by Jenna Jordan

Almost any runner that you talk with will agree that training is crucial, not only for your muscles and skeletal system, but also for your GI system! As an athlete, we all desire a smooth event, especially throughout an endurance race like the marathon.  In order to achieve this, be sure that you are practicing running technique, nutrition support and hydration tactics.  All three can align in a way that allows efficient and sustainable form, granting you a successful experience as a Steamboat Marathon finisher.

Steamboat Marathon ColoradoThere are a number of often forgotten components that should not be left out of your preparation.

One often overlooked area is supplementation. Many people think that taking a gel, powder or bar during the race will allow them to get the most out of their bodies; however racers often don’t test these products out ahead of time and this can have a negative effect on the body. You want to be sure that you are introducing any nutrition to your body’s gastrointestinal (GI) system NOW.  As with many things involving the gut, you need to allow your body time to accept or reject any new type of supplementation you are planning on taking during the marathon. You want to make sure you are doing this during your training runs and not waiting until race day to try something new. Knowing which supplements work and which don’t increases your race day performance and can prohibit some unfortunate experiences from taking place.

Due to the concentrated nature of many endurance supplements, it is important to know that our GI tract has enough plain water to digest and utilize the nutrients within them.  Figuring out how much water is needed to properly process and benefit from supplements is key.  If you are not a typical user of supplements you should make an effort to determine if your body needs assistance for the duration of 26.2 road miles.  If you find yourself light headed, seriously fatigued or unable to focus, you more than likely need some sort of dietary addition to plain water.  Many endurance athletes use supplementation throughout their marathon.  You will need to be the judge of which works best, how often to ingest and just how much fluid is necessary for smooth processing (pun intended!).

Steamboat MarathonThe second side to this is the importance of allowing the GI to work up to the amount of jostling experienced by extended hours of pounding the pavement.  Often, runners will experience what has been termed “runner’s trot,” or an upset stomach during endurance events.  In order to combat and/or prohibit this from occurring, you can use training to build up tolerance to the jostling brought on by endurance running.  It can also create self-awareness of when and how to work through uncomfortable circumstances and allow you to be best prepared for what may take place during your adventure down Elk River Road.

From the physical realm of training, we should all be sure that we are adding mileage at a reasonable rate while allowing our bodies time to recover between training sessions.  This is accomplished by alternating workout formats throughout each week.  Often, runners will have 3 to 4 days of true running training and 2-3 days of cross/functional training.

Group Fitness ClassesFinding a schedule and routine that works best for your muscles and bones is imperative to successful improvements in pace and form.  Feathering runs with a day of functional body weight training and a day or two of resistance training is a great way to ensure that your muscular structure is experiencing gains equal to your endurance growth from runs. Fitness professionals generally recommend adding 1-2 miles per week on your long run. The other two runs should focus on speed work or intervals. Old Town Hot Springs offers a number of group exercise classes every week that can serve as important cross training workouts. Some of the most relevant would be Total Body Conditioning, BodyPump, or PowerCore.

All in all, a safe philosophy to train by includes:

  1. Moderation in everything.
  2. Stay consistent.
  3. Listen to your body.
  4. Allow time for recovery.

Additionally, as we get close to race day try to minimize big changes to your routine including trying a new pair of shoes, introducing an entirely new diet or adding a brand new type of exercise to your routine. Put in the training time, be aware of your body’s needs and take care of yourself!

Jenna Jordan is the Fitness Director at Old Town Hot Springs and has 10 years of experience in the fitness industry as personal trainer and group exercise instructor. She holds a PhD in Education and has completed more than 10 marathons and 30 half marathons.