By Tina Gale
May 4, 2013 was the date for this year’s Rotorua Marathon; an annual event in which competitors run around the beautiful lake from which the city of Rotorua takes its name. We were lucky to have a wonderful day weather-wise, with a nice temperature and no wind; excellent conditions for running an endurance event. In this article, I would like to share with you a little of my journey over the 20 week training programme which I complemented with the use of good nutrition and supplements which helped me finish injury-free.
Having completed my first marathon back in October 2011, I was always keen to do another. The buzz of finishing my first marathon was simply extraordinary; I was on a great high for two weeks afterwards – and I was back at the gym training a week later, without injury.
However, a couple of months after that I developed an ischia bursitis – inflammation of the bursitis of the hamstring tendon where it attaches to the “sit” bones. With the help of acupuncture, herbs and strength training it settled enough and in December 2012, I signed for the Rotorua marathon and committed to the 20 week training programme. Having done a marathon once before I knew that it involved a fair few long runs in the weekend of 2-3 hours duration and plenty of training during the week. I chose to adjust the programme to suit me: Instead of running 5 days per week, I would run 2-3 times per week and sometimes cross train, swim or aqua jog instead of running. I also did strength training at the gym two days per week, and attended a yoga class weekly for the stretching and relaxation it provides me. I am really aware of wear and tear on joints so I was very keen to prevent this, knowing that marathon running puts a fair bit of stress on your body.
My daily supplement regime while training was the following:
An omega 3-6-9 supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids help support for a healthy heart, normal brain function, and a positive mood, while omega-6 GLA promotes healthy joints and skin, and omega-9 helps ensure healthy hair and nails. I used 5mls daily of Nordic Naturals omega 369 liquid -which contains borage flower oil, a source of GLA, in addition to fish oil. I added this to a smoothie or mixed it into my porridge.
- I took a vitamin B complex daily to boost energy levels and reduce stress.
- I also enjoyed a daily serving of spirulina powder. I like spirulina because it is a super food which is rich in beta carotene and it also contains plenty of iron, which the red blood cells use up whilst pounding the pavements. The need for a good diet and supplements rich in antioxidants is really important for anyone doing intense training. After my exercise sessions I would always have a handful of blueberries; a really enjoyable way to reduce oxidateive stress on the body!
My daily diet included regular meals containing protein, vegetables and wholegrain carbohydrates, brown rice and a wholegrain/seedy bread. I especially liked peanut butter and banana on toast. It was really important to have a good recovery meal within one hour of training, most of what I did in the morning. I usually ate eggs on toast or bIrcher porridge with an spoon of protein powder and berries on top. Plenty of fluids are also important, so I didn’t neglect these.
Morning tea was often a protein shake and piece of fruit. For lunch and dinner I always including a balanced meal of proteins, vegetables, fats and carbohydrates. Fish or vegetarian proteins of beans and lentils was a favourite with either a salad or vegetables. Training for an endurance event allows you to increase your calorie intake, and I found it best to include wholemeal pasta, brown rice, wholegrain and seed bread, kumara and beans, in servings the size of my cupped hands 2-3 times per day. The whole grains provided a great source of vitamins and other nutrients, and one I also like is quinoa, which has an even higher nutrient factor than brown rice. You name it, I can make it with brown rice, salads, risottos, cakes, and I have three different varieties in the pantry, short, long and basmati. I quickly found that if I didn’t adhere to this programme, I would find myself craving anything sweet and high in sugar and fat!
The week before the marathon I attempted to have a relaxing week at the bach, do plenty of yoga stretching and a few gentle jogs to stretch the legs on the beach. As a naturopath I have been studying a new therapy, homotoxicology, which use combination homoeopathic remedies to help regulate body functions. I found that the Heel Metabolic Kit. It contains co-enzyme q10 compositium which stimulates cellular energy in the form of ATP, aids in immunity, cell detoxification and endurance. I really noticed the effects for me, the clarity, energy and the recovery. It has been shown to:
◊ Enhance metabolic function
◊ Assist detoxification
◊ Promote endurance
◊ Improve exercise capacity
◊ Immune stimulant
I am pleased to say that I had a great run. I drank water at every drink station until the halfway mark, whilst chewing a Gu brand electrolyte and energy chews every 4-6 kilometres. I had a banana around the 22km mark and continued around the lake with a drink of an electrolyte drink at every drink station. I ran over the finish line at 4 hours and 40 minutes feeling elated – and without injury. (Whilst out on the course there were a few individuals who charged past me, only to end up injured and limping over the finish line. A couple of my friends and fellow competitors both suffered with some hip pain for a couple of weeks after the marathon, and could not train during this time.)
You have probably guessed it, but I will definitely do another marathon! Nine weeks on I am happy to train at a lower level and give my body a chance to rest and repair before embarking on another intense training period. I would really love to crack the 4 hours 30 minutes time. I believe it is achievable for me: I just have to train a little harder and get the brain psyched up. I am aware of studies that show that athletes finishing a marathon have raised cortisol levels equivalent to an individual having a heart attack. Intensive training programmes can actually create a lot of stress in the body; hence the need for good supplementation, diet and recovery whilst training.
About the author: Tina Gale is a nurse and naturopath who works in Howick, Auckland. A keen cook and runner, Tina supports her clients to make positive lifestyle changes to support good health. Tina is also a regular contributor to The NZ Journal of Natural Medicine. She may be contacted at gethealthywithtina at gmail.com.