We all know the importance of taking care of our mind and physical body, but have you ever considered how your immune system takes part in that? Maintaining a healthy immune system is at the core of living a long, healthy and happy life!
The immune system is a system, not a single entity. For it to function well, it requires balance and harmony. Following general good-health guidelines will allow your immune system to stay strong and healthy, even as you age.
Best Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Reduce stress levels
Eat a healthy diet
Consider taking supplements
Get enough sleep
Reduce stress levels
Reducing your stress levels is key to keeping your immune system running smoothly. Chronic stress suppresses the immune response of the body by releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol reduces the antibody secretory IgA, which lines the gut and respiratory tract. This antibody is our first line of defense against pathogens, so increased cortisol levels can be harmful to our immunity. Keeping your stress levels in check is not always easy, so it’s important to try different activities to see what works for you. Some great ways of managing stress are practicing yoga, meditation, or deep breathing regularly.
Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet filled with lots of vegetables is also a great way to naturally maintain a healthy body! Veggies, fruits, seeds and nuts are loaded with nutrients that are great for our immune system, and should be consumed on a daily basis. Something you might not know is that our liver ensures the body’s natural detoxification, so it is extremely important we take care of it! For a healthy liver, vegetables like kale, broccoli and cabbage should be included in your regular diet. Check out our Juicing Blog for some inspo on easily getting those fruits and veggies in you!
Consider taking supplements
Taking supplements and natural herbs may also help boost your immune system’s capabilities. Herbs like AHCC, Echinacea, Elderberry, Andrographis and Astragalus can help reduce the duration and severity of illness. Vitamin C is one of the most common immune system boosters. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli. Daily intake of vitamin C is essential for good health because your body doesn’t produce or store it. Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. If you don’t get any in your diet, then you can find supplements online or at your health store. Vitamin E is also great for your immune system. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection.
Finally, getting enough sleep each night is a really essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle and allowing your body to fight off illness. Lack of sleep can cause the inflammatory immune response to activate, reducing the activity of T cells in the body. This can weaken your immune system and response to vaccines. Try to sleep for 7 to 8 hours every night to keep your body and immune system nice and strong!
We hope these tips were helpful, or at least a good reminder to take care of yourself. The most important thing is to make sure you are letting your body rest, and that you are fueling it with good nutrients! We would love to hear what other suggestions you have for building a stronger immune system. Comment them down below!
So you’ve decided to start training for a marathon. First of all, congratulations! Training for and completing a marathon is on many people’s bucket lists and is undoubtedly a massive feat of athletic ability. That finisher’s medal will long hold a special place of pride and honor in your heart—can’t you just feel its weight on your neck now?!
If you’re getting excited about running your marathon just from reading this introduction, we know you’ve definitely got the enthusiasm and drive to run 26.2 miles. But if you’re a first-time marathon runner, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I go about training for a marathon, anyway?”
Not to fear—that’s where we come in! We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide that has everything you need to know to cross the finish line injury-free and with a smile on your face! Are you lacing up your sneakers yet? Are you getting antsy to get out there and pound the pavement already? Well then, let’s get to it.
Training for a Marathon: Everything You Need to Know
Find the right training plan
Follow the right nutrition and fueling
Choose the right marathon training gear
Enjoy the journey
Finding the Right Marathon Training Plan
There are a million different ways to train for a marathon. In addition to long runs that increase in distance over time, many coaches and professional long-distance runners recommend adding a variety of different workouts to your plan when training for a marathon. These can include tempo runs, speed workouts, cross-training, yoga, walking, weight lifting, and more.
But how do you know what will work for YOU and YOUR body if you’ve never trained for more than a half-marathon? The first step is to figure out which training style is best suited for you (and your budget).
What Type of Training Plan Is Best for You?
Have you ever gone to the grocery store without a shopping list? Sure, you can walk into your local market and grab some random fruits and veggies (and let’s be realistic, probably a snack or two), but what happens when you get home?
