Pushing the limits

Posted: May 30, 2012 by tforder in Sport

People are pushing their bodies to the limit to cross the finish line in a personal best time – even those who have never run before.

As many runners can attest, getting into the rhythm is the important first step and then marathons are just around the corner.

As Jess McGuire writes, the greatest thing she’s discovered about running is that it isn’t about comparing yourself to others.

“The only person I’m trying to better whenever I put my trainers on is myself. And there’s something fantastically liberating about smashing through my own self-imposed limitations, too.”

Running marathons and attempting half iron mans are becoming very common amongst professional people looking for a challenge but experts stress proper training and nutrition are critical to avoid health risks.

Personal trainer Giulia Prosperi-Porta has signed up to do five marathons in different European cities before she returns to Australia.

“I love travelling and I love keeping fit, so it’s the perfect mix for me. And I’ve chosen to do marathons because I just enjoy the physical and mental challenge,” she says.

Her first marathon will be in the Isle of Man, followed by one in Budapest and then Rome and she’s in the ballot for the 2013 London Marathon.

To get in top shape for the gruelling runs , Prosperi-Porta is following The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) 16 week training plan.

The training schedule involves three runs a week and cross-training on the non-run days.

“This is perfect for me because I enjoy other sorts of training like weight training, interval training and aerobics so I can do that on the days I don’t run.”

The three runs per week include an interval run, a tempo run involving running at different paces and a long run at about 30 seconds slower than a marathon pace.

Ellen Hibbert, Anne Vu, Candice Poupard and Brendan Dimech are in training for Run Melbourne.

An upcoming marathon closer to home is the popular Run Melbourne on July 15.

A small group has been training together on the weekends for the past two months. They are aiming to do the half marathon and are doing another two runs individually during the week.

They are loosely following the beginner training program set out by Run Melbourne with three runs a week.

Eating for a marathon

Proper nutrition is also important both before and during an endurance event. Nutritionist Ingrid Phyland says when undertaking a marathon or triathlon proper nutrition and hydration is critical before, during and after the event.

Pre-race food and fluid

Two days before the event, eat meals and snacks based around high carbohydrate choices such as bread, pasta, rice, cereals, fruit, smoothies, yoghurt – do this four to five times a day.  It is also a good idea to consume less bulky carbohydrate foods such as drinking fruit juices, cordial, soft drinks or lollies so that you can ensure your liver and muscles have been fully topped up but you don’t feel uncomfortable.  Avoid high fat

foods like chips, crisps and fatty meats as these will make you feel full and you will eat less of the carbohydrate containing foods that are important at this time.

Aim to up your fluid intake three days before, consuming about three litres per day. This can be a combination of water, cordial, fruit juice, and sports drinks. Sugary drinks will help you to retain fluid and will also help to ensure your glycogen (energy) stores are fully topped up for the event.

Phyland’s says a pre-event meal should be eaten one to two hours before the start of the race and should be low in fat and easy to digest.

Some ideas are:

  • Cereal bar or power bar plus a banana
  • Banana in a roll
  • Jam on toast and orange juice
  • Tinned fruit and yoghurt
  • Liquid meal supplements are good id you don’t feel like eating

“Continue to sip on sports drinks leading up to the race start. Aim to consume 600ml to 1 litre over the morning,” she advises.

During the race

Ms Pyland advises stocking up on water or sports drinks, glucose lollies or sports gels (about 50 grams of glycogen (energy) per hour) during the race.

To replace electrolytes drink sports drinks, while eating salty foods such as a white break Vegemite sandwich can assist replacing sodium lost in sweat.

Post event

When the race is over you will benefit from refuelling and rehydrating for a more rapid recovery. This is the time when your body is most receptive to fluids, carbohydrates and other recovery nutrients. Rehydrate yourself with at least two litres of fluid over the afternoon and have a high carbohydrate recovery snack close to finishing. This should be followed up by a meal within two hours that contains plenty of carbohydrates. This is particularly the case if you are driving home or wanting to stay awake to see the presentations.

– Tegan Forder

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