I am not an endurance runner. I can honestly say that I NEVER want to run a marathon. Ever. Not even a half marathon. I do think that running is a good form of cardiovascular exercise, when brief. I personally think that no living thing on this earth was created to sustain running over long distances. It just isn’t normal. But then again, what is normal? Perhaps this is why thousands of runners are motivated and strive to accomplish this incredible feat!
That being said, my husband is an endurance runner. He has completed two marathons and I have been witness to both his training and recovery. Most marathon runners have a good grasp on the nutrition that their body requires during training as well as which training schedule will get them to their goal in the safest way possible. Most endurance athletes also have a tool box filled with remedies to care for their bodies during high intensity training.
So, what does marathon running do to the body?
During a marathon, a runner’s body goes through some significant changes to cope with the physiological and metabolic demands from prolonged exercise. The runner is breathing faster and deeper, the heart is pumping more blood and faster, too! Blood moves away from organs in order to support increased demands of muscle tissue and is also altered based on hormone concentration. Electrolytes can become unbalanced and if not cared for properly, the issue can become life threatening. Of course, all of this is transient and if an endurance athelete employs a proper recovery protocol, within a few days, all is well again.
So, just how does an athlete support their body in order to mitigate the side effects of high intensity training? As I mentioned above, most athletes have a tool box of remedies to care for their bodies. Of course, some may use one or two, others may use all of them.
Bone Broths and other anti-inflammatory foods
Bone broth is an incredibly healing food. Not only is it loaded with vitamins and minerals, it also contains gelatin. Gelatin is excellent for bone and joint health and can help with inflammation. Another great anti-inflammatory is turmeric. Make a tea, add it to smoothies, cook with it, get creative! Other great anti inflammatory foods include, ginger, pineapple, cruciferous veggies, berries, lemons, fatty fish, and avocados.
During training, runners can get regular massage. Massage not only relaxes tight muscles, it also encourages the movement of fresh blood and lymphatic fluids, thus removing toxins and allowing the muscles to repair and recover. Regular massage will encourage elasticity and flexibility of the muscles. Massage also helps alleviate pain, is relaxing, and well – it feels good!
Seeing a chiropractor during training can play a significant role in injury prevention. Chiropractic care can ease the mechanical loads and stresses placed on the body and can determine the likelihood of an injury by locating muscle imbalances and joint restrictions.
Acupuncture can aid with both injury recovery and injury prevention. For recovery, acupuncture is able to stimulate blood flow to an injured area and promote healing. For injury prevention, acupuncture needles can get directly to deep muscle bands so that they are more susceptible to stretching. There will be less stress on the joint and the muscle will be able to contract without risk of injury. Regular acupuncture can improve muscle fiber mobility and can help prevent problems.
Using these simple tactics to care for your body during high intensity training will help prevent injury and help with recovery when necessary. What do you do to care for your body while endurance training? Please share your tips with us!
Well if this isn’t a forced blog post. Why are you writing about caring for marathon runners when you clearly don’t care for it and think it’s unnatural? You insult marathon runners and those thinking about it by your bashing of the sport itself. Life threatening? really? Can it happen, sure, but not if you take care consideration and fuel your body properly.
Your insults made it hard to get past the first few paragraphs to what might be some good information for those who are thinking about running a marathon.
It’s a discouraging article from a wife who clearly doesn’t support this unnatural sport, just words to put up on your ‘blog’. What a disappointing read.
It certainly wasn’t my intention to bash marathon running or insult people who are thinking about marathon training. I have great respect for endurance athletes. The time, dedication, and strength investment are not lost on me. I love my husband and fully support him in his endeavors. I think it is amazing what endurance runners accomplish and I am right there at the finish line cheering for all of them!
I clearly state what you mentioned, that runners are aware of the nutrition their body requires to train and run safely and also that the negative side effects of extended exercise are transient. “Life threatening” refers to the electrolyte imbalance that can occur if a runner doesn’t fuel and hydrate properly. Again, most runners know about hypo- or hypernatremia so I didn’t feel the need to address it here.