Maybe you were able to grab all the ingredients needed to make a healthy meal without putting much thought into it—and if you’ve been cooking nutritious meals for yourself for a while, this practiced act is likely second nature. But there’s still a good chance you grabbed a pile of random stuff that can’t be made into healthy meals. Just because you were craving pistachios, watermelon, crackers, and pepperoni at the moment does not mean they will magically turn into a nutrient-dense dinner.
The same goes when training for a marathon. If you just did a workout you felt like doing every day with no structured plan of where you were running, how far, or for how long, you wouldn’t be able to “make a healthy meal” by the end of your training. If you’re a seasoned marathoner, maybe this a la carte training plan works just fine for you. First-time marathoners: keep reading on.
Hiring a Running Coach
Many runners find it helpful to hire a running coach. If you’re nervous about any aspect of training for a marathon—nutrition, fueling, preventing injury, recovery, etc.—this is a great way to have a professional’s guidance available to you at all times. However, as you can imagine, hiring a personal coach can be pricey.
A training plan tailored to your experience level, athletic abilities, and goals
A customized nutrition and fueling plan specific to your body’s needs
Unlimited one-on-one access to a running professional with years of experience
Motivation and support
The cost of a running coach can get quite high
Joining a Running Group
When training for a marathon, if you’re looking for a structured plan and access to a running coach without the high cost of a personal coach, joining a running group may be more your speed. Although you won’t get a training plan completely catered to you and your needs, you will have an awesome training plan with the added bonus of becoming a part of a running community. Instead of just one person holding you accountable, you will develop relationships with other runners—many of them seasoned—who will be able to answer your questions, provide guidance, and support and motivate you throughout your training.
Access to a running coach
Scheduled group workouts to keep you accountable
A community of supportive runners
Although this option is cheaper than a personal coach, there is still a relatively high cost
Less flexibility in your training schedule
Note that there are also free running groups in many communities! While these programs may not be as structured as a paid running group or offer a full marathon training plan, they often meet once or twice a week to run together and create a sense of community. This is a wonderful free alternative if you’re seeking the support of other runners.
Purchasing a Training Plan
If you’re training for a marathon right now, I’m sure you’ve done some research and come across online training plans. If you don’t have a budget for a coach or running group, you shouldn’t feel discouraged. The beautiful thing about running is that the overall cost is very minimal—especially if you’re training for a local marathon and don’t need to travel very far for your race.
Online marathon training plans, when created by an esteemed running professional, are a great way to get quality training for a fraction of the cost. Purchasing plans from running gurus like Hal Higdon or Greg McMillan can provide you with all the structure you need. Some publications, such as Runner’s World, even offer free marathon training plans.
An already-laid-out training plan cuts down on research time
You will know exactly how many weeks you need to train and exactly which workout to do each day
You will still need to find a running group or train with a friend to get a sense of community
You won’t have access to a coach for questions that come up about strength exercises, nutrition, fueling, or recovery
Making a Plan: What Training for a Marathon Looks Like
If you are training for your first marathon, we highly recommend you find a training plan that goes 18–20 weeks. Although you don’t technically need four or five months to train for a marathon, the extra weeks help account for illnesses, injuries, or life events that get in the way and ensure that missing a long run or two won’t completely derail your training.
That being said, you should not start training for a marathon without establishing your aerobic base first. It’s so important that your body gets used to mileage well before you start your training. You should be running a few times a week and doing core- and leg-focused strength workouts leading up to day one of your training so that your muscles are well-prepared for the stress you’re about to put them through.
Although each marathon training plan is a little bit different, each is made up of some or all of the following workouts.
Each weekend, you will be doing a long run that gradually increases in distance every week. These are the bread and butter of marathon training. Many novice marathon training plans start at five or six miles and cap off at 20 miles around week 15, decreasing in distance every three weeks or so to allow your body to recover and improve. Three or four weeks before the marathon, these long runs taper off to allow your body time to prepare for the big race.
