Friday, October 21, 2011

5 Simple steps to completing a marathon


Great, you've signed up for a big race but do you have any idea how to complete it in a way that won’t leave
you suffering for days afterwards? Below are a few key points you can use to put in place the structure you
need to reach your goal.

1. Determine Your Current Fitness Level
Most physicians check a few key metrics when you go for your annual check-up. Blood pressure, heart rate and
temperature among others depending on your age and medical history. Similarly, there are a couple of key
things you should measure if you want to know your current physical fitness:

a. Lactate Threshold – Whenever you exercise at light intensities, your body produces and clears lactate acid.
As the intensity increases there comes a point when you are no longer able to clear it and it overflows into
your bloodstream where it will quickly fatigue your muscles. The goal of training is to improve your ability
to clear lactate acid at higher and higher intensities over time. The lactate threshold test is a 30 minute test
consisting of 5 x 5 minute stages each at increasing intensity. During the 1 minute rest between each stage, a
small finger prick blood sample is taken and analysed. From this your lactate threshold and training intensity
heart rate zones can be established.

b. Fuel Efficiency – Fat provides twice as much energy per gram as carbohydrate and you can store 50,000
calories of fat in the body while only 2,500 calories of carbohydrate. By improving your body’s ability to use fat
as energy, you will not only be able to manage your weight effortlessly, you will be able to maintain a higher
pace for longer time. The fuel efficiency test is a 20 minute test that looks at how your body uses energy and
from this your ideal heart rate range for burning fat can be established.

2. Plan Early
Your success lies in coming up with (and executing) an effective training plan. A marathon training plan should
be from 16 – 20 weeks in duration, depending on your experience level and should have a minimum of 4 runs
per week for beginners through to 6 runs per week for more experienced runners. Will you fail if you don’t
apply these numbers? No, not necessarily, but your chances of becoming injured, ill or not racing at your best
go up dramatically. Ask for the help of a coach or more experienced runner if you are not confident to put a
plan together yourself.

3. Train the Right Intensity at the Right Time
This may surprise you, but a marathon is not a “fast” event. Even for the elite running under 2 hr 10 mins, this
is not a fast pace compared to what they can run for 5km or 10km. You need to reflect this in your training and
only show your body the pace at which you hope to complete the event. Any faster, and your body will not
understand what you want it to do. Your body is a machine so it is up to you to programme it correctly.

4. Get Comfy Gear
A marathon is a long distance and the training is tough. Be sure that you invest in the right gear so that you are
as comfortable as possible during training and the event. Here are a few things you will need:

a. Shoes – Make sure that you invest in a good quality pair of running shoes that suit your foot type. If you are
unsure on your foot type there is plenty of information online and you can ask the sales assistant at your local
shop (although take their advice carefully)
b. Socks – Having a good pair of socks will help reduce the chances of blisters and abrasions.

c. Shorts & Singlet - Choose something with minimal seams so that you avoid abrasions and for guys, the dreaded bloodied nipples.

d. Heart Rate Monitor - A heart rate monitor may be the best investment you ever make but only if you know
how to use it. Generic formulas to calculate heart rate are not effective so make sure you invest in a round of
testing (see point 1 above) to establish your ideal training intensity zones.

5. Warming up and cooling down
Whenever you are taking part in any sport warming up before and cooling down after are two vitally important
parts exercise to ensure against sustaining any injury. When competing in such an intense activity like the
marathon this is of greater significance as your body is enduring a continued strain for a prolonged period of
time, so adequate preparation and cool down is vital to make sure you do not sustain any injury.

a. Warm up – This is done to prepare your body for the activity you are about to undertake. The warm up

should focus on the muscles that are about to be used in the physical activity. Tiger Balm ACTIVE Muscle
Rub is best used to help warm up the muscles as it helps the muscle prepare for intense activity by slowly
warming it up along with the stretching.

b. Cool Down – This is done to ease the body from intense exercise to a state of resting or near resting. It helps to remove cramps and stiffness that may set in after exercise. Tiger Balm ACTIVE Gel is scientifically designed to help combat fatigued muscles and aids recovery by providing relief for muscle aches.

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