Misha Bykov: a typical St. Petersburg marathon runner

In unusually sunny and fine St. Petersburg, we managed to meet the legend of the White Nights marathon, the founder and head coach of the running school Typical marathon runner, master of sports in athletics, member of the St. Petersburg marathon team Misha Bykov and talk about running, preparing for races, rookie mistakes and dieting ahead of a new start.

- How is your mood before the start?
- This year I had a very lingering injury, and I started to train fully only on May 15th. Therefore, unfortunately, I did not manage to prepare one hundred percent this year, because there was simply not enough time. Usually in March-April I am in the right shape and continue to actively prepare for participation in the White Nights marathon. Tomorrow I will have an unusual situation for me: I seem to be ready, but I don't seem to be very (smiles) . Let's see what happens.

Misha Bykov: a typical St. Petersburg marathon runner

Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship

- And what, in principle, does the preparation for the marathon distance consist of? Is it divided into some stages?
- Typically, I start preparing in four months. For me, the starting point in preparation is the training camp in Kislovodsk, where I run up the volume, usually at the very beginning there is mountain training, I try to run uphill as much as possible. After that, I already work at the stadium, trying to convert the strength that is laid during the ascent uphill into speed. And the last stage is the connection to the marathon - the last 2-3 weeks, when you are already just getting ready for the start and just getting out and running.

- What race is this in your career?
- I won't say for sure, but I think I ran about 30 marathons.

- Which one was the most memorable?
- The marathons in which I won are usually remembered. But by and large, if we talk specifically about impressions ... I just managed to run in North Korea, in a closed country. It was very unusual. In general, the last success is always remembered, in this regard White Nights are very closely intertwined with my career. It's like Yura Shatunov's White roses, I have: Misha Bykov - White nights (smiles) .

- What does running mean to you and what place does it take in your life ?
- Running is a way of life, professional sports plus coaching take up almost all the time I have. This is not because I have a narrow sphere of interests, just someone is immersed in work, and I am in sports.

Misha Bykov: a typical St. Petersburg marathon runner

Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship

- What is the most difficult thing in overcoming a marathon distance?
- The most difficult thing is this frightening unknown when you run to first time. Well, judge for yourself, the human body is designed for 30 km, if well prepared, then 35 km. And then you have to fight against nature anyway. And this moment is very psychologically breaking when you are not ready.But even if you are ready both mentally and physically, the last 7-8 km are still very difficult. Even if you train and run stably up to 30 km. The last few kilometers of a marathon I usually call the hardest kilometers of the year.

- How much other running activity, such as trail running or 5, 10 km runs, can help prepare for a marathon?
- It is believed that cross-country running is very beneficial. I am in favor of this type of training: running along hills, along picturesque landscapes, somewhere outside the city. But I am skeptical about the trail itself and the wild off-road. I don't consider the trail itself to be running, it seems to me that this is some kind of perversion. Most likely, people simply do not have enough adventure, and now they really want some kind of tin, so they run through the mud and through the forest. In this way they test their character. In general, participation in such races, it seems to me, is just a tribute to fashion. People run the distance once, and then they throw it, I don't want to anymore. That is, it turns out that they just collect medals, the sequence is not important for them, they do not set a goal for themselves to run better or run more. This attitude is incomprehensible to me. After all, sport is a whole culture, to which you either consider yourself or not.

Misha Bykov: a typical St. Petersburg marathon runner

Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship

- If a person runs a marathon for the first time, how long does it take for him to start preparing?
- I advise fans to devote from six months to a year to training.

- Is there some kind of diet that is important and must be followed before the start?
- In the last week, exclude fatty, dairy and fried foods from the diet. Food should be dietary, simple and predominantly carbohydrate. Professional marathon runners who run out in less than three hours are on a special carbohydrate diet. First, they eat only proteins, then they switch to carbohydrates. But mostly professionals do it. Now it has become fashionable to sit on a marathon diet among beginners, but if you run slower than three hours, then it simply does not make sense.

- Are there any other nuances that are important to consider when preparing ? What to start in?
- The classic marathon takes place in the summer, so all you need is running shorts, a light T-shirt, a cap if needed. Of the worst mistakes: you should not run in pants, you should not run in leggings, you need to choose the right shoes. For people who are running a marathon slowly or even for the first time, I would advise you to pick up sneakers with a thick heel. In special shoes - marathons, I think it makes sense to run if a person runs faster than in 2 hours 40 minutes. The equipment is very individual, and in many ways, when choosing it, it is worth starting from your own capabilities; you should not buy marathons and half marathons if you run slowly. Choosing the right footwear will eliminate the risk of injury and cover the distance much more comfortably.

Misha Bykov: a typical St. Petersburg marathon runner

Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship

- What happens at the distance itself? Is it necessary to have something to eat while running?
- You know, I have been running all my life without any gels. As for me, their active use now is just a tribute to fashion. On the other hand, they can generally help those who stay at a distance for a long time, I'm talking about those who run out a marathon slower than in 3 hours. What's good about the gel? The fact that it is liquid: you drank, ate at the same time, and your body quickly assimilated it. Therefore, sometimes the gel helps a lot.

Tip: for those who run a marathon in 4, 5 or 6 hours, the need for gels is justified. You can replenish your strength and continue running, since at this speed the runner will get hungry anyway.

- How much water should you drink during the marathon?
- Every 5 km is a must drink water. Naturally, in the heat, it is imperative to water your head with water or cover it from direct rays with a cap visor. Sometimes there is not enough water on the track, and the athletes dilute isotonic for themselves. It contains essential trace elements, glucose and helps to get in shape.

Tip: It is important to pay attention to the fact that each person assimilates water in the body differently. Therefore, some marathon runners on the finish line no longer drink water, but simply rinse their mouths to get rid of the feeling of dryness and not overload the stomach.

- The general partner of the White Nights marathon is the Baltika 0 brand. How do you feel to non-alcoholic beer and to whom can this drink be useful (if we speak in the context of a marathon and running in general)?
- In general, in international practice it is absolutely normal that at the finish line runners will have a refrigerator with a non-alcoholic beer. In our country, this is not yet so common and therefore can cause confusion for a simple spectator or a novice runner. In fact, non-alcoholic beer at the finish line best of all rescues from dehydration: it will help to replenish the water-salt balance and compensate for the lack of trace elements and vitamins. This is very important because the body of an athlete is exhausted, especially when we are talking about people who have just covered a marathon distance.

- What would you like to wish for beginners in running? Where should you start?
- For beginners in running, I wish to set feasible tasks and gradually increase the load. First, simply by increasing the number of training days per week, and then the distance. Start to enter the competition from 5 km distance, gradually increasing it. You don't have to run a marathon right away. Many people want to shock everyone and run a long distance at once, bypassing small and even training. This is wrong and looks stupid from the outside. Therefore, observe gradualism, then you will show different results.

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