).

Good luck in your training!

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How to Run Faster: 3 Tips to Improve Your Running Speed

Once you start running it becomes almost like an addiction. This is one of the few sports in which you will be able to compete against yourself. People always try to beat their best time or to increase their overall pace. However, what happens when you hit a brick wall? It’s time to change up your training! Try these three tips to teach yourself to run faster.

1.  Warm Up Properly. Many people never seem to consider before they run is to do a good warm up. This is going to help get your muscles ‘into gear’. Not only will a good warm up increase your running speed over time, but it is also going to help prevent injury. There are plenty of online resources for running warm ups which you can use to work out the most effective ways to warm up before your running session.

In addition to this, you may want to look into guides on improving your posture. There are so many people out there who are using bad posture when they run, which is severely detrimental to your running speed. If you can change this, you will notice vast changes in your running. You may find that you’ll have to slow your pace down for a short period while you adjust to a new posture position and gain strength in your core.

Another cross-training option is yoga. Doing simple yoga poses and slow breathing techniques will help keep you limber and focused. In addition, yoga has been attributed to relieving depression and fatigue, weight loss, overall body strengthening and relieving pain.

2.  Add Interval Training. You should certainly implement interval training into your training exercises, especially near the start. This will involve running at a slow space (jogging almost) before you kick everything up a notch and begin to run at a fast pace for a pre-determined amount of time before slowing down once again. Almost every professional runner uses this particular technique in their training, and you will be able to benefit from it substantially. When you start training, you will have small ‘intervals’ before you gradually work up to sprinting for much longer periods of time. Eventually you will have conditioned your body to stay at a constant sprint.

For some reason there are plenty of people out there that train on the road. This is going to have an impact on your body due to the hard surface. While it is fine to train on the road once in a while, every so often why not find a softer surface such as grass? With less of an impact on the body, you will find that your times substantially improve.

3.  Run Hills.  Do you find that you are fatigued easily after running for long periods of time? If so, then you should start to include more ‘hill running’ into your workout which will help build up your leg muscles and stop you becoming fatigued as quickly. You could also improve your running by simply walking hills! A good cross training idea would be to try Nordic Walking!

If you follow just a few of the tips above, you will find that your running speed will increase substantially. Honestly, if you continue to apply them you will notice vast improvements rather quickly. Whether you are looking to place better in a race, or simply live with the satisfaction that you have managed to beat your top speed, these tips will be able to help you.

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