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Tips for Training for a Marathon

Expert Panel Question???

“I’m a 62 year old male runner, have run many half marathons but never a full marathon. I run 3 – 4 times a week averaging 25 to 35 miles. I play golf and weight train moderately. I’m training for a marathon and would like to feel more energized – suggestions?”


Realize that training for a marathon at any age is an energy draining pursuit, but to help you feel as good as possible try the following:

1. Keep your run days to 3-4 times a week
2. Keep your weekday runs to no more than an hour.
3. Do long runs every other Saturday and start them about 16 weeks out(assuming you already can run 90 minutes for a long run)
4. Do your longest training run at 22 miles and do it 3 weeks out from your race.
5. Focus on eating really well after all your runs. Drink a recovery drink IMMEDIATELY upon finishing a run and then eat a whole food meal within 45-60 minutes following that has a lot of carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat.
6. Drink lots of water each day.
7. Sleep really well.
8. Use a sports massage therapist twice a month
9. Take a solid vitamin/mineral/ antioxidant supplement day and night.
10. Take an ice bath after each long run.

by Debbie Perry

Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor

USA Triathlon Certified Coach

Colgan Power Program Strength Trainer

Local Elite Runner/Triathlete

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Foot Pain! What’s Wrong?

Expert Panel Questions???

“12 Days before Marathon, I have had pain on the bottom of my foot (arch area) for about 1 week. I am stressing mentally :) Any suggestions on what I should do would be appreciated.”

“I ran a half marathon the other day. About 12 hours after I finished, the outside of my foot started hurting. It’s the bottom of the foot on the opposite side of the arch. It has not stopped hurting since, especially when I walk. What is this?”

(ask your questions to the UtahRunning.com Experts here)


The short answer to these two questions may be accumulated stress from training at increased intensity and volume of marathon preparation. Damage done to your tissues has exceeded your body’s ability to recover and heal itself. These issues are discussed in “Why does my heel hurt during the power phase of training?” Mechanics out of alignment or a worn-out or improper shoe may exacerbate stresses on the foot. Consider revisiting my article on how to select the correct running shoe.

Regarding why the lateral side of the foot is sore after a run–The short answer here is that you are running on the lateral side of your foot. You may have a cavus (high arch) foot and naturally run on the lateral side of your foot. Running in a stability shoe or using a rigid, high-arch orthotic will make you run more on the lateral side of your foot. Alternatively, you may have a planus (low arch) foot. In this case your shoe may not have enough stability and your posterior tibial tendon may be sore. Your body then tries to protect the posterior tibial tendon by activating the anterior tibial tendon, which inverts the foot and causes you to run on the lateral side of your foot.

Revisit the running shoe article and think hard about what type of foot you have. If pain is not improving, you may have a stress fracture, and you should seek treatment and have an xray.

By Jeffrey Rocco, M.D. Rocco Foot and Ankle Institute 801-644-8795

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Runner’s Knee

Expert Panel Question???

“After a run my knee begins to hurt fairly badly. It hurts a little during the run but mainly after. Is there a certain type of shoe that would help with my knees or is the only solution not to run?”


Knee pain is probably the most common injury complaint in runners and has a variety of causes. The most common, Patellofemoral Syndrome, actually also goes by the lay name “Runner’s Knee”. It is more common in women but can occur in men too. It is characterized by pain in the front of the knee, is worse going up and down stairs, during squats or lunges and often results in a deep ache in the knee after a prolonged knee-bent position (such as sitting in a class, movie, car or on a plane). The fact that your knee pain is not so bad during your runs but afterward makes this the most likely problem although it can get bad enough to become an issue during runs too. It is thought to be an injury that occurs to the under surface of the knee cap (the patella) when the knee cap and the bone below it (the femur) are not in alignment.

The under side of the patella has a small ridge running vertically through the middle of it and the femur below has a corresponding groove. These two should remain lined up as the knee bends and straightens. A misalignment between the patella and the femur can be due to genetic factors, biomechanical problems or the result of muscle imbalances. Since we can’t do much to change our genetics, the focus is on the muscle imbalances and biomechanics. As a one directional sport i.e. straight ahead, even elite runners are notorious for developing muscle imbalances.

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Energy and Electrolyte Drink Comparison 2010

Proper hydration for athletes requires more than water. Last month we established the critical role electrolytes play for exercising athletes. (See A Tale of Five Electrolytes) During exercise electrical impulses are being carried, muscles are contracting, calories are burning, heat is being produced, and sweating occurs. To keep these systems within optimum parameters, electrolytes need to be maintained and energy stores need to be replaced—all within a fluid medium. The endurance athlete is faced with an ever-increasing variety of products to meet these nutritional needs. We have put together an updated comparison of currently available drinks and some thoughts to consider when selecting an exercise drink.

The volume of fluid consumed during exercise should nearly match the volume of fluid lost by sweat during the exercise period. Fluid losses exceeding as little as 2% of body weight can lead to significant decreases in performance. You can calculate your sweat rate by weighing yourself before and after a one-hour exercise session. This number less the amount of fluid consumed during the session is your sweat rate.