These workouts should not be missed. If you cannot do them on the weekend, try your best to fit them into your schedule during the week. That being said, you should never do a long run when you are sick or injured—for the longevity of your training, recovery and rest trump running every time.
Tempo runs require you to run at different paces and effort levels to get your body accustomed to different speeds and put you more in tune with your abilities and limits. These workouts can include lactate-threshold runs, race-pace runs, and progression runs.
If these workouts sound too complicated for you, don’t be discouraged! There is no shame in training for your first marathon with no time goal in mind and simply set out to cross the finish line. If this is the case, make sure to complete the mileage and focus on that—not how long it takes you to do so.
Easy runs are 30 seconds to one minute per mile slower than your goal marathon pace. If you don’t know what your marathon pace should be, just run as slow as you want! Even walk if you have to. The important thing is that you aren’t pushing your body too much during these workouts.
Cross training is any form of aerobic exercise that uses slightly different muscles than running. These can include swimming, biking, rowing, and walking. Some people even add yoga or pilates to their training schedule to cross-train. Incorporating these workouts help to strengthen surrounding muscles and prevent injury. They also break up your running workouts and add diversity to your training!
Although strength training is an essential part of preventing injury while training for a marathon, you may be surprised to learn that long-distance runners often overlook this type of workout. We highly recommend that you incorporate 1–3 days of weight lifting into your weekly training regimen. You can even find strength training programs made specifically for marathon runners online.
Rest is arguably your most important “workout.” It’s an absolutely essential part of any complete strategy when you’re training for a marathon. You should be resting twice a week and taking that recovery time seriously. If you are feeling restless and want to do some movement, consider going for a walk, stretching, or adding a yoga or pilates class to your recovery days. These movements are gentle and will help elongate your muscles, preparing them for your next hard workout.
Many runners who are preparing for a marathon find it helpful to do a couple of races during their training. This is a great way to test out what it feels like to run your goal pace during an organized race and experiment with different fueling methods and pre- and post-race rituals. Consider running a half-marathon about halfway through your training—ideally around the time of your 13-mile long run. You can also add a 5k or 10k, but make sure you aren’t completely replacing your long run weekends with shorter distance runs, or your long-distance training might suffer.
Nutrition and Fueling
Food is fuel when training for a marathon, which means that the nutrients and calories you consume are just as important as the miles you log. Nutrition can be broken down into two categories: training and race day. While these two segments are slightly different, both are equally important to your performance.
One of the most important aspects of training is staying hydrated. To discover how much water you need before, during, and after you run, calculate your sweat rate. This will help you determine how many fluids and electrolytes you need to support your training.
When you begin training for a marathon, you will start to notice how different foods affect your mood, energy, and endurance before, after, and during your workouts. Although nutrition is a science, each runner is different and should honor their bio-individuality. If you read on a blog that eating an entire sweet potato with some almond butter is best before a long run but you find yourself feeling nauseous after eating just that, stop eating it! What works for others will not necessarily work for you.
It is your responsibility to figure out the ratio of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) that work for your training. Remember that as your marathon training ramps up, your caloric intake will increase as well! Fuel your body with the foods it needs at that moment to recover from or prepare for your next workout.
According to sports dietitian Alexandra Cook, running burns 100–120 calories per mile. Use this formula to calculate how many calories you should be consuming each day—and don’t slow down on rest days! Even if you aren’t training, your body is working hard to recover and needs fuel to operate at an optimal level. Each meal should include protein, carbohydrates, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Produce provides micronutrients and antioxidants, which prevent oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body stimulated by prolonged exercise.
Above all else, listen to your body and don’t be afraid to eat when you’re hungry (which will likely be all the time). You’re putting in some serious work—treat yourself to delicious, nutrient-dense meals!
