Marathon Blog

Starting a Running Program

You may be intrigued by the thought of participating in the Healthy Driven Naperville 5K or even the Half Marathon. So what’s stopping you? It might be that you aren’t a runner! That’s o.k. – we can help. Here are some steps to get your training started:
  • Get medical clearance. Check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to build up to a running program. This is especially important if you are older, have other cardiovascular risk factors, bone/joint issues, are taking medication or have other health concerns. When in doubt, check with your doctor. Once you have your doctor’s approval, it’s time to get to work!
  • Choose the right footwear. Before you start the walking portion of this program, make sure you go to a reputable running shoe store for a professional shoe fitting. You’ll use these shoes for the walking and running portions of your training program, so it’s worth investing in a well-fitting pair. Good shoes go a long way toward preventing unnecessary injuries.
  • Start walking. It’s crucial that you take steps to build up a strong walking base. If you aren’t currently walking, start with 10 or 15 minutes per session, 2-3 times the first week. After the first week, you will slowly build walking duration and frequency. The plan looks like this:
    • Week 1: 10-15 minutes per session, 2-3 times per week
    • Week 2: 15-20 minutes per session, 3 times per week
    • Week 3: 20-25 minutes per session, 3-4 times per week
    • Week 4: 25-30 minutes per session, 3-4 times per week
If you already walk regularly for 30 or more minutes several times a week, start your program with Week 5 below.
  • Add some running (ease into it). Now that you walk for 30 minutes at a time, add some brief running intervals. Start with an interval consisting of 1 minute of running, followed by 2 minutes of walking. Over the next several weeks, increase the length of the running intervals. Continuing from the four-week plan above:
    • Week 5: 1 minute of easy running followed immediately by 2 minutes of walking. Repeat this sequence 10 times for 30 total minutes. Do this workout 3-4 times per week, in place of your walking from Weeks 1-4.
    • Week 6: 1st workout: 2 minutes of easy running followed immediately by 1 minute of walking. Repeat this interval 10 times for 30 total minutes (1 min. walk/2 min. run x 10). 2nd workout: 3 min. run/1 min. walk x 7. 3rd and 4th workout: 4 min. run/1 min. walk x 6.
    • Week 7: Progress to 5-7 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Do as many intervals as you can fit into 30 minutes.
    • Week 8: Progress to 8-11 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Do as many intervals as you can fit into 30 minutes.
    • Week 9: Progress to 12-15 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Do as many intervals as you can fit into 30 minutes. By the end of this week, you are doing only 2 intervals.
    • Week 10: Progress to 16-20 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Then complete the 30 minutes with running.
    • Week 11: Progress to 21-25 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Then complete the 30 minutes with running.
    • Week 12: Progress to 26-30 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Then complete the 30 minutes with running. By the end of this week, you should be running 30 minutes without a walking break.
When following the plan above, don’t overdo it. If a week seems too difficult or causes too much muscle soreness, don’t be afraid to repeat the previous week and proceed from there. It may take more than 12 weeks to complete the program if you need to repeat a week here or there, but that’s perfectly fine. It is better to proceed slowly than get frustrated and quit.
  • Train for a race! Once you have completed the program above and have a good running base, build on this to train for a goal race. A 5K would make a great first event. Look on our blog for tips on effective training, injury prevention, and preparing yourself for race day.
In the meantime, I wish you the best of luck with starting your running program.
Laurie Lasseter
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

Improving Your Running Speed and Race Time

By now, you are well on your way to completing training for the Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon & 5K. Hopefully, you’re following the appropriate Half Marathon or 5K training program that we previously posted on this blog. If not, it’s never too late to start! Just begin at the week that is the closest match to what you are already doing. The basic training programs are focused on finishing the race, but what if you want to try for something more – like a personal record or a certain time? That is where speedwork comes into play. Here is how to incorporate speedwork into your routine:

Frequency. In general, if you are a relatively new runner, aim for one speedwork session per week. If you are more experienced, start with one speedwork session per week, but later add a 2nd session, preferably using different speedwork methods.

