“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.”
Emil Zatopek, legendary long distance runner.
Everyone is doing it. Almost.
Everyone is talking about it. Everyone.
It is infectious. It is inevitable. It is happening.
And now it is happening to you. You have decided to run a marathon. You haven’t yet realised it yet, but you have signed up for something that will take over your life. All you will do is talk about the race at office, at home and at parties, if at all you get to attend any once your training starts. You could hurt your knees and ankles, you will chafe your skin, you will be tired or even exhausted, you may actually gain weight instead of losing it, and you will not be able to sleep late those precious Sunday mornings.
But you want to just do it because everyone’s doing it.
Besides, you think, what’s in a run…I’ve been running since I learnt to walk.
Your rationalisation if any for enrolling could be that running can give you a great full body workout, help you find great running buddies, clear your mind, help your mind connect with your body, tone that stubborn flab, give you a constructive extra-curricular goal and so on.
But what is the specific fitness perspective to a marathon?
A recent study has revealed that individuals who ran more than 50 miles per week had significantly greater increases in HDL, the good cholesterol, and significantly greater decreases in body fat, triglyceride levels, and the risk of coronary heart disease than individuals who ran less than 10 miles per week. In addition, the long-distance runners had a nearly 50% reduction in high blood pressure and more than a 50% reduction in the use of medications to lower blood pressure and plasma cholesterol levels. Running can reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiac issues and even sort depression.
Long distance and duration running being one of the most hard-working forms of aerobic exercise, creates many chronic changes and adaptations to the body. It helps increase the fitness of your heart by increasing its stroke volume. That means with every heartbeat you pump more blood into your system and your heart works lesser to distribute and redistribute blood throughout your body. You have increased capillarization as well as greater recruitment of existing capillaries. In effect, there is an overall increase in pathways for your blood to reach different parts of your body, and also an increase in blood volume itself.
Last but not the least is the story about different muscle fibers in your body. Long distance running recruits our ‘slow-twitch’ fibers, which require much less energy to ‘fire’ and are the powerhouse of oxygen supply in our bodies. In layman’s terms, running long increases the body’s ability to oxygenate better, increasing the health benefits of exercise.
And the Cons?
That said; if you have decided to run a marathon, recognise that as many advantages there are to running, there are acute risks also involved. You will be prone to injuries, blisters, chaffing, a compromised immune system, inflammation in the body, exhaustion, a risk to the heart especially if already in a precondition, and even lack of motivation to practice once the initial romance has worn off.
Your Pre-Marathon-Training Checklist
So take the time to run checks on your body before you start training. These would be to check your heart condition, any musculoskeletal issues especially back, knee and ankle related.When you start running, train right; there is a definite method to the madness. There are running strategies that can ensure you run safely and healthfully whatever your personal objectives.
Some Immediate Tips
– Take Vitamin C to help your immune system
– Focus on rest and recovery days as much as your running days
– Wear appropriate clothing
– Gauge weather & traffic conditions if you’re running outside
– Take enough but not too much carbs to fuel your run
And most importantly, LISTEN to your body.
As we go along, I will cover all these and more fitness and training aspects to help you train and run right through my ObiNo RunFit blogs. So do watch this space every fortnight.
In the meantime, just get started! You have long and exciting miles ahead! Happy running!
The ObiNo RunFit Series will address specific Fitness issues relevant to running a marathon. In my next blog, get ready to Warm-up and Cool-down! Please note that this Series is also featured on www.procamrunning.in with the explicit permission of ObiNo & the Author.