Tag Archives: marathon training

5 Mental Tricks to Tackle Tough Runs

We know how hard it can be to stick to your training program. Even though all our training programs are designed to gradually increase the effort needed, long runs are always tough and exhausting. And not only physically. Long-distance running can be as much a mental challenge as it is a physical test of strength and fitness.

When you find yourself struggling during a longer run, try some of these mental tricks to help win the mental battle while running:

Break it up

Mental-Running-Tips

A very effective mental running trick for longer training runs is splitting the distance into smaller mileage, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by thinking about how far it is to the finish. For example, you might mentally break a 12 mile run into three 4-mile runs, a much more do-able and not so overwhelming distance.

One easy way to do it is by planning specific destinations into your route: 4 miles to the park, other 4 miles to the church and the last 4 will be logged on the route back to your house or starting point.

Talk to yourself

The person running next to you might think you’re crazy, but who cares? Giving yourself a pep talk can make the difference when you are struggling to keep going. Say to yourself things like, “I can do this!”, “I’m staying strong” or even “I’ll have some water in five minutes – that will make me feel better.”

Picking a mantra, such as “You’re stronger than you think you are.” or “One step at a time” can also be your inner motivation when you need it most and will definitely help you stay focused and centered.

Recruit a friend

Running-partner

Most runners prefer to do their long runs by themselves. But doing it with a running buddy might be the solution for your boredom and lack of enthusiasm during longer distances. Having a buddy to run with can distract you from the mileage and give you the motivation you need to get through the hardest miles.

Play games

Taking your mind off your running and placing it elsewhere is a tried and very effective mental running trick. And what better than playing a game to keep your brain busy while your body does its work? Here are two examples:

  • Counting cars: pick out a specific car color to look for during your run. Then count how many cars you see with that specific color. You can also do this with specific articles of clothing, houses, types of trees, etc.
  • Go fishing: if you’re running on a track with other runners, focus on someone in front of you who you think you can catch. Then picture yourself reeling that person in, as you keep getting closer and closer to him. When you pass that runner, pick out another person and continue the fishing game.

Imagine yourself on race day

Finish-line

Whenever you’re having a tough time with your long run, picture yourself on race day, running the course and crossing the finish line. During a race, you have to be mentally strong and do whatever you can to keep going. You don’t want to disappoint yourself or all those spectators watching you. So, toughen up and push yourself, while you imagine how it will feel to see your loved ones at the finish line cheering for you.

Do you have your own tricks to tackle your long run? Share them in the comments below!

How long should you rest after a marathon?

rest-after-marathon

Did you race a marathon recently? Congratulations!

Whether you crushed your goal or struggled to walk to the finish, you might be feeling that post-race high that motivates you to keep on training… but your muscles, tendons and ligaments are begging you to stop.

For a marathon runner who spent four to five months logging miles, physically and mentally training for a 26.2 mile race, taking a few days off (or worse, a few weeks off) seems counter-intuitive. After a great race all you want is to capitalize on your fitness and continue to set new personal bests. Likewise, after disappointing results, the last thing on your mind is resting.

Some runners even believe that missing a few days of training will diminish their hard-earned fitness. This common belief couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, not taking enough time to fully recover after a marathon can cause injuries, which will definitely compromise your fitness and future training plans.

But how long should you allow your body to rest until you can run or train again?

Usually, it takes a minimum of two to three weeks for a full physical and mental recovery from the strain of running a marathon. Some experts suggest resting one day for every mile you run, thus 26 days of no hard running or racing! Others recommend one day of rest for each kilometer raced, or 42 days of rest!

The truth is that there is no exact formula to follow for recovery after a marathon. No matter what your plan is, you should always listen to your body and make sure you’re recovered before you resume your race training routine. The good news is that light fitness activity actually helps you recover faster because it promotes good circulation, which delivers fresh oxygen and nutrients to muscles and, therefore, aids healing and recovery.

