Munich Marathon Race Recap

This podcast episode required 8,000 miles of air travel, 42 kilometers of running, and God only knows how many hours of editing!

I bring you along to the 2017 Munich Marathon in wonderful Munich Germany (Wunderbar München Deutschland). In the quick tip segment, Angie explains how running surfaces affect your body. Enjoy!

Ever since we got into the Berlin Marathon I’ve plunged myself into learning about the language, history and culture of Germany. I like having context about the places I visit . . . so I started trying to pick up some German words and phrases and read up on the history.

I also visited my first Oktoberfest here in the U.S., which led to another great love . . . the love of good German beer.

So my love of running, culture, and beer led me to the inevitable result . . . I knew I wanted to run the Munich Marathon and see the beer tents of Oktoberfest!

The Munich Marathon

The 32nd Munich Marathon and Half Marathon, 10k and Marathon Relay took place on Sunday October 8th.

  • Around 16,000-17,000 runners
  • 118 different countries represented
  • 1,200 volunteers

What’s cool about this event is that it starts and finishes at the Olympic Park -constructed in 1972 for the Olympic games. Frank Shorter was the last American to win gold in the marathon distance. Be sure to check out our interview with Frank Shorter and get the whole backstory to his dramatic run to Olympic gold.

The race also hosts a costumed run called “Trachtenlauf” where 800 folks run in tradition Dirndl und Lederhosen.

Pre-Race Revelry

I found a round trip ticket from Baltimore to Munich for under $600 so I jumped on it. I flew into Munich on the last day of Oktoberfest (6 days before the marathon) and stayed with two gracious German fans of the MTA podcast -Andy and Franziska. Andy wrote us last year after he finished his first marathon (2016 Munich Marathon) and we gave him a shoutout on the podcast.

After getting caught up on sleep (Germany is 7 hours ahead) we went to the world famous Munich Oktoberfest -which they call Wiesn.

With my gracious hosts Andy and Franziska

The most impressive thing about Oktoberfest is the massive beer tents which hold thousands of people. They assemble and tear these down every year. As it got later the tents began to fill up with revelers and soon you could not find a seat anywhere. People were standing on benches holding their beer glasses and swaying back and forth . . . we had a killer time!

Seven million liters of beer were consumed at this year’s Wiesn. I might have contributed to this number a little.

The next day I drove to Stuttgart to meet an old friend who’ve I haven’t seen in 23 years. We went to the Stuttgart Oktoberfest (Cannstatter Volkfest) which is the second largest beer festival in Germany and which many say they prefer because it’s not as crowded.

As you can see . . . my pre-race nutrition plan is not something you should copy!

Meeting an old friend in Stuttgart, Germany

Munich Marathon Race Expo

Parking was easy but finding out where to go once we got inside was a challenge. We ended walking around a bit and going up and down different levels and my tons of vendors until we finally figured out where to pick up our race packets. It was helpful having Andy there, who is a very good English speaker, to translate for me.

What I’ve learned from my 2 marathons in Germany

  • You rent your timing chip or bring your own.
  • Race shirts are extra
  • Just like in the States they have booths set up by people selling gear, stickers, shoes, clothes, supplements, metal display racks, other marathons and some things that seem out of place like Lasik care.

After the expo we met up with a fellow runner and MTA podcast fan from Austria named Lena at the world famous Hofbrauhaus in downtown Munich.

Race Morning

The race started in the Olympic Park, I took the U-bahn (subway) which was a short easy ride. In fact, it was free for all people with a race bib.

The first marathon wave didn’t start until 10:00, which make my day because I got to sleep in. I knew I’d be running slow so I put myself in starting block E which didn’t start until 10:20.

I took me awhile to find the bag drop, and required a lot of walking. By the time I got into my starting corral I have only seconds to spare. What would Angie say? Haha

photo credit: Munich Marathon

The starting line had a large banner which read “Auf Gehts” which is a Bavarian way of saying “Come on!” or “Let’s go!”. I heard it from supportive spectators and runners all along the course.

I still have angst at the start of a marathon, though I’ve done it 14 times now, because I know how hard it gets in the later kilometers, and I know how easy things can go wrong.

The Course

We started at the famous Olympiapark beside the stadium. You can see the Olympic Tower (space needle) piercing up into the sky above.

After we left the Olympiapark we ran through what felt like more business complexes and commercial districts. I tried to pay attention to my surroundings and read as many signs as I could.

It was around kilometer 4 that I was reminded of a German saying “Ende Gut, Alles Gut” (when the end is good it’s all good) -which became my personal mantra for this race.

Around kilometer 5 we did a short out and back on Leopoldstrasse where if you look down the street you can see the Victory Gate called the Siegestor (another famous landmark in Munich) that we would be running through around kilometer 36.

photo credit: Munich Marathon

In the quick moment where I saw the gate I thought about the long journey I had ahead of me before I would have the chance to run through it.

