I’m not sure the body is made to run 26.2 miles, though maybe that’s why running a marathon feels so significant.
As I train for my third marathon, I realize that I am not invincible. My body knows what I am up to and demands proper care and attention to keep from melting down.
While there is really no foolproof plan to prevent injuries, I take precautions. I test myself for muscle imbalances to overcome poor biomechanics. I get properly fitted for running shoes to compensate for my overpronation. And I fit in strength training to keep my muscles strong.
Despite my efforts this season I have had my share of aches and pains. I hope to cross the finish line with the help of these tricks:
1. Three Times is the Charm
While the old training emphasis was on mileage, the most current training plans recommend that less can be more. I believe in the three quality runs a week approach: a speed, tempo and long run.
Running three days a week allows me to focus and make those runs really count. The break between the hills and speed workouts gives me time to mentally prepare for the longer 15-18 mile runs.
2. Low-Impact Alternatives
Three days of exercise is not really enough for me, so I keep my cardiovascular stamina up throughout the week by also doing lower impact activities, such as the elliptical and spinning bike on my non-running days.
I recently discovered anti-gravity treadmills, which are great for those who prefer to run three-plus days per week.
These fancy treadmills have a low gravity chamber that encases your lower body., allowing you to run with less weight of your bodyweight hitting the belt.
I used to think that Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmills were only for professional runners overcoming injury, but now I realize they are accessible to everyday New York City runners.
While running three plus hours on the weekend is certainly self-imposed, the training encourages me to treat myself.
Massages relax and renew my muscles and my spirit, helping me feel refreshed.
4. Home Remedies
I can’t afford to splurge on a massage regularly, so I also rely on home therapy. For example, while watching TV, I work on repairing my muscles through icing, stretching, wearing cozy compression socks and using M.E.L.T techniques.
5. Goal Reassessment
I started the season with visions of PRing in the Hamptons Half-Marathon this weekend.
My times are not where I’d like them to be. So, rather than go all out in the Hamptons Half and risk missing the NYC Marathon, I’ve decided to be okay with finishing to the best of my current ability.
It’s easy for me to feel competitive or disappointed when all my runner friends are having an amazing season filled with PRs and I am struggling to finish at a pace that once came easily to me.
My body tells me this may not be my year for PRs, so I am reassessing my goals – I hope to finish the Hamptons Half and the NYC Marathon smiling.
Melissa is a NYC resident and workout junkie. She keeps motivated to stay fit and active by trying out new workout classes, signing up for races, and keeping an eye out for a fun fitness challenge. She hopes to complete the New York City Marathon for the second time in 2011. Read more about her healthy adventures at her blog fitnessnyc.wordpress.com.