Monday, January 19, 2009

Going The Distance, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

We talk a lot about doing half marathons, full marathons and even ultra events like the Goofy Challenge (Disney half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday) or the 50 and 100 milers. I firmly believe that anyone can train for and run, run/walk or walk any race they desire to. But the active word is to train. Several of us did the half, the full and the Goofy this year with less than optimal training.

But the above statement is not entirely accurate. We were not as trained for these races as we would have liked to be, but most of us are tough, strong athletes that know how to get the most from our bodies. This should in no way influence a person new to endurance sports to take the distance lightly. If you picked an average group of people at random and had them go these distances without proper training, most of them, if they finished at all would be lame or worse.

It's an excellent idea to take your distance events in small bites. Train for and do a 5K, then a 10K, do a half marathon, then train for and do a full. There are lots of books out there with training plans for doing a marathon, some are good some are not. But every person is different and a canned program should be looked at as a guide not as gospel.

An event like a half or full marathon is a lot like an injury. When you are recovering from a marathon look at it as though you are recovering from an injury. Because it is an injury, you have pushed your body hard, it is damaged and requires rest, rehab and recovery. You have lots of microscopic tears in your muscle tissue, think beaten with a meat tenderizer especially if you really had a hard race. These tears require maintenance.

There is a rule of thumb that you need to have an easy day for every mile raced. Not a bad idea, it varies by your fitness level but for the average recreational athlete it's a workable rule. So a half marathon takes 13 days and a full 26 days. Yes world class athletes can train with 100 mile weeks, but they also have a support system that most of us do not. They get their ice baths, daily massage, and a trainer that keeps up with their needs. They also stay off their feet as much as possible when not training, where as most of us have to go to work or care for a house and kids.

Train properly and smartly and most goals are within reach, but you must respect the distance. When the vets talk about their races it often seems like it's no big deal, but yes it is.

Thanks for reading.

Walking Panda

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