JUN 14, 2023
Minute 1: What are the health risks of running a marathon?
Runners can expect to live approximately three years longer than non-runners and enjoy a 25-40% reduced risk of premature mortality, according to this study. Other research has shown that distance runners typically outlive sprinters and other track & field athletes. So what’s not to love? Well, tragically, every year we see a few deaths in marathons. Not many (about 1 death for every 250,000 marathoners), but enough to spook many folks. This new story helps to assuage many of those fears: “Is Marathon Running Healthy or Unhealthy?” Usually, serious medical emergencies are the result of undetected or ignored underlying conditions, so even though most of us think we are super healthy, it’s never a bad idea to consult your physician. The story also debunks some unsubstantiated concerns, like the idea that marathons cause arthritis. Studies have found little to no evidence suggesting that running marathons cause cartilage damage in the hips or knees, assuming you’re healthy to begin with. Those with a history of knee, hip, or tendon injuries are at a greater risk for complications when running long distances, so you’ll have to evaluate your personal tolerance with those factors in mind. A more likely issue for the average runner to face will involve dehydration, overhydration, or overheating, according to “The Dangers of Marathon Running and How to Avoid Them.” Of course, running 26.2 miles will have you sweating quite a bit, and you’ll need to replenish that water or risk dehydration. Make sure you don’t overdo it, though, because overhydration is even more common among marathoners, especially those who take over four hours to complete the race. If you want to know the warning signs and effects of drinking too much water, take a look at “How To Tell If You're Experiencing Overhydration, According To Doctors.”
Minute 2: How to lock in the perfect race pace
The 100M dash is often won or lost in the opening split seconds of the race, but that sure isn’t the case for distance events. Many of us have made the mistake of starting out way faster than our target pace, and it can result in quite a difficult finish. If you want to avoid that pitfall, consider these guidelines from Canadian Running: “3 tips for nailing the perfect pace on race day.” The first step is to set reasonable expectations. By paying attention to your pace in training, you can use tools like Strava’s “Running Pace Calculator” to estimate how fast you’ll want to go. From there, it’s important to get a feel for it in training. Logging miles on the track, of course, is an old school way to monitor your pace if you don’t quite trust the pace readout of your GPS watch. Tempo runs at race pace with rest in between can also get your body adjusted to the speed without causing too much burnout. If you’re looking for tempo run workout inspiration, you can try some listed in “Your Weekly Running Workout: Tempo Run Workout To Get 5K Ready” or “Tempo Runs 101 For Marathoners, Including Workouts By World-Class Athletes.” If you’ve competed in races of different distances before, you can input your finishing time into this formula to estimate your pace. That’s one of the tips listed in “A Guide to Finding Your Race Pace.”
Minute 3: How much protein is too much?
If there’s one thing you should remember about nutrition as an athlete, it’s that building muscle requires protein. If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, though, you’ll know we don’t always settle for the easiest answers to complicated equations. The Grateful Dead told us that “too much of everything is just enough,” but they’re known more as chemists than nutritionists. Instead of taking their advice on protein intake, you may want to check out: “What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Too Much Protein?” The first issue you may run into is problems with digestion. Meats are often high in protein, but unlike some plant-based protein sources, they lack fiber. That can cause bloating and other kinds of GI distress, so be sure to balance out your animal-based meals with sources of fiber. Protein is also a highly satiating macronutrient, meaning it can be useful for appetite control. On the other hand, eating excess protein can cause you to fill up before taking in enough vitamins and minerals from other kinds of foods, leading to malnourishment over time. As a general rule of thumb, athletes should get about 20% to 25% of their calories from protein. It’s important to get plenty of fats and carbs in your diet too, especially for long distance runners who use those as an energy source, so don’t neglect “The Importance of Dietary Fat for Runners.” If you’ve used up all your glycogen stores, or you're attempting to run slow and steady, your body will burn fat for energy. That’s why experts recommend that runners get 20% to 35% of their calories from fat. The remaining 40% to 60% of calories should come from carbs, so reach for some of the “10 Healthiest Carbs You Should Be Eating, according to a Dietitian.”
Minute 4: If your legs hurt after a run, try compression socks
This will sound a little backwards, but one of the best ways to decompress after a run is by seeking out compression. We’re talking specifically about compression socks, which can boost your recovery and help take your training to the next level. If you want to learn about what these socks can do for you, read: “These are the benefits of compression socks for runners that you need to know.” There’s a common misconception that compression socks must be worn during a run. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it may not be where they’ll have the greatest effect. Instead, one study had runners wear the socks for 48 hours after a marathon, and it resulted in a performance boost of 2.6% when measured two weeks after the race. Compression socks work by compressing the blood vessels in your legs and feet, improving circulation so that your muscles are delivered the nutrients they need to be restored. They come in different levels of compression ratings, and you can find tips on figuring out your size, as well as see a few recommendations from Runner’s World: “The Best Compression Socks for Running.” If there’s nothing in that article that suits you, head on over to our friends at Fleet Feet for an excellent selection of Compression gear.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
We’re always on the lookout for fun ways to mix up our runs. We shouted “BINGO!” after this article came across our feed, because it looks like the perfect way to add a bit of motivation back into our routines. If you haven’t guessed yet, it’s a game of runner’s bingo, with tasks like “running with friends” or “stopping for ice cream.” Find a downloadable link to your board and challenge your friends here: “New to running? Play this fun game for motivation.”
One of the beautiful things about running is how little equipment it requires. Some folks might say, “if only strength training were the same...” but the truth is, you don’t need weights or machines to make meaningful improvements. There’s a lot that can be done with just your bodyweight, like these “10 Best Bodyweight Arm Exercises.” You can even do them on the same day as your runs, but generally speaking, trainers recommend starting with the aspect of your fitness you want to improve the most. In other words, if strength is your goal, do those exercises first, and log your miles second.
The more scientists research endurance sports, the more it seems like our mental states play a crucial role in performance. There are lots of tricks and strategies you can use to hack your brain and set yourself up for a strong race. Things like training outdoors, or even developing skills to cope with stress and anxiety. If you want to learn about these cutting edge findings, read this new piece from Outside: “How to Harness Your Mind to Go Faster.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
We think that running is best when you get to share it with the people you care about. Crossing the finish line of a race is the perfect time to express your satisfaction, offer your congratulations to other participants, and spread the positivity of your accomplishment. Now that we’re living in a post-pandemic world, there’s no better way to do that than hugging it out. The Revel Race Series pulled together an inspiring highlight reel of some of the most heartwarming clips in the link below.