Speedwork methods. The most popular speedwork methods are discussed below in increasing order of intensity, difficulty and risk:

  • Strides (accelerations): Do these 30-40 second speed accelerations to improve your running economy and leg turnover rate (cadence). They are easy to do and don’t take a lot of time. Start with your warm-up for 10-15 minutes at conversation pace. Then, to do a stride, build your speed for 30-40 seconds, then gradually slow back down to conversation pace. In the first week, add 1-2 of these strides near the end of one of your easy runs, then add another stride each week  until you are up to 6-8. This will improve your running efficiency and economy, but won’t significantly improve your overall speed and capacity. These are a good choice if you are a beginner but want to get a little bit of extra leg speed for your race. Incorporate strides for a few weeks before you try one of the other methods below, just to get your body used to running at a faster pace.
  • Hill repeats: Find a hill that takes approximately 30-60 seconds to run up (if training for the 5K) or about 1-2 minutes (if training for the half marathon). For your hill repeat workout, do a 15-20 minute warm-up on flat ground, then do 1-2 hill repeats, running uphill as fast as you can with good form and then jogging downhill. Each week,  add another hill repeat to the total until you are at 6-7 total hill repeats. Hill repeats build leg strength, overall speed and aerobic capacity. These are a good choice for a beginner/intermediate runner, especially if you have a history of injuries because this type of work builds aerobic capacity and leg power with minimal impact. (Running uphill is lower impact than running on flat ground).
  • Tempo runs: Tempo runs are longer speed runs done for a sustained period at a somewhat fast, but controlled, pace. Generally, these will be done at a pace that is a bit faster than your half-marathon goal pace. In your first week, do a 10-15 minute warm-up at conversation pace, then do a 15 minute tempo run followed by a cool down. Each week, add 5 minutes to the total until you are at 30-40 minutes. Tempo runs improve your performance at a higher speed with an emphasis on endurance and are a great choice if you are an intermediate runner training for the half marathon.
  • Intervals: These short distance runs, performed at a fast pace with a timed recovery between each one, are done over a measured distance (800 meters is a good distance for most people). Perform them at a pace that is faster than (or right at) your 5K goal race pace.  As an example, do your 800-meter repetition, then jog slowly back to the start as your interval (rest period). Start with a 10-15 minute warm-up, followed by 1-2 800-meter intervals, followed by a cool-down. Each week, add another repetition/interval to the total until you are at 5-6 repetitions. This is a good choice for more advanced runners and for advanced 5K runners wanting to improve speed significantly. Don’t do this type of speedwork if you are injured or injury-prone. Shorter intervals can also be done (400 meters or less), but these further increase the risk of injury, so I generally don’t recommend them.

Regardless of which method you choose, progress slowly and carefully, and be aware of any unusual aches and pains that develop. When in doubt about whether an injury is brewing, repeat a week before progressing and/or take time off. By carefully using these speedwork methods, you should see improvements in your race times this fall.

Laurie Lasseter
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

Training for your First 5K

Training for your first race can be exciting and a bit overwhelming, but it won’t be a problem if you break it into easy steps. Your first step, if you haven’t taken it already, should be to follow our July blog post
which will get you to the point where you can run for 30 minutes at a time without stopping, three times a week. This article will help you extend your run to the 5K distance and work a bit on pacing and speed.
First, determine how far you are running in your 30-minute run. Count laps on a measured track, run on a marked course, or use a GPS watch or your phone and a phone app like MapMyRun
Since you are new to running, chances are you aren’t yet running 3.1miles in your 30-minute runs. If that’s true, start adding 5 minutes per run per week until you get to 3.1 miles. The plan looks like this:
*         Week 1 – Run 30 minutes per session, 3-4 times per week
*         Week 2 – Run 35 minutes per session, 3-4 times per week
*         Week 3 – Run 40 minutes per session, 3-4 times per week

*         Week 4 – Run 45 minutes per session, 3-4 times per week

Beyond Week 4 – Continue as above, adding 5 minutes to each run every week until you are running for long enough to complete 3.1 miles of running during each session.

