BENGALURU: For most runners, running a marathon is a desired personal challenge. You might want to test your limits and prove that you can go the distance. Running a marathon has become very popular today. It serves as a great form of exercise and is a display of resilience.
Running a marathon cannot be achieved over night and requires a fair amount of training. The key to successful marathon training is consistently putting in enough weekly mileage to get your body accustomed to running for long period of time.
The most important part of your training is a weekly long run at an easy “conversational” pace that gradually increases in distance, week over week, to build your strength and endurance. Spending the extra time on your feet helps prepare your muscles, joints, bones, heart, lungs, and brain for going 21 km on the race day.
Stay Hydrated and eat healthy
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you’re hydrating properly, your urine should be light yellow. You can also have one sports drink to make sure you’re getting some extra electrolytes. Avoid alcoholic beverages because they have a dehydrating effect, and they’ll interfere with your sleep. Plus, it’s not a good idea to run with a hangover. You should eat a relatively high carbohydrate diet and stay well-hydrated during the day. If your race starts early the next morning, avoid having your main meal late in the evening. For example, for a 6 a.m. marathon start, you should eat your main meal by about 8 p.m., so there’s plenty of time to digest your meal and have a good night’s sleep
Be fit and train right
“Staying healthy” is the most important piece of marathon training advice, and the most often ignored. It does you no good to train hard, and then get sick or injured. It is always better to be slightly undertrained, but feeling strong and eager, than to be overstrained. The trick, of course, is finding that fine line between the two. Beware of over exercising. Too much running combined with inadequate nutrition can actually cause you to lose bone. Female runners who over train may stop menstruating, increasing their risk of osteoporosis. Performing weight-bearing exercises that include running can lead to significant increases in your bone density. However, if you run too much, you can actually decrease your bones’ mineral content and increase your health risks.
What if you cannot sleep before running a marathon?
Don’t worry if you can’t sleep the night before your marathon; most people do not sleep well the night before. One sleepless night is very unlikely to hurt your performance. Two nights before your race is the most important night of rest. The excitement and adrenaline rush from race day will give you enough energy for your race.
Keep yourself relaxed a day before the race
It’s highly recommended to stay positive and motivated for the big day. Keep yourself engaged in some light activity and stretches to avoid any pre- race anxiety. Envision yourself on the course. Adequate rest helps prevent injuries and mental burnout.
Focus on recovery
Never indulge in hard-core training a week before the marathon. You have to train smart i.e. running three to four times on the week of marathon can give a runner better results than running on all days.
The author is a consultant orthopedic surgeon at Apollo Hospital