All through the spring runners are flooding the bike path, beaming with happiness as they are just returning to outdoor running after a long winter. However, you have already been training for a few months – braving the cold and slogging through snow, and may now be approaching your highest mileage week/s. Your body might be feeling a little beat up, or at least fatigued. Your social life – if you even have one, probably revolves around your training program. It may seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get in all the miles, work, sleep and family/friend time.
This is an important time to “take your marathon engine in for a tune up”. In other words, check in on your body and make sure all the parts are working together to prevent a break down. Here are a few things to make sure you are doing to keep that engine ‘running’…
- Get enough sleep. Muscles recover while you sleep. Running while sleep deprived can increase your risk for injuries.
- Stay hydrated at all times. The high miles and the warming temperatures can lead to dehydration, which can cause muscle and tendon injuries.
- Take care of any nagging aches/pains. It is normal to be sore, but it should be symmetric and mild. If you have pain that is asymmetric (i.e. only your left hip) or if any pain is sharp, shooting or burning, stop training and seek out a health care provider.
- Take days off. If you are feeling particularly fatigued, sick, injured or just burned out, take an extra day or few days off. Your fitness will not change and you will feel re-charged on your next run.
- Stretch/yoga. The accumulation of miles has no doubt left your muscles very tight. With the upcoming high mileage weeks, that tightness will increase and put you at risk for overuse injuries.
- Change your shoes if they have over 400 miles on them. Broken down shoes can lead to injuries.
- Figure out how to fuel on your long runs. Your body needs to replenish the glycogen stores in the muscles that get depleted during long runs. It is important to start fueling BEFORE you feel like you need it so your body has time to convert it into a usable energy form for your muscles.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes a lot of carbohydrates. Now is NOT the time to be dieting. Most of your overall calories should come from carbohydrates, followed by lean protein and then fat. You are likely burning over 1500 calories on your long runs and using up all the glycogen stores in the muscles. Carbohydrates are responsible for replenishing these reserves. It is very important to replenish your muscles immediately following a long run when the body is most efficient at storing glucose.
- Do something fun/social that does not revolve around running. It is important to keep a balance in your life.
RunVermont has many partnerships online and in the community to help runners find the resources to keep their engines running. We at Green Mountain Rehab/Green Mountain Running Medicine Shop are happy to help in any way we can.