At this point, all running in the above plan should be done at an easy conversation pace. If you can’t comfortably hold a conversation, slow down a bit; you don’t want to go too fast as you build your endurance. Also, don’t exceed four days per week of running. On non-running days, dedicate one day to rest and strength or cross train on the other two. Listen to your body – don’t worry if you need to repeat one or more of the above weeks before moving on. Each runner is different and your progress may not always go according to your plan. If you feel like a particular training week was very difficult, or you are developing a

lot of soreness, aches and pains, repeat the current week before proceeding to the next one in the plan.

Once you are running 3.1 miles in training, you are ready to run in a 5K (3.1 mile) race! For your first one, set a goal to finish in lieu of a specific time goal. Since you’re already running 3.1 miles in training, you should have no problem completing that distance in a race. However if you are interesting in improving your speed before race day, incorporate a ‘speed day’ into your training program. Shorten one of your weekly runs by 10-15 minutes and gradually increase to a pace that is 15-20 seconds per mile faster than usual. (Measure your easy/conversation pace to use as a baseline and use a measured track, course, GPS watch or phone app to do this accurately.) You can achieve a faster speed by increasing the speed of your leg turnover (your cadence).

So, you’ve followed the plan and you’re just about ready. Incorporate these night-before tips to ensure a great race:

*         Review the course map.
*         Check the weather forecast and lay out appropriate clothing.
*         Pin your race number to your shirt and affix your timing chip (if you have one) to your shoe. Go to bed just a little bit earlier than normal.

*         Try to relax!

On race day, try to run a fairly even pace for your 5K. This pace should be just slightly faster than the conversation pace you ran in training. If you did a speed day each week, aim for that faster pace. Enjoy your first race experience and finish strong!

