Fitness Advice for You
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How to Train for Your Next Marathon
23 November 2019
For many runners, the desire to do a marathon is about personal challenge. You might want to test your limits or prove that you can go the distance. Perhaps a friend has talked you into it. Maybe you'd like to lose weight, get healthier or raise awareness for a charity.
Whatever your reason, hold on to it and remind yourself of it often during the months that lie ahead. When your legs are tired or the weather is nasty, maintaining your motivation will help you get out the door.
Be aware of your limits. The 26.2 miles in a marathon put you at a significantly higher risk for injury than your daily neighborhood jogs. Consult with your physician before embarking on any training program.
Start early: Conventional wisdom recommends that aspiring marathoners run consistent base mileage for at least a year before embarking on a marathon training program.
One of the most common causes of injury is building weekly mileage too soon, too fast—so don't underestimate the importance of consistently running at least 20–30 miles a week regularly before committing to training for a marathon.
Start small: Running a few shorter races—5Ks, 10Ks, or even a half marathon—is an excellent way to prepare physically and mentally for a first marathon.
Choosing a First Marathon
Marathons range from quiet, low-key races on backcountry roads to spectator-lined urban races with tens of thousands of runners. To help you get used to the race vibe and identify your preference, run a few shorter races, cheer on a friend or volunteer at marathons.
Choosing a marathon close to home may offer a "home field advantage" with the opportunity to run on familiar roads; on the other hand, choosing a "destination" race can really stoke your motivation fire in the months leading up to race day.
The Four Building Blocks of Marathon Training
The primary elements of marathon training are:
Base mileage. Build your weekly mileage over time, running three-to-five times per week.
The long run. Do a long run every 7–10 days so your body can adjust gradually to long distances.
Speed work. Practice intervals and tempo runs to increase your cardio capacity.
Rest and recovery. Adequate rest helps prevent injuries and mental burnout.
Most marathon training plans range from 12 to 20 weeks. Beginning marathoners should aim to build their weekly mileage up to 50 miles over the four months leading up to race day.
Three-to-five runs per week is sufficient. The vast majority of these runs should be done at a relaxed pace. You should run at an easy enough pace to be able to carry on a conversation.
When building base mileage, never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent from week to week.
The Long Run
Your next step is to build up to a weekly long run. This should be done once every 7–10 days, extending the long run by a mile or two each week. Every 3 weeks, scale it back by a few miles so as not to overtax your body and risk injury. For example, you might run 12 miles one weekend, 13 miles the next, then 14 miles, and then 12 again before moving on to 15 on the fifth weekend.
Doing these runs at a substantially slower pace than usual builds confidence, lets your body adjust to longer distances, and teaches you to burn fat for fuel.
Max distance: Most marathon training plans usually peak at a long run of 20 miles. So where do those last 6 miles come from on race day? With proper training, your body will take advantage of the peak shape your body will be in, the rest you offer it during a tapering period, and the adrenaline and crowd support of race day.
Speed work is an optional element to incorporate into your training program. It can increase your aerobic capacity and make your easy runs feel… well, easy! Intervals and tempo runs are the most popular forms of speed work.
Intervals are a set of repetitions of a specific, short distance, run at a substantially faster pace than usual, with recovery jogs in between. For example, you might run 4 X 1-mile repeats at a hard pace, with 5 minutes of slow jogging or even walking between the mile repeats.
Tempo runs are longer than an interval—generally in the range of 4–10 miles, depending on where you are in your training—run at a challenging, but sustainable, pace. This kind of workout teaches your body, as well as your brain, to sustain challenging work over a longer period of time.
Always allow your body to warm up and cool down with a few easy miles at the beginning and end of any speed workout.
Rest and Recovery
Rest days mean no running. They let your muscles recover from taxing workouts and help prevent mental burnout. The greatest enemy of any aspiring marathoners is injury, and the best protection against injury is rest.
If you are itching to do something active on your rest days, doing some cross-training is a great option. Cross-training can include walking, hiking, cycling, swimming, yoga, lifting weights, or any other active pursuit that isn't as high-impact as running.
Tapering: In the two or three weeks leading up to your marathon, scale back significantly on overall mileage and difficulty of your runs to let your body rest up for race day.
Hydrating and Fueling on the Run
Nearly all marathons include water and aid stations along the way.
If you plan to carry some of your own water on race day, buy a hydration pack or belt long in advance and get accustomed to running with it. Never try something new on race day.
While training, of course, you will be doing plenty of long runs without the benefit of aid stations. Several tried-and-true techniques to consider:
Carry your own water using a hydration pack or belt, or with handheld bottles
Do long runs on a short loop course, so you can stash water in one spot along the way.
Plot your long run route to pass water fountains (but during colder months, make sure that they're turned on).
Stash water bottles along your route the night or morning before your run.
You've probably heard about the phenomenon many marathoners experience right around the 20-mile mark, commonly called "hitting the wall" or "bonking."
Your body can only store so much glycogen—its primary source of energy during the marathon. As this level gets depleted over the course of your marathon, your muscles will begin to tire and feel heavy. While no amount of fuel consumption during the race can entirely replace your depleted glycogen, consuming small amounts of carbohydrates can help prevent you from hitting the dreaded wall.
Energy gels or chews are the easiest to carry and often easiest to digest—but a few pieces of fruit or an energy bar can also do the trick. For any run over 2 hours, aim to take in about 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
As with everything, make sure to test out various types of fuel on your training runs to see what your stomach tolerates best, so you can fuel confidently on race day.
