Lessons (Some Gross) Learned during Marathon Training

Today I hit a milestone in my training: 14 miles! This is the longest distance I have ever run, and it was also one of the most challenging. It was about 78 degrees at 6:30 a.m., but the humidity was hovering around 100%. Gnarly.

Go me and GO TEAM!

Go me and GO TEAM!

Today also happens to be my cousin David’s birthday, but unfortunately he’s spending it in the hospital. He recently came out of remission, so now he’s back on chemo. I wish that I could do more for him, but I find comfort knowing that the awareness and funds I’m raising for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are helping to treat him and patients like him. He’s a fighter and I know he’ll overcome this challenge like he has every other.

So…as I’ve built my mileage back up, I’m learning a lot from training: some gross things and some things that I think other runners may find helpful. Consider yourself warned.

Black Toenails
I do believe that I’ve hit a runner’s milestone: a purple-black-ish toenail. After some research and a chat with my doc, it turns out that it’s nothing more than a bruise under the toenail…and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s a result of repeated trauma to the toe. In a lot of cases, it’s from pounding pavement for a longer period of time and more often (e.g., mileage building for long distance runners). The nail will, in most cases, fall off. So much for that pedicure I was going to get this weekend…

Holy smokes, that's sexy.

Holy smokes, that’s sexy.

Ice Baths
This may be the closest thing to euphoria after a long run. I also think I’m the only one on my team that repeatedly says, “I just love ice baths!” The key to having a tolerable 5-7 minutes in an ice bath is simple: water temperature. The water shouldn’t be any colder than 54 degrees. I really enjoy ice baths because I get to reduce swelling and discomfort in 5-7 minutes, instead of icing each part of my leg for 10 minutes each. There’s no real evidence that this actually helps at all, but it can’t hurt. Learn more about ice baths here.

Thumbs up! Love my ice baths!

Thumbs up! Love my ice baths!

Calcium Magnesium Supplements
My chiropractor recommended that I start taking calcium and magnesium supplements leading up to race day. As I’m a female, getting the right about calcium is crucial to avoid osteoporosis — it helps keep the bones strong. Don’t you want strong bones? Magnesium is lost through sweat and urine in athletes, and is an essential mineral for red blood cell formation and bone remineralization. Talk to your doctor to see if these supplements are right for you, or learn more about essential nutrients for endurance athletes here.

This cal-mag supplement can be found at Whole Foods.

This cal-mag supplement can be found at Whole Foods.

Tangle Teezer
Ladies, listen up! I don’t know about you, but after a run, my ponytail is super tangled (even if I braided it). Thanks to my hair stylist and friend (love you Craig!), I’m in on a secret that many of you may not know: the Tangle Teezer. No more ripped out clumps of hair. No more %!!# screams into the bathroom mirror. This bad ass little thing is a miracle worker!

Consider the Tangle Teezer a gift from the hair gods.

Consider the Tangle Teezer a gift from the hair gods.

KT Tape
Some people think Kinesio tape is a gimmick (hell, I did at first), but this stuff has changed my life. It adds stability, and is good for muscles, tendons, and ligaments. There are different kinds of Kinesio tape, and I’m using the synthetic KT Tape. It helps with my ankle instability and tendonitis in my left leg. My chiropractor uses a different one (Kinesio brand) along with a spray adhesive to help keep it on longer. If you’re interested to learn more, check out this interview with the inventor of Kinesio tape, Dr. Kenzo Kase, with The Guardian.

Smelly Ass Clothes
Never in my life did I think I could get my clothes to smell worse than a used jockstrap. The human body — male or female — can really stink up some threads! I’ve found that most sports laundry detergents don’t work, so I found a more natural way to get the stink out: good ol’ vinegar and baking soda. I typically add 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda to my laundry when I’m washing my workout clothes (I cut the detergent amount in half when doing this). Also, it’s best to wash your sweaty clothes immediately. The longer they stay wet and rolled up in a ball, the harder it is to get the smell out.

If I come across any other helpful tips (which I’m sure I will), you’ll know about it. Happy running!



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