Laurie Lasseter
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

Eight Common Running Injuries


Congratulations. If you’re reading this, you have decided to tackle the experience of running a race. Unfortunately, many of you are likely to encounter some sort of injury along the way. You need to pay attention to your body, be mindful of some of the most common injuries and know what to look for to avoid doing further damage. Be a smarter runner by learning about common running injuries you are likely to face during your training.
  1. Femoral neck stress fracture: This is a serious cause of anterior groin pain in runners. Usually worse with activity such as running or walking and better when not weight bearing on the hip, femoral neckstress fracture is caused by repeated stress on a bone which causes a small crack to develop. This can occur after increased training loads when runners increase their volume. It may not be visible on an x-ray, and a physician should evaluate persistent groin pain, as more advanced imaging such as an MRI may be needed to diagnose. This type of injury requires prolonged rest from running to heal. Lack of treatment can prevent proper healing of the bone in the femoral neck.
  2. Iliotibial band syndrome: This is a very common type of injury that runners experience. The iliotibial band is the large ligament that extends from the hip to the lateral knee. Runners commonly mistake this pain for a knee injury. It is typically felt as pain on the outside of the knee as the IT band tightens and causes friction against the lateral knee. IT band pain can also be felt anywhere along the IT band all the way to the hip. Just like femoral neck stress fractures, it is an overuse injury caused by too much mileage, over-pronation, running on uneven surface, or worn out running shoes. You may need to rest once you notice pain to your IT band. Look at your running shoes and make sure they are evenly worn, as over-pronation may cause more stress on your IT band. Try to run on even surfaces. If you run on a track, make sure to switch directions every few laps. Self-foam rolling is key in treating IT band syndrome as it stretches the IT band.
  3. Runner’s knee: Runners knee encompasses a term for any pain in, around or under the kneecap. It can be caused by malalignment of the kneecap or chondromalacia. Chondromalacia is softening of the cartilages under the kneecap where it deteriorates and causes pain. Chondromalacia pain is often worse when going up or down stairs. Imbalances in muscles can also cause abnormal tracking of the kneecap over the femur, causing pain. These muscles can be strengthened by performing Vastus Medialis Oblique or VMO exercises<>. This strengthens the quadriceps muscle so that the patella tracks normally over the distal femur. Runner’s knee injuries may require a reduction in training volume.
  4. Shin splints: Otherwise known as medial tibial stress syndrome, the cause is thought to be small tears of the muscle fibers near the tibia or inflammation of the periosteum (outer bone lining). Shin splints cause medial shin pain with impact and running. Stress fractures also cause shin pain. With stress fractures, pain is more localized as opposed to diffuse. If shin pain does not go away with rest, seek medical attention to rule out stress fracture. Runners with shin splints can still run but may need to reduce total mileage as shins heal. Ice shins after each run. Strengthening of the anterior tibialis muscle (in front of leg) is a key component of treating shin splints. Do this by performing dorsiflexion exercises with<> and without a resistance band or weight<>.
  5. Stress fracture: Fractures of the metatarsals are common sources of pain that require medical attention and rest from running to heal. Persistent pain to the metatarsals should be evaluated by a physician.
  6. Plantar fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis is common for runners and presents with pain on the bottom of the foot occurring anywhere from the heel to the forefoot. The large fibrous band that stretches across the bottom of the foot can become inflamed with repeat pounding the pavement. As a runner, you must stretch this fibrous band regularly. A good way to do this is by rolling a tennis ball under your foot to stretch the fibrous tissues.
  7. Tarsal tunnel syndrome: This type of foot pain occurs as the nerve that courses behind the inner ankle bone becomes compressed. Compression of this nerve results in arch pain and sometimes, pain in the heel and toes, numbness and tingling. This syndrome is usually caused by over pronation. You may need to see a
    physical therapist or podiatrist to assist with stretching or biomechanical issues.
  8. Achilles tendonitis: Overuse can cause inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which can result in pain in the back of the distal leg just above the heel, and can go into the calf. Runners experiencing this should consider taking time off from running to let the tendon heal as it can develop into a chronic tendonitis. Heel drop exercises performed on stairs (eccentric stretching exercises where you stand on your toes while on the stairs and slowly let your heels drop down) may help, along with calf stretching exercises. Strengthening of the calf muscle with calf raises is important as well. Self-massage of the Achilles tendon either by hand or with self-massage stick may also provide relief.
Listen to your body. Dealing with an injury does not mean you have to lose fitness. Consider swimming, biking or performing some other non-weight bearing activity as you recover from some of these injuries.
Always remember to ice and don’t hesitate to seek help from a medical professional for persistent injuries.
Dr. Michael Hartmann
Race Medical Director, Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon & 5K
Emergency Room physician, Edward Hospital


Training for the Half Marathon



Now that you’ve decided on the half marathon, how do you train for it? There are lots of programs available online for half marathon training. Here are a few considerations for choosing a plan and training for the half marathon:

Starting point: Make sure the first week of the training plan is consistent with your current mileage base. Most programs assume a “beginner” runs 8-10 miles per week. Don’t choose an intermediate program if you are really a beginner. On the other hand, if you have raced the half marathon before, choose a more advanced program that will give you the challenge of speed work and hill training so you can race more aggressively and better your previous time.

Calendar time: Look at your calendar and make sure you have enough time to complete the training before your goal race. You definitely don’t want to try to shorten the program to fit it in with the date of your race. If you don’t have enough time, choose a different goal race.

Weekly running program: Choose a program that includes one longer run per week and at least two shorter runs per week. The long run should ramp up to a maximum of around 12 miles or two hours of running. Your last long run should be approximately two weeks before your race. After you complete that last long run, your program should include a taper, a reduction in weekly mileage while maintaining the speed/intensity of the runs.

