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The marathon and half-marathon season are upon us. All over the world, runners are preparing for the upcoming season of hard work and determination. As the body adapts to marathon-specific exercising and high mileage, the effects of exhaustion and fatigue can start to take effect. The root cause of overtraining often does not come from actually training too much, but from not allowing the body the proper rest and recovery. Here we take a look at the main causes of exhaustion and burnout, and how to mitigate the risk of fatigue in your pre-marathon training.
THE IMPORTANCE OF REST AND RECOVERY IN MARATHON TRAINING
Rest and recovery are critical components of proper restitution. There are several reasons for runners' fatigue and burnout. A lack of any of the following could be contributing to ongoing fatigue, and it is imperative that you as a runner are aware of these issues and take hold of them to avoid exhaustion:
Rest, recover, and sleep.
The more you run, the more sleep you need. It is known that professional runners opt for 10-12 hours of sleep a day. They combine a lengthy nighttime sleep session with a midday nap to get in the needed amount. With a busy schedule and early mornings, it can be hard to get enough sleep at night. Therefore, it might be a good idea to invest in getting those Z’s by utilizing a nap session to make sure that you get the proper daily amount.
When you ask your body to work hard and train extensively for a marathon, you need to make sure that the fundamentals are in check. This includes making sure that you are fueling your body sufficiently and effectively to support the efforts. A lack of calories and carbohydrates will be detrimental to your energy levels, leaving you fatigued. The more you run, the more carbohydrates you need to consume to fuel the body with energy. As a runner, cutting out carbs and calories works great for weight loss. However, it won’t do well if you are training for or performing a marathon run, as you will most likely perform better on a carb-and-calories-fueled diet. Check out "Is Keto Diet Good for Runners and Endurance Athletes?" blog post for further information on the effects of running on a high vs low carb diet.
PROPER PROGRESSION AND OVERLOAD MANAGEMENT FOR MARATHON TRAINING
As you’re preparing for a marathon or a longer run, it can be tempting to quickly increase the intensity. As a runner, you might become increasingly tunnel-visioned with a nothing-is-going-to-stop-me attitude. However, you have to make sure that have laid the right foundation for gradual progression and improvement. Not having done so will most likely drain you and cause your body to break down and exhaustion to occur. Do not up the pace and workload too quickly without having built the foundation for it. Instead, try to extend the preparation period. This will allow you to gradually and safely increase the intensity over time. When it feels right, and without pushing yourself too hard and subsequently burning out, you can up the intensity. Implementing downloading days will also be a great tool to utilize. Here, you actually reverse the progress, and, on occasional days, try to slow down the tempo and pace of your runs. Pursuant to having done so, you can go back to increasing the tempo in the following days. Allow yourself to unwind, mentally disconnect, and have a good rest day.
Listen to your body.
The importance of listening to your body cannot be overstated. As you get further along in your training, it is crucial that you pay attention to your body's signals. If your body is telling you that you're pushing too hard or need a break, you need to listen to it. Don't ignore your body's warning signs. Ignoring them could lead to serious injury, burnout, and exhaustion. Make sure to listen to what your body is telling you, and adjust your training accordingly. Take rest days when you need them, and don't be afraid to back off if you feel like you're overtraining.
In conclusion, marathon training can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be physically and mentally exhausting. It is essential to prioritize rest and recovery, proper nutrition, and proper progression overload management to mitigate the risk of fatigue and burnout. By listening to your body and giving it what it needs, you'll be able to prepare for your marathon with confidence and cross the finish line strong and healthy.