How I Recover From a Marathon

If you have ever run a marathon, you are similar to others in searching for the quickest route to recover from a long run or a strenuous race. The recommendations are found throughout the magazines and across the internet. As an avid runner, I have my own special regimen that speeds my recovery, and once again has helped me progress to almost complete resolution of muscle pain and weakness after just 48 hours. Let me list the process I underwent after my marathon:

1. Cool Down
It is recommended in all research I can find that a runner should not stop to stretch or lie down after a strenuous exercise. The cool down can be a simple walk or jog after the race. I walk for at least 10-15 minutes without sitting or stretching to ensure the muscles have time to cool down with a light stretch from regular motion. Sitting or lying down will allow cramping. Stretching may overstimulate the stretch mechanism in an exhausted muscle and produce cramping or even injury. Stretching can be done after the cool down and is a good idea if done at the right time. If the cool down is done effectively, it will alleviate some of the after marathon recovery.

2. Refuel
Any amount of exercise utilizes the glycogen in muscles as an energy source, with blood glucose and free fatty acids. As the exercise level progresses to longer exercise or more strenuous exercise, these sources become depleted more quickly and “anaerobic” (without oxygen) mechanisms are utilized to produce lactate. The lactic acid in muscle fibers or even the muscle breakdown to obtain necessary energy can lead to muscle pain and stiffness. The speed of muscle recovery is determined by the amounts of lactic acid or protein (muscle) breakdown is required to repair the muscles (especially after an exercise is completed).

The University of Illinois did a study on rats in 1999 that showed quicker muscle recovery from this depletion with refuelling with foods containing Leucine (an amino acid) immediately after exercise. They showed muscle stiffness and soreness would subside more quickly. More recent studies have found 30 minutes to be the key time for muscle recovery. The foods eaten in the first 30 minutes after exercise help rebuild the muscles, while foods eaten later have less benefits for muscle repair.

Leucine is found in protein products such as meats and dairy products, as well as in protein bars and some sports drinks. It is not recommended, however, that pure amino acid supplements be taken, because the beneficial amount is not known. In the study, they made the following findings: “It [Leucine] stimulates muscle protein synthesis, provides fuel for the muscle and helps to maintain blood glucose. What really surprised us was that its activity is not seen when leucine or protein is consumed before or during exercise. Instead it has a dramatic impact on protein synthesis during the recovery period after exercise.”

So how do I refuel after a race? After any run, and especially after this marathon, I drank a large glass of milk withing 30 minutes of completing the exercise. Fluids are also imperative as are some other carbohydrates to help further maintain blood glucose and reduce lightheadedness from low blood glucose. When I don’t want to eat within 30 minutes after an exercise, I eat anyway, especially the large cup of milk and/or a yogurt to get the Leucine benefits.

3. Fluids, Fluids, Fluids…
An important part of refueling is fluid replacement to replenish the body. I have a tendancy to start sweating when I think about exercise. I therefore must replace a large amount of fluid after any form of exercise. This replacement is both for refueling and for providing the reservoir for flushing out waste products from the body and especially the muscles. It requires more fluid to carry all these waste products out of the muscles into the kidneys for excretion. Try to drink 6-8 ounces of water every 2-3 hours during the initial recovery period.

4. Hot or Cold?
Everything I have read recommends ice baths or ice massage after a strenuous exercise, and often they recommend avoiding the heat after exercise. I will say now that I aggressively treat my muscle soreness after an exercise (even after the marathon) with soaking in a warm bath or hot tub. Let me explain the scientific basis for my actions. (Note that for me this works really well and decreases my muscle soreness significantly within the first 24 hours and reduces it nearly completely by 48 hours.)

The body reacts to hot and cold by dilation or contracture of blood vessels. Cold (ice) will reduce(vessel contracture) the blood flow into the area or cause the body to pull the blood from the area. Heat will increase (vessel dilation) the blood flow to the area and allow increased blood flow through the area. Since muscle pain is often due to lactic acid in the muscles or other waste products of “anaerobic” muscle metabolism (contracture), heat will allow blood flow through the muscles that can remove these waste products. Heat is only recommended by me during the first 12-24 hours. Ice can be utilized at anytime, but is rarely necessary if I undergo my usual exercise recovery regimen.

I have found through the use of these 4 simple techniques that I can continue to run, recover quickly and not suffer for days – weeks after a strenuous exercise. I plan to continue to train and run marathons and will evaluate the benefits of this regimen after any strenuous exercise. The proof will be in my recovery. Currently I am basically painfree the Monday after a Saturday 26.2 miles…I hope this helps.

Copyright (c) 2009 Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute

Brandt R. Gibson, DPM, MS is a foot and ankle specialist with special interest in running and is currently training to run marathons this year. He is located in American Fork, Utah. His goal is to educate people and help them “optimize what they were born with.” For further educational information, visit his blog at or visit his website at

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Posted by The Running Guy - April 26, 2009 at 2:54 am

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Calories Burned While Running – How Much Fat is Burned During Running and Sprinting?

