Off to the Races
Proper Marathon Training Breeds Race-day Success
March 1, 2008
Kent Landvatter, president of Goldman Sachs Bank in Salt Lake City, has run more than 20 marathons. He usually runs five miles three or four times weekly before work. Depending on his stage of training for his next marathon, his weekend run ranges from 10 to 24 miles. He has run all of the Utah marathons and three marathons in New York City.
“It’s very therapeutic and gives me time to think and be introspective, besides getting me in good physical shape,” says Landvatter. “On days when I don’t run or go to the gym, I’m just not as sharp.”
Just as Landvatter established a continuing training regimen, Guy Perry, owner of Salt Lake Running Company, helps potential runners realize that running a first marathon requires prior training that could last several months. He suggests that people who are new to the sport of running spend the first month in a program where they exercise 30 minutes a day for the first 30 days. This program, detailed on saltlakerunningco.com, includes a combination of walking and running. “It is important for people who are new to running to start slowly and build week by week, giving the body time to adjust,” Perry explains. “More experienced runners are free to join in when the program matches their current level of training and fitness.”
For people who are already running three days a week on a treadmill, Perry advises a 20-to-25 week marathon training program that can guide them through the process of teaching the body to acclimate to the demands of running a marathon’s 26.2 miles. He says that the most common mistake is to run the marathon without proper training. “As teens we can sometimes get away with that, but we need to be savvier with our bodies as we age.”
Not for the Faint of Heart
After age 35, changing hormone and chemistry levels in the body need to be considered. To remain injury-free, Perry suggests three to four days a week of running combined with two to three days of cross training, such as swimming or any other exercise that increases the heart and respiratory rate.
Along with training, diet is a key factor to achieve optimum strength, fitness and health, explains Debbie Perry, a certified sports nutrition adviser. “All day, every day, a runner should eat the highest quality food available,” she says. “The focus should be on high quality, low fat protein combined with a lot of fresh produce. Whole grains in limited quantity are okay, too.” She adds that a runner should consider replacing all fluids with water. “The occasional fresh squeezed juice is okay.”
When running long distances, runners’ energy requirements increase 10 to 20 times above resting values. “As a runner, you damage your body at the cellular level due to oxidation and muscle trauma,” explains Perry. “Within 30 minutes after running, beginning runners should focus on eating enough carbohydrates to restore energy to the muscle tissue.” She adds that they may consider eating again within 90 minutes after running. “Eating too many carbs too many hours later will cause a person to store the carbs as fat,” Perry explains. “After proper refueling, the runner is ready to again focus on lean protein and fresh produce. A marathon for most people is not about how long you can go without eating, but how much you can eat while you run.”
Getting in Gear
Beyond training and proper diet, the best basis for injury prevention is to choose a properly fitting shoe, says Guy Perry. He explains that the correct shoe should not only fit lengthwise but also offer the right support for a runner’s gait. He suggests biomechanical analysis – a process in which a videotape is made of a runner’s feet running on a treadmill for several seconds to observe where support is needed and to help determine the right shoe to ensure comfort and reduce the risk of injury.
Perry explains that cotton T-shirts, socks and shorts become heavy during exercise, because they absorb perspiration and can cause chafing. He recommends CoolMax fabrics – specifically woven polyester fabrics –
that do not trap moisture, making the runner more comfortable.
Along with the satisfaction of completing the marathon, becoming physically fit is an important side benefit, says Perry. “From simple strength training to aerobic exercise, exercise is medicine, in a world where pharmaceutical companies seem to be taking control.”
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