Our bodies depend on fluid to do the business of exercise, but that fluid contains more than water. It contains electrolytes primarily, along with some amino acids and vitamins. Electrolytes are dissolved mineral salts that are found in the fluid both inside and outside of the cells in our bodies. The primary minerals lost through sweat during exercise are sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. Nutrition during exercise should include these five critical electrolytes. See A Tale of Five Electrolytes for a discussion of why electrolytes are important.

For athletes participating in longer duration and/or higher intensity exercise, the electrolytes lost through exercise can exceed what is available in many sports drinks. Some companies have recognized this and recommend supplementing with electrolyte tablets during exercise. Adequate amounts of electrolytes should be available in the sports drink. In the chart below notice the concentration of electrolyte losses versus the concentrations available in a typical sports drink. You might want to then refer to the label on your favorite sports drink or look at the comparison chart we have put together.

Electrolyte Drink Comparison Chart

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My First Pair of Running Shoes

I remember my first pair of what I thought was a “good” pair of running shoes. I was a freshman in high school and the coach noticed my shoes and encouraged me to buy some good shoes for running so my Mom took me to the local department store to purchase my first pair of “running” shoes. The selection of athletic shoes was slim at best. As I looked through the few athletic shoes they had only one that claimed “running” shoe.

I remember the name of the shoes distinctly; they had the inscription “the winner” on them and were completely white – soles and all. Silently I chuckled at the name and resisting the temptation of holding up the all popular “L” finger sign on my forehead, but not being well-to-do folks, they would have to do. They seemed relatively expensive compared to the regular cheap “tennies” I had grown accustomed to wearing for most the cross-country season. So we purchased them. Although they were not your typical name brand shoes, I was still excited to have something that was new and better than what I had. Now 25 years later I have learned the importance of good running shoes.

There is a lot of hype lately about running in bare feet and I do believe that is valuable to allow your body to learn how to run efficiently with proper form. I can often be found at an outdoor track running barefoot and working on my form. I would have to admit that on a regular basis I prefer to wear shoes. Not only do they protect my feet and keep them warm in cold weather but they are comfortable. I have suffered very few injuries over my many years as a runner and I believe it is due to always having good shoes along with practicing proper stretching, resting enough, eating healthy and staying hydrated. I truly believe it is important to buy good shoes. Good is a relative term, but I am not talking about your department store “the winner” shoes, but your name brand shoes found at a specialty running shop.

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by on Mar.25, 2010, under Expert Answers, Running Shoes

What should I eat before a race?

Pre-Race Nutrition

After all the training that has been done leading up to your big event, the last mistake you would want to make race morning is with your pre race nutrition.   There are some athletes who decide that they want to skip all the confusion and try not eating.  While this may work for a morning 5K, it gets more risky with a 10K and down right nonsense for a half-marathon/marathon or triathlon.  There have been several studies done that repeatedly show substantial increases in performance with proper fueling before an event.  In addition to increasing performance and topping off glycogen (energy) stores, a pre race meal will also help avoid hunger, stabilize blood sugar (especially in those who are sugar sensitive), hydrate the body, still leave your stomach empty by race time and help prevent gastrointestinal distress when done correctly.  So in other words, you will feel and perform better.  The key is to customize your eating habit based on your weight, race distance and food sensitivities.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow for a pre-race morning:

  1. Consume .5-1 gram of carbs per lb of body weight the morning of race[i].  For longer races stick to the 1 gram/lb. At least half of it in solid food eaten no later than 2 hours before the race.  The rest of the requirement can be taken in the form of a pre race hydration drink (see below) between 90-30 minutes prior to start time. There are some extra sensitive people that can only do liquids the morning of and that is OK(especially for short, less than 40 minutes, and high intensity racing) Some people keep a packet of gel to take 10-15 minutes before if they can tell they need a little more, so carry one just in case.
  2. Choose a solid food meal that is low to moderate in glycemic value. This is a key piece that will help keep your blood sugar stable before and during the race.  One reason some people feel hungry right before the start is that their pre event breakfast was way to high in simple sugars (i.e.: fruit loops, white breads, candy.) which caused a hypoglycemic reaction. People seem to be more sensitive to this blood sugar drop on race day.  With a lower glycemic meal, a steady stream of fuel will be released into the muscle during the first part of the race and allow your body to wait until later to use the other carbs you have stored up in the days before.
  3. Avoid high fat and high protein meals. This will slow down the absorption of carbs too much and then you end up trying to race on a full stomach. Yuck! That would be a gastrointestinal disaster. Some “lighter” protein is OK in order to reduce the glycemic index of a meal and make it “stick.” Acceptable protein would be eggs or whey protein, which are both easily digestible.
  4. Keep the fiber intake low. This would not be good time for a bean burrito. No explanation needed, ehh?
  5. Drink 12-24 oz. of fluid, stopping about 30 min. before race start. If you eat mostly solid food, then your fluid choice will be water.  But for some athletes, some or all fluids will be in the form of a hydration drink.

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