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In this special 100th episode of the marathon training academy podcast we answer real questions from every day runners who are trying to take their running and their health to the next level.
I answer questions about running multiple marathons, hill training, the 10% rule, 50ks, proper recovery, eating a high fat low carb diet, speedwork, running form, and questions about our family.
Listener Q and A
You wanted to know . . . and we didn’t hold anything back.
Questions about our Family
Q. How did you get your kids on board with NSNG? -Rick Beley
Great question Rick. Our kids are not excited about many of the dietary changes we’ve been making. In fact they say NSNG like a curse word. With that said, I don’t make separate things for our kids to eat. They aren’t 100% NSNG mostly because they eat school lunch, but we’ve definitely cut way back on sugars and grains for them and focus on eating gluten-free. I try not to be a food Nazi but I want to do my best to feed my kids a healthy diet and educate them about health.
Q. What’s the worst mental battle Angie has gone through at a race and how did she get through it? -Emily Laco
This is a hard question Emily. I would say that each marathon is unique and presents different physical and mental battles. There have been many marathons where I’ve asked myself why I’m doing this, wished I was doing the half marathon and even promised myself I’d never do another marathon again. For me the mental battle is more difficult when I’m trying to run faster or PR. Your mind has to be very focused to run your best. I would say one of my most difficult marathons would be the KY Derby when I set my PR. There was a set of hills in the middle of the race that took a lot of energy both mentally and physically. Then when I hit a set of hills after mile 20 I started to fall apart mentally. At that point I didn’t think I was going to make my time goal anyway and every fiber of my being wanted to stop and walk. However I managed to pull myself together and remember that if I didn’t give it my all I would regret it forever. I can honestly say that I gave 100% during that race and although I missed my time goal by 41 seconds, I don’t have any regrets.
Q. Do Sheldon (Trevor’s dad) and Autum (Angie’s sister) still enjoy running? -Tom Porter
Sheldon still enjoys running on a regular basis and also does a lot of cycling and kayaking. He usually runs one marathon per year. Autum is currently building her running base back up after having 2 babies in 2.5 years. She’s planning on doing a half marathon this summer and a full marathon in the fall.
Q. How can I beat your sister Autum in marathon? -Colby Thomas
Why should I help you beat my little sister?
Q. What would you ask a sports company to create to make running easier or better? -Jason Smith
I don’t know . . . maybe a GPS watch that you could use as a recording device so that I could record how I felt each mile, after a bit of speed work, or just general brilliant thoughts that pop into my head.
Questions about Running Multiple Marathons and Ultra Marathons
Q. I’m running 2 marathons in 2 days (New Years). What additional training should I put into your standard marathon training plan to get ready for this double? -Mark Baller
Make sure you have a solid endurance base before going into training for a double marathon. I also think it’s important to get used to running back to back days. For example, do your long run on Saturday and then an easy run of around half that distance on Sunday. When you get closer to the double marathon (3 weeks out) you’ll want to do a simulation double long run. For example, run 20 on Saturday and 16 on Sunday. Alternatively you could find a marathon to do one day and then run 12-14 miles the next day. It will also be important not to neglect proper core strength which will keep your running form solid during both marathons. Do specific core work 2-3 times per week during your training.
Q. Any advice on doing multiple marathons in a season? -Shira Flowers
Once you’re in marathon shape it’s not hard to do multiple marathons in a season. The important thing to focus on is having the right goals for each marathon and ensure proper recovery in between. Obviously it wouldn’t be wise to race or try and set a PR in multiple back to back marathons. You’re just setting yourself up for possible overtraining and injury. Instead, have an A race that you’re focusing on and use the others as either slow, longer training runs or more social running events. In between marathons make sure that you’re doing lots of easy, low impact cross training like stretching, yoga, cycling, swimming and easy running to allow the muscles and joints to recover properly. Also focus on rest and good nutrition.
Q. Any advice for a person training for trail 50k. -Amy McFarland
Training for a 50k is in many ways similar to training for a marathon. You want to have solid running base, build up your long runs gradually and work on proper pacing for long runs. Because a 50k is approximately 5 miles more than the marathon distance a good way to prepare is schedule a marathon 3 weeks before the 50k. You can use that marathon as a long run and way to practice your race strategy in regard to pacing, fueling, gear, and hydration. Then taper down as you approach race day so that you’re rested and ready for this new distance.
Proper Recovery after a Marathon
Q. How can I properly recover after my first marathon and any recommendation on socks that won’t give me horrible blisters? -Cintia Listenbee
Proper recovery after a marathon starts when you cross the finish line. Try to walk around for 20-30 minutes after the race to allow your body to cool down. Take in some fluids and eat to start nourishing your body. Take a 15-20 min ice/cold bath to reduce inflammation and wear compression socks/sleeves for 3-4 hours after you shower. Try to do as much walking around that day and the day after the marathon as possible. Take the next week to rest and do easy low impact cross training like yoga, stretching, cycling and swimming. One week after the marathon do an easy 4-6 mile run. Then you should start to “reverse taper” back to a maintenance level of running that you want to maintain.
