What I Have Learned From Marathon Training…

In preparing for my 6th marathon which I will be running at the end of the month, I have stubbornly come to realize a few things which should have been obvious to a health professional such as myself.  It is with a bit of embarrassment that I am sharing this information with you!

While many of the items on this list will seem very obvious, it doesn’t really hit home until you personally experience the side-effects of not following “the rules.”  So without further ado I present to you Brian Paul’s Obvious Tips for Successful Marathon Training

1. Get Enough Sleep – I can’t emphasize this one enough.  With a family of eight to care for and 2 physical therapy clinics to run, extra time is not a luxury that I am afforded!  In trying to do everything I need to do, I am oftentimes awake well past 1 AM and then trying to wake up at 6 AM to do my training runs.  The National Sleep Institute recommends a minimum of  7  hours of sleep per night in order for your body to function optimally.

While I understand the benefits of a good nights sleep, I never really felt that it would affect my performance.   Boy was I wrong.  All year I have been complaining to my wife that I feel like I am running in mud.  I figured that much of my sluggishness was due to the fact that I would start running about 10 minutes after I got out of bed in the morning.  She had been telling me all along that I wasn’t getting enough sleep.  Eventually I decided to listen to her and started going to sleep earlier and let me tell you it has made a tremendous difference.  Those early morning runs have gotten much easier and I have had a lot more energy.

2. Stay Well Hydrated – This is another obvious one that you don’t realize how detrimental the effects of lack of hydration are until you have dehydrated during a run.  Many times I have gone out on a run and either forgot to bring along a drink or didn’t drink enough beforehand.  After a few miles you begin to experience the feelings of dehydration – nausea, lack of energy, headache, etc.

The problem with dehydration is that once you have experienced the effects of dehydration it is usually too late to reverse the effects.  I have personally felt the effects of dehydration for hours and sometimes days after not properly hydrating during a run.  I recommend wearing a hydration pack or putting out drinks along the course you are running for any run longer than 6 miles.

3. Change Your Shoes – While I recognize that everyone is in a different position financially it is still very important to change your shoes every few hundred miles.  The negative effects of wearing worn out shoes can be disastrous for your training and more importantly for your legs in general.  I realized a few weeks ago that I have been running with the same sneakers since last spring which probably equals well over 1,000 miles.  This is way too many miles.  I felt the difference in my running, as I constantly felt like I wasn’t running at my best, and I felt the difference in my legs, as my knees and ankles were always achy.

After switching sneakers I feel much lighter on my feet and I haven’t experienced the achy pains in my legs. I realize that these may seem like obvious suggestions, but I have finally come to the realization that I am no longer 20 years old, and can’t just roll out of bed and perform at my best. As I get closer and closer to 40 I have to listen to and take care of my body if I am going to continue training for and running marathons.  Lets hope these changes that I have made help me have success at the Buffalo Marathon on May 25th!

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