Answers to Your Questions About Marathon Training

*[Audio Content Available For Members Only. Click Here to Join Now]

In this episode Angie answers questions about minimalist shoes, running with asthma, busting down the wall, IT band pain, plantar fasciitis, pronation, pre and post race meals, mantras, and motivation!

Because our attention spans are short (mine has only been about 10 minutes lately) I’ve provided abridged answers to the listener questions below.

Here is the first question . . .

What is the best method to transition to a minimalist shoe from a traditional shoe? -Sent in by Rebecca

Listen to your body and be patient. It can take several months to make the transition. You’ll want to focus on general and dynamic strength training and good running form. Check out the podcast we did on barefoot and minimalistic running and the following short book for a “how-to” approach.
The Barefoot Running Book Second Edition: A Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running

I’m curious what do you think about when you are running your marathon? -Sent in by Jason

During the first few miles I’m enjoying myself, taking in the view, trying to stay relaxed and on pace. At some point in time the reality that I still have XX number of miles left starts to sink in. It’s very important at this point to give yourself positive messages like “I’m feeling good, I only have 16 miles left.” This is so much more productive than thinking “oh no, how am I going to get through another 16 miles.” Much of marathon success comes down to your attitude.

Asthmatics run all the time. Everyone has different things that work for them. What’s some advice for an asthmatic runner? – Sent in by Uriah

There are many asthmatic runners out there and even those with Exercise-induced asthma (EIA). If you stop running soon after the EIA begins, your symptoms will likely peak in about five to 10 minutes and disappear within an hour. EIA is worsened by cold, dry air, which robs the bronchial tubes of warmth and moisture.

  1. Warm up.
  2. Take your morning meds if you have chronic asthma and use your inhaler a few minutes before starting to exercise.
  3. A cup or two of warm coffee or tea 30 min to 1 hour before you run can help.
  4. Find a good time. If your asthma is worse in the morning, run in the afternoon. Just remember that pollen counts are usually higher later in the day and air pollution can also worsen asthma.
  5. Breathe warm air. Breathing cold, dry air results in cold, dry airways—a trigger for bronchospasm.
  6. Get in shape. The fitter you get, the less air you need for a given physical task, because your cardiopulmonary system gets more efficient, resulting in less strain on your bronchial tubes.
  7. Have a game plan. Make sure you know what to do in case of an asthma attack.

How do you motivate yourself to push through any walls that might get in your way those last tough couple of miles. -Sent in by Tina

The last few miles of a long run or race can be tough. Every fiber in your body may be telling you to quit. This is where your positive mental attitude needs to kick in. At this point you need to start repeating an inspirational quote or mantra. Promise yourself that you’ll get ice cream (or whatever sounds good) after you finish strong. Count your steps to 100 and then start over. Have a few “kick butt” songs on your playlist to motivate you. The possibilities are endless.

On my last 20 miler I reminded myself, “no one ever said that it would be easy, but it is worthwhile.” Mentally reviewing your goals or thinking about people who inspire you can often make a big difference.

What is the best way to relieve a tight IT band and what causes it? I am new to running and am training for my 1st 1/2 marathon. -Sent in by Dustina

Here are some ways to prevent and treat IT problems:

  1. Strengthen muscles around the IT band w/ resistance walking (put a resistance band around both ankles and walk sideways), side lying leg lifts: do 3 sets of 20.
  2. Use foam roller to loosen IT band.
  3. Stretch: seated leg twist, pigeon.
  4. Run on soft, flat surfaces.
  5. For treatment try to reduce mileage, consider getting deep tissue massage, ice three times a day, and stretch six time per day.

Plantar fasciitis is kicking my butt and I HAVEN’T heard or read so much about this, and it seems much more painful than shin splints. Have you ever had to work through this? -Sent in by Tanja

Yes, I’ve dealt with PF before. In fact, if I’m not careful about prevention it can flare up pretty easily. The plantar fascia (tough fibrous connective tissue) connects the heel bone (calcaneus) to the base of the toes. Inflammation, irritation, and swelling of the tissue along the bottom of the foot is usually the most painful in the morning. The pain is usually located directly in front of the heel and often results in a hobbling motion when weight is placed on the heel. Extreme point tenderness at the origin of the plantar fascia from the heel can be noticed when pressing on that area.

