Nutrition & Hydration
As a runner it is important to have a well balance diet and take in the appropriate amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Each of these three macronutrients have a purpose: Protein to rebuild tissue in the body, Carbohydrates for energy/fuel, fats for energy/fuel and to absorb certain nutrients. A popular topic in sports nutrition is PROTEIN! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes.
For additional information, check out this article.
Hydration is a 24/7 job.
Do not wait until right before or right after a run to hydrate. You should drink water regularly throughout each day. Everyone’s hydration needs are different so develop a plan that works best for you. Before exercise try to drink between 16-20oz in the hours before.
During exercise it is best to listen to your body and drink based on thirst with the goal to lose no more than 2% in body weight. As a guideline the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 3-8oz of a sports drinkevery 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.
After a run, weigh yourself to determine how much water weightyou lost during the run. You should replace about 16oz of fluid for every pound lost.
Race Day Fueling to Avoid Hitting the Wall
During a long run or race it is recommend to intake 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of exercise. Your body is only able to process so much at a time. If you consume more than your body can process it will cause digestive issues. A simple way to take in carbs on a run is with a sports drink. Make sure your sports drink has 8% or less carbohydrate concentration, or between 13-19 grams of carbs per 8oz. The lower the percentage the faster it will empty the stomach and absorb into the blood stream. Higher than 8% may cause digestive issues. When you take a gel packet remember that there are between 20-25 grams of carbohydrate per gel. You need to take water with your gel to dilute the carb concentration to the 8% or lower for best absorption rate.
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Stretching & Strength Training
Definition – process of lengthening the muscles and associated soft tissues around a joint.
Goals– increase range of motion at a given joint for injury prevention and increased performance
Frequency- To increase range of motion stretching should be performed daily. If you are maintaining flexibility, stretching should be performed two times a week. You should also stretch following each workout session.
Stretch reflex- Muscles have a built-in reflex when a muscle is being stretched too far the muscles contract to stop the lengthening of the muscles. That is why it is important to not force yourself into a stretch. By forcing a stretch, you are counteracting what you are trying to accomplish.
What to stretch- Target each of the major muscle groups. Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, hip flexors, back, shoulders.
Rest & Recovery Importance
Did you know that training tears down your muscles and causes microtears?
Those microtears need recovery days and rest days to have time to rebuild to be stronger than they were before. If you keep trying to train without proper rest and recovery you will continue to breakdown your muscles and lead to injury. Take time to recover from race days so you can get back to the running!
How to Speed Up Recovery
There are various methods to help speed up recovery, but we will focus on these two:
Nutrition: Choose foods which naturally reduces inflammation (olive oil, Broccoli, Berries, peppers, tart cherry juice). Also, try to minimize consumption of foods that increase inflammation (simple sugars, fried foods, processed meat). Complex carbohydrates and proteins should be a normal part of your diet but are extra important for post-race/workout meals to help with muscle repair.
Foam Rolling/Massage: these techniques may help to loosen up and release knots/adhesions in the muscles. This helps to maintain range of motion in a joint and proper muscle function. Foam rolling/massage also promotes blood flow to the muscles which helps with recovery.
Adequate sleep, Ice bath, active recovery, stretching, and compression gear are some other methods which could help aid in recovery.
Training & Improving Performance
Weekly Long Run
How to get the most out of your weekly long run:
Think of your weekly long run as a “practice” for race day. Use your long run to help establish your nutrition and hydration plan. Try out what foods you plan to eat the night before, the morning of and during your run to see what works with your body. Also, use your long run to try out different clothes and shoes to determine your race day outfit well before race day arrives. Physiologically speaking the long run improves your body’s ability to utilize oxygen, recruit and strengthen additional muscle fibers, and increase your body’s ability to both store and use fuel. As far as psychology goes use the long run to establish some positive sayings which can help carry you through the hard spots. Some common sayings to try include: “I’ve got this” “I am strong” “one step at a time” “run tall” “run relaxed”. The long runs also help to build the confidence needed to know you can cover the distance come race day.