Questions about Hill Training and Speedwork
Q. Do pace times on training plans assume a zero elevation gain or loss? -Kevin Judd
I can’t speak for other training plans but the training plans I’ve developed don’t take elevation into account. I always advise people to train for the race course that you’ll be running. If you’re training for a race with elevation changes or lots of hills you’ll want to try and mimic that as closely as possible during your training for the best success during the race. For example, if you want to run a sub-4:00 marathon on a hilly course you better be able to hold the prescribed pace on your training plan on a similarly hilly course.
Q. How do I train for hills in a place like New York City where there are no hills? -Brian Marcus
I think it’s important to train for the course that you’ll be running and include some hill work into your marathon training plan. The Jerusalem marathon is considered a challenging course with around 5 major climbs and an average elevation of 2,600 ft. To prepare for this course it would be helpful to do some specific hill work two weeks. This can take the form of hill repeats where you find the steepest and longest hill you can and run up, flat for a minute, back down and repeat. You can also simulate hills by running bridges (safely of course), using the TM with an incline, running stairs, or by finding a trail with some elevation changes. Another great tool to train for elevation is to use an elevation training mask. You can adjust the mask to simulate anything from 3,000-18,000 feet of elevation.
Q. When is the best time to incorporate speed work (off season or during my marathon program)? -BJ Tucker
When you’re looking to get faster at the marathon distance it’s important to add the right kind of speed work at the right time. Marathon speed work is going to differ from 5k speed work. In the off season be sure to maintain a solid endurance base. Then gradually begin building mileage before starting your training plan. At first effective speed work should consist of hill running, hill sprints and strides (short bursts of speed) no more than 1-2 times per week. As you get approximately 1/3 of the way into the training program you’ll need to focus more on tempo runs, long run pickups and other marathon specific speed workouts. That way you have the necessary speed and endurance to get a new PR.
The 10% Rule
Q. Why does the 10% rule not apply to the jump in miles between the longest run and the actual marathon? -Fran Danilewicz
The 10% rule is a guide to help prevent injury during training. Studies show that runners who do too much, too soon are more likely to become injured or overtrained. On most marathon training plans the longest run is between 16-22 miles. Yes, your overall mileage will take a jump during race week but because of the solid training base you’ve laid your body should be able to handle it without difficulty. I don’t advise people to run the marathon distance before the marathon because it can cause unnecessary fatigue and gives more of a confidence boost than a physical boost.
Marathon Training While Working Night Shift
Q. What are your thoughts about those of us who work third shift? (sleep, diet, best time to run)? -Dan Groves
I worked night shift for 2 years as a nurse and I know it takes a lot more intentionality to live a healthy lifestyle. For me it worked out best to sleep right after getting off work (I was usually falling asleep on my drive home). Try to get a minimum of 6-7 hours of sleep in a cool, dark room and use a sound machine or fan to avoid being awakened by daytime noise. When you wake up do your workout right away, eat “breakfast”, shower, etc. Some people like to exercise right after getting off work and that’s fine if you can sleep well after that (I find that I’m usually too keyed up for a couple hours). Something like a slow flow yoga might be okay before bed. I also think it’s important to take something healthy with you to eat at work as the food choices are often limited to fast food and vending machines. Try to bring a big salad with some protein (leftover meat, hard boiled eggs) and fat (nuts, avocado, dressing). Even leftovers from a previous meal can be an improvement to what many people on 3rd shift eat.
Gender Specific Running Form
Q. What about gender specific running form (arm swing) when running? Should women hold their arms differently? -Terry Lukens-Gable
This is an interesting question Terri and something I don’t think I’ve been asked before. Arm swing or arm carriage is an important part of proper form and efficient running. In general you should keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees, keep your shoulders and hands relaxed and let your arms swing naturally front to back. Avoid crossing your arms across your chest and carrying tension in your arm swing. I would say the specifics of arm carriage definitely depend upon your body type. No two people’s arms swing will look exactly alike. There are many variables such as arm length, muscle development in the back, shoulders and arms, any surgery or scar tissue in the chest and back area, chest and abdominal size, and spinal alignment or any back problems. If you’re swinging your arms effectively there will be minimal shoulder and hip rotation. Having arm/shoulder tension or trying to hold the arms still requires significantly more energy. Everyone should try to have the best arm swing possible, but like your fingerprints it’s not going to be the same as your running partner. For more information on the specifics of arm swing check out the website: thegaitguys.com
Eating NSNG (no sugars no grains)
Q. Any advice on eating NSNG while other people in my family still eat grains? -Foti Panagakos
It is definitely more difficult to make dietary changes when there are tempting foods around and being prepared. Don’t expect your family to follow the same diet but also try to get them on your team by explaining what you’re trying to accomplish and why. It will take extra willpower to avoid those chips in the pantry or ice cream in the freezer so try to have healthier snacking items (mixed nuts for something salty or frozen fruit blended with heavy cream for something sweet and cold). At meal times just avoid the starch the best you can and double up on the protein and vegetables. Offer to help with meal preparation so that you know they’ll be something that you can eat. Don’t let yourself get too hungry because that’s when we usually make unwise choices.
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