Red light therapy has many benefits and can be incredibly handy when training to run a marathon. Many of the red and near-infrared light benefits line up with the speed and endurance goals of running.
Everybody who runs a marathon has the same question on their mind – How to run a marathon faster?. That’s why you have probably already seen, read, and implemented every other tip and trick in the book. Now, it’s time to rely on the science of red light therapy. It can definitely help you tip the scales to your advantage when it comes to your average mile time.
When talking about exercise and its advantages, this is what red light therapy helps with:
- Avoiding injuries
- Recovering faster and better
- More gain from proper nutrition
- Bigger pay off from your exercise
- Higher energy levels
All of this is beneficial for an element of marathon training. Let’s look at the parts of a marathon training plan and find out how red light therapy can contribute.
The Basic Elements of a Marathon Training Plan
When you’re training to run a marathon, you need a solid marathon training plan that lasts anywhere from 12 to 20weeks. Your plan needs to consist of the following elements:
- Increasing your base distance. Running further every time, three to five times a week. Never increase your base mileage by more than 10% per week.
- Long runs. Every seven to ten days, to get used to long distances. Make it longer for three consecutive weeks and then cut it back several miles, to prevent overuse injury. Your longest long run should be around 20 miles.
- Increasing speed. Fast and interval runs, to improve your cardio and aerobic capacity. Fast single-mile intervals are just enough, swapped with intervals of light jogging.
- Enough rest to recover. To make sure you don’t get injured or end up mentally drained. Your marathon training plan can include a tapering period – a period of approximately 20 days where you significantly scale back on training intensity.
How Can Red Light Therapy Help You Train to Run a Marathon?
In short, your marathon training plan should include red light therapy before and after your efforts, because it can help you with each of the basic elements. Here’s what red and near-infrared therapy can do for you:
Supports Your Efforts to Increase Your Base Mileage
When you are training to run a marathon, you constantly press yourself to run that extra mile. As you do this you stress your muscles. This causes them to tear on a microscopic level. The more they tear the more they require oxygen, energy, and longer recovery time.
Red light therapy stimulates the ability to combat fatigue during your run. Because it influences the oxygen cycle in your cells, you’ll tire less quickly. Another result is that you’ll also recover faster after running.
Having this balanced oxygen signaling in your cells will also make it less likely for you to overtrain. As it is easier to keep going and hit the mark you are aiming for in your training plan, you’ll suffer less damage. The recovery you do need will also be shorter since your Inflammation is also lowered this way.
Helps You With Your Long Run
The long-run is a part that steadily expands when you run a marathon training plan. It’s about running for a longer and a longer period of time at a level that still allows you to maintain a conversation without having to stop or losing your breath.
As you progress you can also start building up the speed of these runs if you have a specific time goal. What you need during these runs is energy. Eating a lot before your run will make you feel uncomfortable. So, most runners take gels packed with carbs to get through these stamina-building phases.
Red light therapy is an energy provider as well. Red and near-infrared light therapy assists your cells in making more ATP, necessary for fueling your cells and muscles. Red light therapy helps you energize to get through your long runs without feeling heavier or slower.
Promotes Muscle Building Processes in Your Body
Muscle building happens when the tears in your muscles have healed. The healing causes your muscles to be built bigger and stronger. Since red light therapy has direct effects on muscle recovery, healing, and inflammation reduction, it promotes your muscle-building process.
Still, there is one other way your red light device will help. It improves your sleep. You need sleep for a lot of processes in your body and it is a huge part of muscle regeneration, which means muscle building.
Boosts Your Speed Work
For a fast run, you need enough strength and excellent cardio capacity. Red light therapy promotes muscle building and better blood circulation. Thanks to this you can run faster as you get a better supply of oxygen to keep going. Less build-up of lactate acid means cramps aren’t as likely to occur and other toxins will be cleared up faster too.
Your fast muscle recovery will add to more muscle build-up to assist your speed work. You’ll have more energy in general as well thanks to the influence on ATP production and your sleep rhythm.
How to Use Red Light Therapy in Your Marathon Training Plan
In your marathon training plan, red light therapy works best in double doses. You just need a red light therapy device for 20-30 minutes before and after your workout. You target the muscle groups you feel need the attention an hour before your training and directly after you finish your session.
When you are resting you can choose a daily red light therapy session for your muscles or stick with the two doses.
The same goes for when you are injured. Two sessions of red light therapy a day won’t do any harm but of course, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional about the best route to take when you are hurt.
It may seem like it’s not always convenient to spend that much time enjoying red light therapy during your day. Half an hour before and another such session after running add another 60 minutes to your busy schedule.
This is true if you are using a device that requires you to drop everything you’re doing and expose your body to the red light sources, usually without any clothes on.
However, if you are using a portable, targeted red light therapy device with just as much power as the traditional devices, you don’t have to plan your day around your red light session. You can wear this device underneath your clothing while you are going about your day. Moreover, you can pack it and take it with you if you plan on training for a marathon in different locations.