Fine-tuning the marathon machine

Joshua Mehmet 1

Marathon runners have #NoDaysOff. If you’ve ever wondered how these running machines stay on top of their game and injury free compared to the rest of us, the answer lies not only in their genes and training regimes, but also in their daily routines. Not just runners, but all professional athletes, set specific standards and develop habits in their everyday lives.

A marathon runner treats their body like a Formula 1 racing car. It’s a rapid machine, designed to perform. But making it around the track as fast and as safe as possible, requires daily maintenance procedures.

The following 4 are the secret procedures runners use to keep the marathon machine oiled and fine-tuned, ready to perform on race day:

Electrolytes

Here’s a question: How often do you consume electrolytes? Never? Before a race? After a race? It’s not uncommon for professional runners to drink around 100 ounces of electrolyte-enhanced water almost every day. Why? During a run – something these guys do often – they lose electrolytes through their sweat – mainly sodium and potassium. If their electrolytes are imbalanced, a runner risks suffering from cramps & muscle fatigue, as well as stiff and painful joints. An adequate income of electrolytes, ensures tissues are properly hydrated and healthy, every day.

Muscle soaking

For you and I, a bath is a way to unwind and relax. For marathon runners it’s all of that and even more. Adding special bath salts and oils to their soaking session, further supports their muscles regeneration process. And since bathing is something we all do on a regular basis, it requires almost no added effort to make this a part of their routine. Epsom salt for example is a crystallized magnesium sulfate that you can buy from most drug stores. For hundreds of years it’s been dissolved in baths to ease aches and pains. A bath with epsom salt is especially popular with runners as it’s said to relieve muscle pain from over-exertion as well as muscle strains and tendonitis. Although there’s no research saying it’s overly effective, there’s also nothing to refuse it. Relaxation and regeneration: 2 birds, 1 stone!

Compression

We already covered the case for compression wear and why it’s more than just this season’s must have sports accessory. But when it comes to compression socks, runners really get their money’s worth. Not only during a long run but also on a flight, car journey, trip to the grocery store or watching a movie at night, it’s not uncommon for a long-distance runner to wear compression socks for at least a short period each day. This easy peasy life hack is said to further support their body’s circulation and lymphatic systems in restoring worked tissue.

Bare-foot-work

It’s argued that one of the reasons so many of the world’s best marathon runners come from Kenya is because there, they would often run barefoot – a method which develops good habits. Although this theory is yet to be proven, there’s one thing that’s for sure: all great runners put in the effort to spend as much time as possible walking or running barefoot. The simple reason is that barefoot, is the default position of your foot. This means the foot and actually the entire body is designed to run in this flat form. Although we can’t all walk or run the streets without shoes on due to rough surfaces and sharp objects, runners will use any safe opportunity to be barefoot as a way to strengthen and mobilize their feet, allowing them to work the way they are supposed to and become stronger.

The best thing about these procedures is that you don’t have to be a professional runner for them to benefit your performance and speed up your recovery. Bath salts, compression socks and electrolytes are all cheap and easy to get your hands on. The hard part is putting in the effort required to make them a part of your routine.

You want to become a better runner? It takes more than just running. Maintain your body, set standards and stick to good habits.