Training Up to the Denver Colfax Marathon
Feet will be hitting the pavement throughout downtown Denver in May, and maybe yours can join them!
The Colfax Denver Marathon runs such a cool route through the Mile High City. Participants start and end in the city park. Along the way they visit Broncos Stadium, run past Sloan’s Lake and annual artistic displays, and even dash through Denver Fire Station #1 (the only marathon that goes through a fire station!).
If you have aspirations to run a marathon, you can do a whole lot worse than choosing Denver for your first time. No matter the course you want to take on, you want to take a healthy, helpful approach to getting ready for the big day.
Being able to run a marathon is, in itself, a major accomplishment that takes a hefty amount of training, dedication, and even some sacrifice. Not treating your body right can lead to pain and injury—especially when it comes to your feet and ankles!
We love seeing our patients succeed and are always happy to provide advice. But first…
Are You Ready for This?
A marathon is not something you can simply dive into. Based on your general fitness level, you should have many weeks and preferably many months of training before taking one on.
Before you start a training program (or start running at all), your first stop should always be a physical exam from your primary care physician. It is critical that you be medically cleared to work toward your goals, and the best person to do so is one who knows your current condition and medical history.
If you have a history of heel pain, ankle sprains, or other foot and ankle problems, it’s a very good idea that you see us as well. We can help you determine a training regimen and the best equipment (such as shoes and potentially custom orthotics) to help avoid injuries that can leave you on the sideline.
As a general guideline, you should be able to run at least 15-25 miles per week to consider training for a marathon. It’s not a great idea to make a marathon your first milestone on a running journey, either. If you’re still new to running, training up to a 5K is a much more reasonable start, and still a huge accomplishment! The Colfax Marathon Denver also offers a 5K as well as half-marathon options.
If you are just starting out with running and want to work up to a 5K, we offer a free guide to beginning runners that you are more than welcome to check out. It provides some great tips on how to get you moving well out of the gate.
The foundation of this all, however, is that you should be patient with yourself. If you’re not ready to take on a marathon this year, that is perfectly fine! Running takes time, and every step you make to avoid shortcuts and do things right is making you better every day.
Train Up Without Blowing Out
Remember: dedication and patience.
Having a good training schedule for building up running speed and strength is a good move, but it should be reasonable and closely followed to help yourself avoid injuries such as Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, and other pains.
What does this mean?
- The days you do not spend running are just as important as the days you do! A proper training schedule must have at least one 24-hour day of rest each week, and likely more if you are starting out. You should also never have two days of hard training in a row. Such a day should always be followed by either a day of rest, a day of lighter training, or a day of cross-training (focusing on other parts or muscle groups).
- Don’t try to play catchup. It’s natural to end up missing a few days or a week of training due to commitments, illness, and other unexpected events. However, do not take this as a reason to add to or double your intensity to “make up for lost time.” Continue your schedule from where you left off. Increasing intensity too greatly is a one-way ticket to an overuse injury!
- Don’t focus ONLY on running. Running should be your primary activity, but incorporating other activities into your weekly mileage (i.e. cross-training) will improve your overall fitness and capabilities. Up to 20% of your mileage can be engaged in workouts such as cycling and swimming. These are good choices for lighter days, as they reduce impact on your feet.
- Listen to your body. Don’t lock yourself into a training regimen that might be causing your body harm. Not everyone is the same, and the same training program will not be the best for everyone. If you are feeling signs of overuse, such as pain coming early in your workout, pain that lasts more than two days after a training run, or general fatigue, you are likely overtraining and need to dial back.
A general training plan should include slow distance running, tempo running, hills (or strength training if you don’t have them), long runs, and rest/recovery days. You should stretch and warm-up/cool-down as part of every workout.
The Week Before the Marathon
What should you do the week before the big run?
Well, you should certainly check out the Health & Fitness Expo the day before. It’s a good chance to check out some of the helpful new equipment out there and meet up with like-minded runners.
But more importantly, for your training, things should change.
Training should gradually be reduced in volume starting 3 weeks before the race. Go to 75%, then 50%, then 25% each week. Do not lower the intensity of your training; just the volume.
Your carbohydrate intake should rise to about 70% of your diet, maximum. As carbs go up, fat intake should be reduced. This will help your body have the energy for the long-haul you’re about to put it through.
While your diet should change some, make sure it is still foods that are familiar to your body. There is little worse than eating something that doesn’t agree with you on race morning and having to find a port-a-potty before you begin (or during the race itself!).
Also, get plenty of rest the week before the marathon! Nerves are more likely to keep you up the day before, but still having all that quality sleep the previous days will be a big help. It all adds up!
There’s Plenty More to Prepare!
As we noted, everyone’s running story is different. It’s difficult to cover everything an individual might need, from footwear to fartleks (yes, that’s a real thing).
Whether you want to prepare for the Colfax Marathon in Denver or another running event, the experts at McVay Foot & Ankle can help ensure you head up and into it with a good plan for the parts of you that will be hitting the ground.
Have questions? Want to schedule an appointment? Call us at (719) 266-5000 or fill out our online contact form.
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