The weather was perfect for a marathon. It was a cold 11 degrees celsius about 52 Fahrenheit, and the rain held off. A little more sunlight would have been nice though. I didn’t see the sun the whole time I was in Germany. [Pro tip: dress in layers and always figure that once you start running it will feel 20 degrees Fahrenheit than it is.]

Running through the Englisher Garten

Around kilometer 8 we ran into the famous Englisher Garten -and ran along the foot path surrounded by trees in full autumn color. It was very quiet through there without much crowd support which allowed me plenty of time to sort through the thoughts in my head.

I don’t know why, but I had more moments of joy and gratitude at this marathon than I can remember at any other race. I got emotional at a few different points (especially the end).

They had aid stations about every 3-4 kilometers and served water and iso (and sometimes bananas). I fueled with one Ucan bar before the start and then ate one at mile 10 and started another around mile 20. Big thanks to Generation Ucan to sponsoring this episode! Use the promo code MTAMUNICH to save 15%

After we left the Englisher Garten we crossed the Isar River and turned down Oberföhringerstrasse which has some nice houses and foreign consulates. The weather might have kept some people inside who otherwise would have been on the street to see the runners. People were standing on balcony and in windows waving down to us.

At kilometer 22 I passed the half way point in the race and the start of the half marathon. The half marathon didn’t start until 1:30 so it was yet to get going. I saw Franziska standing on the side of the street. I’m amazed she found me. She later ran the half and finished in 2:14:39 -her first half marathon!

Between kilometer 23-30 I remember running through some sections that were a little boring with not many spectators or race volunteers. This is where I just need to grind it out slow and steady and resist the temptation to take long walk breaks. The Berlin Marathon is a much bigger event and if you want massive crowd support along almost every section of the course that is the race for you.

Around kilometer 32 it got more interesting as we approached the heart of down town. It’s still weird to have throngs of people out to see other stuff more interesting than some sweaty runners. We ran by the famous Marienplatz which is the central square in Munich named after the Marian Column (virgin Mary on top of a column) elected in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation.

photo credit: Munich Marathon

The unmistakeable building is the Rathaus (town hall) with it’s Rathaus-Glockenspiel a massive tourist attraction. We ran right through the middle of the plaza through a section cordoned off by barriers.

Between kilometers 31-32 we were running (interspersed with walking) down Lugwigstrasse by Odenplatz and other historic sites.

Around kilometer 32 When I saw the Sigestor (victory gate) I felt a sense of relief, the first time I saw it was at kilometer 5. What I didn’t realize is that it is just there to tease you. We turned left before running through the gate for a 4 kilometer out and back haha.

“Cool, there’s the gate . . . oh wait were are we going . . . oh man I finally made it back to the gate.”

Between kilometer 37-38 we turned onto Franz-Joseph-Strasse and ran back toward to Olympia Park. It was hard to keep myself running without taking walk breaks. I was definitely counting down the kilometers at this point. There are these mental battles that you fight with yourself near the end of a marathon.

One cool thing that happen was the elite half marathons started passing me. Their race had started at 1:30. Then anyone running a 1:30 marathon or faster passed me. These people looked fresh and I appreciated being surrounded by faster looking people.

As we approached the Olympic Stadium the crowds were bigger and the energy level began to climb. “Aug Gehts Trevor, Super!”

The Finish Line

The Munich Marathon has one of the best finishes of any race I’ve been to. We ran through a tunnel into the Olympic Stadium and it was hard to hold it together. I was honestly overcome with emotion. I could hear the music and cheers from the crowds inside the stadium welcoming the runners to the finish line.

  • I thought about Frank Shorter running into the Olympic Stadium 4 days after the the Munich massacre at that year’s games and what that moment represented.
  • I thought about how lucky I was travel 4,000 miles to Germany and and the new friends I had made and the old friends I reconnected with.
  • I thought about how lucky I was to be able to run 42 kilometers on my own two feet.
  • I thought about how the marathon causes one to leave the comfort zones, struggle. . . and overcome.

You finish by taking a lap round the track in the stadium. Then, like most marathons you get your medal, heat sheet, and stagger off to find some food and your locate your gear (which requires climbing stairs!).

They were serving alcohol free beer, bread, bananas, and cake. The medal is cool because it’s in the shape of an Oktoberfest heart.

My official time was 4:58:01. Andy finished in 03:22:51 (the top 500).

Later that night I had a nice diner at Andy and Franziska’s place and the next day I caught a Flugzeug back to American.

Conclusion:

I would live to end this episode by saying some special “thank-yous”.

  • Thanks to my lovely wife Angie for letting me go to Germany
  • Thanks to my gracious German hosts Andy and Franzi
  • Thanks to the race organizers and volunteers for putting on such a great event.
  • Thank you German people for inventing Okotoberfest!
  • Thank you Bavarian breweries, I’m thinking of you Hofbrau and Augustiner for all that you do.
  • And finally, thanks MTA listeners for letting me take you on my journey to the Munich Marathon. Prost!

