By "Body Awareness" I mean that you should be aware of what goes into your body and how your body feels at every point during your training and the race. Here's what you should be paying attention to.

According to Shelly Glover , coach of The Greater New York Racing Team and author of "The Runner's Handbook," this is what you should know about.

Nutrition:

Although this is what the food pyramid suggests, marathoners actually need more calories than what this amount of food will provide. Extra calories should come from the carbohydrate, fruit and vegatable catagories and also from sports drinks.

Here's what I've learned about Sports Drinks and Power Gels:

A sports drink, like Gatorade, is essential when you begin doing longer runs. My coach, Tim, used to get upset with me if I showed up to a eight mile run with just water. It's the easiest way to get calories when your in the middle of your work out. They also give you nutrients you need that water can't. Power Gels are terrible. I mean the consistency- they are also another great way to get calories quickly. I hated the way they felt in my mouth, but some people like them. Be sure to try different things during practice to find out what you like the best before race day.

Stretching

Marathon Training.com offers a good overview of stretching:

Stretching is the first, and most important, activity to do before and after working out, aerobically or anaerobically. These are the benefits of stretching regularly:

According to Tim Vinson, my running coach for Team in Training, most runners believe that stretching should be the absolute first thing you should do before starting a workout, however, you really should stretch after the muscles are warm. A simple five minute walk works to warm the muscles and get them ready for stretching and a more intense workout.

The Basics

Remember- your workout is not finished until you stretch at the end as well! Check out Body Building.com , they have instructions for stretching any muscle you can think of! Here are some of my favorite, simple stretches:

Breathing

Breathing is also one of the most important components of an aerobic workout. Here's what my marathon running coach, Tim Vinson, had to say about it:

"As a running coach I receive fewer questions about breathing than any other aspect of the sport. I donít usually focus on it because it is such an individually variable function, like arm swing. I try to choose my battles in order to win the war. In some cases, however, I have discovered that a runner was having trouble with increased distances or sustained exercise due to poor breathing technique.

  1. The harder your body works, the more air you need. The warmup should be your slowest breathing and doing speed work or hills will require faster breathing rates.
  2. Use your mouth. Breathing with your mouth closed is too restrictive except for very light effort running. The only problem with mouth breathing is when the bugs are thick- in which case you can slow down and nose breath or rest the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth so there is not a clear flight path down the pipe. (Were you reading silently before that grossed you out?)
  3. Rhythm or cadence breathing can give you a quantitative description of your level of effort. If you breath in time with your footstrike cycle, you become an oxygen meter. For example, if you comfortably warm up with a 3:3 breathing cadence (3 footstrikes during inhale: 3 footstrikes during exhale), then as you exert more effort, your cadence should shift to 3:2 and later to 2:2, and, for a 5K pace, you may get to a 2:1 rhythm. Your brain tells you how fast to breath, but if you use cadence or rhythm breathing, then you can easily count what your brain is suggesting. When you find yourself running at a 2:1 (2 footstrikes inhale: 1 footstrike exhale) then you know it is time to ease up on your effort and let your breathing recover to a 2:2 or 3:2. Your inhale should always be even or slower than your exhale (donít run 2:3 or 1:2).
  4. Shallow or deep breaths? You know the answer to this one, too. Never shallow breaths. They are a waste of energy. But you also won't be able to use a full deep breath with every cycle. Breath as deeply as is comfortable, keeping a reasonable rhythm and then every few cycles, break your rhythm for a good deep breath.
  5. When you stop to drink or pee, your breathing will automatically slow- but resist this by keeping your breathing rate elevated so you will still be oxygenated when you restart your run."

Thanks Tim!

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