Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Send RunnerDude Your "My First Marathon" Stories and Win!

There's nothing like that first marathon experience. It's an overwhelming emotional experience that stays with you a lifetime. Some runners overcome huge life obstacles to run that first 26.2 miles. Some run for a cause. Others do it for mental or physical health reasons. Young, old, and in between, there are thousands of new marathoners each year.

My first marathon was the '97 NYC Marathon. Just after crossing that finish line, I began to ball my eyes out. It was uncontrollable. The sense of accomplishment not to mentioned the shear exhaustion and rush of hormones just overwhelmed me. What happened to you on your first marathon. What prompted you to run it?

RunnerDude's Blog is looking for "First Marathon" stories!

Each submitter will receive a RunnerDude's Fitness 26.2 oval car magnet and will be entered into a drawing for a $100 RunningWarehouse.com gift certificate in December! To have your story featured, simply email it to runnerdudeblog@yahoo.com. Be sure to put "Marathon Story" in the email's subject line. In the body of the email include your full name and mailing address, so that the marathon magnet can be sent to you. Also, if possible, include photos of yourself at your marathon as well as any current pictures (jpeg format).

Beginning in September (depending on the number of submissions), "My First Marathon" stories will be featured weekly. You'll be notified when your story is featured. All submissions featured by December 23rd will be numbered in the order received and entered into a drawing for the $100 Gift Certificate. The True Random Number Generator will be used to select the winning number who will be announced on the blog on December 24th.

Click here to check out some of the past "My First Marathon" stories featured on RunnerDude's Blog.

Heat, Heat, Go Away! Don't Come Back Another Day!

Most of the Central part of the country and South, and many other parts of the US have been experiencing a tremendous heatwave the past few weeks. Heat can really take it's toll on a runner, especially for runners who are in training for their upcoming fall marathons. The only saving grace is knowing that in the fall, when the temperatures drop, they'll feel faster and stronger. But what's a runner to do in the mean time?

Well the first thing is good hydration. Be sure to drink throughout the day, the day before a long run. Be careful not to over hydrate and risk flushing out your electrolytes. Drinking moderate amounts of water throughout the day and eating something salty like pretzels works well or just ingesting one sports drink during the day before along with the drinking water throughout the day will help prevent depleting those vital macronutrients. If you don't want the added calories, plop in an electrolyte tablet into one of your servings of water.

The morning of (about 1.5 hrs before the run), be sure to get in at least 20oz of water. Drink water throughout the run up until about 45-60 minutes. Then begin using sports drink in order to help replace vital electrolytes (mainly sodium and potassium) needed to ensure good hydration and keep muscle cramps at bay.

Secondly, slow down. You will anyway, so you might as well not fight it. And no, you're not being a weenie when you slow down due to the heat. There's a physiological explanation. Even if you're running in mild temperatures (say around 60 degrees your core temp will begin to increase as your body "warms up." One way your body works to cool itself is to send more blood into the tiny blood vessels of the skin (the capillaries). Well, as you already know, your body has a certain amount of blood, so when it sends more blood to one area of the body, that means it decreases the amount in other areas of the body. In this case, when more blood moves to the skin, less is available in the working muscles. Less blood in the working muscles means less oxygen getting to the mitochondria in the muscle tissue where it's used in the energy-making process. Not only does that mean less oxygenated blood getting to the muscle, it means less blood available to carry away the waste products of the energy production (i.e., lactate). This combination spells fatigue and you begin to slow down. 

In the those milder temps, not as much blood is diverted, so you don't really see much of a difference. But as the temp climbs to the top of that thermometer, your body works harder and harder to cool itself off, and less and less blood is sent to the muscle. It's like a salmon swimming upstream. No matter how hard you try to "pick-it-up" your body just begins to peter out.

When running in the heat, you need to adjust your pacing expectations, especially in a race. If your race falls on a 90degree day, a PR probably isn't going to happen. Doesn't mean you can't run, just means, you have to "keep it real." Your life is more important than that PR. Olympian and running expert, Jeff Galloway provides an Adjusting Race Pace for Heat chart. He'll be the first to tell you that this chart isn't based on scientific research, but rather his own personal experience as well as his experience coaching hundreds of runners.