Running is the best way to burn fat. Calories burned during running are quite higher than any other exercise. The whole process creates enough metabolism in your body and stimulates fat burning. It not only helps your body to burn calories but also prevents from diabetes and heart diseases. It supplies more oxygen to your body and maintains your blood circulation too.

The whole process is quite helpful for your overall health. Obesity is also caused due to stress and we can get rid of this problem by running. Our mental health is also enhanced. Sprinting can be little strenuous for your body if you are not an athlete because it involves more energy than jogging and burn more calories as compared to former one. It is speedy, short and more effective in terms of weight loss. Calories burned in a body mostly depends on various factors like intensity, metabolism rate, energy levels and also the weight of your body. Usually sprinting burn fat easily as high energy and intensity used during this process.

How Much Fat Is Burned During Running And Sprinting?

If we make a calorie count while running and sprinting, it seems to be higher than any other sports. It can burn up to 1267 calories per hour. There are different forms of running like cross country, jogging, sprinting etc. They all have different intensities and abilities to burn fat. The simplest form of running is jogging which is mostly preferred for weight loss.

One should start with jogging because it is less strenuous than sprinting or cross-country. Jogging can burn up to 700 calories in an hour thereby burn fats from the body. It is always advisable to wear good running shoes in order to avoid injuries. You should drink enough water after this cardio workout in order to stay hydrated which helps in effective weight loss.

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Posted by The Running Guy - April 18, 2009 at 5:24 am

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Breathe While You Run

One of the most important aspects of running is proper breathing techniques. Running is exhilarating and most people only think about running in terms of leg motion and perhaps a little guidance with arms. Taking in enough oxygen when you run helps you run for a longer time, more effectively and with less stress.

It is easy and natural to get out of breath when you run. Oxygen is the fuel for your body to perform exercise. When you exercise, your muscles need oxygen and your body sends more oxygenated blood to the muscles, making the lungs work harder to suck in more oxygen from the air. Hence, you can quickly get out of breath as your lungs are working harder while your muscles demand more oxygen. Be sure to run at a good pace where you can breathe more easily. Pace yourself so that you can easily talk with fellow runners. If you find that you cannot maintain a conversation while you run, slow down to a pace where you can.

Breathing well is important when you run because you enable a good, smooth flow of oxygen to your muscles, thus increasing your stamina and ability to cover long distances. You will also feel more comfortable and enjoy running more, which in turn, will enable you to maintain your workout more easily.

How do you breathe well? Breathing properly is very easy. You can have any kind of breathing pattern that works for you. Breathing from your mouth is better than out of your nose because you take in more oxygen, while letting out carbon dioxide. Breathing through your mouth also relaxes your facial muscles unlike breathing out of your nose, which will cause your facial muscles and jaw to tighten up. You can let your jaw fall open slightly as your lips part, taking in and expelling out fresh air.

Breathe short and shallow. You can take in several deep inhalations when you are running up a hill or feeling out of breath but keep your breathing pattern swift so that you can keep going. Avoid forcing yourself to breathe longer or harder. You should be comfortable in your breathing pattern. Your rhythm of breathing is also important. Keep inhaling and exhaling at a rate that is consistent for you, regardless of what speed you run at. Pay attention and find out what your own unique natural breathing pattern it is. Listen to your breathing. If you find that you are breathing too hard, you are running too fast for your current health condition. Slow down and adjust your running to your comfort level. You can practice by slowing down your breathing as you run at a slower pace. Gradually pick up the speed and employ faster strides to challenge yourself, while monitoring your breath.

You can check what your natural breathing pattern is by counting the number of steps you can run in a breath. For some runners, it is two steps and for others it is three steps. Keep your breathing regular whatever your pattern is and pay attention to steps or other intervals to help you monitor your breathing rate.

Breathe out of your belly as much as you can instead of your chest. If you are not sure how that feels, try lying down on your back and paying attention to your stomach. You will see it rise and fall while your chest stays stable. Try to maintain this while you run. By paying attention through breathing via your belly, you can over time develop a toned and flatter abdominal midsection because your muscles will be doing an isometric contraction.

By breathing well, you can develop good endurance, decrease stress, and promote a healthy lifestyle for yourself. Paying attention to your breath will encourage you to be more fit while having greater energy when you run.

Michele is a fitness expert with a Master of Science in Physical Education and Dance, and 28 years of industry teaching experience. A former professional dancer and choreographer in New York and Seattle, she has owned Balance since 1995 and was a principle in Twist Conditioning, San Francisco. Michele is also a Trainer for Fitness Anywhere, teaching the TRX system to trainers and group fitness instructors all over the US. She is a member of the College of Marin Health and Fitness Advisory Board and is on the faculty at The College of Marin. Michele lectures for corporations and other groups on how to make fitness and health a priority in our lives. “Small Steps Bring Big Achievements” is available to all corporate groups. She can be reached at
Get a copy of “The Balance Workout #1” Balance DVD at The Balance Workout

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Posted by The Running Guy - March 13, 2009 at 10:28 am

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3 Mistakes Runners Make and How You Can Avoid Them

Long distance running and marathons are some of the most popular fitness activities in the world. In my home town of Singapore where I conduct personal training, there is huge participation in marathons and road races. Running and marathons are simple, do not cost much and can be done almost anywhere.