  1. Stretch calves before getting out of bed in the am (flex toes toward knees)
    – strengthen calves with toe raises.
  2. No uphill running or speed work while pain is present.
  3. Make sure you’re not running in shoes with too many miles on them. Consider orthotics if you can’t seem to get PF under control.
  4. Ice and massage -I like to place my foot on an ice pack for 15 min, then roll a golf or tennis ball under my foot focusing on the tender areas.
  5. For severe cases consider getting a foot splint to wear at night for approximately 14 weeks.

Is it possible for the amount of foot pronation to change as you gain or lose weight? I was told since I’ve lost 60 pounds my feet don’t over pronate anymore. -Sent in by Jason

Yes, things like weight loss or gain, pregnancy, and foot surgery can all impact your foot size, arch, and amount of pronation. If you’ve gained or lost more than 15 pounds, recently had a baby, or had foot surgery you should have your gait and foot type re-evaluated. Just don’t assume that the shoes you’ve always worn will continue to work for you.

What do you do AFTER you’ve completed your first marathon? How much time off should someone take? What type of training plan should someone use to maintain their level of running or improve their time? -Sent in by Jared

In the first few hours after a marathon it’s important to think about recovery. Make sure you hydrate, refuel (eat!!), and take care of any sore or injured areas.

I encourage people to take 1 full week off from running. If it seems like that will drive you crazy do some gentle, low impact cross training like cycling, yoga, swimming, and walking. At one week do an easy run of 3-6 miles depending on how you feel. If all systems are a go, start to reverse taper back up to your normal running mileage.

Think about your short-term and long-term running goals. This will determine what steps you take in the post-marathon period. If you want to do another marathon give yourself at least 3-4 months between races as a beginner. Runner’s World Smart Coach has training plans you can use for a variety of distances that will help you train for a specific time goal.

Once you have trained and know you can do the distance of your race, what is the single best piece of advice you could offer someone? (3 weeks to go) -Sent in by Rosie

Follow your training plan, listen to your body, and have confidence. Often in the last few weeks some self-doubt will set in during the tapering period. You’ll think, maybe I didn’t train enough or maybe I should increase my mileage. Don’t listen to the voice of doubt. Also, don’t get overly panicked by an occasional ache or pain. This doesn’t mean you won’t have a successful race. Just tell yourself that your body is healing and preparing for race day. Visualize your success and gather all the information you can about the race. Go into it feeling confident and strong.

My last marathon was on May 1st, and since then I have lost all motivation to run and have run very little over the last 3 months. What is the best way to get the motivation back? -Sent in by Dan

It’s not uncommon to lose motivation or go through a period of “post-marathon blues.” It always helps me to have another goal or some type of race on the calendar (and it doesn’t have to be a marathon). Maybe you want to focus on cycling for a while or spend time hiking. It’s okay to take a break from training, but not to give up on fitness and challenging yourself. Read an adventure book or a motivational running book. Watch a movie about running. Subscribe to running blogs and be active on MTA’s FB page.

Quick Tip -Recommendation for Pepper Spray

Also Mentioned in this Episode – Miles of Hope

Kelly is working very hard to fundraise and is organizing a 1 mile run or walk called Miles of Hope. The live and virtual event will be held on Oct. 22, 2011. You can visit the event web page for information on how to participate and donate:

4 Responses to Answers to Your Questions About Marathon Training

  1. Angie September 1, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Thanks for your questions everyone. Be sure to check out Miles of Hope and sign up to participate in the virtual run. Trevor and I have donated and will be doing the virtual event. It will be a nice “loosen up” run for us because Trevor’s first marathon is the next day!

  2. Sarah September 8, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Good luck, Trevor! I can’t wait to hear your race recap.

  3. Dan September 22, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Hi Angie,

    I’ve been faithfully listening to your podcasts and they have greatly helped me as I’m training for my first marathon. I listened to this recent podcast and I believe Trevor said that that there would be a link to your recommendation for pepper spray. I’ve looked online, and there are a lot out there. I’d love to get your recommendation. Thanks.

    • Angie September 24, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      Hey Dan, It’s exciting to hear that you’re training for your first marathon. If you look toward the bottom of this blog post there is an Amazon link to a good pepper spray (with a handy strap to carry it). It’s also the perfect size to tuck in your fuel belt of hand-held hydration. I know from personal experience that it works!

Leave a Reply