Beach Body: Facts vs. Myths
12 March 2020
Here is my top 10 fitness “facts” that in reality are FALSE and are actually fitness myths:
1. Lifting lighter weights will make your muscles more defined and toned. FALSE!
Muscle responds to overload. If you lift heavier weight with sufficient intensity, you will create more microscopic tears in the muscle. When the muscle recuperates, it will become tighter and stronger.
However, your supplemental nutrition must support your workouts. Reduced body fat is what creates the “lean and tight” look, not high reps (15 plus reps). Reduced body fat is a result of efficient weight training, proper amounts of cardiovascular exercise and nutrition that places one in somewhat of a calorie deficit (less than maintenance). That’s how you get defined and toned!
2. A lot of cardio is the most efficient way to lose body fat. FALSE!
Excessive cardio will strip muscle and body fat. This is definitely not the most efficient method to lose body fat. Once you begin stripping muscle tissue, your body becomes less efficient at burning body fat. Muscle is metabolically active, which simply means it stimulates the metabolism.
For each pound of muscle you put on your body, you will burn up to 50 additional calories per day. If you strip muscle tissue, all you accomplish is sabotaging your efforts to efficiently reduce body fat. The PROPER amount of cardio to accomplish your goal is what’s necessary!
3. A woman will get muscles as big as guy if she lifts heavier weight. FALSE!
This myth never seems to die. A woman has approximately one third of the testosterone of a man. Unless she is on anabolic steroids, growth hormone or other enhancing drugs, a woman will never achieve the muscular size of a man. However, she can get a degree of muscularity that makes her lean, toned and tight.
4. Calories are the only thing that counts when trying to lose body fat or gain lean muscle. FALSE!
Ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats are also important. The key in losing body fat and getting lean is controlling and manipulating insulin levels. In simple terms, when we consume excessive calories or excessive amounts of high glycemic carbohydrates at one meal, the body’s blood sugar rises. When this happens, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin to lower the blood sugar levels.
One of the many drawbacks of this happening excessively is, along with putting you at risk for diabetes, the body also holds onto stored body fat! A balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats works most efficiently in losing fat and gaining lean tissue. However, this too becomes tricky, because each of us tends to respond best to certain dietary programs. You may experience great success with our Atkins plan, or The Zone, possibly our own eDiets nutrition program. Some of our members have experienced good success with one program only to change programs and experience even greater success due to the ratio change!
5. Muscle weighs more than fat. FALSE!
If I place one pound of muscle on a scale and one pound of fat on a scale, they will both weigh one pound. The difference is in total volume! One pound of muscle may appear to be the size of a baseball; one pound of fat will be three times the size and look like a squiggly bowl JELL-O.
6. There is one perfect workout routine. FALSE!
There is no “best and only way” to workout. I receive a multitude of questions concerning what is the best cardio machine, the best exercise tape, the best routine to work the butt and so on. In reality, it’s all good if it works for you, but you don’t want to stay with any of it for too long. The body will adapt to any exercise routine in 4-6 weeks and the mind will experience boredom if you stay with the same routine for too long of a time. Vary volume of sets, time between sets, reps, exercises, cardio, dance tapes, videos, etc. Manipulate your routine every 3-4 weeks and view CHANGE as the key constant that will lead you to success.
7. The best way to lose fat is to eat very few calories. FALSE!
Always consider your body from the inside out. Your body’s main objective is to survive. It doesn’t care if you want to lose body fat. In fact, it would prefer to increase fat in case of famine. Internally, the body has no idea that it’s the year 2003. It could still be 10,000 years ago for all it cares. Survival is its number one objective.
If you eat very little (less than 1,200 calories), the body perceives an emergency and will accommodate you by holding onto stored body fat. As well it should, because it has no idea when it will be fed again. If you’re an eDiets member, you know exactly what Im talking about and are enjoying your fat loss without starving yourself.
8. The best way to reduce the hips, glutes or abs is to perform exercise to isolate the area. FALSE!
It is physiologically impossible to spot reduce. You can’t lose only in one area of the body because body fat comes off all over the body. Typically, the first place you tend to gain is the last place you lose. Doesn’t Mother Nature have a wonderful sense of humor? Again, the route to success for those stubborn hips is resistance exercise, cardio and supplemental nutrition.
9. The best way to lose fat is to eat a lot of calories. FALSE!
Just as you don’t want to eat too little, you don’t want to eat too much. Duhh! I know this is a no-brainer, but the big message in the nutrition and personal training world today is that most people need to eat more to stimulate the metabolism. The truth is you need the CORRECT AMOUNT of total calories to lose body fat, not simply more food!
10. The infomercial that has that cool looking, easy-to-use abdominal machine will help me to get a flat stomach. FALSE!
If you only knew how much those late-night infomercials frustrate me! The infomercials barely mention nutrition when attempting to sell their miracle ab machine of the month. Nutrition is a huge component of attaining a flatter stomach! Why do you think eDiets has a plethora of nutrition programs to get you to your goal? Because it works! The key to a flatter stomach is proper nutrition, resistance exercise to increase muscle tissue and cardiovascular exercise to burn additional calories. Sensing a theme here? Its all about balance and consistency.
I hope you find these points helpful. Now that you have some newly found knowledge just remember to bite your tongue when someone spouts out a fitness fallacy. With tact and patience, share your knowledge and help spread the word.