*Most important rule of thumb: never do anything new on race day. That includes shoes, apparel, what you eat and drink. You will use the long runs to practice what you wear, what you eat for breakfast, what you eat (energy gels) during the run.
*Shoes: Most shoes can last for about 350-500 miles. Keep track of your mileage (even put a date on them with a marker) or better yet, use the Training log to log in what shoes you wear. Then you can go to the Shoe heading, click on that and see your mileage to date. Buy a new pair of shoes before you start having problems. Don’t wear cotton socks as they can cause blisters on long runs. Wear coolmax socks or some other technical fiber. None of the socks at RunTex are cotton, so you are safe to buy any sock from them. Buy a new pair of shoes about 6 weeks before your marathon. Do a few short runs in them and one long run. Put them aside as your marathon/post marathon shoes.
*Apparel: Sweat evaporating off your skin keeps your body cool and from overheating. Cotton is a fiber that absorbs but doesn’t dry effectively. Also cotton is a rough fiber which can lead to chafing. Wear coolmax apparel. Apparel with this fiber (or an equivalent) will absorb sweat but wick it away allowing your body to dry effectively. Also, coolmax is a smoother fiber which will cause less problems with chafing. Use Bodyglide on areas where you experience chafing to lessen or eliminate the problem on future runs. Men: you have another issue to deal with: chafing on nipples. Use bandaids, bodyglide or Nipguards.
When you dress, consider the 20 degree rule: once you starting running and your body warms up, it will feel like it is 20 degrees warmer out. In summer think about dressing minimally in order to let the sweat adequately evaporate off your skin. In winter you want to be chilly before you start running, otherwise you have overdressed. I use the 50 degree rule: if it is over 50 I wear shorts and a short-sleeve shirt. Under 50, I wear long sleeve and tights.
*Nutrition: After 1.5 hours to 2 hours of running, the body runs out of glycogen (carbs). When our runs get longer than this we will start trying gel products such as Clif shots, GU, Powergel, etc. You’ll want to take one after about an hour, and then one every half hour after this. Between now & then however, we want to teach your body how to utilize its fat burning system as efficently as possible A quick understanding of basic endurance nutrition is helpful. Your body operates on 2 fuels: Sugars & Fats. At some point (which is different for everyone but basically hits after 2 hours of running) in your run you switch from burning sugars to burning fats. Sugars burn like rocket fuel, efficient & fast. Fats burn like tallow, less efficiently but for a long, long time. The transition from your sugar system to your fat system is a difficult one. & because we don't run a lot of runs long enough to practice this transition, it feel like you are dying a slow horrible death. UNTIL you get used to burning these fat fuels more effeciently.
If you have stomach issues when trying energy gels, try Hammergel. It is the only one (or one of the few) that dont have fructose. Some people do not digest fructose well while running.
There are many ways to carry these packets. You can put them in a pocket. Or pin to the outside of your running shorts and flip it to the inside. Be sure to use body glide there! In cold weather your body temp will keep the gel fluid and easier to swallow. Or you can use a gel flask. Empty the packets into the flask and add some water to make them even easier to swallow. The other good thing about the flask is that you avoid the difficulties of trying to open the packet while running or racing , which can be difficult with sweaty hands!
That is where limiting you sugar intake during long runs comes in. It help you practice the transional dip between sugar burning & fat burning.
On our LAB runs & longer runs, you will want to take gels as described above. This is to practice utilizing these gels, getting your stomach accustomed to the sugar shot, deciding what works best by brand & flavor, & being armed & ready to have your cells well fueled. But on our long runs I really recommend getting of the sugar train. This will aid you greatly in the inevitable transion that throws most people off their game plan late in their marathon. Critical to practice this before race day to make sure your stomach tolerates these well.
Also another good practice is eating breakfast before you run. Start experimenting now with what works for you. For example, oatmeal, toast, banana, apple juice, etc.
Now is the time to eat healthy: less processed foods, salads a few times a week, a daily multivitamin. You’ll find yourself getting more hungry as the mileage increases. Eat what you crave, within reason.
For info on nutrition, read Sports Nutrition Guidebook by Nancy Clark, available online at Amazon). She wrote this specifically for marathoners and triathletes. Also, a great website to check out is www.thedietchannel.com.
*Hydration: Get the habit now of drinking a cup of water before you start running. You will want to do that race day. We’ll have water/Powerade stops for you every 3 miles on our long runs. During the long runs you'll need the electrolytes and the sugars from a sports drink like Powerade. On the trail runs you’ll have the water fountains. You might consider carrying your own water on the long runs so you can drink when you want to. Drink about a gallon of water each day, and especially for the 2 days before the long runs and races. Also drink a sports drink for the electrolytes. Electromix (available at Whole Foods is a good choice as it has electrolytes but no calories. It is critical in the summer to stay well hydrated. If you are well hydrated in the days before the long run, you shouldnt feel dehydated during the run.
*Recovery: is important in order to feel better in the days following a long or hard workout. But also you’ll feel better and have a more quality workout on your next run. Consider the following after the Saturday long run and quality workout:
Hydrate: your muscles will feel better when they have adequate fluids back in them. Water, powerade, Electromix by Alacer (Whole Foods or online) are all good choices.
Stretch: you know this already!
Carbs: your muscles are like sponges after a run needing more glycogen. Drink a sports drink within 15 min to replenish. Eat as soon as you can. Pancakes at Magnolia!
Protein: repairs the muscular and soft tissue damage you did on that hard or long run. Studies are now saying protein within 1/2 hour is the most effective. Have scrambled eggs with those pancakes at Magnolia! Also, have a sportss drink with protein immediately (within 15 min). My favorite is HEB Healthy shake or Slimfast.
Ice bath: Get into a tub of cold water and add ice. You’ll want the water temp to be about 60 degrees. In summer even a bag of ice melts pretty fast so you may need to add even more. Or go to Barton Springs Pool. It is 70 degrees, but even that will help recovery. Stay in for 10 - 20 min. Or instead of an ice bath, take a hot bath and add 2 cups of epsum salts.
Massage: can really help work out the lactic acid and other buildup, loosen up muscles that are too tight, and identify problems you might be having. Get “homework” from the massage therapist if you are having any issues or problems. Get a massage on a regular basis when marathon training.
*Long runs: Will be done at an easy pace, one which you can carry on a full conversation. As the runs get longer, start out even slower to get those muscles warmed up for the first couple of miles. Then you can pick it up to your regular easy long run pace. If you get towards the end of a long run and are starting to feel a little stiff or sore, put up the pace a tiny bit. That faster pace will alter your form enough that you will use your muscles slightly differently and you should feel better. Do it for a short distance or until the end of the run. Also if you are starting to feel a little stiff and sore do not stand around at water stops for too long. Walk around as you are drinking your water so that you do not start stiffening up.
As your mileage increases and you run further than you have before it is normal to feel new aches and pains. If something hurts while you start running and the pain doesn’t go away as your muscles warm up, then stop running. If you try to run through the pain, you might start compensating by changing your form, and that can lead to further injury. If something hurts for more than 4 days, seek medical help.
You may find yourself more tired as the mileage increases. Try to get extra sleep at nite.