Training tips ahead of Sanlam Cape Town marathon

2015-07-14 06:00
With the Cape Town Marathon set to take place over the weekend of 19 to 20 September, runners are encouraged to step up their training and pay attention to their diet ahead of the big day.

With the Cape Town Marathon set to take place over the weekend of 19 to 20 September, runners are encouraged to step up their training and pay attention to their diet ahead of the big day.

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With little over two months until the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, distance running legend Elana Meyer has shared a few training tips ahead of the big day.

“Preparing for a marathon, the focus should be on strength, endurance and pace runs,” says Meyer.

“You need to be strong if you want to run a good marathon. By incorporating strength conditioning it will help you stay injury free and handle the distance a lot better. Also incorporate hill repeats. It will make you tough.”

Meyer offers some key tips to potential Cape Town Marathon participants, saying that you should have training buddies when you sign up for the marathon – the journey will be much more enjoyable.

If you can, do most of your runs off road.

Follow a 12 to 16 week programme. There are training programmes on the race website ( Or sign up with one of the Cape Town Marathon coaches for online coaching.

Training for the gruelling 42km challenge is important, but other areas of preparation are just as crucial, according to Andrea du Plessis.

Du Plessis is a nutritional specialist at Vital Health Foods, the race’s official development partner. She says dietary intake can affect an athlete’s training and racing ability.

“The biggest impact nutrition can make on your training programme is to help your muscles recover rapidly. This ensures getting the best value out of regular training sessions,” says Du Plessis.

Nutrients that are required for recovery nutrition include:

. water

. carbohydrates

. protein

. electrolytes

. vitamins

. minerals

. antioxidants

Du Plessis urges runners to look out for two specific ingredients when selecting their training recovery nutrition formula:

. Whey protein is a source of the essential and branched chain amino acids required for muscle recovery.

. Glutamine is an important nutrient for individuals that participate in high intensity endurance training and events. It is vital for recovery after training and important for the immune system, as it is used by the immune cells located in the digestive system.

Staying hydrated is important too – before, during and after exercise. Du Plessis provides key points to avoid dehydration, which accelerates the onset of fatigue:

. Make sure to drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day to stay well hydrated.

. When exercising under warm conditions, make sure to increase your fluid intake with at least 500ml to 1000ml on that day.

. Sports drinks taken before, during and after exercise may help keep you hydrated for training sessions that last longer than 30 minutes.

. During training, fluid intake of about 500ml per hour should be sufficient, depending on perspiration rate, which differs between individuals, and the temperature on the day.

While taking enough fluids is a wise approach, Du Plessis warns against excessive fluid intake: “This may result in over-hydration and hyponatremia, which may impair sports performance and can be as dangerous as dehydration.”

Another important aspect to consider when preparing for a long distance race is shoes and apparel. Dawid Visser, promotions and training specialist at Asics South Africa, says there are four key areas to consider when selecting training and racing kit:

. It’s important to get the correct type of shoes suitable for your running style. You can go to your local specialist sports shop to get a gait assessment.

. Different types of shoes with specific features help support your running style and minimise injuries.

. The correct size of footwear is crucial. The wrong size can cause severe discomfort, blue toenails and even blistering.

. Running clothing needs to suit your environment and training conditions. Use vests or tech tees and shorts for warm weather, and long-sleeve tops or jackets and tights for winter training.

. Good quality comfortable socks can make your running experience much more enjoyable.

Visser warns against starting a race with a new pair of shoes. “You need to make the shoes mold to your feet to ensure proper fitting when you get to race day. This also eliminates the chances of excessive blistering,” he says.

The organisers of the Cape Town Marathon are expecting a record field this year for Africa’s only IAAF silver label race.

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