Race conditions: Train on surfaces and terrain that are similar to your goal race terrain. Find out if your race is hilly or flat, asphalt or crushed gravel, hot or cold temperatures, morning or evening, and train under conditions as similar as possible to your goal race. If you can’t do all of your training under race conditions, at least do your long runs that way.

Fueling and hydration: For the half marathon, you will definitely need to come up with a hydration strategy that works for you. Determine how frequently you will consume fluids and how much fluid you will consume. It is usually best to drink at the frequency at which water stops will be available on your goal race course. This information should be available on the race website. You may also find you perform better by ingesting some carbohydrates during your long runs – experiment with sports drinks, gels, blocks, etc. to see what works for you. Practice and refine your hydration and fueling strategies during your long runs.

Whether your end goal is to complete a half marathon or to use it as a stepping stone to the marathon, enjoy the race and be proud of the great accomplishment of completing a half marathon!



Laurie Lasseter
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers


Make Running Fun

I think running is one of the greatest exercises you can do for your body. It has so many benefits for physical and mental health. It helps in losing weight, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood sugar, building muscle and keeping a positive mood. So many good things come from running. But not everybody thinks of running as fun. Some of you may be training for your first 5K or half marathon and may find the task of training for this daunting. Here are some simple ways to keep in mind to make running fun.

Find a purpose. Running is always more fun if you are running for something. If you are reading this column, they you have likely signed up to race which is a goal in itself. As you are training, decide what you want to achieve in this race. Is this your first 5K and your goal simply to finish? Do you want to beat your friend who is also racing? Do you want to run a personal best? Your goal should be reachable and attainable. Having a goal to focus on will make training easier as you try to attain that goal. Other people may decide to race for a loved one by raising money for a cause. Raising money for charity in races is a great way to motivate runners and keep it fun, because every time you lace up your shoes, you are doing it for a greater purpose which should give you great satisfaction as you go along with your training.

Don’t go it alone. A second way to make training fun is to buddy up. This can come in the form of training with your friend, neighbor, or family member. Training with someone else makes running a social activity. It allows us to bring others into our training and lives.  Many a great conversation has been had on training runs. The social nature of running decreases anxiety and makes it harder to skip a training run. You can also consider joining a local running club with like-minded runners that usually meet on certain days and times. Also, consider getting the family involved. Bring the kids on your run. Put the kids on their bikes so they can follow you while you run. Run to the park with them. Let them play. Take a stretching break and then run back. Now the whole family gets exercise and helps you out along the way.

Mix things up. Varying the intensity of your runs is another way to make running fun. Don’t just go out and always do the same distance run at the same pace. That will get very boring very quickly. The easiest way to vary your runs is to do a fartlek run.  Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish. This is a simple form of interval training in which you vary the speed of your run for certain distances within the run. It can be as easy as seeing a mailbox in the distance and deciding to run a little faster until you get there and then slowing down again. Repeat this, many times, throughout the run, with various distances of increased speed and then return back to your base pace. Keep things interesting with a fartlek run once per week.

Go gadget free. So many of us are fixated on our Fitbits or Garmins that we feel like we can’t leave the house without them. We are constantly looking at the gadget, trying to get feedback on our pace or distance. In doing so, we are disconnecting ourselves, in a way, from our activity. Try running simply for the joy of running. Connect with your own body and settle into your run. Let yourself be free. Feel the wind in your hair, the sweat on your face, and the burn in your legs. This will really bring the joy back to running. Try running without your gadget at least once a week and see how good you feel.

Remember the fun of running isn’t over at the finish line. Continue the fun throughout the year. Make running a lifestyle choice. Happy trails!


