Vancouver loves to hit the trails and seawall as soon as the clouds be gone, so we the inside scoop on what makes your body ready for the upcoming marathons this spring / summer.
Fitness Expert| Nastasia Genova (VP of Fitness at Steve Nash Fitness Clubs)
4 Cross Training Is Crucial
It’s so important to incorporate cross training into your exercise program when training for a marathon. The reason for this is threefold:
Cross training allows you to strengthen different parts of your body to prevent muscle imbalance and risk of injury. Great cross training exercises to prevent injury include flexibility exercises like yoga, to help keep your muscles warm and flexible, and strength training like weight lifting to increase muscle bulk
Stronger legs = longer run stride. Exercises like squats, leg presses, and dumbbell lunges will help build the muscle mass necessary for long distance running. Exercise classes like pilates, yoga and barre will also do wonders to strengthen your core, giving you balance, stability, and overall control when you’re running
Switch things up
Let’s face it – running the same routes day after day can get boring. Switching up your cardio routine by integrating classes like group cycling will add a little more fun into your training and keep you motivated
3 Tailored Training
Regardless of whether you’re running a 10K or a marathon, your training program should focus on strength and cardio. But your training should also depend on your fitness level, as well as the type of run you’re preparing for. Beginner runners training for a 10K, for example, should place heavy emphasis on flexibility to warm up those muscles and prevent cramping and injury. Yoga, barre, and pilates are great classes to prepare your body for a run. More intermediate runners should focus on building strength and muscle mass to prepare for higher-intensity and longer runs. Running is a power movement, based on the impact of each foot hitting the ground. Building muscle mass involves lifting heavier weight for few reps and getting to a true level of fatigue. When we rest after a workout is when muscles actually repair and increase in size.
2 Consistency Is Key
Consistency is arguably the most important part of training for a marathon. Life is busy, and it’s easy to get sidetracked when you have a longer lead time to prepare. Working out with friends or attending group classes are great ways to stay motivated and give you extra incentive to work out on a day when you’re not feeling it. If you only have 5 minutes to fit in a workout, you’ll want to maximize exercises to work lots of larger muscles for the highest calorie burn. For a good balance of muscle groups, perform each exercise for 1 min:
- Squats/Jump Squats for cardio/power
- Hip raises (heels on Step or Bench)
- Reverse Step lunges (add dumbbells for either lateral raises or overhead press)
1 Chill Out
Cool-down exercises are important to prevent injury and soreness after a workout. Marathon training is very hard on the joints and lower body muscles. I would recommend focusing on stretching the calves, tibialis (muscles along the shins), quads, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. A gentle but athletic yoga practice to support alignment, balance and core strength is vital. Our class format called Joga is ideal for this type of training. If you’re dealing with soreness, a bit of a similar workout the next day tends to help the body recover faster. If it’s intense soreness/stiffness that is painful, then you probably over did it. Allow for 1-2 days rest but try an easy walk to continue to get blood flow to sore areas to enhance healing.
Nutrition Expert| Sarah Kasman (Registered Dietitian at Copeman Healthcare Centre)
3 Fuel The Fire
Imagine your body is a sports car. Fueling it with the wrong foods is like using 87 gas. You won’t be as efficient during a race, especially a long distance like a marathon or half-marathon. Most people forget that the adaptations to exercise don’t occur during the exercise session, but after it (when you are “recovering”). Thus, if you fuel properly when you aren’t exercise, you will be able to get the most out of your exercise sessions and see the biggest improvements. Fuel with the proper foods so you can get the most of out of your food, and your body will thank you for it.
2 All About The Balance
Have balanced meals to ensure you’re getting adequate nutrition and fuel. For most people, this means making:
- 50% of your plate produce (Examples include: fruits and vegetables – These foods are your vitamin and mineral backbone).
- 25% of your plate a high fibre starches (Examples include: quinoa, barley, squash – These foods provide energy for your brain and muscles).
- 25% of your plate a lean protein (Examples include: Chicken breast, tofu, eggs, plain greek yogurt – This is important to build and repair your muscles).
Along with keeping a balanced plate, timing when you eat is equally important. The closer you get to your run, the more you want to avoid foods that are high in fat/high in fibre as these are slow to digest and can cause your stomach to be upset. Carbohydrates are your #1 fuel source.
1 Pre, Mid, Post
Pre-workout considerations are based on when food is digested and when will the energy from our food be delivered to our muscles and brains for energy. Here is a rough guideline for timing and food considerations before a workout:
3-4 Hours Before: Regular Balanced Meal
1-2 Hours Before: Medium to Large Snack. Choose Carbohydrate + Protein OR Fat. 1 apple + 1 Tbsp of Peanut Butter
15-30 Minutes Before: Small Snack. Choose a LOW fibre carbohydrate. AVOID high fat. 1 fruit or a snack pack of applesauce
Make sure you are replacing essential nutrients (electrolytes and fluid) that are lost DURING your runs. Make sure you’re drinking lots of fluids, and if you sweat a lot consider an electrolyte replacement.
Post workout, you want to think – how is this food going to help replenish my carbohydrate stores, repair my muscle fibres (protein) and replace other fluid and electrolytes that have been lost? This can be accomplished with a meal or snack – for example: a tuna sandwich with 1 cup milk. If you have more than 8 hours between exercise sessions, you do not need to be aggressive with getting a post workout snack in. You can get the same recovery as long as you’re eating regularly and enough afterwards.