Endurance trainer Trey Harris offered up some additional tips for runners in the throes of training. He's an experienced distance runner, with a marathon, more than a dozen half marathons, and several triathlons under his belt.
MYTH: To be a strong runner, all you need to do is run a lot.
"For a runner to get better, faster, stronger, and closer to their absolute best, they must incorporate more than just running. Nutritional awareness, strength training, and overall flexibility are the three key components to a successful routine," Harris said.
MYTH: Eat lots of carbohydrates.
"The carbs you eat can be effective in fueling your run, but the traditional big bowl of pasta the night before a big race leaves you feeling sluggish, heavy, and slow. The best way to increase your nutritional intake is slowly with six small additions of low-glycemic portions spread out over the last 36 hours before the race. This gives your body the necessary time to digest and to store these as glycogen. Carbs become glycogen in the intermediary phase before converting to fat, so be aware."
MYTH: To become a long-distance runner, you need to be really fit.
"Becoming fit is a journey. The Couch to 5k is a great example. Becoming fit is a process, an awareness, and eventually a lifestyle that leads to happier, healthier way of living. Get motivated about taking the next step. Setting a new milestone is often a personal challenge that takes determination and often help from others. Reach out to your local fitness organization to get support and get motivated - there are plenty of professionals that can get you going, advise you on how to avoid all the common pitfalls of going it alone, and make your journey challenging and rewarding."
MYTH: To run long distance, you need to have special snacks and drink lots of sports drinks.
"Yes and no. The rate at which your body burns fuel varies greatly and depends on body weight, race conditions, and your specific personal tolerance for supplements. The number one rule here is: Don't do anything you haven't done before in training on race day. Test your body's ability to absorb all the different supplements. Be aware that a lot of sports drinks are highly acidic! Although these carry electrolytes, they also push your acidity higher, causing a more severe strain on your kidneys, liver, and excretory system. Alkaline water is the absolute best for to hydrate and reduce acidity, preferably with electrolyte drops."
MYTH: To run effectively and efficiently, I can just estimate my heart rate and adjust accordingly. I can learn how to set my own pace.
"To become a successful long-distance competitor, you must listen to your body. Your heart rate is the single most important variable in analyzing your performance, and controlling your pace to ensure you can complete your anticipated race distance. Most runners start off too fast and don't realize it. This ends up leaving runners short on energy and power to push at the end of the race. Be aware that in the best race strategy, you need to know exactly how much energy you have to complete the race so that you can finish strong, and push through a race with negative splits (slightly faster each mile)."
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