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Nutrition for Runners with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

Mark Cucuzzella
In this episode of the MTA Podcast we bring you an in-depth and fascinating conversation with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella on the subject of nutrition for runners. And in the quick tip segment we share a mantra for your first marathon that takes the pressure off your finishing time.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is a board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine, he is a two-time winner of the Air Force Marathon. Dr. Mark has run a sub-3-hour marathon for 30 consecutive years. He has partnered up with SteadyMD, which provides online primary care doctors for runners,and he owns a running shoe store in Ranson, West Virginia.

This is the longest podcast episode we have ever released and the first episode we’ve recorded on site with our guest. Let us know what you think!

Dr. Mark invited me to visit the store after hear that we live about 90 miles away. He’s a pretty cool dude who jumps on treadmills to give live demos and answers text messages from patients while wearing haunches sandals, shorts and backwards hat. He looks like he just came back from a trail run.

It was interesting to see the running culture that has built up in Ranson -which is a town I’d never heard of previously. I got a tour of the store and then we went in to the back office to record. You might hear some background noise, since we were recording during business hours.

Running form clinic at Two Rivers Treads.

Mark is very passionate about nutrition and keeps up with the latest research and the conversation going in the science community so it was fun to pick his brain. Additionally, he works through his local hospital to help patiences get off medications and lose weight through diet and lifestyle change.

In this extended conversation you will hear why he and changed his mind about diet and the science behind low carb eating and the difference between insulin resistance versus insulin sensitivity.

You will also hear questions send in by listeners regarding weight loss, fueling for marathons, when to go the traditional route, healthy snacks, knowing what diet works for you, and more.

Resources Mentioned in this Interview

Keep It Simple

It doesn’t have to be complicated! If you want to fix your resistance? Cut out the GPS foods.

  • Grains
  • Potatoes
  • Sugars and starches

The Fat Adapted Eating Plan

The Fat Adapted Eating Plan -recipes and resources for cutting out sugars and grain from your diet.

2 years ago at work I asked for new uniform pants, however when they arrived they were WAY too small!! Today I just happen to try them on and they FIT!! Woo Hoo!! I am so excited!! Eating Fat Adapted has truly opened up a whole new world too me!! Thanks Angie for all the work and information you have put on the MTA site regarding the Fat Adapted Eating Plan!!! -Anne

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Generation Ucan -low carb fueling source for long distance runners.

SteadyMD. SteadyMD pairs you with a primary care doctor, online. A doctor who is a runner just like you and who really understands marathon training, proper running form, common running injuries, nutrition for runners, and much much more. Available to you via phone, text, and video chat, anytime. Go to SteadyMD.com/MTA to learn more and reserve your spot.

Thrive Market – Get $20 off your first 3 purchases (that’s $60 of FREE organic groceries + free shipping) when you used the link thrivemarket.com/mta. They are doing a drawing for a free $50 starter kit with lots of goodies. All you got to do is enter your email address when you visit the site.

Virtue Labs -a new haircare brand with a vision: To give everyone the best hair scientifically possible. Use the code MTA to try Virtue at 10% off, plus free shipping.

The MTA Virtual Half Marathon – challenge yourself by running 13.1 miles this November and get a one-of-a-kind medal and hat in the process!

About Trevor Spencer

Trevor Spencer is the producer of the Marathon Training Academy Podcast. He loves to inspire people to take action in their fitness and life.

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Addicted to Running -Interview with Dr. Rachel Tambling

In this episode we discuss exercise addiction and disordered eating in runners with Dr. Rachel Tambling -licensed therapist and lecturer for Road Runner’s Club of America.

And in the quick tip segment Angie answers a lister question about whether or not to redo a final long run before race day.

I did the course work for my RRCA Level 2 coaching certification this summer and took your online course about Understanding running and addiction. As I was doing this course I thought that this would be such an excellent topic to tackle on the podcast as it’s something that you don’t hear discussed very often.

Interview Questions

  1. So, for our listeners, give us a background on your education and also how you got started with long distance running?
  2. In the running community it’s not uncommon to hear someone comment about being addicted to running. What is a positive addiction?
  3. What is a disordered exerciser?
  4. What characterizes an exercise addiction (6 factor level of addiction)? How prevalent is exercise addiction and what are the signs and symptoms of this?
  5. Let’s talk about the main eating disorders. We often think about this being a problem only for young women but that’s not the case. What is anorexia, its prevalence among runners, signs/symptoms and long term consequences?
  6. What is body dysmorphic disorder?
  7. Do you think that certain things in the running community (like the constant articles on how to lose weight) can be a trigger to people who struggle with some of these disorders? What should a runner do if they recognize these issues in themselves or a friend?
    Give us some ways that we as runners can support healthier conversations related to body image and eating issues.
  8. Where can people go if they want more information or support in relation to any of the issue we talked about today?

