Running advice from Clare

Contrary to popular opinion Clare is my younger sister. Yep, that would be correct, I am older than Clare. For some weird reason people always assume that Clare is older; I guess I need to start acting my age more huh? Anyway I am a year and a half older than Clare, shocking I know. I have asked Clare to be a guest writer for my blog to give advice to more advanaced runners because she is a two time marathon runner and knows a thing or two when it comes to running.

Clare is a former NCAA Division 1 athlete. She ran for the cross country and track teams at Seton Hall University. In the fall of 2010, she completed the Harrisburg Marathon and then last year the Marine Corps Marathon. Currently, Clare is training for her third marathon this fall in upstate NY. In short, Clare is amazing! The following is written by Clare. And she will be a regular writer for this section of my blog.

Clare (right) and our friend Megan after completing the Marine Corps Marathon.

Hello, and welcome to Maura’s blog. I am so happy to be writing for I fight Him with love. I am even more excited about my sister’s ministry Made in His Image. When her clinic is built I am going to head up a running group for girls recovering from eating disorders and help educate them on running in moderation. For now, here is what I have for you. Thanks for reading.

At times I feel compelled to ask myself why I have this innate drive within me to get up at four a.m. to complete a 20 mile run for marathon training. I mean goodness gracious at times it is difficult for me to get up at the crack of dawn to a delicious cup of espresso, but a three and a half hour run? Why put yourself through 18-weeks of strenuous training to only conclude with a 26.2 mile race? However, from the time I finished my first short race, the challenge of a 26.2 mile race always hovered in the back of my mind. For sure, the 5-K race is pleasant, the 10K race is commonplace, and the half-marathon a definite self-esteem propelling long distance race, but in my mind none of these have the mere distinction that a marathon has alone. It was a feat I always wanted to accomplish, had to accomplish, and ultimately did accomplish. Why, one might ask? Because for a runner the achievement of a marathon is always something left to undertake. It gives someone an opportunity to test the limits of their perseverance and accomplish something extraordinary when you don’t think you have it within yourself to take one more step.

So to all of my running friends out there who want to undertake this grand and glorious endeavor I have jotted down a few tips for marathon training that I have learned…

Pre-long run : Starting out with sufficient energy reserves is vital, but it’s best to allow one to four hours after eating a proper meal before setting off, otherwise your body may not have had time to digest the food properly. I normally complete my long run in the morning, so I get up ½ to hour earlier before start running. If you’re heading out first thing, think about grabbing a quick snack like a banana or energy bar, perhaps a slice of toast or half a bagel. Alternatively, a few swigs of a sports drink can give you a quick boost – these are easier to digest than solid food, and are a good source of carbohydrate if you can’t stomach anything more substantial. I normally just eat a Cliff energy bar (Chocolate Brownie are my favorite!) Keeping hydrated while training is also an absolute must. As a rough guide, try to drink 500ml of water, diluted juice or a sports drink hour before a run, and another 150ml just before you leave.

During long run: If you plan to run for less than an hour, plain water should be all you need to top up your fluid levels while you’re out. Exercise for longer, though, and you may find sports drinks helpful. These usually contain sugar and electrolytes (including sodium) to help replenish fluid loss.  For long runs (over 60 minutes), consider taking a snack with you so you’re not left running on empty. Energy gels washed down with water will give you an added boost, as will jelly beans or a banana. Few runners are able to tolerate anything more while on the run. Running is a high intensity activity. The body uses a combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fat to burn energy. However, carbohydrates are the most efficient form of fuel available to burn. Carbohydrates are nothing but sugar and they store and transport energy. If the body runs low on carbohydrates, runners commonly experience hitting the wall, which is no fun!! I love the power-gel brand that has an espresso flavor that has a shot of espresso in it. My kind of boost if you ask me! If you’re planning to eat or drink during a race, try doing so a few times in training beforehand. There’s no way of predicting how your body might react to anything new and you don’t want any nasty surprises!

Post-run: Replacing fluid after a run is just as important as before and during. Drinking around 500ml of water or diluted juice in the first 30 minutes after your run should be plenty, but if you have a headache or feel nauseous you should have more. After hard sessions, especially if you plan to train again the next day, think about having a recovery drink. The carbohydrate-protein ratio of these drinks will speed up muscle repair, rehydrated you quickly and also give your immune system a boost. Energy bars are also good for topping up your fuel reserves when you get back. Like recovery drinks, they contain a mixture of carbohydrate and protein that will help your muscles recover faster. Other good post-run snacks include eggs on toast, a fruit smoothie and a tuna sandwich. If you can, try to eat within an hour of completing your run, as this will maximize the benefits.

So my friend’s marathon training is no simple achievement. It is an epic adventure that I am sure you will not regret. The harder the struggle the more glorious the triumph is what I always say. Stay posted on more tips. St. Sebastian (patron saint of athletes), Pray for us!

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