However they do have their dangers. They can be tough on the joints especially if you are untrained or overweight. They are also hard on your lower back and too much mileage can be bad for your hormones, weight loss, fat loss and stress levels.

Here are 3 mistakes marathoners and long distance runners make when planning and organizing their training,.

1. Mistake number one is not doing enough strength training. Doing a good strength training program under a good personal trainer or sport performance expert will help your run better, more efficiently, faster and with lower chance of injury. You need to get stronger in your glutes, back, and hamstrings to help your performance, posture and resistance to injury.
2. Not correcting functional problems or past injuries. Runners tend to love running even when it hurts. Runners tend to train through injury rather than fix the root cause of them. They put on guards and wraps of all kinds but these do not correct fundamental problems. Worse still injuries cause compensation in other parts of the body. This causes the other parts to be overused and eventually they get injured as well. See a good physical therapist, personal trainer or performance coach who knows how to diagnose and fix movement problems.
3. Not taking care of their nutrition is another mistake that marathoners and long distance runners make. The problem here is that many people use running to “burn off” calories. Too often these calories come from bad sources like highly refined foods and unhealthy fats. In general I find long distance athletes do not take as much care of their nutrition as power sport athletes like weight lifters or track and field throwers. So take care of your nutrition and watch your progress go up.

Coach Jonathan Wong, is a sought after Singapore personal trainer and performance expert who has helped hundreds of clients in Singapore from regular folk to national level athletes achieve their fitness, fat loss and sports performance goals regardless of starting age, fitness level or experience.

He Is also a fitness author and a member of Singapore Men’s Health Advisory Panel. Visit his website for a free 1500 page e-book, blog, newsletter and constant updates.

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Posted by The Running Guy - February 14, 2009 at 6:25 am

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Why Joggers Need Strength Training More Than They Think

If you have read much of my work, you will know that I’m not a big fan of jogging. However, the fact is that many people jog. My writing is not going to change that. Some people jog for psychological reasons, it makes them happy to feel sweaty. Some jog for the social interaction, some jog because its the easiest form of group exercise, some jog to raise funds for a charity. All these are acceptable reasons.

Unfortunately, the injury rate for joggers is really high. We live in a very sedentary and de-conditioned society so most of us are weak to begin with and have poor motor control and muscle firing patterns. This means injury.

Add this to the fact that most new joggers push themselves too hard too soon, and don’t do a suitable warm-up, the statistics make sense and are pretty scary… Studies show that the majority of new joggers get some kind of injury in the first 6 weeks of starting a jogging program. Shin splint, plantar faciatis, ankle sprains, back pain and other problems.

I’m here to help! Here are several reasons why joggers NEED strength training. This is not a recommendation, its a requirement. Do you want to maintain proper function and health?

*Jogging is an imbalanced activity. Well… all sports have some kind of imbalance, but in jogging this is made worse because these imbalances are repeated hundreds of thousands of times over a year with every stride.

The most common imbalance that I have seen among joggers is what is called “quadriceps dominance”. Joggers use their thighs a lot. They hardly ever go into a deep squat position or into a sprint stride or into a “athletic stance”.

This means that their glute complex (butt and butt-area muscles) are underpowered. The glutes are essential for proper posture, knee health, and back health.

Strength training also improves running efficiency. Studies show a 8-10% improvement over 11 weeks of strength training. To put that into perspective, that’s something like 10-12 minutes off your half marathon time!

Targeted strength training is the only way to get these underused muscles to balance out with the overused ones.

*Jogging reduces the body’s immune system function. That’s just the way it is with long distance activity. Strength training improves immune system function.

*Jogging reduces muscle mass (that’s bad!). Strength training will help maintain it.

*Jogging does not help you in old age. Maintaining strength and power is what keeps us happy, healthy and functional all the way to the finish line. Strength training helps in this critical area as well.

*Ok this one is not a universal truth like the previous 4, but from my experiences, joggers don’t take as much care of their nutrition as strength training athletes do. Many see jogging as an “excuse to eat poorly, after all, I just burned a thousand calories jogging”.

The truth is, everything we put into our mouths is a chance to get better or a chance to get worse. In addition, it is IMPOSSIBLE to out train a poor diet. Remember, your body is worth more than the most expensive Ferrari! And we wouldn’t put low grade petrol into the Ferrari… but we often do that with our bodies which have to do more and last longer than any car!

There we go! Real life reasons how strength training can help a jogger. So joggers, go do some dead-lifts, then thank me afterward.

Coach Jonathan Wong, is a sought after Singapore personal trainer and performance expert who has helped hundreds of clients in Singapore from regular folk to national level athletes achieve their fitness, fat loss and sports performance goals regardless of starting age, fitness level or experience.

He Is also a fitness author and a member of Singapore Men’s Health Advisory Panel. Visit his website for a free 1500 page e-book, blog, newsletter and constant updates.

To find out about his athletic performance program visit

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Posted by The Running Guy - February 8, 2009 at 4:39 am

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