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Health Considerations For Marathon Runners. Monitoring Your Recover-Ability

Updated on April 17, 2012

Runners need to stay healthy

Therefore a runner- whether they're looking to run a Marathon PB or simply complete a charity fun run needs to be full aware of both their training and recovery status.

There are many ways that a runner can monitor their recovery and these can lead to an assessment of their recover-ability. A runner is consistently looking at their adaptation to training which ultimately leads to better performance whatever your event.

Below are key runners' health considerations to be aware of before, during and after training. If you fill out a running log book it is recommended that you quantify this information within the log-book for long term recovery assessment and monitoring adaptation to training.

Stay Healthy

Get outside and run. Stay healthy so you can run more often
Get outside and run. Stay healthy so you can run more often | Source
Stay healthy for a better running performance
Stay healthy for a better running performance | Source

Monitor your hydration levels for better running performance

Dehydration is highly likely to have a negative effect on running performance and also has a negative effect on your ability to recover post race or training session.

Try to stay aware that you need to drink fluids throughout the day. Keep a water bottle in reach of ytour desk while working. Or if you're around people that drink alot of tea- swap your regular tea for fruit tea's or mint tea to have a positive impact on your hydration levels. Try and limit your intake of caffeine and carbonated sugary drinks. If you dislike the taste of water alone a small amount of cordial drink can assist the palatability of your drink.

Pay attention to how you feel. Does your mouth feel dry?- Go and have a drink of water.

How can you tell if you're well hydrated? Pay attention to your urine colour. It's should be a clear colour if you are well hydrated.

Stay well hydrated for better running performance and recover-ability.

Just a small drop in hydration levels can severly affect performance. Consider carrying fluid with you on any runs lasting more than 45 minutes in the form of a small bottle. If you're training for distance consider a hydration belt which will allow you to carry a large sports bottle, or even pick yourself up a hydration system like a platypus/ Camelbak rucksack which carries a water bladder to help provide fluids to maintain hydration while you train.

What's it like outside? Environmental conditions and running

The environmental conditions play a key role in running performance as well as susceptibility to illness and injury.

High temperatures put the body under additional heat stress which can lead to excessive sweat loss while running and ultimately a state of dehydration. The body is under substantially more stress at 25 degrees Celsius compared to 15 degrees Celsius and this can cause a rise in a runners' core temperature. This negatively impacts recovery from running as the body now has an additional stress to recover from which lengthens the recovery period.

By keeping a long term training log you can quantify how heat stress has affected you previously and potentially put measures in place to avoid future heat stress while running. This is potentially useful if you have competitions (such as Marathons) during the summer months where heat stress could become a factor in your performance potential.

Hard training sessions when it's cold can force the lungs to take in huge amounts of cold dry air which puts a runner at risk of developing infections if they don't pay attention for their need for post run recovery.

When you look out the window to see what the weather is like or check the internet for your local forecast always think about your choice of clothing. Long tights help protect your knee joints from the cold. Windproof yet breathable jackets help to block cold winds in the depth of winter.

Sleep- helps a runner recover

sleep is vital for recovery
sleep is vital for recovery | Source

Did you get a good nights sleep?

While one single short or interupted nights sleep is unlikely to do any harm to your health- cummulative sleep deprivation over a period of time could have a negative effect on your training and recovery- as well as on your life in general.

Pay attention to how you feel when you wake up and it's always a good idea to make a note in your training diary. The great British runner Ron Hill was once noted with saying that distance runner spent the majority of their life in a state of tiredness.

Sleep is also vital for a runner to recover from the stresses of their training program.

Pay attention to your heart

Pay attention to your heart
Pay attention to your heart | Source

Pay attention to your heart rate

You can infer many things from your heart rate.

Monitor your morning heart rate to gain an idea of your recover status. Over a period of time you can gain an idea of your recover status from your training load and gather a solid idea on your resting heart rate. If you heart rate is 5-10 beats above your normal waking heart rate it may be a sign that your body is telling you that you aren't fully recovered from your cumulative training. This can often allow you to adjust your training to pay attention to how your body feels.

If it is your morning to do some micro-interval type training which would put extreme stress on your body yet your heart rate is 10 beats above normal- What do you think might happen as a result of completing the training session?

You may pick up a cold or virus in the days proceeding the workout or you may even find that you simply are not in a good enough physical condition to actually complete the workout and catch a cold/ virus.

Whilst you run also pay attention to your heart rate. Wear a heart rate monitor on every run you do and keep an eye over your steady pace heart rate particularly if you're used to running at set paces. If you're running at your usual 8 minute per mile running pace pay attention to your heart rate response. If your heart rate is higher than usual you may have an accumulated effect of tiredness.

Training heart rate can also be heavily affected by many of the factors mentioned above and more factors as well. Use it as a guide and not a rule book. Sometimes you have to run on feeling and not just numbers.

We all know someone who seemed obsessed with the numbers which seems to be holding their performance back

Enjoy you next run and pay attention to your recover-ability.

Please feel free to leave any comments below regarding the article or if you feel there are other factors you feel are important in maintaining a healthy running training program.


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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Interesting point Claudia. There are a lot of view points out there when it comes to stratching pre and post exercise. Some viewpoints see that stretching after a warm up is a positive however I have seen numerous studies that disprove the need for post warm up stretching. I think it's a decision that the individual has to make themselves. Try running without a post recovery stretch and see if it is for you.

      However I am very much an advocate of post exercise stretching and flexibility development.

      Thanks for your feedback CF

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 6 years ago from Mexico

      I have found for myself that stretching before and particularly after running is tremendously important for a runner's recover-ability. Before running, runners should warm up and lightly stretch (without forcing too much), holding each stretching position for 12 seconds. After running, the stretch should be stronger and should be hold for at least 15 seconds to have a positive stretching effect on the corresponding muscle. This is also a very good way to maintain muscles and joints in good conditions and it dramatically reduces the chances of inflammation, discomfort and injury.