Dr. Michael Hartmann
Race Medical Director, Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon & 5K
Emergency Room physician, Edward Hospital



Local Marathoner Adds Naperville Marathon to Growing List of Accomplishments


By Emily Zadny

2016 Media Coordinator

Naperville Marathon & Half Marathon

After being a high school dual-sport athlete, Katie Bryk was looking for a way to stay in shape when she went off to college. She found a niche in distance running, running 5k and 10k races and while student teaching her senior year of college, Bryk had one student that motivated her to go the extra distance, extending her mileage to 26.2.

“I had a first grader in my class that was suffering from Leukemia whose family had received support from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America,” said Bryk. “I learned about LLS’s marathon training program – Team in Training – and decided if this little boy could battle Leukemia with a smile on his face, I could run a marathon and raise funds for a great cause at the same time.”

Now, nearly 20 years later, Bryk has become an avid marathoner.

So avid that she had completed forty marathons by her 40th birthday.

“About 5 years ago I was doing the math in my head and I figured out if I ran 3-5 marathons a year, I would be able to complete my 40th marathon before my 40th birthday. I had done 10 marathons from 1999-2004 before taking time off to have my two sons Payton (11) and Will (9). I returned to marathon running eleven months after Will was born when I ran at the Chicago Marathon in 2007. From October 2007 through April 2016, I ran thirty marathons.”

Her love for the sport and passion to help others enjoy it as much as she does has landed her at Fleet Feet Sports in Elmhurst as the head coach for the marathon and half marathon programs.

“Running is a very unique sport,” she said. “You can run alone, with a friend or two, or a training group of a 100. For me, it gives me time to clear my mind and reset for the day. Running is my yoga.

“I’m very fortunate in that my favorite running buddy is also my husband,” she continued. “We have had some great trips together that were tailored around a marathon—Mardi Gras Marathon, Napa Valley Marathon. I’ve also had Girls’ Trips that revolved around marathons.”

Even though she has traveled across the country for the sport, Bryk has one marathon that is close to her heart and on her calendar every year: the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon.

“As much as I love traveling for races, I’m a homebody,” said Bryk. “When I was in high school, my family moved to Naperville and I called Naperville home and I spent many high school nights at the Riverwalk!

“Running the Naperville Marathon its inaugural year was like a trip down memory lane for me. I ran by friends’ childhood homes and old hangouts and had such a positive experience my first year, that I have continued to come for each running of the Naperville Marathon.”

Bryk will be at the starting line again this year alongside thousands of runners on Oct. 23 in the marathon’s fourth year. With a new course design, race day gear options, and post race activities, it’s one that Bryk and runners alike do not want to miss.

Needless to say, after forty marathons, Bryk has a vault of advice for others who want to get involved in the sport, whether that is a mile down the road or 26.2 miles.

“Whether someone wants to run a 5k or a marathon, they need to recognize that running is 90% mental and 10% physical,” she said. “Once you release the demons that tell you – you can’t – you can do anything.

“I also recommend that new runners—and lifetime runners, too—consider training with a group. Running with someone makes the miles fly by; going into an 18 or 20 mile run with a group is a lot less daunting then going into it alone.”

While her goal of reaching 40 marathons before her milestone birthday may be complete, Bryk is nowhere near finished with her training and is looking to achieve new goals. This past year, she achieved another goal: running a qualifying time for the most prestigious race of them all.

“Last year I made the commitment to myself to train for a Boston qualifying time, and at last year’s Naperville Marathon, my training paid off and I ran a qualifying time,” she said.

Forty marathons under her belt? Check. Boston Marathon qualifying time? Check. What’s next on Bryk’s running bucket list? The next obvious step up: ultramarathons.

“I am a goal setter,” she said. “Once I finished my 40th marathon I knew it was time to start thinking about a new goal. A 50-miler seems like a perfect new goal for me.”



