I have now been in training for the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon for eight weeks. Over that time I’ve tried to cover a lot of topics in this space, some (hopefully) informative and others a little more whimsical. Over these two training months my mind has been consumed by a thousand questions, mostly brought on by my own inexperience and fears (and maybe some from hours alone spent hitting the pavement).
To answer those questions for myself and, hopefully, for you, I will use the next two weeks to share with you a running Q & A I’ve been having with Sarah Waterman. If you don’t know Sarah, you can find her here, here and here to name a few places. Sarah is also my marathon coach; as you can imagine having access to her experience and knowledge has helped me greatly through this process. Please enjoy her generous brain dump, starting below.
Q: Briefly tell us about yourself. How long have you been running competitively? Why do you enjoy running so much?
A: I’ve been running competitively since Junior High, with a brief hiatus in college to handle some burnout issues. Sometimes I run because I’ve always been a runner, sometimes I run because all my friends are runners and sometimes I run because of the sheer joy of flying along by the power of my two legs.
Q: When sick, should you force yourself to take a day off? How sick do you really have to be? If you HAVE to miss a few training days in one week, what are the best ones to miss?
A: For upper respiratory/cold symptoms, the general rule of thumb is if it’s in your head, it’s okay to run. If it’s in your chest, it’s better to take the day off. If you have a fever or are vomiting, you shouldn’t run. If you miss some time due to illness, don’t worry. Modify your schedule in intensity and volume while you’re still recuperating and pick back up when you are back to health.
Q: What if you don’t feel weak or hungry on your two hour plus longer runs? Should you force yourself to eat and drink when your training runs get past 12 miles?
A: Even if you aren’t feeling hungry after two hours of running, you aren’t optimizing your training if you aren’t taking in some fluids and carbohydrates. The rule of thumb is that for runs over about an hour, you should aim to eat starting at 45 minutes and then every 45 minutes of the run thereafter. If it’s a 90 minute run and you’re okay without fuel, it’s okay to not take something, but once you are over 90 minutes, you’re really depriving your body of the fast burning fuel it prefers to perform.
Q: Do you have some favorite running Twitter & web site recommendations that you’d like to share?
A: There are lots of resources out there. Runner’s World is a great one, as is Running Times. My one word of warning is to stay away from the Forums! Everyone has an opinion and they can really invoke panic if you spend too much time there. Perhaps the best resource is your local running community. Your local running store is a great place to start, as is a running club or group run. The best/worst part about running is that you are consistently learning new things, and most runners are more than willing to share the lessons they’ve learned along the road.
Q: What some recommendations for cross training? Is yoga OK or does cross training have to include cardio?
A: Almost anything works for cross training, provided that it doesn’t increase your chance of injury. If you don’t already do the sport or activity, now isn’t the time to start. Yoga can be an excellent activity for runners because it helps with the tight hamstrings and hips that tend to plague us. Just be cautious when starting a practice and consider speaking with the instructor about modifications for those new to the practice.
Q: What’s the deal with the chocolate milk? A lot of internet sites seem to claim it’s a good post run drink.
Q: How long should I walk after for the cool down for a 12 plus mile run?
A: You can either jog or walk after your run to cool down, but if you did your long run at the appropriate pace, you shouldn’t need more than a couple minutes of cool down. If you do, you ran too fast.
Q: How the heck do I maintain my race pace on race day for 26.2 miles if Hal only has me do one pace run per week at a max of eight miles?
A: Every run in a training cycle has a purpose and the purpose of the pace run is to get you adjusted to your goal marathon pace. Part of the training cycle is the idea of an accumulation of training miles, which means that being exhausted has training benefits that you won’t appreciate until taper. The combination of long runs and the adaptations associated with them AND the adaptations associated with the pace runs will allow you to reach your goal. The other reason that you only do one pace run per week is that any speed work can increase your risk of getting injured and our number one goal in any training cycle is to get to the start line in one piece.
Thanks to Sarah for sharing with us. Next week, Part 2 – Marathon Day! If you think of more questions you want me to ask, add them in the comments below and I’ll try to get answers. Good running to all.