5-Week Strategy: Transitioning Into Spring Running

Spring is here! You are probably excited to get outside and run.  You may have a 5K or 10K race this spring that looks interesting to you and you are anxious to get ready for it and to do well. Depending on what you have been doing this winter, you need to be careful transitioning to spring running to avoid injury. Here are some guidelines:

If you have been running indoors all winter

If you live in a climate like Chicago, you have likely spent the winter running on a treadmill or track.  In this case, you need to transition carefully to running outdoors.  The running surfaces and conditions outdoors are much different in terms of their impact on your body.  To avoid injury, don’t suddenly start running outdoors.  Instead, follow this strategy:

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Post-Marathon Recovery and Survival

If you are soon running (or have just run) a Fall marathon, you have trained hard and tapered carefully for the race.   In order to stay healthy and injury-free, it is equally important for you to follow a good plan for recovery on race day and in the days and weeks following your race:

Marathon Day Post-Race Activities:

  1. Get your Finisher Photo Taken!  You will want the finished photo as a keepsake later so take the time to wait in line and get this photo taken, even if you feel like you are just too tired.
  1. Keep moving immediately after the race.   Keep walking slowly and/or keep standing and moving, even in line for the race photo!   You definitely don’t want to sit down and run the risk of cramping or tightening up to the point where you can’t stand up or walk.
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Practicing for Marathon Race Day

If you are training for a fall marathon, by now your long runs are approaching 20 miles. It is time to start practicing for your marathon. You should use your remaining long runs (or at least the last two) as ‘rehearsals’ for the race:

  • Meals and Pre-run Fueling – dinner the night before your long run and morning pre-run food should be exactly what you plan to eat before your marathon race to make sure it will not upset your stomach and/or cause unplanned bathroom visits. You also want to make sure your meal the night before fuels your muscles sufficiently for the long run effort. It is best to keep a good balance of nutrients the night before – try to stick with these approximate numbers: 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat.   Your morning pre-run food should be consumed at least 2 hours before the run and should consist of a simple carbohydrate, low fiber, low protein snack – such as a bagel with a small amount of peanut butter. You’ll need to experiment a bit with the pre-run snack to see what works best for you and your digestive system.
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Surviving Fall Marathon Training in August and September

Many of you are probably training for a Fall Half Marathon or Marathon. By October or November, the weather in many parts of the country will become much more favorable for running a successful long distance event. Unfortunately, your training plan calls for you to do long runs during the heat and humidity of August and September. Here are some tips on how to successfully make it through your late summer long runs:

  • Watch the weather – first and foremost, watch the weather forecast. If you see in advance that your long run will fall on a day with less favorable conditions, you can adjust your plan accordingly. Keep in mind that your running performance drops below optimal levels when temperatures are above 55°F and will fall off 10% or more when temperatures exceed 80.
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