Running: Q&A on Training

with physiotherapist Éric Boucher

What is the most important thing when beginning to run?
 
The most important thing is to start running gradually. It’s important to not rely only on your cardiovascular abilities, but to also quantify the mechanical stress on your lower extremities. If your body is not already adapted to this stress (impact) and you progress too quickly, the risk of injury increases.
 
How long before a substantial run should I begin training? 
 
This all depends on your cardiovascular abilities and lower limb tissue adaptation regarding the repeated impact against the ground. So, depending on the adaptation of the lower limbs, it can take you 3 to 8 weeks before being able to run 30 minutes non-stop without the risk of injury. Furthermore, it’s important to know the distance you are going to run in a substantial race. This is, why with a gradual progression of a maximum of 10% of the total volume of running per week, it may take you 20 to 24 weeks of training before a marathon (if you had not started running beforehand).
 
What should I eat the day before a race? 
 
It’s good to eat plenty of carbohydrates the day before the event. However, since you are likely to experience stress on the eve of a run, you should not overeat so as to digest well. Also, this is a bad time to try new foods you are not used to digesting and it’s best to avoid alcohol the day before the event to avoid dehydration.
 
How much water should I drink on the day of the run?
 
You must start drinking the week prior to the run to already be well hydrated the day of the event. On the day of the race, you must drink sufficiently and regularly, especially if the run will last more than an hour. However, beware of hyponatremia (overhydration). Research has shown that most marathon runners are more likely to suffer from hyponatremia than from dehydration! In conclusion, the level of hydration depends on the individual (people who sweat a lot, or who are very thin or very tall, etc. will all hydrate differently), so it’s important to know yourself well before the big event!