Race Day Etiquette


With the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon & Half Marathon approaching, it’s time to review the rules of the road when it comes to race etiquette. You might not be aware of some of the written and unwritten rules when it comes to long-distance running events, especially if you’re a first-timer. No one knows better what to do – and not to do – on race day than the Road Runners Club of America. Prepare yourself by checking out their comprehensive list of pre-race, in-race and post-race etiquette advice, and then relax and enjoy your remaining pre-race days. You’ve done all you can to get ready. All that’s left is the run!


It’s been great working with you throughout all these months of training. Thanks for your time. I’ll be rooting for you. Good luck!


Img_Fitness_7B_LaurieLasseterLaurie Lasseter
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers

Tapering for the Marathon or Half Marathon


Now that you are just a few weeks away from your goal race, it’s time to taper and allow your body the rest it needs to repair and rebuild muscle and tissue, replenish muscle glycogen stores, restore optimal hydration levels and reduce stress hormone levels.

There are many approaches to tapering and everyone responds differently. It may take some experimentation to find the best approach for you, especially if you’re new to marathon tapering. There are several aspects to a successful taper covering all areas of your life:

Sleep: Small changes make race day easier.

  • Shift your sleep schedule to race-day wake-up time requirements over the final week before the race. That way when you wake up on race morning, your wake-up time will feel natural.
  • Don’t worry about insomnia the night before the race. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep two nights before the race and you’ll be fine.

Other exercise: Don’t begin a new exercise program within 4-6 weeks prior to the race. Specifically, avoid starting any of the following:

  • New sport
  • New cross-training mode
  • Major, physical house project
  • Weight training (Note: if you already weight train, maintain current weights, repetitions and sets for the 4-6 weeks prior to the race. Don’t increase weights, etc. Stop 5-7 days before your race.)


Stress: Try to limit significant life stresses during the month prior to the race. If possible, avoid job changes, household moves, significant travel and other disruptions to your normal lifestyle.

Running mileage: Follow a two- or three-week taper, depending on your experience level. For both methods, maintain the intensity (speed) of your runs, but reduce running volume (distance covered).

Two-week taper (beginner marathoners and all half marathoners):

  • 30% mileage reduction, week 1
  • 60% mileage reduction, week 2

Three-week taper (intermediate/advanced marathoners)

  • 30% mileage reduction, week 1
  • 50% mileage reduction, week 2
  • 65% mileage reduction, week 3

You should run little or no mileage 2-3 days prior to the race. If you feel you must run to loosen up the day before the race, don’t run more than a mile.

Fueling and hydration: Prior to the race, either follow a normal diet (during which your mileage reduction will allow you to store glycogen) or a ‘carbohydrate-loading’ approach. Regardless of which approach you take, follow these guidelines 2-3 days before your race:

  • Stay well hydrated throughout the week
  • Drink water freely and often during the 24-48 hours before the event
  • 2-3 days before – eat low-fiber, low-glycemic index foods
  • 1-2 days before – consider avoiding fried foods, red meat, dairy, nuts, roughage to avoid gastric distress


How you will feel: The reduction in physical workload will take an unexpected toll on you. Your body is used to exercise and your body will react to its absence. You will likely experience symptoms such as:

  • Feeling ‘antsy’/hyperactive/anxious
  • Feeling bloated, fat and sluggish
  • Irritability

If you feel any and all of this – good job! Your taper is going according to plan and you’re on track to be able to do your very best on race day. More important than anything, stay relaxed. If you have followed a well-designed training plan and have prepared well, you are ready to have a successful goal race!