About Angie Spencer

Angie is a registered nurse and running coach who empowers new runners to conquer the marathon, run faster, and take their health and fitness to the next level. Join the Academy

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Recap of the Jackson Hole Marathon + Heart Rate Training

Angie at Jackson Hole MarathonIn this episode Angie recaps the Jackson Hole Marathon in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming plus she explains how to run a marathon according to your heart rate.

Jackson is a town in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole valley, home to 3 ski areas, hiking, fishing, and water sports. One iconic part of the Town Square features arches made of shed antlers from the nearby National Elk Refuge. To the North are the peaks of Grand Teton National Park as well as vast Yellowstone National Park. Elevation is around 6,200 feet and the area has about 10,000 residents.

Pre Race Happenings

I flew into Jackson Hole the day before the race and met my friend Adrianne who was going to run her first half marathon. We ate lunch at Snake River Brewing CO then went to packet pick-up at Spring Hill Suites which was very quick and easy.

The 7th edition of the Jackson Hole Marathon, Hole Half Marathon and Relay was held on Sept 2, 2017 at 7am. These races are put on by Dreamchaser Events and the race director is Jay Batchen with Lisa Smith-Batchen. The course is USATF certified and run on paved pathways and roads.

With Lisa Smith-Batchen

Race Morning

We stayed at the Mountain Modern Motel which was an easy walk to the town center and starting line. The half marathon started in a different location. You could catch a shuttle to the starting line from the Teton Village.

It was a clear and cool morning in the low 40’s. I got to meet MTA podcast fan John Danby who is a local and fellow Marathon Maniac.

With MTA fan John Danby

The Course:

The entire course is run on paved roads and/or paved pathways, with the exception of a tenth of a mile near the finish Line, which is run over grass (and is slightly uphill).

There were some slight inclines but no major hills. The best part was gorgeous views of the mountains the whole time, “breathtakingly beautiful”.

This is not a marathon if you need a lot of spectators. But I saw eagles, cattle and horses and enjoyed talking to runners along the way. It was a well marked course with mile marker signs every mile.

  • The race starts in historic downtown Jackson Hole. After running by the National Elk Refuge within the first mile it passes through through East Jackson and by the Snow King Ski Hill before joining the Community Pathway system.
  • Runners then head south of town and follow South Park Loop Road, that has majestic views of the Teton Valley, before joining the pathway again along Highway 22 heading west into the small of Wilson.
  • From Wilson, the Community Pathway takes runners toward the Grand Teton and the Finish Line at Teton Village, home of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the iconic Red Tram and Clock Tower.

Around mile 24. Photo credit: Jackson Hole Marathon

Aid Stations:

This is a cup free event to reduce waste and littering. Gels, sports drinks, candy, and electrolytes were offered at select aid stations. My favorite was the beer stop at mile 25.

I used my faithful Generation UCAN for fuel- and had a snack bar pre-race and 2 servings of mix during race. Also used electrolytes and stayed well hydrated to balance out the warm day and elevation. Use the code MTAJHM for 15% off on Ucan.

Ucan-Ad-1024x90

Finish Line:

My finish time was 5:19:42 for my 49th marathon and 38th state. Each runner got a box of food, water, soda or beer from Snake River Brewing CO.

There were 193 half marathon and 208 marathon. The 1st place man was Kyle Baldwin 2:54 and 1st woman was Emily Jurlina in 3:29:48. Accomplished ultramarathoner and local, Pam Reed, finished in 3:45.

Here’s what my 50 state marathon quest looks like now:

My recovery:

One of the great things about running according to heart rate and taking it easy was how fast I recovered. I wore compression pants post-race and by the second day didn’t even feel like I’d run a marathon. So, in this podcast episode you will hear me discuss how to run a marathon according to your heart rate.

My friend and I went white water rafting on the Snake River the next morning (good cold therapy) before driving several hours up to Montana.

One challenging thing for new marathoners and experienced ones alike is taking their ego out of the equation. Often 1st time marathoners set their minds on a challenging time goal and can deal with extreme disappointment if the race doesn’t go according to plan.

For more experience marathoners there is certainly a pressure that we put on ourselves to keep getting PR’s. But if you run a large number of marathons that simply won’t happen every time. It’s more important to go into the race with a realistic idea of what your body can do and what your goals are for the race. If you’re coming back after a long break, if you’ve been struggling with injury or if you had less than ideal training, running according to your heart rate can be a great solution.

What is heart rate training?

Heart rate training is simply using a heart rate monitor while running to tell you how hard your heart is working during the activity and then modifying your effort according to your goals. Keeping tabs on your heart rate can help keep you from making a very common mistake: running to hard too often which can increase your risk of injury and burnout.

What gear do you need?

If you want to run according to heart rate you’ll need a heart rate monitor. I used to use a chest strap but for the last couple of years have loved the Garmin Forerunner 225 with the wrist based HR monitor (no more chaffing chest straps). However, be aware that heart rate monitors can often give you a faulty reading due to a poor connection so it’s important to watch the trends over time and know what is normal for your body.