I do not think that I personally have to be (or even desire to be) an endurance athlete to write about how to care for your body. I live with one and I want to help him stay healthy in every way he can. There are some excellent protocols out there that can be incredibly helpful and lots of people either don’t know about them or under utilize them.
I loved this post! As an endurance runner and a real foodie, I can acknowledge that endurance running is hard on our bodies. I firmly remind myself that endurance running isn’t normal and my body isn’t designed for it. This helps me recover mentally from bad runs and makes sure that taking care of myself is forefront in mind at all times (because I’m putting my body through something much more extreme than is normal). I always love posts like this that help me make sure I am doing everything possible to nourish myself when I’m training. Massages and chiropractics are my go-to resources. I just started visiting an acupuncturist for an entirely different reason, but I’ll make sure to check in with her next time about ways she can help me prevent injuries. Thanks!
Kelly, great post! I like the angle you took adding how much extra needs to be done in addition to logging mindless miles on a flat surface as a form of “training.” That brings me to a couple of points I’d like to make. First off is how people refer to marathons and distance running as training. Training in my opinion is whatever you partake in to prepare your body for surviving life because after all that is what the entire system does on a daily basis starting with the nervous system….is adapt. The forces we encounter day in and day out whether it be stepping off of a curb, picking up a two year old, or swinging a golf club need to be absorbed by the musculature of the body. And if done so will never result in an injury of any kind other than DOMS…maybe. If we are going to do something that requires a little more of our system then we must prepare to do whatever our lives require with real training. This being moving joints through the greatest range of motion with the speed and internal stimulus necessary to prepare for the fastest, most force producing movement encountered in life.
Now we have people distance running for “training.” Saying you are training for life by running distance is like saying you are going to exercise to lose weight by going to the batting cages. You are trying to improve your body’s ability to adapt to the forces of life by doing a sport movement that one would compete in like a marathon. Training is something that should be done everyday, and running a marathon is in no way possible every day. Except for the woman who ran 90 marathons in 90 days I believe it was. But that woman trained for that feat which leads me to my next point. Sports break down the body and not in a way like true training does so it rebuilds to a stronger more adaptable entity but create compensation patterns, increase inflammation levels, throw hormones out of whack, and overall do more damage than good. Which is why sports need an offseason. In training to prepare for life there is no offseason. We were designed to move. Move to survive. Jogging, or basically falling forward and catching yourself from hitting the ground 1000’s of times is not training. Why is it that European health coaches, where most of our real training originated, when visiting the US gasp at all the people jogging on the side of the road? And when you ask them what’s wrong, they ask why are all those people trying to die sooner? They equate jogging slowly to an activity that doesn’t prolong health rather takes it from us.
I did not used to feel this way. I was a professional athlete and jogging for 45 min. to an hour was part of my training. Since I’ve retired and become a trainer/rehab specialist and soon to be Chiropractor over the past 12 years I’ve done extensive research, some books but mostly clinical. The inflammation and weakness that comes from distance running is astounding and systemic, meaning it’s everywhere. The distance runners were the weakest in my gym and I”m not talking about moving weight weak, but couldn’t hold their bodyweight at 90 degrees for a period of time weak. Like scary weak! And the higher level the runner the weaker they were, the more miles they logged the weaker they were. I saw this time and time again. Hmmm. Hospitals used to make people hold a back extension for 3 min. as a MINIMUM requirement to get hired. Distance runners couldn’t sniff the 3 min. mark on many of the positions needed to move from the beginner phase. It was too common to be a coincidence.
So we’ve got weakness and inflammation from distance running, along with elevated stress hormones, weak small heart and lung capacities because they are never pushed to maximum effort in order to adapt, and now comes the truth that took me years to test and research in order to believe. Distance runners are fatter than their sprinting counterparts or people who train regularly in the manner I briefly described above. Distance running teaches the body to burn fat as fuel. But the body being amazing gets smart so any food that goes in it will store as fat for fuel for this sport that will be done later. That is why people who run distances for “training” have to keep running or they explode in fat gain. So they never stop but their bodies break down as is what happens in sports and alarms go off like inflammation and pain, hence all the ibuprofen, knee braces and KT tape needed to do this “natural” activity…lol. I’ve had a number of clients who on their own would run miles and miles, maybe a marathon here or there in addition to the training they were doing with me. They were usually size 2-4 females or a 28-30 for males. And when we would take BF% they would be in the 30-38% range…obese! We call these people and the many who run distances for “training” SKINNY FATS or Thin Outside Fat Inside people.
