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The Fine Art of Marathon Training [Expert Interview]

  By Renita Tisha Pinto  posted Jan 13th 2013 at 8:15AM IN | Avg Rating
Diet & Fitness


Excel The Art of Marathon Training and Marathon! (Expert Interview)


The countdown for the tenth edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon has already begun. This time as the prize money has increased, your practice and energy level has to be increased as well to achieve the best result. To increase your chances of successfully completing the marathon, we bring you Raj Vadgama – Martial Art trainer, Judo trainer, avid marathon runner and an admirable marathon coach, who helps us understand what kind of training and nutrients are required to achieve high endurance levels.

How long does it take to prepare for a full marathon?
Three to six months depending on the runner's fitness level. Taking enough time to prepare for your first marathon can help you avoid injury and increase your odds of making it to the finish line. It is always advisable to take Half Marathon then Full. Consult your doctor before you start a vigorous training program, if you have a history of heart or orthopedic problems or are transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle.

How does diet influence running preparations?
A proper diet is an essential part of your marathon training program. It can have a big influence on your marathon race result. 

Eating fresh produce, and getting the right combination of protein, grains and fruit and vegetables is essential. Salads and raw vegetables are especially beneficial because they do not lose nutrients due to cooking. Prefer fish and chicken rather than red meat. Whey and soy products are a good substitute for animal protein. For the non-vegetarian eaters, I recommend having a ‘vegetarian’ day at least once a week.

Read More for Nutrition Tips for Marathon Runners

What other exercise can a runner supplement his/her running programme with?
Total Body Conditioning Training is very important along with Functional movements. Besides, Muscular Strengthening, Stretching, Plyometrics, Circuit training, Cross training are the different training patterns necessary for Marathon Training. 

What should one do two months before the marathon?
Once the runner's fitness level is increased, then Mileage is very important before 2 months of marathon. Slowly and gradually increase the mileage at 10% ratio.

How does one increase mileage gradually?
10% Rule is best way to Increase Mileage. eg : if you have ran 20 km per week then increase 22km for next week.

How does one increase pace gradually?
Want to Run Fast? Then LEARN HOW TO RUN SLOW FIRST. Ironically, the first key to running faster is to start slowly. Spend time building your aerobic fitness and strength before racing ahead to work on your speed.

Focus on Form
(Posture) The time you invest in focusing on your form will pay off in improving your speed. Proper running form is both efficient and economical. Hence, follow what your Coach advises you to do.

Which foods/drinks help increase race day performance?
Glycogen (Carbohydrate) is the main source of Energy (Fuel) for marathon runner; last three days are crucial to improve your carbo loading and water content especially a day before marathon.

How should one decide his/her running form?
Keep your body straight, strike (landing on) on mid foot, make sure your foot lands exactly below your hip engage your core and look straight ahead. Besides, relax your shoulder always because our muscles work best in right angle.

What's the best running gear (belts, shoes, tees, shorts, etc)?
Shoe: Invest in Proper Running shoe. Never compromise on your shoes, if you want to showcase the best on the race day. 

How important is salt for the final race day?
The term HYPONATREMIA means low concentration of sodium in the blood and it depends on the weather condition, and varies from person to person. Sweat contains between 2.25 - 3.4 grams of salt per liter, and the rate of perspiration in a long, hot race can easily go up to an average of 1 liter per hour. So, for a 5 hour race, one could lose approximately 11.25 to 17 grams of salt. 

If the athlete replaces only the lost water and has minimal salt intake, hyponatremia can result so check out the engineered drinks like Gatorade/salt tablet/electral/Glucose label and use it accordingly.

What are the best energy drinks for running marathons?
There are many brands available in the market like Gatorade/GU gel/Lucozade etc now a day. But, I personally prefer mixing up my own sports drink, one that is cheap and performs as well as the store brands. 

The drink combines one part water with one part fresh orange juice or Amla – which is a rich source of Vit C,  with a small pinch of salt. This supplies carbs and helps replace potassium, which you lose as you sweat.

When should one consult a doctor?
It is very important to consult a doctor, when you starty up your endurance activity to avoid chest pain, discomfort in breathing, heat stroke, blurry vision, high BP, very Low Sugar and muscle cramps.

What are the common running injuries?
Injuries and Sports go hand in hand. No one can spare oneself without injury, but it’s always advisable to consult a qualified coach, physio or doctor when you are injured.

Besides, the most common injuries are planter fasciitis, ITB (Iliotibial Band syndrome), runner’s knee, Patella syndrome, ankle sprain, shin splints, heel spur, hip flexor pain and low back pain.

What are the best stretches for runners?
The 7 basic stretching for runner are Hip Flexor, Heel Drops, Quadriceps stretching, Hamstring stretching, Calf stretching, Achilles stretching and Planter stretching.

What is the best way to spend a rest day?
Visualized your finish line, always be positive, drink enough fluid, and walk leisurely for an hour.

What is the best way to hydrate during the run?
An hour before you start your run, try to drink about 16 ounces of water and drink another 4 to 8 ounces right before you start. General rule of thumb for fluid consumption during your runs is you should take in 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during your runs. Runners running faster than 8-minute miles should drink 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes.

*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images 

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