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Training for a Marathon

  1. Aug 11, 2016 #1
    We got any runners here? I'm in the middle of training for my city's marathon first week of Oct. Just finished a 12 mile run. It was tough due to heat and humidity. Anyone got interesting advice? I'm not really all that into pure running, but I figured it was time to knock this off the bucket list.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2016 #2


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    I have no advice, but I'd like to wish you good luck and success. I'm still thinking ..... wow!!!
  4. Aug 11, 2016 #3
    Well I didn't run, but instead walked the 10 - 12 miles home from work the other day.
    Took about 4 hours with some 15 minute pit stops along the way, hot and humid also.
    The difference between pavement and grass on the knees and muscles was evident.
    On pavement and concrete sidewalks, the legs tired out much more quickly than on the shock absorbing grass in a park.
    Mind you, the sneakers were a cheap pair of maybe Walmart type.
    I'll have to try a more expensive pair.
  5. Aug 11, 2016 #4


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    Have you considered competing in a Half Marathon run first?
  6. Aug 11, 2016 #5
    Good question, I have one scheduled for Aug 27th
  7. Aug 11, 2016 #6


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    What are you doing for hydration and electrolytes on your longer runs?
  8. Aug 11, 2016 #7
    So far I've been mapping runs so I can take a short half way break at my house for a gel pack and water.
  9. Aug 11, 2016 #8


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    Do you drink water before running? Before I start riding my bicycle, I'll drink a pint of water.

    From the website for PowerAde, their drinks have:
    Code (Text):
    Total Carb    21g  7%DV
    Sodium      150mg  6%DV  
    Potassium    35mg  1%DV
    Sugars        21g
    %DV = Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

    That's a pretty decent balance.

    I sometimes drink Gatorade. I used to drink 48 oz of Gatorade when playing soccer for a couple of hours during the summers in Houston, or when I was doing iron work for 8+ hours in 100+ degree weather.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
  10. Aug 11, 2016 #9


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    I'm no expert on hydration, but I do treat a lot of athletes at performance events. There are good strategies for pre-hydrating before the event, and staying hydrated with balanced electrolytes during the event. Depending on how much you are sweating, and how much you sweat out electrolytes, you need to tune your liquid intake and electrolytes and carbohydrate intake to try to stay as balanced as possible.

    So maybe do some reading about pre-hydrating before your events, and practice alternating between sports drinks and water at each of the aid stations (or what you carry on your training runs). You should also eat a Powerbar or two or similar carb source on the run if your stomach will tolerate it. Goo gel packs can be good, but only if you wash them down with lots of water. If you just eat the Goo pack with no water, it can shut down your stomach and prevent hydrating for the rest of the race. That happened one year at an Ironman Triathlon I volunteer at on the Medical Team (it was the first year of sponsorship by Goo at that race), and things got real ugly in the Medical Tent...

    For triathlons or swim-run events, there are other tips for avoiding cramping up, but for straight runs like marathons, proper hydration and race nutrition are the most important.

    BTW, there is an evil flip side to hydration that you should avoid. Don't over-hydrate by drinking lots of water and not taking in electrolytes and carbs. That can lead to hyponatremia (low sodium), which has symptoms very similar to dehydration and hyperthermia and heat exhaustion, but the treatment for recovery is very different.

    And hey, have fun training and doing the races! I much prefer running races now compared to open water swims. Getting kicked in the face at the start and turns in an open water swim really sucks. Running around folks in a crowd is so much easier! :smile:
  11. Aug 12, 2016 #10
    What is the farthest you have run before? In what time and in what terrian / weather? What "breaks" you in the end of your run (breathing / heart / muscles / fluids / mentality)? If you know this about yourself, than you can focus on exercises to improve these areas.

    I myself run at least once a week, either for 15 km progressive (sprinting always at the end) or doing an interval run (sprint / rest / sprint / rest). My breathing is great, heartbeat is now strong (from interval training), fluids and diet I have well mantained, but muscles / tendons seem to "break" me. So I have to focus on that, by running on terrain or train the muscle differently by strength training or swimming, etc. However I am not training for a marathon, just to keep fit. Though I do like to run in terrain and up mountains if I get the chance (up in the fjords in Norway).

    In the past I have run 30 km several times, in the military I ran 30 km with boots / rifle / 12kg backpack in 3hrs and 30min. Though one in my platoon did it in 2hrs and 15min! So you can definitely push yourself if you got the mindset, but if you already have ran the distance / pushed yourself to the extreme before; well that knowledge (and confidence) is invaluable.. :)
  12. Aug 13, 2016 #11


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    Greg, I did a half marathon 2 years ago, and races that long typically have water stations. When I was training (6 months!) I had one water bottle that fit in my palm with a strap. Hopefully the race is in the morning to avoid the heat?

    Best of luck to you, finishing a race is one of the greatest feelings.
  13. Aug 13, 2016 #12
    Every weekend my long run ends up being my farthest ever. Going for 14 in about an hour. Usually in the morning or dusk on pavement around 80 degrees.

