Running Part 2: Going the Distance
I was a sprinter.
Both my husband and son do distance. My son finished a half-marathon (13.1 miles) at the age of 9 in 1:37! Pretty good, huh?
He was interviewed by the ABC station in Los Angeles right after he finished the race – he was the first under-18 finisher—but the reporter literally stuck the microphone in his face right after he crossed the finish line.
It was not pretty.
I asked her to give him a minute – and afterwards, he gave a lovely soundbite about the importance of the cause (autism — Operation Jack Foundation) and smartly compared having a sister with Down Syndrome with having a sibling with Autism. I was so proud of him!
He took a break from distance running for a while, but college is looming, and he is considering trying to participate in track at a D1 school We will see.
Yesterday we talked about some basics for beginning runners. This post is about long-distance running.
Distance running is already a popular form of exercise.
However, there are a few very important things that need to be considered before you decide to join the fun. Running, like any other exercise, should be approved by a doctor first. This is to ensure that the exercise won’t aggravate existing heart conditions. For those who think they are healthy, it doesn’t hurt to actually make sure. People have died during long distance runs.
Measures have also been taken to remind runners to drink while running. A substantial number of runners, however, are not really keen on guzzling down water while on the run. And when in a race to the finish line, drinking water may not exactly be the first thought that most athletes find themselves entertaining.
However, information from the USATF states that a person must take his/ her weight before and after a workout, and the resulting difference between the two is that person’s “sweat rate.” Since the standard practice is to drink sixteen ounces of fluid for each pound one has lost, knowing one’s sweat rate allows a person to determine this by per hour or perhaps per mile rate.
This helps athletes avoid developing hypotremia, a condition that is basically the exact opposite of dehydration. Meaning, one is overhydrated. This happens when athletes, after a long race without fluids, guzzle down a lot of water. The body, specifically the kidney, isn’t made to withstand the consumption of huge volumes of water at one time. The replenishment has to be in intervals. Otherwise, water intoxication or hypotremia can occur.
This highlights the importance of starting a running regimen under the guidance of a doctor. One may not know that something is an unhealthy practice and may put one’s health—and life—at risk.
Distance Running: Tools of the Trade
Ok, now that you have gotten physician approval, you can get into the nitty gritty.
As with any sport, it’s important to make sure that you have the right tools when you take up distance running. Those aspiring become good at it can always benefit from getting gear and accessories that’ll augment their strength, speed, stamina, and motivation.
Appropriate running attire will help ensure that the hazards of running won’t get to your body—at least externally.
Kicking off this part of the article will be running shorts. Runners can opt for either traditional running shorts—the kind that tend to be short—or compression shorts—what we commonly refer to as cycling or bike shorts. Traditional running shorts can provide excellent cooling and comfort.
Compression shorts, on the other hand, make sure that there won’t be any chafing on your thigh areas because there isn’t anything loose that could create friction against your thighs. The drawback, however, lies in the appearance, as most people might be deterred by the unflattering snugness of the shorts.
There are also combination or advanced shorts which utilize some of the characteristics of both. Most advanced shorts don’t come cheap, especially those specially designed to direct cooling towards certain areas. These running shorts have microfiber plus wicking briefs to ensure total comfort for every distance run.
There are also leggings or warm-up pant options for cooler weather.
Now we go to tops. Singlets, short sleeves, and long sleeves are all good options, and the decision depends largely on the weather and your personal preferences. However, it’s important to note that cotton should be avoided.
Some of the more popular running tops are labeled dri-fit. These are polyester shirts that are designed to wick sweat towards the surface of the fabric, so that the sweat (or other moisture substances) will be able to dry and keep you cool and comfortable. To close, it is also good to have jackets with waterproof shells that you can wear in adverse weather.
Running shoes are undoubtedly important, as they contribute largely to the comfort level of your runs. You need to pick a pair that suits your gait and the structure and size of your foot. There was a longer discussion about shoe shopping in yesterday’s post.
Running accessories can both be functional and stylish and include hats, headbands, wristbands, and other items. Other accessories include hydration packs to keep your hydration levels at optimal levels throughout your run, sunblock or sunscreen, and sunglasses.