Race Day Nutrition
On race day, it’s very important to stick to the nutrition plan that you have developed over the past 4–5 months of long runs. Eat the same breakfast approximately 2.5–4 hours before the race starts to give your stomach time to process your meal.
Five to fifteen minutes before the race starts, start your fueling with a gel and a few sips of water. Plan to consume 30–60 grams of carbohydrates per hour throughout the race. Use your pre-determined combination of energy gels, chews, and bars to achieve this.
You should know where the fueling and hydration stations are along the course and have a plan for when and where you are intaking fuel and fluids. Don’t be afraid to ask a seasoned runner for advice on fueling weeks, or even months, prior to race day! It’s important to figure out what works best for you and your body so that those 26.2 miles can go as smooth as humanly possible.
Choosing the Right Marathon Training Gear
Finding the right gear for your marathon training can make or break your race day performance (just ask any male runner who has suffered from jogger’s nipple). When you’re running 26.2 miles, there are a lot of opportunities for discomfort. Here are our top tips for finding the proper training gear prior to race day.
Running Sneakers and Socks
It’s no secret that finding the right running sneaker is crucial to the comfort and ease of your training. Experts say that your running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles. Make sure that you are keeping a running log to track exactly how far you are running so you have a better idea of that 300–500-mile checkpoint.
As far as brand and design of sneakers go, many runners live by a certain model, but everyone’s arch, gait, and pronation are different. Your training terrain will also play a part in which sneaker you choose. The best way to find a good running shoe is to visit your local running store and talk to one of the employees. They will evaluate your pronation and gait, ask you about your training, and recommend the running sneaker they believe best suits your needs.
Choosing the right socks to run in is also an extremely important—and sometimes overlooked—part of training for a marathon. Good running socks provide extra padding and comfort and help prevent blisters. There’s a variety of running socks available on the market that come in different fabrics, thicknesses, and heights.
The clothes you choose to run in depend on many different factors, including where you are training, where you are racing, and in which seasons and climates. Training for the Boston Marathon in Maine during the winter is going to require a drastically different attire than training for the Honolulu Marathon on Oahu during the summer.
Do your research on brands, fabrics, and what is appropriate for different types of weather. Be sure to train in different outfits and choose your most comfortable pieces for race day. It takes a lot of trial and error to know exactly what to wear in any given weather, and you are likely to have some days where you miss the mark. That’s okay! Try your best and make sure to, at the very minimum, dress appropriately for extreme weather and temperatures.
If you are running in the hot sun or cold winter temperatures, make sure you have the proper headwear. Baseball caps and visors are a great way to block the sun while beanies and fleece-lined headbands provide extra protection against the snow. And don’t forget sunscreen on any exposed skin—no matter the season! Sun is sun whether it’s summer or winter.
When you’re running far distances, the goal is to add as little weight as possible. However, we know that there are essentials that you want to bring with you (keys, money, phone, etc.) for convenience and safety. We highly recommend that you invest in a running belt to carry your belongings, especially if you are often running by yourself. If you find that you need extra water during your long runs, a hydration belt is also a great option—many even come with special pockets for energy gels!
Tips to Enjoy Your First Marathon
You’ve spent months training for a marathon, calculating calories, and logging miles. Now it’s time to put your endurance to the test and complete your first marathon! Don’t stress too much about finishing within a certain amount of time—just take in the adrenaline, cheering, and the pride you feel once you cross that finish line. Above all, you should have fun. After all, that’s why you started marathon training in the first place, right? Learn our top ten tips for a happy 26.2 miles in our blog post, “10 Must-Haves for a Fun First Marathon.”
The holidays are here! Although we love this time of the year, there’s no question that finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones can be a bit overwhelming. This year, we’re sharing the ultimate gift guide with all the best gifts for your active friends and family.
Fitletic Has the Best Gift Ideas For:
Hydra 16 Hydration Belt: Our hydration belt is a great essential for any friends and family that love to run or are preparing for an upcoming race! Featuring two 8 oz bottles, the Hydra 16 will keep you going after each mile. It can hold your phone, ID, and keys while also securing your race bib to keep you comfortable without any bounce. Perfect for races, training or any long runs!