    I just bought a bottle belt and a box of gels :) Yeah the race starts at 7am. Hoping for a cloudy cool day!
  14. Aug 13, 2016 #13
    If you run 14 km per hour, that is quite a good pace for a marathon. Running farther each week is good, just remember to increase your calorie intake as well so your body can recover fully. When running try to eat / hydrate yourself as you would during the marathon, its easier to find your rythem / pace when your are consistent. I definitely would recommend running the marathon distance at least once before your race, it would help a lot mentally. Though if you can run at a consistent / comfortable pace for 3hrs, you can run a marathon (or longer if you want), just watch out for injuries..
  15. Aug 13, 2016 #14


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    Hey Greg,

    So I used to do these types of things before I got older and lazy, most of what information I learned from doing it, and from others is purely anecdotal - so take it with a grain of salt.

    Like Berkeman is saying, you want to avoid dehydration and hyponatremia, which are both pretty common in marathon runners. You can lose a significant percentage of your body weight in water and salts over the course of the marathon, and you need to replenish both. Sports drinks are probably the most common way to accomplish this, and you should be able to find them easily at any aid station. Speaking of aid stations, if possible, make sure you know where along the route they are before the run, and plan which ones you're going to stop at. If you can time it, try to make your first stop after about 40 or 50 minutes of running, but you might need to adjust this depending on the weather and your sweat rate. When you hit the station, grab two cups. I normally grabbed a cup of water and a sports beverage. On the next stop, if you see a station with bananas or other food items, I would grab one as well. I also use to bring along packets of honey, it's a good treat when boredom sits in. Boredom itself is pretty normal, especially after the first hour or so.

    Wear sunscreen, the only thing worse than jello legs the next day is a bad sunburn.

    I was always told to avoid OTC pain pills before, during, and after the run. Supposedly they can cause or exacerbate hyponatremia. I don't know if this is true or not, maybe Berkeman would know. Could just be an old wives tale.

    You might also want to consider supplementing with creatine, although it's kind of a double edged sword for this kind of running. It increases water retention and you'll probably gain a few pounds that you'll have to drag around with you. It does, however, go a long way in preventing jello legs and promotes recovery. The only times I didn't feel like complete crap the next day was when I was taking it.

    Don't drink the sugary sports drink too quickly, it would make me vomit, especially if it's hitting an otherwise dehydrated empty stomach.

    Some people take these things way too seriously, so try to make sure you're out of the way at aid stations. Especially if the station already has a large crowd semi-loitering around it. You want to grab what you need and keep going.

    Try not to stop moving, it sucks getting into a good rhythm again.

    Most importantly, have fun, it's something a lot of people never have the joy of experiencing.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  16. Aug 13, 2016 #15


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    Interesting tip -- I'll look into that.
    Yeah, I'd avoid pain meds the day of the event if you can. First of all, NSAIDs and dehydration together stress your kidneys badly, and can injure them. One of the ways that NSAIDs work is via vasoconstriction, which helps cut down on inflammation. But that vasoconstriction in the kidneys makes it harder for them to do their job. So even when just taking NSAIDs for normal pain away from athletic events, you should up your hydration to try to make it easier for your kidneys to work.

    I also don't like taking any pain meds the day of an event because it seems to throw my body off. I don't have a good feeling of how hard I'm pushing myself, and end up not being able to push closer to the edge like I'm hoping to do in the competitions.
  17. Aug 16, 2016 #16


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    I read about creatine at wikipedia, and there are some important warnings and drug interactions -- not good in combination with NSAIDs, for example:

  18. Aug 16, 2016 #17


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    I have learned from a friend of mine, that also high protein foods as fish and meat (which are natural sources for creatine) can be an issue for already (or otherwise) weakened kidneys.
  19. Aug 16, 2016 #18


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    Obviously if you have any kind of kidney problems or other health issues you shouldn't be taking anything without consulting your doctor first, but for healthy people it's generally recognized as safe. The only side effect I've experienced is weight gain, and I've been using it for the last 4 or 5 years.
  20. Aug 18, 2016 #19

    Fervent Freyja

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    Begin hydrating 2 days before the run. I don't run (much) anymore, I prefer walking/hiking. Avoiding caffeine beforehand and eating some quick carbs right before, with a good breakfast hours before of protein and fats might help with energy levels. A running buddy wouldn't hurt either.
  21. Aug 18, 2016 #20


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    Here's some advice from my friend who was a serious marathon runner (he had a best time of 2:43!)

    1) Don't train too hard if you're feeling unwell. Some people religiously put in the miles/hours even when they are feeling low, which is counterproductive.

    2) Don't train hard the week before the marathon. You need to be fit and rested. Especially if you've trained well it's tempting to do a fast run too close to the race itself and not recover. In the last week, ease off and run slower than you can.

    3) Eat lots the day before. Especially slow-burning carbohydrates.

    4) Don't go too fast too early. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and run the first mile or two quickly. Focus on taking it easy early in the race, It's a marathon, not a sprint!

    Good luck.
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