Tag Archives: marathon training

My marathon training

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Hills like this are a big part of my marathon training

Many people are curious about how I have been training. With a few minor changes this year, this is how I train for marathons: My marathon training

What I don’t do anymore are the ankle weights exercises, since they are no longer necessary. I also no longer do resistance band hip exercises. The exercises I did with the ankle weights were a holdover from many years ago when my doctor recommended them to help heal a knee injury. My knee would feel worse whenever I stopped doing them, but now it feels fine. I very occasionally do half squats.

This year, to help improve my speed and endurance and because I’m crazy, I’ve been doing more hill runs, with steeper hills and lots of repeats. I think this has really helped me improve my speed. Unlike last year, I also have a lot more 20+ mile runs under my belt(it’s a vegan belt), unlike the small handful I ran before the Yonkers Marathon last year. I also run more mileage generally compared to last year, usually a minimum of 40 miles per week. Besides this, the less I run, the more I juggle to stay in top form.

Everything else in that old post is still part of my training, though I don’t drink beet juice as often. It should go without saying that I am carb-loading(this is an understatement!) and still tapering.

Here I come Yonkers!

 

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10 Days Till Yonkers Marathon

IMG_199610 days to go until the Yonkers Marathon and I am very excited about it. And I got my first black toe. This is very common in distance runners, and it is rarely serious. It is no big deal and I hardly feel any pain around it. Other runners I’ve talked to tell me the best thing to do about it is to do nothing, unless it is very painful or blood starts coming out. It doesn’t interfere with my running at all.

This is what you can expect if you start running 30+ miles per week.

Dinner at Andy’s Pure Foods

IMG_1993After that 22 mile run yesterday up to Millwood yesterday, I needed some super-nourishment. So I eventually made my way down to Rye, New York and had an early dinner at Andy’s Pure Foods, which is located in the heart of Rye village on Purchase Street. No, I didn’t run there, I drove.

Andy’s Pure Foods specializes in fresh, organic vegan food. They have a very large selection of delicious legume based meals and fresh salads, and sandwiches, as well as fresh juices, smoothies, and even some vegan deserts. They also have many raw vegan meals.

I decided to have the butter beans with dolmades(stuffed grape leaves) and falafel. The dolmades are very fresh and tasty, almost as good as the ones my family makes. The falafel was delicious too. They have a lot of other Middle Eastern vegan food, like hummus, and various chickpea dishes and I can’t even remember the rest.

IMG_1989All in all, it was a fantastic recovery meal. I even think I could run today if I really wanted to, but my legs need a rest. I highly recommend Andy’s if you’re in the area.

The effect of probiotics on marathon runners

If you’ve been closely following my blog, you know I’m a big fan of probiotics. Or more like obsessed. Probiotics help establish and maintain healthy gut bacteria, which are good for digestion and may also help boost the immune system. My preferred source of probiotics is from fermented food like kimchi and kefir drinks, instead of supplements. I’ve long had a delicate digestive tract, and I believe probiotics have been a big help to me over the years. I believe the kefir I often drink probably helped prevent stomach pain when I was running around the Hudson Highlands just the other day. I sometimes get stomach pain during very strenuous exercise.

But what does the science say when it comes to probiotics as a means to prevent or treat digestive problems which often plague marathon runners? According to the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, in The effect of probiotics on respiratory infections and gastrointestinal symptoms during training in marathon runners:

Heavy exercise is associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections. Strenuous exercise also causes gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. In previous studies probiotics have reduced respiratory tract infections and GI symptoms in general populations including children, adults, and the elderly. These questions have not been studied in athletes before. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of probiotics on the number of healthy days, respiratory infections, and GI-symptom episodes in marathon runners in the summer. Marathon runners (N = 141) were recruited for a randomized, double-blind intervention study during which they received Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) or placebo for a 3-mo training period. At the end of the training period the subjects took part in a marathon race, after which they were followed up for 2 wk. The mean number of healthy days was 79.0 in the LGG group and 73.4 in the placebo group (P = 0.82). There were no differences in the number of respiratory infections or GI-symptom episodes. The duration of GI-symptom episodes in the LGG group was 2.9 vs. 4.3 d in the placebo group during the training period (P = 0.35) and 1.0 vs. 2.3 d, respectively, during the 2 wk after the marathon (P = 0.046). LGG had no effect on the incidence of respiratory infections or GI-symptom episodes in marathon runners, but it seemed to shorten the duration of GI-symptom episodes.

So the probiotics didn’t reduce the incidence of GI problems, but they seemed to shorten their duration. This is good enough for me!

See “New Speed Record Set Today” which is about the possibility of cherry kefir juice(all vegan) improving my running.

