DEALING WITH MARATHON EXHAUSTION
The marathon and half-marathon season have officially ended. All over the world, runners have seen their hard work and sweat equity come to fruition – or result in disappointment and a need for recalibration. 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.
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. Have a look at our ”How Does Running On A Keto Diet Impact Your Athletic Performance” blog post for further information on the effects of running on a high vs. low carb diet.
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 time while you are preparing for a marathon. A bi-weekly hike trip allows you to shift your mind to something else for just a moment – and return ready and amped to get going again.
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