Ultimate II Running Pouch with Gels: Great for any runner into high-endurance runs and sports. It allows you to carry enough to fuel yourself for any long distance adventures!
Blitz Sports and Travel Belt: The perfect travel partner, this chic belt keeps your passport, phone, credit cards, hotel keys and more securely on-hand!
Bolt Fit Pouch: Another great travel option to store all your travel essentials, plus a little extra! Keep your passport, credit cards, cash, phone and boarding pass on you for easy and quick access.
Forte Plus Workout Armband: The perfect armband for any gym and fitness lover! Designed with comfort, function and style in mind, this armband features light memory foam to fit to your arm, an audio-friendly true touch window, ID pocket and a chord organizer.
Swipe Running Belt: The belt’s touch screen window gives you full access to your phone without needing to take it out. A spacious yet slim belt, it is perfect for a casual run or a trip to the gym!
Mini Sport Belt: This belt is great for casual hands-free activities or running errands. It’s sleek and minimalistic design goes perfectly with athleisure wear, and is great for storing on-the-go essentials like your phone, ID, credit card, keys or chapstick!
City Backpack: Comfortable and lightweight, this is the perfect gift for anyone heading to the office, classes or just running around town! Our new city backpack is the perfect size to hold all your on-the-go needs, including your laptop and iPad.
It’s official – marathon season is officially here! From your local race in the city you live, to the World Major’s going on all around us, wherever you look there is marathon fever! 26.2 miles is no walk in the park though, and the right preparation could be the difference between having the race of your life to a very uncomfortable jog.
August is officially around the corner and you’re doing your best to stay cool, we totally get it and we’re with you! We’ve put together a few bullet points that will keep you motivated to drink as much water as possible this Summer:
Reasons to Drink Water:
Regulates body temperature
Transports food throughout the body
Assists in delivering glucose to the muscles
Helps remove toxins and waste from the body
Maintains blood volume and blood pressure
Cushions and lubricates joints
Keeps blood thin and circulating
Drinking Water Results In:
Peak muscle function
More comfort during exertion
This is why Fitletic is so dedicated to developing superior hydration packs. Staying hydrated during exertion, especially in the heat, doesn’t just improve performance and comfort, it is critical for safety and health. We want to meet all your hydration needs and let you go totally hands-free while you do it! Ideally, you should be made up of a certain percentage of water, just like body fat percentage and muscle mass. It comes down to the numbers, the amount of water in the human body ranges from 50%-75%. To get really technical, bodybuilding.com states that water makes up nearly 85% of your brain, about 80% of your blood and about 70% of your lean muscle. The thing about water is that you can’t replace it with something else. In fact, many of the beverages we drink do the opposite and actually steal water from the body instead of increase the amount. If all of the positives such as the reasons to drink water and what drinking water results in doesn’t motivate you, let’s flip the coin and look at the other side. Being dehydrated is the #1 cause of daytime fatigue, a 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, difficulty with basic math, and difficulty completing basic tasks. Without the proper amount of water, your body’s circulation can even falter. If you’re dehydrated, odds are your body is not even burning as much fat as it’s able to if hydrated correctly. If you’re into taking care of yourself and part of the self-love craze, look no further. One of the biggest and best beauty tips from models to actresses to everyday people is to drink water, water, water. Not only does it leave your skin dewy and smooth, it can leave your body odor smelling fresh, your breath better, and your hair and nails stronger. Water does just about everything you want that we pay oodles of dollars for in powders, creams and serums. Invest in becoming aware of your water intake and be prepared to see greater results. This quick fix is no joke! Fitletic is here to assist in your quest for proper hydration. Just check out our products today and you’ll be amazed at the variety of options both in function and aesthetics. Happy Summer shopping, athletes!