Adjusting Race Pace for Heat
Example: Normal Race Pace =  8:00
55-60 degrees – 1% – 8:05
60-65 degrees – 3% – 8:15
65-70 degrees – 5% – 8:25
70-75 degrees – 7% – 8:35
75-80 degrees – 12% – 8:58
80-85 degrees – 20% – 9:35
Above 85 degrees – Forget it… run for fun 

Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke are three heat-related illnesses that can effect runners.  Below is a description of each along with what to do for each condition (reference: Marathon.com).
Causes: Loss of electrolytes and accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles.
Muscle cramps and/or spasms, heavy sweating, normal body temperature.
Treatment: Drink water and sports drink, slow down, massage affected area.
Causes: Intense exercise in a hot, humid condition and loss of electrolytes.
Conditions: Profuse sweating, possible drop in blood pressure (less than 90 systolic, the top number), normal or slightly elevated body temperature, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, decreased coordination, possible fainting.
Treatment: Rest in a cool place, drink water and sports drink, if BP drops below 90 systolic, call EMS, avoid activity for at least 24 hours, refrain from running or exercising in the heat for at least one week.
This is a medical emergency!
Causes: Intense exercise in a hot, humid condition, older age, dehydration, obesity, wearing heavy clothing, running in the heat when you have an infection or fever, certain drugs such as amphetamines, diuretics, beta blockers, cardiovascular disease, poor acclimatization, high blood pressure.
Conditions: High body temperature (106 or higher), lack of sweating characterized by dry, red skin, altered consciousness.
Treatment: Call EMS! Rest in a cool place, remove clothing to expose skin to air, apply ice packs or cool water to groin, underarms, neck (stop if shivering).

Monday, July 9, 2012

10 Tips for Running Your Strongest Marathon

There are probably as many different ways to train for a marathon as there are runners. No one training plan is the "right" plan. High-mileage plans work great for some runners while plans with lower mileage that incorporate some speed workouts work better for others. Group training works for many, while others like to run solo. My philosophy is as long as you're "running smart" meaning you're in tune with your body (physically and mentally) then whatever methodology you choose should get you across that finish line. In working with many different types of runners, I have discovered some basic marathon training principles that will help you cross that finish line strong no matter what approach you take.

1. High Mileage or Quality Run, but not both. Some plans call for high mileage weeks for most of the training. Other plans pull back on the weekday mileage and incorporate what I like to call quality runs (i.e., intervals, hill repeats, tempo runs, etc.). Either approach is valid, but mixing the two can often spell injury for many runners. It's hard for the body to put in high mileage week after week as well as the quality workouts. The majority of the runners I've counseled and/or trained who have been injured during the course of marathon training, have been trying to get the best of both worlds.  Pick one method and stick with it.

2. Pull Back and Build. One of the hardest things for established runners to do when starting marathon training is to pull back on their mileage (both total weekly and the long run). If you're already doing 16-mile long runs and logging 40-mile weeks, there's really not much room for you to build and grow. Your body will love you if you ease off the overall mileage and weekly long run mileage allowing you to heal,  gradually building endurance, mileage, and pace over the course of the training. Increase your weekly mileage by about 10% each week putting most of the increased mileage in your weekly long run while keeping the weekday mileage about the same each week.

3. Build-Up. Drop-Back. A great way to allow your body healing time is to insert some "drop-back" weeks into your training. Divide your training into thirds. When you reach the end of the first third of your training, drop back your long run by several miles. For example, if your longest run in the first third is 15 miles, then run 10-miles for your long run in the drop-back week. The week following the drop-back week, run 16 mile for your long run and continue to build until the end of the 2nd third. You'll probably have gotten to your 20-miler, so try dropping back to 15 miles for the 2nd drop-back week. The taper (see #10) is the last drop-back. This build-up and drop-back approach is not only a great way for your body to recoup, it's also a great mental break from the hard training. My runners relish the drop-back weeks.

4.  REST! Some runners think they're being a whimp if they take a rest day. Or they think that somehow they're going to lose some ground. Nothing could be further from the truth. One or two rest days during your training week is vital and as equally important as your run days. If you don't allow the body some days to rest and repair, you'll risk overtraining and increase your chance of injury.

To Read the Remaining Tips go to Active.com.