Laurie Lasseter
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers

Troubleshooting the Long Run

TroubleshootingYour Long RunBy now, you’re probably ramping up your long runs in preparation for either the marathon or half marathon. Hopefully, everything is going great! But even if it is, it’s likely you’ve had at least one long run that didn’t go as well as you had hoped. Prepare for your next one by brushing up on some key long run challenges and solutions:

Dehydration: If you experience symptoms like lightheadedness, headache, fatigue, muscle cramps, chills, constipation, dark urine, or slowing or stopping of the sweat rate during your long run, chances are you are becoming dehydrated. Follow these hydration guidelines:

  • Every day: ½ ounce of water for every pound of body weight per day (includes liquid in food)
  • Two to three hours before the long run: 17-20 ounces of water or electrolyte drink
  • 10 to 20 minutes before the long run: 7-12 ounces water or sports drink (glycogen + electrolyte)
  • During the long run: 7 to 10 ounces sports drink (glycogen + electrolyte) every 10 to 20 minutes
  • Post-long run: Replace 120-150 percent of fluid loss with water or 100-125 percent of fluid loss with a sports drink (glycogen + electrolyte)

Heat/humidity: If you’re following the hydration guidelines and still experience dehydration symptoms, you may be trying to run in conditions that are dangerously warm and/or humid. Marathon performance degrades by at least 10 percent in temperatures over 85 degrees. Depending on the humidity, temperatures over 80 degrees can be dangerous for a long run, especially if you aren’t acclimated to the heat. If the long run forecast calls for these types of conditions, consider these options:

  • Start early. Get the majority of your run in before the heat of the day. Avoid 80+ degree temperatures by starting at 5 or 6 a.m.
  • Run on a different (cooler) day. Doing your long run a day or two earlier or later won’t ruin your training plan – just adjust your other runs that week accordingly. Remember, your long runs are most important in training for the marathon or half marathon, so adjusting other runs to have long run success is a good trade-off.
  • Find a shaded route. Running in the shade helps you stay a little cooler on days that are hot, but not too hot.
  • Run on an indoor track or treadmill. I know it’s boring, but at least you’ll have conditions under which you can finish your long run. If there are Excessive Heat Warnings (or Air Quality Alerts, especially if you have breathing issues), this may be your only option.

Low energy/fueling issues: If, during your long run, you feel hungry, irritable, shaky, dizzy or confused, you may not be fueling adequately to maintain your glycogen stores during the run. Follow these guidelines for long run fueling:

  • Two hours before the long run: Eat a simple carbohydrate, low-fiber, low-protein snack, such as a bagel with a small amount of peanut butter. You’ll need to experiment a bit with the pre-run snack to see what works best for you and your digestive system.
  • During the long run: Ingest 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour via a sports drink (glycogen + electrolyte). See the hydration recommendations above.
  • Within 30 minutes of a long run: Refuel with a protein- and carbohydrate-rich snack, such as a fruit and yogurt smoothie or a bagel with peanut or almond butter.

Gastric distress/upset stomach: If you are getting nauseous or experiencing stomach cramps, diarrhea or constipation, you may need to adjust your pre-run eating. To avoid digestive upset during long runs, it is best to avoid sugar, high-fiber, lactose-containing dairy and dietary fat prior to your long runs, at least until you understand how your digestive system responds to these foods. During your run, keep your tummy happy by avoiding caffeine and excess sugar. Keep in mind that constipation can result from dehydration and that diarrhea can result from heat exposure.

Mental fatigue/boredom: If you’re just getting sick of running for so long and want to stop, you may be suffering from mental fatigue or boredom. To combat boredom, try these tips:

  • Run with a group/running buddy. This can provide great distraction for you mentally and can help the time pass by more quickly.
  • Try visualization. Visualize running in your actual goal race. Think about the supportive crowds and how proud you will be when you finish that race.
  • Take a more interesting route. You may want to vary your long-run routes. If you are using the same trail as you ramp up your long run you may be getting bored with the course. Try a new route, but make sure you have a strategy for fueling and hydration based on that new course.

Running out of gas/pacing issues: If you are slowing considerably at the end of your long run, you may be starting out too fast. If you are a new marathoner and aren’t trying to do a specifically paced long run, start slower than your long run goal pace for a few miles. This should allow you to finish strong.

Img_Fitness_7B_LaurieLasseterLaurie Lasseter
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers

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