Finding your heart rate zones

With most GPS watches you’ll be asked to enter a user profile including gender, age, height, and weight (sometimes resting heart rate). From there it will calculate your maximum heart rate and zones according to the watch’s algorhythms.

  • For example here are the Garmin ones: Zone 5 (maximum) 90-100% of MHR, Zone 4 (Threshold) 80-90% MHR, Zone 3 (Aerobic) 70-80%, Zone 2 (Easy) 60-70%, and Zone 1 (Warm up) 50-60%. While these zones are not 100% accurate they are a good estimation of your zones. The most accurate method to obtain your personal metrics is to visit an exercise laboratory and have an exercise physiologist perform a maximum exercise test (usually done on a treadmill).

To calculate my zone 2, I like to use the Maffetone Method which has the mantra “speed up by slowing down.” With this formula you take 180-age= max zone 2 (10 below for range): 180-38= 142 (132-142 bpm is my zone 2). For more info visit his website (links with the show notes) or check out The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing.

When looking at heart rate training be aware that there are many factors that impact heart rate.

  • Dehydration can increase the heart rate by up to 7.5%, heat and humidity can also increase heart rate by 10 beats per minute,
  • Lack of sleep will elevate your heart rate 5-10 bpm,
  • Altitude can increase the heart rate by 10-20%.
  • Biological variations like stress and hormone levels can cause day to day changes from 2-4 beats per minute.
  • In addition, other factors like allergies, illness, pain, caffeine intake and certain medications will skew the numbers you see on the monitor.

See our podcast episode about Heart Rate Training.

Replay Episode: How Heart Rate Training Works

Also Mentioned in This Episode

The Harrisburg Half Marathon -great local race in the Pennsylvania State Capitol City.

The MTA Virtual Half Marathon – challenge yourself by running 13.1 miles this November!

Generation Ucan -our preferred fueling source for long distance running. Keeps your blood sugar stable and allows your body to burn fat.

Sun Basket -makes it easy to create healthy organic meals at home in 30 minutes or less.

Virtue Labs -a new haircare brand with a vision: To give everyone the best hair scientifically possible. Use the code MTA to try Virtue at 10% off, plus free shipping.

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How Running Makes Us Human

In this episode we interview Vybarr Cregan-Reid, author of the fascinating new book ‘Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human’.

In this conversation you will learn how humans are uniquely built for running, the wonders of the foot, how exercise makes us smarter, where running and English Literature intersect, the concept of green exercise, and the notorious history of the treadmill!

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or Google Play so you can get all our new episodes!

Vybarr Cregan-Reid is a senior lecturer in English Literature at the University of Kent. He blogs at psychojography.com and has written on running for the Guardian, Telegraph, and Literary Review.

The book draws from scientific studies, English literature, history, and his own running . . . and it can be a deep read. At first I was worried that this interview would be kinda dry but I soon found out that Vybarr is a delightfully fun person to speak with! He laughs easy, radiates warmth, and is just as comfortable recalling essays by Oscar Wilde as he is scenes from The Muppet’s Christmas Carol.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

The MTA Virtual Half Marathon – join us and runners all over the world this November for our first ever virtual event! More details here.

The Munich Marathon – will you be at the Munich Marathon this year? I (Trevor) will be there this year. Email us through the contact page.

All of our Race Recaps. If you want to find all of our Race Recap blog posts and episodes you can find them here. Note, some of these shows are not longer available in the free feed.

I recently ran the Sunshine Coast marathon. And Angie & Trevor ran it with me as I listened to Race Recaps for almost the whole time. I wasn’t feeling great so I took it easy and just enjoyed the amazing atmosphere…and had a blast. Thank you so much for the Podcast…it got me through some tough moments today. -Rebecca

Thrive Market – Get $20 off your first 3 purchases (that’s $60 of FREE organic groceries + free shipping) when you used the link thrivemarket.com/mta. They are doing a drawing for a free $50 starter kit with lots of goodies. All you got to do is enter your email address when you visit the site.

Podcast Movement and Spartan Sprint
Keep up with our adventures and see photos on Instagram @marathonacademy.

Climbing Quandary Peak elevation 14,265 after the Breckenridge Spartan Sprint

About Trevor Spencer

Trevor Spencer is the producer of the Marathon Training Academy Podcast. He loves to inspire people to take action in their fitness and life.

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“How to Lose a Marathon” -Interview with Joel Cohen, Writer for The Simpsons

Joel at the NYC Marathon

In this episode we speak with Joel Cohen, author of the book ‘How to Lose a Marathon -a Starter’s Guide to Finishing in 26.2 Chapters’.

Not too long ago Joel went from a out-of-shape coach potato and writer/producer for The Simpsons t.v. series, to a slightly out-of-shape finisher of the New York City Marathon.

His book describes the odd and painful things you discover when you become a long distance runner.

Joel is a writer and producer for The Simpsons and winner of two Emmy Awards and three Writer’s Guild Awards.