You can also use speed/distance monitors. These little devices can measure the distance that you travel on your pre-plotted running course, and they can also keep track of the time it takes you to cover the entire distance. Remember the old-school way of measuring course distance? It involves taking your car along the route and using the odometer to measure the mileage. This method was quite inconvenient and impossible to complete for woodland and gravel tracks that can’t accommodate vehicles. This hassle is eliminated by speed/distance monitors.
Overall, running gear can make your run more comfortable and more convenient.
Planning Your Distance Running Training
Training schedules vary based on what your distance goals and any other goal may be.
The risk of injury increases as you make serious changes in your distance running training schedule. This change can be either in the number of days on the training schedule (doing six or seven days a week of daily regular runs) or in some work you do during the regular steady runs. A good coach can help you evaluate in detail the factors–past and present–that influence your training program. Each runner has unique physical and mental characteristics, and it’s helpful to take these differences into consideration when developing a training program.
The Running Formula
The following principles of training authored by Jack Daniels (Daniels’ Running Formula) can serve as the basis for a more safe and effective training system.
- Get to know your training needs: Since what works well for one person might not work for another, you should always keep in mind the purpose of the training session and specific needs to achieve that purpose.
- Set your own pace: Drop the idea of “copy the current champion” approach training instead challenge yourself with training based on scientific principles. However, don’t totally ignore what current champions are doing; their training scheme might be appropriate for you although you haven’t yet proven it effective. “When you hear of a new approach to training, don’t try to copy it – try to analyze it,” says Daniels. Know what systems of the body are reaping the benefits, why, and how these happen.
Sometimes, runners may exaggerate their training schedules to gain recognition from others. Bear in mind not to strictly follow a particular publicly released athlete’s training regime. What he or she declared as their weekly training logs may not be a typical week of training but just a particularly hard week of training. You can’t be sure.
Another risk in replicating accomplishments of a specific runner is not having the same body type to handle such training. “Know your body, identify your strengths and weaknesses, establish priorities, and try to learn more about why you do what you do and why you might consider trying something new in your approach,” wrote Daniels.
And the most important thing is to stay true to yourself and your abilities. In following a suggested workout, consider details such as current fitness level, experience level, goals, and available time.
Assessment from the Running Formula
The following questions have been adapted from Daniels’ set of questions to help assess an athlete’s training needs. While undergoing a distance running training, you must ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your current level of fitness? What is your readiness for training and competing?
- How much time (in weeks) are you available for a season’s best performance?
- How much time (in hours per day) are you available for training?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses, in terms of speed, endurance (lactate threshold), aerobic capacity, economy, and reaction to different amounts of running?
- What types of training do you prefer? To what types of training do you respond well psychologically?
- For what specific event are you preparing?
- How should periodic races fit into the training program? That is, what are the race commitments?
- What are the environmental conditions of the distance running competition (season of the year), facilities, and opportunities that must be taken into account?
Answering these questions can help you and/or your coach develop a program that will lower your risk of injury and to reach your running goals.
Post-Distance Running Tips
After all that training, you’ve now entered and finished the race. Whether it was your first or twentieth race (5K, 10K, half- or full-marathon), you ran all those miles, conquered the aches and pains in your muscles. Now, it’s time for you to take a few days to recover and rest. Here are a couple of tips to help you recover after a long-distance race.
- First things first: Drink plenty of fluids and water; energy drinks are great too. You need to replenish all the sodium, fluid, and electrolytes you lost during the race.
- After restoring the proper balance of fluids and electrolytes, if you can handle it, try setting in an ice bath a few hours after the race. If your muscles are still too sore, wait a few days. The cold water will do wonders for you and for your joints, quads, and knees.
- It’s even more crucial to eat a healthy diet after finishing a race. You need protein as well as good carbohydrates to repair the damage to your muscles and joints caused by the race.
- If you want to continue your morning routine, just keep everything light. Stretch your muscles easily. No vigorous exercises yet.
- Sleep a lot. Your body needs to recover from the fatigue from competing in the race. After a few days, the fatigue will be gone, and you’ll feel good as new and even more prepared to tackle new adventures.
- If you can, get a massage. Nothing beats having a professional work out all the kinks on your legs, arms, and back. This is a great way to remedy the stiffness in your joints after a race.
- Know that it’s normal to feel a little lost and sad after a big race. After structuring your daily routine around your training and the preparation you did for weeks to be ready, the end of that might make you feel lost. The best solution to that is to choose a new goal.
And after that, move on.
Loving Life–The Reboot!