About the Author
"Green Runners" Training
The general rule of thumb is
to increase your mileage by no more than 10% per week. Of
course, 10% of 0 is 0 so we all have to start somewhere.
Here are some "green" runner guidelines:
The most important
investment you can make BEFORE you start running is a good
pair of running shoes.
Sports has a
Perfect Fit Guide for selecting the right shoe. An
old sweat suit won't hurt you but the wrong shoes WILL.
Shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles. Once
shoes reach 300 miles, use them for shorter distances and
start breaking in a new pair for longer distances.
Pick a loop or measure
an out-and-back course of 2-3 miles to start. Run easy
as far as you can, walk to recover, then run some more.
Each time you do this you will run more, walk less and IT
WILL get easier.
I've heard many people
say running hurts their knees. It will hurt at first.
You are using muscles and joints that haven't done this
before. Training teaches your body to handle running
by breaking it down and building it up stronger.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can be used for minor
It's very important to
listen to your body. Minor discomfort and aches are
normal as you train in a new sport. Ignore the minor
aches. Take a rest day or two. If you are still
having trouble after a couple of weeks, consider a visit to
your doctor. Most minor running-related aches will
resolve themselves with a few days rest.
Black toenails happen.
Occasionally they fall off - don't be alarmed, they grow
back. Make sure your shoes are a good fit.
Sometimes you need to go up 1/2 size in a running shoe.
Once you have mastered a
2-3 mile course of continuous running, you can gradually
begin to build adding 2 miles at a time. This
additional mileage can be done run/walk until you can
complete the distance without walking.
Once you have a 5 mile
base, adding 2 miles at a time should not be too difficult.
Do not add 2 miles every week going from 5 to 7 to 9.
Build in cut-back weeks like in the
18 week training schedule
to avoid injury.
Your first 10 miler WILL
hurt. Expect some aches after these longer runs.
Take a rest day or two after. After my first 10 miler,
I thought I'd never walk normal again. Ouch.
It's a good sort of ache because you will have some real
satisfaction after completing a 10 miler. Keep in mind
each time you do a distance, it gets easier the next time.
Once you are confident
you can cover this distance, register for your marathon so
you have a solid goal. Some marathons have entry caps
so you don't want to train for a race and find out it's
full. It doesn't hurt to have a Plan "B" race in case
things don't work out for your goal race. Plan B
should be 2-3 weeks after your goal race to allow for
problems with training.
Running in the heat (and
cold) requires good hydration. I've learned to run
carrying a 20-24 oz. bottle of
Gatorade in one hand. It takes some getting
used to but eventually you feel odd without it. In the
marathon, carrying a 24 oz. bottle can get you past the
first 8-10 water stops which are usually crowded plus you
have your favorite drink with you. There are also a
number of belts that carry bottles and camelbacks that carry
fluids on your back or around your waist. I prefer to
travel lighter but these are other options that keep your
Plan your longer
distance runs by variety stores. Carry money so you
can stop and buy replacement fluids (and use the bathrooms)
if needed. If running where there are no stores, drive
the course ahead of time and leave fluids where you can pick
them up. I haven't found this really practical so I
prefer to plan my runs where I can buy more fluids as
To determine your fluid
needs, test how much you sweat by weighing yourself before
and after a run. You should replace as much fluid in
ounces as you lost in weight - lost 2 lbs. drink 32 ounces
of replacement fluids.
There are a number of
energy bars and gels on the market for endurance sports.
They provide about 100 calories of carbs. I have found
the gels are easier to take than the bars but everyone has
their own preference. The key to using these is
testing them in training and taking them BEFORE you really
feel you need them. They take a while to kick in.
I've used them at the 10, 15, and 20 mile marks in the
marathon. These will give you a boost when you need
it. I have never "Hit the Wall" using gels. For
those of you who don't know what "The Wall" is, it's the 20
mile mark when your body and muscles have completely run out
of stored fuel. Most marathons provide gels on the
course at the 15-17 mile marks. You may prefer to
bring your own and have the brand/flavor that you like when
you need it.
Bodyglide is a
lubricant that like a deodorant stick but it works wonderful
on all areas that chafe. This can be bought at running
stores or the race expo. Vaseline is also useful for
chafing and most races will have it on the course at the
I had heard that your
body will remember two runs as one if run within 24 hours.