In How to Lose a Marathon, Joel Cohen takes readers on a step-by-step journey from being a couch potato to being a couch potato who can finish a marathon. Through a hilarious combination of running tips and narrative, Cohen breaks down the misery that is forcing yourself to run.

About Trevor Spencer

Trevor Spencer is the producer of the Marathon Training Academy Podcast. He loves to inspire people to take action in their fitness and life.

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The Half Marathon Episode!

medal

For many people the half marathon is their favorite distance. It’s a challenging distance but also very attainable for most people. Plus, they’re a bit easier to recover from than the marathon distance.

In this episode we share tips on half marathon success for both beginners and experienced runners. Plus, we tell you about the first ever MTA Virtual Half Marathon!! Coming soon to a running route near you!

How you approach training for a half marathon will depend on whether it will be your first one, whether you’re coming back from injury, whether you’re running it for fun, or whether you’re pursuing a personal best. Many runners also use half marathons as training runs in their marathon training.

If you’ve decided to tackle the half marathon for the first time you’re in great company. Here are some tips to help you have a good experience.

1. Get fitted for running shoes at a specialty running store. Having your gait and foot evaluated in the beginning can be a great first step to running comfortably.

2. Start to build a solid running base. It’s important to gradually build your mileage to avoid injury and burnout. Don’t hurry the process of training. Even though it’s possible to do a half marathon on little training, it won’t be that fun of an experience. I was just reading a story today of a woman whose long run was 8 miles and by the time she got to 12 miles she wanted to quit.

3. Consider doing a run/walk method. If you’re totally new to running using run/walk intervals can be easier on the body and help you go the distance. One popular run/walk method is the Galloway Method, created by Jeff Galloway who we had on a past episode.

4. Choose a training plan. Find a smart half marathon plan that’s suitable for your level of running. Your first half marathon is not the time to be setting aggressive time goals. Make sure that you don’t choose a plan that has you running 5-6 days per week if you’re a newer running or coming into training with low weekly mileage.

5. Pick a race. You may want to choose a local half marathon for your first to reduce the pre-race stress. Sleeping in your own bed and not having to worry about tense race morning logistics is nice. But destination races are also very popular and provide a good training incentive. Pretty much any destination you want to travel will have a half marathon, including National Parks.

6. Don’t forget to cross train. Doing focused low impact exercise will make you a stronger and more injury-proof runner. Activities like yoga, swimming, cycling, core training, Pilates, rowing, and strength training are all excellent ways to supplement your running.

7. Avoid chaffing. As your runs become longer you may notice that the skin rubs together or causes friction with your clothing resulting in chaffing. This can especially be a problem in warmer temps. Be prepared by using some sort of anti-friction ointment pre-run to eliminate this pain.

8. Wear technical running clothes for more comfort. Avoid cotton garments as this doesn’t breathe well and can increase the risk of chaffing. Finding the right kind of sports bra for women and socks for both genders can go a long way to increase your comfort with running.

9. Keep a running log. This can be on paper or online and will help you track your progress and identify any issues before they become big problems.
Listen to your body. Don’t ignore small issues. Identifying potential aches and pains early and seeking help can help prevent long-term injury.

10. Develop a fueling strategy. As you begin running for over an hour to 90 minutes you may need to consider some type of fuel for sustained energy. Start to experiment early in your training so that you have a tried and true system for race day.

11. Educate and motivate yourself by learning more. There are a variety of podcast, magazines, books and running forums that can take your knowledge to the next level.
Run your own race. When it comes to race day don’t worry about what other people are doing. Focus on running well and finishing strong.

12. Have fun! Long distance running is very fulfilling. Enjoy the way your life has changed for the better.

About Angie Spencer

Angie is a registered nurse and running coach who empowers new runners to conquer the marathon, run faster, and take their health and fitness to the next level. Join the Academy

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Running Adventures: See the World, Meet Cool People, and Challenge Yourself!

Lions chewing on the course markers at the Big Five Marathon. photo credit: Big Five Marathon

In this episode we talk about running adventures with our special guests, some well-traveled runners, who use running to see the world, meet cool people, challenge themselves and stay healthy.

So if you were to save up the money to take a “runcation” where would you go? Here are a few ideas . . .

This year Coach Steve Waldon took part in the Zugspitz Ultratrail 100k in the Bavarian Alps. Even as a well-travelled runner he said it was “the most beautiful race I’ve done.” He finished 31st overall.

Zugspitze 100k

Steve Waldon is a RRCA Certified Running Coach, 2:53 marathoner, and one of our amazing MTA coaches. He’s also assistant coach at one of New York City’s largest running clubs. In this conversation you will hear about some of his most challenging running adventures and some great pointers on running downhill. Read more about Steve here.

Coach Dominique Hamel has was born in Quebec and has lived in South Africa, Switzerland, and the U.S.. She is most comfortable speaking French. We talk to hear about her love for Comrades Marathon and the Two Oceans Marathon in South Africa. The name “marathon” is a bit of a misnomer since these races are 90 kilometers and 56 kilometers respectively.