On his Post-Marathon Training Guide, Hal Higdon suggests that “the training you do in the three weeks following a marathon should be a near mirror of what you did the last three weeks before: in other words, an upward, or reverse, taper.” That means you should take at least three days completely off running after a marathon and gradually return to a more active routine, starting by incorporating cross-training, then 2 – 3 miles running and ending what he calls “Zero Week” by logging 6 – 8 miles with some marathon friends.

The four weeks following Zero Week should still be part of your post-marathon recovery. These 4 weeks are a good time to decide what you want to do next. Setting a new goal and planning your training is a great way to use your time during recovery.

So, have you decided what’s your next running goal? Share it in the comments below!

What to Eat 5 Days Before Your Marathon

What-to-Eat-Before-Marathon

It’s race week! It’s time you put your weeks of training to work and tackle the big 26.2!

Besides mental and physical training, fueling is key to any successful race. What you decide to put in your body can help you run at your best and help in post-race recovery.

If you have a race coming up, you should be thinking about what to eat and what to avoid in the days before your marathon. Below, you’ll find our tips for marathon fueling up to 5 days out from your big race.

4 to 5 days from the race

During several weeks of intense marathon training, your muscles never have a chance to fully reload with glycogen. To build up your energy reserves for race day, you will need to back off on training for a few days, so that muscle enzymes responsible for restocking glycogen will gradually begin to store more carbohydrate.

In addition, boost your total carbohydrate intake to 3.5 to 4 grams for every pound of your body weight by adding in more pastas and starches to your diet throughout the week. If you notice you are gaining too much weight, back off on fat and protein and reduce carb intake until your weight balances out.

Good choices are: Pastas, brown rice, sweet potatoes and baked potatoes.

2 days before the race

You should eat your last big meal two nights before the race. It will give your body enough time to fully digest anything you eat and avoid feeling stuffed and lethargic when you reach the starting line, lowers the risk of stomach problems and can even help you sleep more soundly.

During the two days before the race, also consider limiting high-fiber foods such as large amounts of vegetables, whole grains and bran cereals. Studies conducted by the Australian Institute of Sport show that eating lower fiber foods can help lighten the weight of material in the intestines. This can actually help you run faster, as it reduces your body weight and decreases the chance of a mid-race pit stop that would otherwise add time to your race.

Good choices: Pasta is still often considered one of the best pre-race meals.

24h before the race

Ideally, you should allow your body to rest the two days before the race, so you may feel full very quickly. Try to eat balanced meals like you would normally do on any training day, but make sure your main meals are still in the form of low glycemic to medium glycemic index foods. If you’re not sure about what foods have a low or medium glycemic index, you can check Harvard Health’s Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods  or WebMD’s Guide How to Use the Glycemic Index for a more in depth picture of what glycemic index foods do for the body.

Fluids are just as important as food, so it is mandatory to hydrate properly all day long. Opt for sports drinks or other beverages containing electrolytes and nutrients, along with water. To remind yourself to drink, always carry a water bottle with you throughout the day or set a reminder for every other hour.

Good choices are: Sweet potatoes, pastas, baked potatoes, brown rice

2 to 4 hours out

Not only is it important what you choose to eat the day of the race, but also the time you eat. In the two to four hours before the race, eat a small breakfast containing protein, simple carbs and fluids. Aim for 0.5 to one gram of carbs for every pound of body weight and keep protein to about 15 grams or fewer. Avoid high fiber, fatty and new foods, which can take longer to digest and cause stomach problems.

Instead of trying to get all your fluids down by chugging your water bottle the hour prior to the race, you should drink small, regular sized amounts. Opt for room temperature water – which is absorbed quicker than warm or cold water – and drink approximately 6 oz. every hour to get hydrated before the gun goes off.

Good choices are: bread, bagels, cereal, fruit, and small amounts of peanut or almond butter, low-fat cheese, low-fat milk or a fruit smoothie.

Now it is up to you! We wish you a very successful (and fun) race day!