Your guide to prepping for a 10k+ run
Spring has finally sprung, the clouds [have mostly] cleared – and you are ready to hit the pavement… but the thought of running 10 kilometres [or more] seems rather daunting. There are 3 major things to consider for an easy transition into distance running:
How to Fuel
How to Build up Stamina
How to Cross Train
How to Fuel:
Fuelling your body to undergo such aerobic exertion is essential for not only crushing your time goals, but also for making the run enjoyable and for optimal recovery after the race.
Let’s split food up into the macronutrients:
Carbohydrates – a moderate amount of whole grain carbohydrate sources are vital for a long run. You will be depleting your body’s stores of free sugar (blood glucose) and stored sugar (glycogen in the muscles). Choices with a good amount of fibre (3g+) should be of prime focus; the fibre helps to ensure that the blood sugar levels do not spike or fall, but are maintained at a healthy level.
Fats – bring it on! We need good doses of healthy fats for optimal cell recovery – your body also does not burn these calories as readily during digestion, so this kind of fuel will stick with you a little longer. Including nuts, nut butters, avocado, fatty fish, extra virgin (first cold pressed for extra credit!) oils, etc. into your diet will help you stay satiated and avoid the painful wear and tear on your body – at the cellular level.
Protein – Running can be very wearing on the body, and good levels of lean protein in our bodies are essential for the maintenance & building of muscle mass. Protein is made up of amino acids that can be converted into sugar when our stores are depleted. In a long run, you are more than likely going to run out of sugar; the more protein we have readily available, the less muscle breakdown will occur as our body is in need of more carbohydrate.
How to Build Stamina:
Your body utilizes different energy systems for different activities. For quick bursts of activity – from 1 second to 3 minutes max - you use stored energy in an anaerobic capacity – without requiring oxygen; this is the part of your workout where you feel the “burn” from lactic acid build up in your muscles. For endurance training -anything from 3 minutes and beyond - your body requires oxygen to continually replenish the energy you are depleting. Ever wonder why the first few minutes of a run feel awful? This is the point where your body hasn’t quite kicked into the aerobic energy system yet. With proper training, you can tap into your aerobic energy system more efficiently. The two vital pieces to this puzzle are:
Proper breathing techniques
Aerobic running intervals
To maximize on the oxygen needed to bank energy, your breathing needs to be on point. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth – ensuring that you are feeling your belly rise and fall with every breath. Rib cage breathing is the culprit that causes collar or side stitches while adjusting to the demand of running.
As for intervals, begin with a 4:1 or 5:2 running: walking ratio. You want to choose a running interval that is beyond 3 minutes so that your aerobic energy system has had a chance to take over the activity. Every 2-3 runs, increase that running interval by 30 seconds- 1 minute. Once you are on a 10:1/12:1 schedule, you will be tapped into that euphoric aerobic steady state where you will be more comfortable letting go of the walking altogether.
How to Cross Train:
Running long distances can be hard on the body, and without proper fuelling and resistance training, will lead to muscular breakdown. Not only do power and strength training help to fight against muscle loss, they also aid in overall performance and recovery. Power lifting requires quick, explosive movements in a repetition range of 4-6, while strength based training has a slower tempo of high weight demand, between 6-10 repetitions per set. As you can imagine in a race, whole body muscular power and strength are beneficial – with a focus in on the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves, as well as the postural & core muscles to keep your spine in a neutral position as you run. When changes of terrain are ahead, you want to be able to make it up hills with ease; you want to sprint to the finish line; you want to be confident that you won’t be out of commission for a week after race day due to DOMS (delayed-onset-muscle-soreness). Optimally, you should ensure you are resistance training these major muscle groups at least twice per week within your running training.
Now take these tips, have them in mind as you prepare your meals and exercise schedule, enjoy the scenery… and run with it!