Monday, January 31, 2011

Expert Advice: Training Tips

My name is Garth Savidge. I am a Physical Therapist at Newton-Wellesley and have been practicing for 10 years. I work in outpatient orthopaedics and have worked in sports medicine with a focus on running injuries. I have run the Boston Marathon three times, and have several 1/2 marathons, 10Ks and shorter races under my belt. Now my running is primarily a way to stay healthy, so I'm down to three times a week but I still enjoy it. I will be posting tips and advice to address some of concerns that come up during marathon training. To kick us off, I thought I'd address some of the things I read in the posts from our Hospital bloggers.

Training Schedule: For first-time runners especially, but really for everyone, this is incredibly important. If you don't put the time in, you'll have a harder time come race day: increased risk for injuries, less comfortable and ultimately less fun! This is what it’s about after all! So pick a training program and stick to it – some variation of three shorter runs during the week, a day off before your long run and a long run on the weekend. Cross training is also important…bike, swim, sports, shoveling snow!

Hydration: Your body needs both water and fuel to keep you from the not so pleasant BONK! You don't want to hit that wall, so get this part right. Volunteers hand out water/Gatorade and energy gels, so if you plan to utilize these, get used to them now. I had a friend that did not train with water or gels, but on Marathon day he stopped at every water stop. His body didn't respond well. Train how you will run. For long runs, either use a water/fuel belt or have someone meet you at regular water stops, hide a water bottle in bushes, etc. Hydrate with small amounts regularly, but don't over do it. Getting rid of the water after you drink it can also be a problem!

Boredom: Distance running is a mental challenge. If you put the miles in, and can avoid injuries, then the rest is finding the time and not letting yourself get inside your head. This is a killer. So include…workout mixes for your iPod, audio books, I like the dictation idea. If at all possible, try to do your long runs with at least one other person or a group. This isn’t for everyone, but you'd be surprised how fast the time flies. Good conversations, jokes, commiserating, training tips, etc. Lots of good mind game/association games to play as well.

Bottom line, keep your mind away from negative thoughts like how long the run is, anxiety about whether or not you can do it, how tired you are, it’s raining, snowing, there's a big hill in front of you, your foot hurts, your legs are sore, you're hungry, need a bathroom, can't go to the bathroom, its 2 degrees below zero…whatever. This is all irrelevant! Keep your mind away from these thoughts and you'll be able to do it. The personal satisfaction you'll feel each week you complete the long run and then on race day will overcome all these negative feelings. And for you first time marathoners – each long run is a new personal best in distance! So stick with your schedule and before you know it you'll have run an 18-mile run and be amazed at how 12 weeks earlier you were nervous about running 6! Good luck runners!

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