Dominique Hamel

Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, South Africa

This past April she ran Two Oceans for the 10th year in a row. That’s her getting down and dirty in the mud! Read more about Dominique here.

Courtney Schoch is an Academy member and coaching of clint of Lynn Grieger (another one of our wonderful MTA coaches). She works as a pilot and flight instructor currently living in the Cleveland, Ohio, and Leon, Nicaragua.

We debrief Courtney about her most recent running adventure –The Big Five Marathon, a race across a game preserve in South Africa. We also ask her how taking a “runcation” compares to a regular vacation.

Be sure check out her website at www.runucate.com!

One of the cool things about a running adventure is the interesting people you meet. Courtney is center of photo.

The scary crocodile lake

Also Mentioned in this Episode

Work with a MTA CoachCheck availability

Thrive Market -Get 25% off your first purchase + free shipping + free 30 day trial! Keep in mind that their prices are already 25-50% below retail because they cut out the middleman. Go to thrivemarket.com/mta

Bombas Socks -Buy one pair, or four at www.bombas.com/marathon, and get twenty percent off your first purchase.

TeloYears. With TeloYears you get an actionable DNA Health Test that lets you track your cellular age based on your telomere length. Visit www.teloyears.com and get $10 off when you use the gift code MARATHON10 – good this month.

Revent Optics. With Revant Optics, you can replace your lenses and save your sunglasses. Starting at just $24 a pair, they’re crystal clear, guaranteed to fit, and backed by a 1-year warranty. Go to www.revantoptics.com/ today and get 20% off your first pair of lenses with offer code: MTA

About Trevor Spencer

Trevor Spencer is the producer of the Marathon Training Academy Podcast. He loves to inspire people to take action in their fitness and life.

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Interview with Running Doctors Mark Cucuzzella & Josh Emdur

In this episode we talk with Doctors Mark Cucuzella and Josh Emdur about the health benefits and risks of running marathons, disease based versus prevention based models of health care, and what to do if a doctor tells you that you should give up running.

So, let me share how this interview came about. We have a long time listener to the MTA podcast who works in the tech start up world. He reached out to us about his new venture SteadyMD which provides virtual health care for runners through an online doctor -the first of its kind.

When we heard that Dr. Mark Cucuzzella would be on the physician team we got really excited because we’ve been long time admirers of Dr. Mark and have wanted to have him on the podcast.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is a board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine, focused on keeping runners fit and healthy through better movement, training, and nutrition. He has a marathon PR of 2 hours and 24 minutes and is a two-time winner of the Air Force Marathon. Dr. Mark has run a sub-3-hour marathon for 30 consecutive years. He is a sought after keynote speaker at many races and owns a local running store called Two Rivers Treads.

Dr. Josh Emdur co-leads the SteadyMD Running practice with Dr. Mark. Josh is a board-certified Family Medicine physician and 2:56 marathoner who lives in Boulder, Colorado. He is an avid trail runner, mountaineer, and backcountry skier.

In this conversation we are going to talk about the perils of getting advice from doctors who don’t understand your needs as a runner. Apparently there are many people out there who’ve been told that they should never run again. In fact, Dr. Mark was told this years ago. Plus we talk nutrition, heart health, and more.

SteadyMD. MTA is proud to be the official launch partner of SteadyMD. SteadyMD pairs you with a primary care doctor, online. A doctor who really gets to know you, listens to you, and has time for you. And not just any doctor. A doctor who is a runner just like you and who really understands marathon training, proper running form, common running injuries, nutrition for runners, and much much more. Available to you via phone, text, and video chat, anytime. Go to SteadyMD.com/MTA to learn more and reserve your spot. There are a limited number of spots available, so check it out now!

Also Mentioned in This Episode

The Mount Desert Island Marathon in Maine -Angie is signed up for this beautiful Fall marathon.

Kilian Jornet completes the Hardrock 100 with a dislocated shoulder. Read full story.

RXBARS -RXBAR is a whole food protein bar made with a few simple, clean ingredients, which all serve a purpose: Egg whites for protein. Dates to bind. Nuts for texture. For 25% off your first order, visit RXBAR.com/MTA and use the code: ‘MTA’ at checkout.

TeloYears. With TeloYears you get an actionable DNA Health Test that lets you track your cellular age based on your telomere length. Visit www.teloyears.com and get $10 off when you use the gift code MARATHON10 – good this month.

Revent Optics. With Revant Optics, you can replace your lenses and save your sunglasses. Revant Optics offers high-quality polarized, non-polarized, and prescription replacement lenses for ANY brand. Starting at just $24 a pair, they’re crystal clear, guaranteed to fit, and backed by a 1-year warranty. Go to RevantOptics.com/MTA today and get 20% off your first pair of lenses with offer code: MTA

About Trevor Spencer

Trevor Spencer is the producer of the Marathon Training Academy Podcast. He loves to inspire people to take action in their fitness and life.

