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Before Participating in a Race, Here’s What a Cardiologist Suggests You Do


Before Participating in a Race, Here’s What a Cardiologist Suggests You Do

Before Participating in a Race, Here’s What a Cardiologist Suggests You Do

Running a marathon, particularly the renowned 26.2-mile distance, is a significant accomplishment in any race. Arguably, the New York City Marathon stands out as one of the top venues for such an event. If you found yourself captivated by coverage of this five-borough race over the weekend, you might be contemplating whether you are prepared for a marathon. We consulted a sports cardiologist to provide insights on what you should consider before committing to this endurance challenge.

Having been a marathon runner himself, the Doctor recalls feeling initially daunted by the idea of tackling such a long distance. “At first, I believed it was too challenging — but hearing from other runners about gradually increasing the miles ignited my interest,” as shared with Well+Good. Research indicates that completing your first marathon can have specific advantages for your heart health. For instance, a study revealed that completing your debut 26.2 miles can reduce your “aortic age” by four years, a metric assessing cardiovascular health based on the individual’s age and arterial stiffness at three points in the body.

Despite the intimidation factor associated with covering 26.2 miles, acknowledging the heart health rewards can be motivating. Here are three recommendations provided by the cardiologist. Seeking advice from a medical professional before embarking on this race is always wise.

Feeling Prepared for a Marathon? Here are 3 Tips to Tackle the 26.2 Distance

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1. Gradually Increase Your Mileage

Bear in mind that running 26.2 miles can be a daunting task for beginners. To prepare, it is recommended to incrementally extend your running distance on a weekly basis. This gradual progression can assist you in reaching milestones like running three, then four, and eventually 14 miles. The Doctor advises, “Increase your mileage by about five to 10 percent each week.” For example, if you ran 5 miles the previous week, aim for 5.5 miles the following week, ensuring not to exceed this increment.

Although this slow progression may seem tedious and time-consuming, it is essential for building the confidence needed for the marathon day. Additionally, your training regimen should not solely focus on running. The Doctor emphasizes incorporating strength training into your routine. “Remember to blend aerobic and endurance running with resistance and strength training weekly,” highlighting the need for a well-rounded workout plan to follow.

2. Participate in Other Races

To monitor your training progress over time, consider registering for races of varying distances. For instance, once you are comfortable running 10 miles consecutively, the Doctor recommends attempting a 10K (6.2 miles) and incorporating a few half marathons into your training schedule. Benchmark races like the 15K (9.3 miles), 20K (approximately 12.5 miles), and 30K (around 18.7 miles) can provide additional opportunities to evaluate your training journey.

Participating in these races not only allows you to assess your training status but also enables you to draw motivation and energy from fellow runners and spectators during your longer runs, which can become monotonous as you progress through the training cycle. Running alongside others can reignite your passion for running.
3. Diversify Your Training into 3 Categories

Coach Bennett from Nike Run Club often asserts, “Running isn’t dull, but some runners are,” emphasizing that running becomes monotonous when you follow the same route daily. By varying your pace, location, and distance, running can become more enjoyable. Moreover, diversified training is effective. According to the Doctor, your training should encompass three types of runs, similar to the variety in a Neapolitan Ice Cream quart.

  1. Endurance Runs: These runs help you gradually increase your mileage, aiming for a long run of about 16 to 18 miles. Adhere to the five to 10 percent increment guideline mentioned earlier while determining the duration of your endurance runs.
  2. Tempo Runs: Challenging yet rewarding, tempo runs enhance your mental stamina for long-distance running and also boost your speed. “With tempo runs, focus on improving your split times and gradually increase the tempo weekly,” advises the Doctor, suggesting including either a day of interval training or tempo running each week to enhance your pace.
  3. Recovery Runs: During the last month leading up to the marathon, prioritize recovery runs. While reducing your total weekly mileage, maintain some tempo work to ensure you are relaxed and prepared for the marathon, recommends the Doctor. A recovery run should feel like a three or four out of ten effortwise, allowing you to enjoy a light and effortless pace after your training efforts.

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