How to Run a Marathon in “Three Easy Steps”

In this episode we play an interview Trevor gave on a South African running podcast about tips for beginners, how to stick to your training if you are a rebel, and obstacle immunity. Plus Coach Angie will teach you how to safely run in the heat.

How to Run a Marathon in “Three Easy Steps”

Trevor was recently interviewed on the Run Life Repeat Podcast hosted by South African runners Carina Martin and Liezl van Niekerk.

Although he obviously didn’t discover the secret to running a marathon in “3 Easy Steps” (the title of his imaginary book), he did share lots of tips for new runners.

Trevor is the manager and producer of the MTA Podcast. He has run 17 marathons, a 50K, 21 half marathons and a Spartan Trifecta. In addition to running he loves German beer, travel, books, self-employment, sleeping late, and making me, his wife and co-host, roll my eyes.

Interview Questions:

  1. Can you tell us the story of how and why you started MTA?
  2. The MTA podcast is downloaded over 100,000 times per month by listeners around the world and is a hand-selected iTunes Essentials running podcast. What is the secret to the success of the podcast?
  3. You have interviewed hundreds of people, most of them very well known in the running world. Which one stands out as a memorable interview and why?
  4. You have a self-confessed rebel personality type and do not like the rigidness of training plans. Despite this you have run 17 marathons and an ultra. What keeps you returning to marathons, even though you sometimes don’t enjoy the training?
  5. Angie has recently completed a 50 states goal where she ran a marathon in all 50 states of the USA. Has her dedication and achievement inspired you to plan a big running goal?
  6. You guys like to travel to run races and you’ve run world marathons such as the London Marathon and the Munich Marathon. Have you ever thought about running a marathon in South Africa such as the Two Oceans or the iconic Comrades marathon?
  7. What advice do you have for some our listeners who may be newbie runners and think that they would never be able to run a 5k, let alone a marathon?
  8. As the host of a hugely successful podcast, do you have any advice for Carina and I as baby podcasters in the industry?

Quick Tip: Running in the Heat

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere we’re currently in the grip of summer weather. My body experiences the yearly return of the heat and humidity as a fresh insult, although hopefully my attitude has gotten better about it over the years. I’m unapologetically a cold weather runner. Even though the heat and humidity can be challenging it is possible to survive and even thrive in your running during the summer months.
About three years ago I did an informal survey on the MTA Facebook page and found the top reasons why people struggled with marathon training in the summer.

  • Only 11% said that they remain just as motivated during the summer. The rest of us are on the struggle bus.
  • 62% struggled with heat/humidity.
  • 22% had a hard time due to travel/family commitments.
  • 5% dealt with allergies or a general lack of motivation.

Running Safely with Heat and Humidity
Training safely through the summer (even if you feel like you’re slogging) can translate to faster race times once the cooler weather hits. Plus, you’ll enjoy those crisp fall runs even more. Here are a few hot weather safety tips for those of us who experience hot and humid running conditions during the summer.

  1. Be sure to check the heat index which takes into account the temperature and humidity levels. This way you’ll be able to plan what you’ll wear, how much fluids and electrolytes to consume, and how far you’ll run.
  2. Consider running early in the morning (before sunrise is best) or in the evening after the sun goes down. Try to avoid the hottest time of the day which is 10am-4pm. If the sun is out in full force try to run in a shaded area or make a loop where there’s shade.
  3. Stay hydrated during warm weather. Prehydrate by consuming 16 oz. of water an hour before your run. Carry water or a sports drink with you during your run and drink between 16-24 oz of fluid per hour depending on your sweat rate. Freezing your water bottle pre-run or using in insulated bottle can give you a good source of cold fluids while running. I recommend adding electrolytes to your water during longer runs in warm temperatures. You may want to choose a route with water fountains or a loop where you can have access to fluids (just make sure that they’re open first). If you get heat related cramps drinking some pickle juice or sea salt and honey can often help.
  4. Wear light-colored synthetic fabrics and avoid cotton. Wear as few clothes as you’re comfortable with so that sweat can evaporate better. You should also wear a broad brimmed hat or visor and sunglasses. There are various products to aid cooling (like a bandana with ice around your neck). I’ve put ice in my sports bra during marathons to help keep cool. A cool sponge or washcloth midway through can also help decrease your body temp.
  5. Chaffing! Since warm weather means more sweat this increases your chances of chaffing and blisters. Be sure to use plenty of anti-chaffing product in any problematic areas.
  6. Apply waterproof sunscreen with at least SPF 30+ that has UVA and UVB protection to all exposed skin and reapply as needed (usually at least every 2 hours).
  7. Don’t push the intensity of your run which could lead to exhaustion and dehydration. Heat will slow down your running pace and considerably impact your performance. Accept that your pace will be somewhat slower (often 1-2 minutes slower per mile) on hot days and don’t be afraid to take walk breaks as needed.
  8. Be careful about consuming alcohol, ibuprofen and other NSAIDS, and large amounts of caffeine surrounding your summer training. Each of these can lead to increased risk of dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and kidney problems. Remember that certain prescription medications can make you more sensitive to the heat so investigate that carefully before you train in the summer.
  9. Know the signs of heat related problems like dehydration and heat exhaustion. These symptoms can include drastically increased heart rate, dizziness or light headedness, shortness of breath, extreme thirst, your body not sweating any more, confusion, and nausea. These are all potential signs of a medical emergency and should be taken seriously.
  10. Consider doing part of your long run on a treadmill on super hot days when you don’t have the option of shade or running early in the morning. There have been times when I’ve done half my long run outside, come in and changed my clothes (which were soaking with sweat), and finished on the treadmill.

My slowest marathons have been due to the heat. Hot days are not the time to try to set a PR or other time goal. Be sure to listen to your body and take plenty of walk breaks if you find your core body temperature rising!

When I ran the Lincoln Marathon in 2015 the temps climbed up into the 80s (and this was a Spring race where most participants were not heat acclimated). Unfortunately I saw lot of people being loaded into ambulances or receiving treatment. I let my sub-4:00 goal go out the window and finished in 4:07 due to the conditions.

Last summer during my 50k in the mountains of South Dakota the temps were already in the 80’s before the race started. I decided to completely ignore my pace and just focus on effort. The race had a few stream crossings and the cold water really felt good even though it soaked my shoes and lower legs.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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Congrats to our coaching client Deb R. from Alaska on finishing her first marathon!

I just wanted to give a quick thankyou for the great pod-cast and the services you provide through your coaching. I was able to finish my first marathon at the age of 50 with the help of Coach Kristen. I could not have done it without her help and the great tips you provide with the pod-cast! Thanks for helping me accomplish something I have wanted to accomplish for many years. One bucket-list item marked off! -Deb

2 Responses to How to Run a Marathon in “Three Easy Steps”

  1. Elizabeth August 3, 2020 at 2:27 pm #

    When my son heard the title of this podcast, he said, “Step one: Run 10 miles. Step two: Run 10 miles. Step three: Run 6.2 miles. Haha!

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