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Race Recap: Pennsylvania Spartan Super + Interview with Joe De Sena

As you will hear in this episode I had no plans to run a Spartan Race. I figured I would just stick to marathons and half marathons. But when Joe De Sena says “You’re going to Palmerton”, who am I to argue? Joe is, after all, the most punishing man in fitness according to Outside Magazine.

It’s always fun talking with Joe De Sena -endurance athlete and founder of the Spartan Race. Listening to his stories and perspective on life will challenge you to get outside your comfort zone! The interview took an interesting twist that we didn’t expect . . .

Our weekend plans changed when this happened: (See Video)

So, with only six days to go, I took Joe up on his offer and signed up for my first Spartan Race. It was brutal but definitely as cool as he said it would be.

Be sure to check out our full interview with Joe and hear about the Spartan way of life, obstacle immunity and common traits of successful people.

The Course


The Spartan Pennsylvania Super and Sprint Weekend was held at the Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Palmerton, PA, in the Appalachian Mountains.

From the Website:

Are you up for a course designed to challenge our elite Spartans? At the Pennsylvania Super and Sprint Weekend, you’ll come face-to-face with Pennsylvania’s BLUE MOUNTAIN, taking on steep slopes that intimidate you… long climbs that challenge you… and obstacles that threaten you.

A Spartan Super is between 8-10 miles with 20+ obstacles. At this venue you are either power-hiking uphill or downhill non-stop, most sections are just not run-able.

The trails were single-track, muddy, rocky, gnarly ankle twisters. Sometimes the uphills required ropes and the downhills were so slick you had to grab trees to slow your fall. This course will kick your A$$!

The Obstacles


I tried to study the best angle of attack and move through the obstacles in such a way that preserved my upper body strength.

I found myself having no trouble with the obstacles involving balance, climbing things, or carrying things. I did however fail 4 out of 20+ obstacles and definitely need to work on my grip strength, rope climbing and spear throwing technique. The Spartan website says that the spear throw has a 86% fail rate.

The penalty for failing an obstacle is 30 burpees (need to work on those too).

Here’s an unordered list of obstacles I encountered. They don’t published these beforehand or offer much of a course preview because they like the element of surprise.

  • Six foot and seven foot walls
  • Inverted Wall
  • Hercules hoist
  • Rope climb
  • Spear throw
  • Inverted bars
  • A-frame cargo net
  • Monkey bars
  • Ring swing
  • Sandbag carry
  • Log carry
  • Sled drag
  • The Olympus (wall)
  • The Z wall
  • Tire Flip
  • Mud pits
  • Lake plunge
  • Ape Hanger (rope to monkey bars)
  • Rock carry
  • Barb wire crawl

The Finish Line

I had to chuckle when after two strenuous hours I saw a sign saying “Mile 4”. I really had no idea how long it was going to take me so I’m glad I brought water and 2 Ucan bars. My fueling was solid but I needed every calorie! You should fuel for a Spartan Super like you would for a marathon.

Our top recommendation is Generation Ucan. It will give you consistent energy without GI issues or sugar crashes. Use the code MTASPARTAN to save 15%!

My total time on the course was 4:17:44. Finishing this race will be one of my proudest moments of this year. Big thanks to Joe De Sena for arranging race entries and nudging me out of my comfort zone. Everyone needs to do a Spartan Race!

Did My Marathon Fitness Prepare Me Well?


With only 5 days to prepare I didn’t do any training for this race. However, I am apparently still in decent shape after the Flying Pig Marathon.

I could definitely feel my marathon endurance kick in during the 4 hours I was out on the Spartan Course. I was able to run all the flat sections and downhill sections that weren’t too steep. Strange as it may sound, running felt like a rest period. It was the least strenuous aspect of the race.

I also think running over a dozen marathons has taught me a lot of valuable things about mental toughness, fueling, hydrating, running downhill without blowing out my quads, and not over-dressing on hot days. All this stuff came in handy at the Spartan Super.

The Kids Races

The Spartan folks were kind enough to provide our kids with entries as well. The boys were eager to compete and got a huge boost in confidence from their race! With the venue only being 2 hours from our house it made a perfect day trip.

Totally stoked to do another Spartan race!

Also Mentioned In This Episode

Joe De Sena – the founder and CEO of the Spartan Race series, an accomplished endurance athlete and host of the Spartan UP Podcast. Joe and his family make their home in Vermont.

The Spartan Iceland Ultra World Championship in December. We have thee ticket to give away. If you’re interested send us an email through our contact page.

SteadyMD. MTA is proud to be the official launch partner of SteadyMD. SteadyMD pairs you with a primary care doctor, online. A doctor who really gets to know you, listens to you, and has time for you. And not just any doctor. A doctor who is a runner just like you and who really understands marathon training, proper running form, common running injuries, nutrition for runners, and much much more. Available to you via phone, text, and video chat, anytime. Go to SteadyMD.com/MTA to learn more and reserve your spot. There are a limited number of spots available, so check it out now!

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