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When you’re training for a half-marathon, you want every advantage you can get. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be running your first half-marathon, or your twenty-first: if you can get an edge, you should take it.
That’s why I started to look into supplements. Of course, not just any supplements. I’ve researched those that have been touted by professional and recreational runners as helping when they’re prepping for a race. I wanted to find ones that have some legitimate research behind them. But also the ones that wouldn’t be too difficult to get my hands on in central Pennsylvania or via the Internet.
What I discovered were seven supplements that seem to have some merit for those of us who are getting ready for the big 13.1 miler. If you’re prepping for a future race, it’s worth looking into my top 7:
Everyone knows that calcium supports bone health. What could be more important than having strong bones, especially when you’re pounding on them on a weekly basis through long and short runs? In general, it’s a good idea to have plenty of calcium – especially if you’re a female at risk of osteoporosis – anyway. Adding about 1,000 mg daily will hurt.
While I’m not running an Ironman (yet!) I certainly need all the benefits that iron can bring to the table. It’s especially important for runners who may have a tendency toward anemia. Generally speaking, you don’t have to take tons of iron to gain an advantage. About 18 mg a day should be enough.
I had heard of probiotics, but never prebiotics. It turns out that these nifty organisms are fiber-filled. Plus, they help the digestive system absorb what it needs to keep the body healthy. This is critical when fueling up for long runs and especially a half-marathon. Prebiotics also assist in keeping the immunes system working properly. No one wants a cold right before the big day!
These are little microorganisms that contain “good bacteria” and are typically found either in supplement form, or foods like yogurt. The bacteria helps out in the stomach and intestine with keeping a runner from getting sick. This is especially critical for any athlete who has taken antibiotics recently, as they kill both the good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D comes naturally in sunlight, and, like calcium, it plays a role in keeping bones from becoming brittle. Few foods are rich in vitamin D, like liver. However, more often than not, liver isn’t on most people’s grocery lists. That’s why I think I’ll stick to taking a vitamin D supplement every day instead of trying to ingest my daily dose of vitamin D through food.
6. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
This is a fancy term for “fish oils”, and it’s a hot supplement right now. Many men and women runners who take this supplement daily, swear that it helps in lubricating the joints. This includes easing natural aches and pains through cardiovascular health improvement.
This can come in particularly handy when you’re increasing your mileage. Your body is often not quite so eager to tackle more and more road work! An added advantage is that it boosts memory and brain power. Perhaps now you’ll have time to write the next great American novel in your head while you run!
7. Vitamin C
Ah, good old vitamin C. It’s the vitamin most people reach for when they’re starting to get a cold. With good reasoning – there’s evidence supporting the belief that it does help ward off health woes. The only trick is not to take too much of it.
Vitamin C can cause pretty bad stomach cramps and diarrhea if you overdose. The problem is that you might have to do a little bit of individual chemistry testing to see what your limit is. Some athletes take 4,000 mg a day, but I’m guessing they’re in the minority. From what I’ve seen, most recreational runners don’t need nearly that much. I’m looking forward to being much more conservative in the dosage.
There’s no doubt that supplements, when done right, can produce great results. Let’s hope these seven are a good start for this runner!