Creating a training plan is part science and part art form with every person and every race being different. In general, as you build your weekly mileage and long run, a 10% increase is advised. This includes a 10% increase in weekly mileage and also a 10% increase to your weekly long run. Some may have to build at a slower rate while others may be able to safely build at a higher rate. As you build your mileage you will want to plan in a “down” week, or recovery week, every 3-4 weeks. This week should have about a 20% drop in total weekly mileage and also that week’s long run. This “down” weeks allows the body to recover and repair.
Hitting a PR
Below are some tips to help you get to that next level!
1) Training at race pace- Your body adapts to how you train. If you include 1-2 workouts a week at your goal race pace your body will become more efficient at running at that pace (it required less energy). You will know when your body is adapting to your new pace when it starts to feel easier and you can maintain that pace for longer periods of time. Training at race pace also pushes you to mentally work through tough spots during your workouts so when race day comes you have developed techniques to push through when things get hard.
2) Study the course elevation and train accordingly. Do training runs that include hills through the run and if possible, train on parts of the racecourse. This helps you learn how to run strong and controlled up the hill and then learn how your body responds as you get back on even ground. Mentally prepare for where the hills are located along the course. If you are prepared for them then you can better manage the challenge.
3) Do a few training runs on tired legs. This helps you learn how to push through when you are tired in those final miles.
4) Eat, drink, sleep for success! Making sure you are consistently hydrated and putting good fuel into your body so you can both train and recover properly through the training months.
“Practice makes perfect” Take a few runs each week to focus on one aspect of your running posture.
Run Relaxed- Think top down. Try to relax your jaw and shoulders. Relax your arms and your hands so you are not holding tension in these areas.
It is all in the hips- your hips should remain high and forward (run tall) to keep your center of mass overtop your feet. If your feet hit out in front of your body you are essentially putting on the breaks with each step you take.
Light on your feet – think about picking your feet up off the ground. If you reduce the contact time on the ground then you will increase your cadence. This is a good technique to introduce during speed sessions where you can concentrate on this in short time segments.
Probably the hardest (mentally) weeks of training come during the taper….us runners like to run! BUT it is time to cut back on the mileage to give our bodies time to heal so we can show up tothe Start Line ready to RUN! During the taper you still want to include race pace running into yourmileage, but the total mileage will be reduced by 10-20% each week. For the full marathon arecommended taper period will last between 2-3 weeks. For the half marathon, or less, 10 days to 2 weeks is sufficient.
Training in the Heat
During the summer months, try to get out early or run in the late evening when it is the coolest. Make sure you stay hydrated and drink often during a run. When the temperatures rise you will need to reduce your pace to compensate for your body’s need to cool. Do not be afraid to cut your run short when the temperature rises.
For those new to training and attending races there are a few rules of the road. Whether you are running or walking, training or participating in a race, the following tips will help everyone have a smooth experience.
- Start at the appropriate location during training runs and races based on how fast you plan to run. Walkers should line up at the back or based on speed (pace per mile: 10-minute mile, 12-minute mile, etc.). The Akron Marathon Race Series provides pace per mile signs along the starting line corral to help line up by pace. This way, you are running or walking at a similar pace with those around you.
- Always stay to the right side and pass on the left. Protocol is to call out that you are passing on the left when approaching. On race day, it is always nice to pass with a motivational comment like ‘keep it up.’
- If you listen to music, use ear buds. When training on the roads and on race day, it is recommended to only put one ear bud in your ear so you can still hear course alerts and/or vehicles.
- If you stop to walk, take a selfie or tie your shoe, be sure to move off to the side of the road first and make sure there is no one running behind you.
- Walking or running with a friend or group? Be sure that you walk or run no more than two abreast so others can pass if needed.
- For safety purposes, run/walk against the flow of traffic if you are training on the roads.
- Be friendly! Strike up a conversation, wave or shout out ‘morning!’ as you pass your fellow walkers or runners. Training is a great way to meet training partners.
For a more complete list of do’s and don’ts covering pre-race and race day, click here.