Long Run Preparation And Recovery

Posted: February 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

This stage of training for the Boston Marathon is undoubtedly the most difficult.  The increased mileage each week without a step-back week can cause doubt about your ability to handle the remainder of training.  However, we have a step back week to 13 miles coming up and the 3 week taper prior to the marathon allows your mind and body to recover for the marathon.

Feeling exhausted and having doubt shouldn’t cause excessive concern.  But managing both of these should be your primary focus.  It’s imperative that you fuel properly before, during and after your runs.  The meal the night before the long run should consist largely of complex carbohydrates (i.e., pasta, whole grain brown rice and bread, etc.) and the morning meal, which I prefer to have two hours prior to running,  is more of a balance of carbohydrates and protein (oatmeal, skim milk, bagel with peanut butter, banana, etc.).  Too many runners aren’t refueling properly during the long runs.  There are a wide variety of choices during the long runs that you should try in an effort to determine what’s best for you.  Too many runners wait until they feel they need to eat or hydrate and then it’s frankly too late.

I don’t like to take a gel or gu followed by water so I literally mix two gels in a water bottle and mix it thoroughly.  A good rule of thumb is to take something every 3-5 miles to sustain your blood sugar.  I have noticed many runners returning from the long run cranky and emotional, unwilling to even talk to others…that’s a clear sign that they’re on the verge of total exhaustion from lack of fueling.  If someone has a challenging or disastrous run it’s likely caused by improper fueling.  I also like to keep my electrolytes up during the run.  I saw so many runners return from our 17 miles run with salt-stained faces, that’s a clear indication that they need to replace their sodium.  I take endurolytes every 5 miles during my long runs and eat pretzels at every water stop.

Within 30 minutes of completing my long run I have several glasses of chocolate milk, a Lara bar, a banana and a bagel with peanut butter.  The additional protein begins the process of repairing the microscopic tears that occur while running and the carbohydrates are being stored  for the next run.

Equally important is using the stick or foam roller immediately upon completing your long run.  This will get blood flowing throughout your major muscles and flush the lactic acid out.  Ice baths are critically important to reducing inflammation.  This can be the most important 10-15 minutes you spend afterwards.  Compression socks and tights also contribute to faster recovery and inflammation reduction by improving blood flow to your running muscles.

Long runs are the cornerstone of every successful marathon training program.  Runners that properly prepare for the long runs (before, during and after) manage their training far more effectively and tend to have  far greater success and a more enjoyable experience on marathon day!

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