Training Tips - by Coach Adam

The American Cancer Society encourages all participants to check with your doctor to make sure you are physically able to participate in an endurance event before signing up. Questions with respect to medical or health issues cannot be provided by the Coach or the American Cancer Society and instead must be directed to your health care provider.

I am a first time marathoner, how many times per week should I run?
One of the most common mistakes first timers make is increasing the number of running days too rapidly. Running 3 times per week it is a good starting point.

What's the best running shoe?
There's no such thing as "the best running shoe". Things such as biomechanics, body type, weekly mileage and surface play a role at the time of choosing the proper footwear. Remember, when choosing the right shoe, be careful of recommendations from fellow runners. What may work for your running partner may not work for you unless you have a similar build and foot type.

Why do I need to cross train as part of my training?
Cross training helps you increase your fitness while giving your running muscles a well-deserved break and also helps to work muscle groups you don't really use while running therefore improving overall fitness.

How can I get better at running up hills?
Simple: add more hills to your training. Runners that don't like hills tend to skip hills while training. You should develop a love for hills by introducing them into your training program.

When training, is it ok to do most of my running on the treadmill?
While running on a treadmill has its benefits (weather conditions, pacing, etc), a combination of training outdoors and with a treadmill will be most beneficial for race day.

When should I stretch?
Studies show that stretching before running could lead to injuries. It is better to warm up with a slow jog and gradually move up to your usual pace. You should always stretch after your runs.

Should I change how I eat now that I'm running?
If you are running less than one hour per day nutrition is not a big issue, unless your nutritional habits are poor. Your body and your training will appreciate a good healthy diet.

My knee pain always returns even after taking time off from running. Why?
While taking off from running may eventually help to make the pain go away, ultimately you need find the 'cause' of the injury and fix it, otherwise it will return sooner than later.

I want to lose weight. How?
You've heard it before: calories burned should be higher than calories in. A combination of a healthy controlled diet and frequent exercise will drop pounds. This should be a long-term process, do not cut corners.

How fast should I run?
Your training program should include the proper mix of speed workouts, slow runs, recovery runs, and rest days. They all play an important role in your training.

How can I make my training more fun?
Join a running group or invite a friend to join you during some of your runs. Change the scenery of your runs. Run at different times of the day.

What is the most import thing while training for a marathon?
Your commitment to the training.

Is there such a thing as training too much?
These are the "toos" you want to avoid:

  • Running Too long too soon
  • Running Too long too many times
  • Running Too long too fast
  • Running Too fast too many times
  • Running Too short too many times

What the best advice to give me for marathon day?
A successful race is not measured by how fast you ran but by how well you executed your race plan.

What can I do to prevent needing to use the bathroom 5 minutes before race start?
You should stop hydrating about 60-90 minutes before race starts and spend the next 60-80 minutes getting rid of the excess fluids. Once at the starting line drink your last 6-8 oz of water.

Should I set a goal for my first marathon or half marathon?
Most coaches and experienced runners will have you focus on simply "finishing" your event. The expectation I have from the runners/walkers I work with is to get to the finish line happy and injury free. But this does not mean that, come race day, you shouldn't have some type of expectation.

How should I pace myself during the marathon or half marathon?
As your mileage increases, you should always be tracking your progress as you rack up those miles. Track how long it is taking you to do your long runs, short runs, and everything in between. Use this information to give you a sense of where you should be at different mile markers along the course.

How do I know if I'm overtraining?
Overtraining occurs when runners run too fast or too hard, too soon and too much. Many times, not allowing your body to rest before you subject it to new stress can result in overtraining symptoms.

What are the symptoms of overtraining?
The most common are fatigue, decreased performance, and chronic muscle soreness. Mentally, a runner will go through a decreased enthusiasm for training. This is often referred to as "Runner Burnout". To avoid overtraining, vary your workout routine, allowing for rest days or in some cases rest weeks, and appropriate goal setting.

When training, is it important to take some days off from running?
"Rest days" are part of your workout routine as well. Rest days are crucial in recovery and preparing your body for a harder workout later in the week.

What is a realistic training goal?
Your goal should be based on your ability. I'm not as fast as Ryan Hall. I want to be. But the reality of it is that my body is not as young as his, as fast as his, and I'm simply not as gifted as he is. So why should I make an attempt at breaking his marathon record? Instead, set a goal such as placing in your age group. Then, train at an intensity appropriate to your fitness level, and move forward from there.

Should I be barefoot running?
Barefoot running has been in the spotlight recently due to the recently popular novel Born To Run, A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Chris McDougall. There is now a barefoot running shoe in the market and I'm sure there will be many more to come. Before you attempt running barefoot, be sure to check with your healthcare provider.

How often should I run to train for a marathon or half marathon?
This can vary per person depending on your training intensity and goals. With that said, there is no single right answer. We can look at it from a minimum versus maximum perspective. Some athletes with busy lives can only run three days a week, while others can run as frequently as 10+ times per week. Either can be effective if the athlete has a specific goal for each run, such as varying endurance, speed, and strength.

If I train more, is there a point of diminishing return?
It all comes down to intensity. A person running 5-7 days a week at a high intensity will often be prone to injuries and the dreaded runner burnout. Varying your workouts with a specific goal for each workout will ensure a long, healthy, running life.