How to Prepare for your First Marathon
Have you recently set a new fitness goal for this year? Did you finally sign up for that first 5k, an obstacle race, or maybe a full marathon? Whether it is your first or your fortieth race, you have to log hundreds of miles, strength train, and oh yeah, live your normal life. There is so much to think about when training, that runners often forget to focus on recovery. Injuries, fatigue, and illness all happen when your body is not fully rested. Set yourself up for success with these tips on nutrition and recovery.
Get Your Vitamins
Eat a wide variety of healthy foods when marathon training. (No, running long distances does not mean you can eat whatever you want!) If you find that your diet is lacking in certain areas, supplement with vitamins and minerals you may be missing. Make sure you are getting plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids to keep your bones, heart, and muscles healthy. This will also help you stay healthy, so you will not get sick, messing up your training schedule.
Branch chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are great sources of fuel for before, during, and after your workout. Experiment with taking BCAAs before and during your runs and see how you feel. You should feel a boost of energy and mental clarity. Sometimes extra fuel can cause stomach issues, so be sure to use these throughout your training to see how you feel during runs with BCAAs. If you can handle them, great! If not, make sure to take some after to speed up muscle recovery.
Drink a Protein Shake
Drink a protein shake immediately after a run to repair your muscles and speed the healing process. A protein shake is easy for your system to digest after a long run. Whey protein is great, but if you are vegan, there are excellent vegan protein powders available. Mix in some greens and a banana to boost your recovery even more with much-needed carbohydrates.
Do not skimp on your water intake. If you want to feel good during your runs, then you cannot be dehydrated. It is possible to overhydrate during a run, so focus on drinking plenty before and immediately after a workout. Sip on water while you finish your protein shake and with your BCAAs after your hard runs. Then focus on drinking more water throughout the day.
You should be foam rolling every day, especially after a run. After you drink your protein shake, BCAAs and are drinking water, stretch and roll. If you have nagging muscle soreness, foam rolling before a run can also help. If you find a hot spot (a particularly painful place), spend extra time rolling that area. Do not overdo it, though. Runners have been known to bruise themselves with excessive foam rolling!
With proper nutrition, hydration, and supplements, you can recover faster and more efficiently from your long, hard runs. This is necessary for success when you have 26 long miles ahead of you on race day. Do not forget to use the same pre and post-workout recovery practices on race day so you can PR and feel great enough to celebrate afterward.