If it’s the third Monday in April, it must be the Boston Marathon. We’ve all heard of the friend, co-worker, or family member who pores over every detail of training and preparation, striving to qualify, and making it to the race of their dreams. You might even be one of them! In honor of the Boston Marathon, taking place on April 16, 2018, we explore things you may need to know when distance running.

Is the marathon shuffle dragging you down?

If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know what a drag those last few miles can be—literally. Many runners fall into the pattern of dragging their feet when they’re fatigued during the final stretch of a marathon—known as the “marathon shuffle.” Focusing on good form at the very start of the race can help conserve energy—and reduce fatigue—later down the line. Strengthening the hip flexors can also help propel the legs forward easefully and efficiently. And visualizing the knee driving forward—not upward—when training can also help improve form and carry you shuffle-free across the finish line.

Do marathons cause acute kidney injury?

The answer is technically yes, but research shows people recover within 48 hours with no lasting negative effects. Using blood draws, scientists noticed that runners who had just completed a marathon or longer run had the same biomarkers as people who had just suffered from an emergency kidney failure requiring treatment. Researchers determined this was actually due to kidney cell death from dehydration, a true injury, but these cells regrow with no long term adverse effects within two days after the event. Just make sure to stay hydrated and avoid taking ibuprofen on race day.

How can aerobic & anaerobic exercise improve your marathon performance?

The simplest difference is that aerobic exercise uses oxygen for fuel while anaerobic doesn’t—instead using stored glucose and glycogen. In order to get fuel to the muscle cells for exercise, the body cycles between different methods of burning energy—anaerobic methods are quick bursts of energy that don’t require oxygen but have a smaller payoff, while the aerobic method has a bigger energy payoff but takes longer and requires oxygen. Activities like long runs and fitness base training—getting those miles in—are considered aerobic, getting an endurance athlete ready to go to the distance. Sprints, intervals, tempo runs, and speed work are generally anaerobic, training the athlete to achieve better times and build muscles for improved endurance.


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