I’ve since softened up a bit about meeting people halfway who just cannot seem to quit the sport of distance running. So I tell them that since they are not going to stop running they must prepare their bodies for this sport and the forces they will encounter. They must become very very strong. And I put it in perspective for them to understand. Since they are going to take about 2000 strides per mile they must be trained to absorb the force of 3 times anything they would ever endure. Some do it, and they don’t have quite as bad a fallout of all the negatives I listed. Some start and can’t keep up with both so they drop the real training and everything I said previously occurs. And then some stop running completely, start training daily doing real methodics to prepare themselves for life and lose body fat, cholesterol improves, inflammatory markers drop, injuries are gone, and they overall have a better sense of what training actually is in order to adapt appropriately to life.
Awesome job Kelly acknowledging that something extra needs to be done to prepare and recover from the sport of distance running. People are not going to stop any time soon as we are just getting larger and larger and marathons seem like a solid choice for “training” but at least we can be vocal about how to take care of yourselves during this disastrous sport by training to prepare for the sport as well as nourishing our systems so it has the materials needed to rebuild what gets broken down so all isn’t lost.
I am an endurance athlete. Ever since I was a little kid I have enjoyed endurance sports, whether it be swimming, running or cycling. I would like to add to this discussion a dimension of conditioning the body acquires to the physical activities involving endurance.
Humans sweat. Most animals do not. They can move for a while then they need to stop and expel heat through panting. Humans adapted to outrun animals, to run them to ground and kill them, by sweating. Likewise, they could also run away from predators, or each other. The biochemistry that arose from this adaptation should be mentioned.
Ways to run healthy: Stay on your feet. In weeks leading up to an ultramarathon, I stack boxes on my office chair. I’m going to be on my feet twelve hours running? I’ll start by standing and walking. I stretch, I do push ups throughout the day, I look for activities of varying intensity and duration to engage in through the day: cleaning, doing yardwork, playing with my kids, strolling. I build different adaptation, a range of responses. I don’t want all my muscles stuck on slow twitch, which are like the numbers in a deck of cards. They make the most of an ultra, but I need a few ace cards for short bursts and hills and stuff, or if I slip and need to tumble or fall, I need to be strong enough to do so. There are lots to do, but I like yoga, push-ups, planks and trail running. So, I engage in activities that mirror the intensified environment of the race. Simulations. The purpose of race reports is to impart the demands required of an event. A good race report will highlight the challenges and how one overcame them. Know your race and prepare physically and mentally, plan your training.
Good nutrition, sleep and stress-management are like the silences in a music composition that allow for a melody to emerge. Your race song depends on this element. You can over-train, skimp on sleep, on recovery, on diet, and blow your game. Get into a schedule that makes sense and stay there. Staying away from processed foods and refined sugar is essential.
Dealing with lactic acid and building your Krebs cycle is probably the most important aspect of training. being able to use oxygen, store and use energy, and buffer your body from harmful buildup of waste products and oxidation stress will be what allows you to keep digging through your deck of cards during a race. For example, I have psoriasis, which inhibits my production of fumaric acid, which requires me to get lots of sun, so I need to stay hydrated so I can sweat and chase these bib-wearing beasties down to eat more trophies and medals. Again, running around like a caveman chasing down a herd of fleet-footed herbivores, occasionally running from tigers or lightning is the best way to keep me strong. I just ran a 50K yesterday to train for a brutal 40 mile trail race in two weeks.
Kids love to play all day. Trouble comes when you stop playing. I recommend people play outside, try to have fun. The more you do it, the more you want to do it.
Speaking of overcoming, in the body, you have mitochondria
Oh god, there’s some editing problems. I was going to mention something about mitochondria recruitment, but decided to keep the nerd factor dialed down.
Knee arthritis Orthomol arthro it goes beyond all limits.