My marathon training

Here is what my marathon training consists of:

  • 1 long run per week of 15 to 20 miles
  • 2 moderately long runs of 10 to 12 miles
  • Short runs of 3.8 to 6 miles alternating with the longer run days

I aim to run a minimum of 30 miles per week.

I tend to run 4 to 5 days in a row, and then take a rest day which means I will just walk a little and do a lot of juggling as cross training. I alternate between long run days and short run days usually, to help rest my legs.

I do strength training for both my upper body and lower body, with much greater emphasis on my legs. I don’t want my upper body to become bulky so I keep it to a minimum, otherwise it slows me down as a runner. About once a week I do a complete upper body workout which consists of:

  • 2 sets of arm curls with resistance bands(usually 10 to 12 repetitions)
  • 2 sets of shoulder lifts with resistance bands(usually 7 to 9 repetitions)
  • 1 set of push-ups(I usually do between 30 to 34)
  • Juggle 3 very heavy balls(2.25 lbs) for several minutes until I can’t do it anymore

I tend to do this workout after runs(later in the day, not immediately after) since I want my body to build endurance for long runs rather than emphasize upper body muscle growth. Doing this before would emphasize muscle growth and may compromise my endurance level. I do an abbreviated version of this workout a few days after this which consists of just push-ups and heavy ball juggling. This workout allows me to juggle for hours on end. Here is some of my equipment – Iron Juggling.

My lower body/legs strength training regimen is even more important. I do this 2 to 3 times a week(rarely on the same day as upper body strength training). I tend to do this before I go out for a run(and refueling first if doing the run right after), and only on days when I do short runs. This helps build muscle for endurance runs, and to help rebuild muscle the days after very long runs.

This consists of:

  • 4 sets of leg lifts with ankle weights, I usually do about 20 lifts
  • 3 sets of this type of standing hip exercise using resistance bands(very important for hills). I do about 10 to 15 usually.
  • 1 set of bicycle crunches to build ab strength
  • 3 sets of jumping squats to build explosiveness and leg strength

On some days I will run on mostly hilly terrain during my long runs to train for the notoriously hilly Yonkers Marathon. Some good research indicates that the body can either build cardio endurance or strength for the day, but not both. They are in conflict, but not as bad as some people may think it is. So endurance runners should strength train their upper body after runs, not before. It’s fine to do leg strength training first though to build leg muscle, at least that is how my body works.

I do no stretching, except for the occasional back stretch on an exercise ball. I’ve seen no convincing studies indicating that stretching is beneficial.

If you have any questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you.

2 tips to improve running performance

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I hope all my fellow fitness fanatics are having a terrific and healthy summer! I just got back from a 25.5 mile(41 km) run(a new personal record), so I am a little tired, though not as tired as I thought I would be. It took me 4 hours and 58 minutes to complete. I am sure I would have done better had the weather been less hot and humid and I had bothered to refuel with carbs half-way through(I just had water).

I wanted to experiment, to see how I would do without refueling(which is what I usually do on long runs), even while running farther than ever. I admit that an 11 min, 41 second pace is nothing to brag about, even while juggling the whole way. You’re all probably wondering why I didn’t just run 26.2 miles, the marathon distance. I came so close to doing it, and mistakenly believed I had(I wasn’t thinking clearly near the end and miscalculated, not to mention how sore my legs were), but after maping out my run when I got home, I realized I had run just 25.5 miles. There’s always a next time…

To get back on topic: As I am sure you all know, I love to dig through the scientific literature to find things we can do to improve our fitness level. Among many other things I’ve recently found, I came upon some interesting new research on improving running speed. This comes from Harvard University, Bedford, Massachusetts, Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements:

We conclude that human runners reach faster top speeds not by repositioning their limbs more rapidly in the air, but by applying greater support forces to the ground.

So I will try to remember not to lift my legs as much during runs. Although it doesn’t say so, I believe longer strides tend to increase the risk of injury too.

In other research, it appears that eating beets, which are rich in nitrates(its not a good idea to get nitrates from non-vegetable sources, they can be unhealthy), can help improve running performance too. Saint Louis University has found that:

Consumption of nitrate-rich, whole beetroot improves running performance in healthy adults. Because whole vegetables have been shown to have health benefits, whereas nitrates from other sources may have detrimental health effects, it would be prudent for individuals seeking performance benefits to obtain nitrates from whole vegetables, such as beetroot.

Taken from “Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance.”

Copyright © 2012 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Although I have previously posted about beets improving running performance, that concerned beet juice, not whole beets: Can beet juice improve athletic performance? It’s nice to see that the whole vegetable has the same effect. I’ll be eating more of them from now on.