Get a head start on marathon training

So you have decided to run in the
Cayman Islands Marathon.

Congratulations! Now it is time to
get training. Whether you are doing the relay, half-marathon, or braving the
full 26.2-mile marathon, starting a training program can often be intimidating.

Training properly and staying as
fit and healthy as possible for race day is a top priority, and formulating the
right plan is key.

Following an appropriate training
schedule for your runs, incorporating stretching, keeping your core strong and
nutrition/hydration issues are all things you need to think about. If you pay
attention to these factors you will be well on your way to running a successful
and satisfying race.

To begin

When training for a race, having an
appropriate schedule for your fitness level and running level is important. You
want to increase your mileage by a safe amount 
(no more than 10 per cent) each week to avoid injury or burn out.  Other important aspects of fitness, such as
flexibility, core strength and nutrition/hydration, are also key to your
race-day success.

Staying flexible by stretching
offers many benefits to a runner. It helps prevent muscular aches, pains and
cramping and reduces the possibility of muscular soreness/fatigue over the next
day. It also decreases the possibility of causing a muscular injury and increases
the muscles’ efficiency of movement by improving overall speed, stamina and
form. This is achieved by enhancing the ability of muscles to contract more powerfully
and economically, increases stride length and improves overall form. An added
bonus- it helps you relax.

The best way to get your stretching
is to make it part of your run. Your workout isn’t over until you stretch
thoroughly following your run. Your legs will be most receptive to the benefits
of stretching immediately after your run while your muscles are still warm.

Core strength

The ‘core’ refers to the muscles of
your torso that help you maintain your posture, whether you are running,
standing, or sitting. Having strong abdominal and lower back muscles will help
combat fatigue during the marathon and during long training runs.  Having a strong core can really improve your
running performance. First, it helps alleviate the pressure on the lower back
by stabilizing the midsection of your body. Second, having strong oblique muscles
(the ones that are responsible for twisting) helps to hold the body in a
forward position so that you don’t waste energy moving from side to side.

Strong core muscles provide you
with a strong base and are key in supporting a strong and enduring stride. And
finally, strong core musculature aids in keeping the spine erect and supported
during the high impact on the body that running creates.

Without strong core muscles your
stride will be weak and lack endurance.

Improving core strength will let
you to run for longer without suffering from fatigue and will also decrease
your risk of suffering an injury. Improving the strength of your core muscles
will involve some time and effort, but fortunately it does not require any
heavy weight work, an activity such as Pilates is very effective in achieving
this goal.

Below is a summary of some direct
benefits of core strength:

Improved balance: Balance is an
important factor for a runner in all situations, but especially when running
off-road.

Better posture: The core muscles
play a major role in improving posture, which in turn will improve your running
technique, which will in turn further reduce the chance of injury.

Improved efficiency: you will be
more comfortable with your stride and more efficient, which means you will
increase your endurance potential and not get so tired.

Increased stability: A more stable
frame will result in less wear and tear on muscles, further reducing injury
risk.

Hydration/Nutrition

Staying hydrated (especially in the
heat and humidity of the Cayman Islands) and getting the proper nutrition is
key to a successful race and injury-free training. As a guideline, you can
drink 16-24 ounces of water up to an hour before you run and 6 to 8 ounces of
fluid for every 20 minutes of your run. If you wait until you feel thirsty, it
is too late — your body is already dehydrated. If you run dehydrated you will
lack the energy and stamina to finish and run the risk of heat-related
illnesses.

If you are doing a long run or race
(more than 8 to 10 miles, or over 90 minutes), it is important to make sure you
are well-hydrated during the days leading up to your run. With workouts over 90
minutes, some of your fluid intake should include a sports drink to replace
lost sodium and other minerals.

Nutrition is important to ensure
you have the proper energy to finish your race or training run. Especially when
you get into runs of an hour or more, having enough fuel in your body to carry
through is so important. Eating sufficient amount of carbohydrates (approximately
65 per cent of your daily calories) will help keep you moving. Make sure your
carbohydrates come from nutritional sources like pasta, rice and vegetables, not
deep-fried foods or snacks like donuts, cookies, etc. 

If you keep yourself properly
hydrated, eat a well-balanced, healthy diet, and stay flexible and strong
through your core, you will be setting yourself up for an enjoyable running
training and race experience.

So what are you waiting for? Get
running!

Deanna Smith is a Pilates Instructor and Exercise Physiologist at
ENERGY. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 946-6006

FEATMarathontrainingSTORY

Proper training is key to successful road races.
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