Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
NCAA runner turned high school coach Hillary Kigar has an answer for all things training!
Q: What’s the best amount of time to wait between eating and running?
It all depends on who you are and what you ate. If you had something light like a banana or a granola bar, most runners should be okay to go within half an hour. But if you just finished a larger meal, you may want to wait an hour or longer to help prevent stomachaches that may force you to end your run early. Every digestive system is different, and there’s only one way to find out what works best for you. Don’t forget to refuel after your run as well—ideally with carbohydrates and protein—so that you will recover quickly and be ready to get another good run in tomorrow!
Related: How To Get Rid of Side Stitches
Q: How long of a break can I take from running before I get out of shape?
It usually takes about two weeks of not running before any real fitness is lost. But staying active with cross-training, such as biking, swimming and yoga, while you’re taking a break from running will delay the “getting out of shape” process.
After a big race or several serious months of training, it is important to take some downtime for your body to recover. It’s just as important for your mind to reset before you jump into a new plan. If it has been a while since you were out there on the trails, be patient as you start up again. Don’t rush—and you’ll snap back before you know it.
Related: What’s The Best Way To Get Faster?
Q: I’m training for my first marathon in July. I’d like to complete a few 26-mile runs first to make sure I can finish the distance. Is that advisable?
It is important to have a few long-long runs (20 to 23 miles) before your marathon, but you don’t have to run the entire distance. The 20-plus milers will give you the confidence and physical preparation you need without putting undue stress on your body—save that for race day!
Instead of focusing solely on distance, add speed work like track intervals and tempo runs into your plan. The mix of speed workouts with the consistency of high-mileage runs will be the perfect one-two punch you need to feel strong and fast on race day.
Related: How To Run A Track Workout
Coach’s Tip: Sweat and Sniff
Spring has arrived, flowers are starting to bloom…which means allergy season is upon us! If you are feeling congested, take a page from marathon legend Paula Radcliffe’s book and try running with a Breathe Right strip on your nose. While it may look silly, it can help open up your nasal passageways, which will make the run much more enjoyable. Then you can stop and actually smell the flowers on your run!
Have a question for Coach Kigar? Email email@example.com or tweet @womensrunning with the hashtag #AsktheCoach.