There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of running a marathon. Cheering crowds, the blood pumping in your ears, and adrenaline coursing through your veins as you race to the finish line.
Those few hours are a testament to the weeks and months of training and hard work you put in before the BIG DAY!
It’s not surprising that 1.1 million runners complete a marathon each year. However, according to data from the International Institute for Race Medicine (ref. link) (IIRM), only 0.01 per cent of the world’s population routinely takes up this running challenge.
Marathon training workouts are notoriously challenging, but those who compete have several motivators to push them. Whether you are running for charity, to keep up your health goals or simply because you love running, the thrill of the challenge and the personal victory from achieving such a high goal can certainly inspire marathon runners to push through the pain!
As marathon season kicks off this year, here are a few tips to boost your performance.
As race day gets closer and closer, the miles start piling up. The long runs get longer each day and nervousness sets in. No matter how confident you are in your marathon training, you may ask yourself – Am I ready? Have I done enough?
Runners know that getting ready for a race takes more than just marathon training and strength training. When working towards crushing your goals, it’s equally important to develop a running mindset alongside completing your endurance and marathon strength training! Mental toughness in fitness (ref. link) needs the right mindset and strategy to stay focused and relaxed to get the most out of your marathon workouts.
It is perfectly natural to feel nervous before and during a big race. Runners have been known to lose steam even midway through a race. However, a 2014 study showed that self-talk keeps exhaustion at bay while motivating you to push forward and boosting your endurance.
Whilst you may feel the drive to push through any pain, don’t forget to listen to your body. Look out for any injuries sustained and make sure that they’re treated immediately to avoid further damage. The RICE method (ref. link) is a popular, go-to approach because of its simplicity.
Rest: First, take the weight off the injury by sitting or lying down.
Ice: Apply the ice for at least 15 minutes (maximum 20 minutes) and then leave it at least 45 minutes before re-applying to avoid any chance of frostbite. Do this about 5 times throughout the day.
Compression: Compress the area using an elastic bandage, wrapped tightly enough to provide support but not limit movement.
Elevation: Raise the injured limb above heart level to reduce the swelling.
In the week leading up to a race, tweak your marathon training schedule to decrease your running volume so that you prep your body before the big day. Studies have shown that when runners taper or reduce their training load in the weeks before race day, it helps them recover from the weeks of high-volume, high-intensity training used to enhance performance during the race itself.
Sleep is an important factor for recovery at any time in your marathon training plan, but it should be prioritised even more during the week before race day. Try and get at least 8 hours of sound sleep every night.
Studies show that during intense, continuous endurance exercise, the glycogen or energy stored in your muscles is depleted after about 90 minutes. Carb-loading involves eating more carbs at every meal and snacks 5-7 days before your race so that your muscles have plenty of energy stored on race day. Then, on race day, try and eat an easily digestible meal high in carbs and low in fibre.
Although regular exercise contributes to many well-established long-term health benefits, vigorous exercise is also associated with a transient increase in the risk of heart events. Studies conducted by the American Heart Association (ref. link) evaluated the rate at which cardiac events occurred during high-intensity exercises like marathons. They showed that 50% of these events took place in the last mile of the race, and among participants in triathlons, almost 40% of cardiac events occurred in first-time participants. During training for high-intensity,multi-hour endurance exercises like marathons, individuals may often experience cardiac strain. Their heart enzymes like troponin and B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) are elevated and they may have patchy myocardial fibrosis. This sustained load may lead to remodelling of the heart, instigating cardiac conditions like arrhythmias. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of marathon heart damage.
This year, it is especially important to keep an eye on your heart when returning to Marathon training, because covid induced myocarditis, and myocarditis as an adverse reaction to covid vaccines, may have lingering effects on the health and performance of even seasoned marathon runners.
Running is an exercise that is known to give lasting cardiovascular benefits. However, you will need to determine your target heart rate for running, especially a marathon, based on your age and maximum heart rate. When running a marathon you should train at up to 85% of your maximum heart rate.
Research shows that running lowers blood pressure and improves metabolism. As per the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a positive connection between heart health and running was established among the study participants based on data from 55,000 adults over 15 years. Running has proven to be a heart-healthy activity for most people.
*The information contained in this blog is provided on an as-is basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy or usefulness. The content in this blog is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is meant for informational purposes only. This blog contains copyright material, the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner.
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