I tried this out running 11 miles home from work, sleeping,
and running 11 miles back the next morning (I have access to
a shower). The 2nd 11 miler felt like the end of a 22
miler. I did two of these in a two month period and
ran a marathon with no other long training runs.
Test pre long-run
breakfast foods, eating while running (gels, bars, or
bananas), sunglasses, fanny packs,
typically calls for a 3 week taper. This doesn't mean
NO running, just shorter running. The last 20 miler is
done 3 weeks before the marathon. By running shorter,
easier runs, you will be fresher for the race. In this
case MORE is NOT better.
This taper period is
also when you should be paying attention to drinking and
hydrating for the marathon. Gatorade or other sport
drinks contain sodium and electrolytes that stay in the
muscles longer. Water can tend to go right through
Create a marathon
checklist of all of the items you will need to pack for the
Running outfit -
top, shorts, pants, socks (something worn and tested on
long runs - nothing new!) Bring more than you will
need. It's better to not need it than to be
missing something important. Plan for all types of
weather and temperatures. Shorts, pants, long and
short sleeve tops, jacket.
DO NOT FORGET YOUR
SNEAKERS. Wear them or bring them in your
carry-on. This is the most important item for your
race. In an emergency you can buy new clothes at
the expo but your shoes need to be broken in.
NEVER WEAR NEW SNEAKERS AND SOCKS ON RACE DAY.
Sunscreen, cap or
visor, sunglasses, Bodyglide
Gels or powerbars
"throw-away" clothes such as a plastic rain poncho, an
old sweatshirt or buy a throw-away mylar jacket at the
race expo. Races start early and it is sometimes
cold at the start. Some people wear trash bags and
discard them - please be considerate of other runners
and don't discard these items where other runners may
Most races have packet
pickups the two days before the race. Try to get this
done early to avoid crowds and the stress of running in at
the last minute.
THE MOST IMPORTANT
NIGHT'S SLEEP IS THE NIGHT BEFORE THE NIGHT BEFORE!
Excitement about the race will make it difficult to sleep
the night before and you may find yourself waking up every
hour on the hour checking the clock so you don't sleep in.
Plan a good night's sleep for two nights before so you are
The day before your
marathon should be spent taking it easy and drinking enough
fluids. Meals should be simple - keep in mind that
what goes in must come out and you don't want it coming out
on race day. Trust me, beer and buffalo wings are
never a good idea the night before. Thank you
Most races have a
carbo-loading dinner the night before. This is a great
opportunity to meet other runners, share experiences, and
have some fun.
Lay out all of your
clothes, sun screen, running shoes, bib, and other items you
will need the night before. This last minute check
will give you time if you have forgotten something.
On race morning, have
whatever you normally have before a long run - coffee,
bagel, banana, sport drink. This is not a good time to
try anything new.
Always bring money - $10
or $20 "just in case". Most races have "sag wagons"
for runners who can't finish but having cash will come in
handy if you need to take a train, cab, or just buy an
emergency item at the last minute.
Depending on the
logistics of the race, get there 1/2 - 1 hour before the
start. I usually stay at a hotel near the start so I
can roll out of bed and walk to the start as a warm-up.
Some races have shuttle buses, athlete villages, and other
provisions for the runners.
courses, PARK AT THE FINISH LINE. These races usually
have shuttle buses from the finish line to the start but
they may not have shuttle buses back to the start after the
race. Check with the race directors or on their
website about parking, shuttle buses, and logistics.
There are some great
running clothes with high performance fabrics.
Coolmax is a
fabric that wicks moisture away from the body to keep you
dry. This is especially important for staying warm
during winter training. There is a saying "cotton
kills". Once it gets wet with sweat, you get cold
pretty quickly. Hypothermia can set in pretty quickly
once you get wet.
consideration is VISIBILITY.
IllumiNITE is a
reflective technology incorporated into piping and fabrics
for visibility. When the weather gets cooler here in
New England, the days get shorter forcing us to run in
darkness. Look for a running jacket with this
technology. Orange and yellow pull over vest also work
well for running in the dark. I buy my reflective
clothes so the cars can SEE me before they run me over.
Keep in mind even with reflective clothing - RUN DEFENSIVELY
- get out of their way!