What Is A Trail Marathon And How Can I Train For It?

Most runners will attempt a half-marathon and then a subsequent marathon at some point in their lives. These feats of strength are not for the faint of heart, and they can be both a test of willpower and endurance in addition to mental fortitude. Those with even more drive might embark upon an ultramarathon, some of which span a distance of hundreds of miles. And then there’s a completely different sort of beast that only the most patient, persistent, and capable runners will attempt to tackle: a trail marathon.

Many typical marathons are routed along streets and sidewalks, which means you’ll spend most of your time on pavement. While this can result in the same overuse injuries as those sustained by other professional athletes, they aren’t necessarily difficult for those who have trained in earnest. A lot of marathons also avoid hilly areas.

And therein lies the difference between a marathon and a trail marathon. 

The latter option is for those who prefer a steep climb surrounded by the natural world. When tackling a trail marathon, you won’t have to deal with vehicular traffic — you’ll just have to deal with making it up that next hill, and then down the other side without sliding off a cliff. No big deal, right?

For example, the Iron Mountain Trail Run takes place in Damascus, VA (Trail Town USA) each year and costs a nominal fee to register. The race itself takes place on the old Appalachian Trail (which was eventual redirected to the nearby Grayson Highlands), which was renamed the Iron Mountain Trail. Portions of the route will take runners on the road as well, depending on the course chosen.

There are four options: 16, 30, 40, and 50 miles. That means the IMTR isn’t just a trail marathon — it’s potentially a trail ultramarathon.

Those who fail to train are doomed from the start.

Before even thinking about a trail marathon, runners should do things the old-fashioned way. Run regularly, bike, and swim to build muscle and endurance, but be sure to give tired muscles a chance to build back up. When you’re ready, try a half-marathon, and then a marathon. If you handle those with enough grace, then it’s time to train for the trail marathon.

You should go on long-distance backpacking trips in order to build the muscles that don’t get used during other forms of exercise. You’ll be surprised how much everything hurts after each outing, but slowly you’ll start to feel better about the upcoming trip. Once you’ve grown accustomed to backpacking, it’s time to start running up mountains on the regular. After a few months — you’re ready to register for a lesson in pain.

How Do I Run With A Prosthetic Leg Without Hurting Myself?

Running with a prosthetic leg is a big hurdle for many amputees, but the task is easier than it used to be. Prostheses have advanced really far and the “blade runner” in the 2012 olympics was a controversial and surprising sight for a lot of people who didn’t know it could be done. No matter your circumstances, running with a prosthetic is still more difficult than running without one, and there are a number of things to keep in mind as you set out to accomplish what was once unthinkable.

First, your body will inevitably expend a lot more energy with a prosthetic than without. This is especially true for those whose amputations occurred above the knee. First and foremost, train your body using endurance exercises to mitigate the increased effort requirements. In addition, you’ll need to pack in extra calories and fluids if taking part in long-distance running competitions like marathons or ultramarathons.

Even if your prosthetic is designed to help you run more efficiently (and if you’re a runner, you should find one of those), it’s very difficult to find the right balance. The natural inclination of an amputee is to place weight on the healthy leg. That means that even if your prosthetic leg is perfectly fitted for your body, you’re still more likely to deal with asymmetrical loading issues. This can cause overuse injuries or undue straining.

Another issue that is difficult to overcome is discomfort. Even a great prosthetic can still become uncomfortable at times, leading to soreness or even pain. These issues can be greatly exacerbated when trying to run. As soon as a problem arises, you must speak with your prosthetist. Consider keeping a diary for the first week or two in order to keep track of results.

When starting out, don’t overdo it. Run for ten minutes. Check for injury, redness, swelling, and inflammation. Rinse and repeat. The second day out, check every twenty minutes. Take your time and you should avoid serious injury.

If you’re not sure whether or not you have the proper form, then find a friend to help you out. Consider videotaping yourself while running to determine whether or not improvements can be made and where. Don’t be afraid to share your journey with your prosthetist.

Should I Lift Weights When Training For Marathons?

If you are thinking of running the New York City, Boston, or the Hunter Valley Marathon, you want to begin training with enough time to get your body in shape. It is quite common for people training for marathons to abandon weight training along with the assumption that all they need is endurance training. In this regard, they focus solely on building the miles they run to increase their endurance. It is true that endurance is a critical training component if you are going to succeed in a marathon. However, there is more than meets the eye.

You need to condition your body to be efficient in marathon training, let alone the marathon itself. This calls for weight training in a very particular manner that allows you to condition your body to produce powerful strides without expending a great deal of energy. Anaerobic training allows your legs and, in general, your body to produce power more efficiently and more consistently over the course of the marathon.

Secondly, your body also needs to be conditioned to take the punishment that comes with training for a marathon. While training, you will strain your muscles and quite often exceed the threshold of what the muscles and connective tissues can handle, thus leading to injuries such as “runner’s knee”, splints, and even stress fractures. This negatively impacts your training and performance in the marathon. Keeping this in mind, you need to train your body to better handle the tremendous strain, stress, and load that it will go through. This is best achieved by incorporating weight training in your marathon preparation.

However, you should be cautious to not bulk up. This will yield negative effects to your marathon efforts. You should note that in marathons, the main focus is to get rid of lactate that builds up as effectively as possible, which can build up easily as you gain muscle.

As such, you should not solely focus on weight training this will negate your chances of achieving the best results during your training phase, as well as during the marathon itself. Therefore, focus on achieving a balance between the anaerobic and aerobic training that will particularly meet the needs of long-distance running.

Importantly, do not over-strain your body by engaging in both weights training and long distance running on the same day. Focus on each type of training on different days and make a point of giving your body some recovery time as needed or adviced by a trainer.