Exploring the “Pain Cave” with Courtney Dauwalter

In this episode we speak with ultra runner Courtney Dauwalter -winner of the 2019 Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc -the most prestigious trail ultramarathon in Europe.

And in the quick tip segment you will hear about nutrition strategies for building muscle and promoting recovery.

photo credit: Scott Rokis Photography

We are thrilled to get a chance to speak with Courtney Dauwalter -a runner we have admired for some time. Courtney describes herself as an “ultra runner with a love for sunshine, long inseams, and candy.”

She won the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, considered to be the World Cup of ultra running, on September 1st 2019. This 106 miles race starts in Chamonix, France, and runs through the Alps into Italy, Switzerland, and back to Chamonix where thousands of cheering spectators and media welcome the champions.

Courtney was the first place female with a time of 24 hours, 34 minutes and 26 seconds finishing 1 hour ahead of 2nd place.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Ultra Addict Movie -a 10 minute film by Salomon about Courtney’s Tahoe 200 run.

Follow Courtney on social media here: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

The Revel Kulia Marathon in Hawaii. This will be Angie’s final marathon in her 50 state quest! Still time to sign up for the race and meet us there.

Angelo Poli

Angelo Poli, metabolism expert and founder of MetPro, joined us to answer the question, “Are there nutrition strategies for building muscle and promoting recovery?”. Since November Angie has lost 31 pounds and got her marathon time back down to Boston Qualifying level using the MetPro system. Visit www.metpro.co/mta for a free consultation call.

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 Marathon Fueling Episode!

In this episode we discuss how to fuel effectively for a long run or race. Plus, we answer questions sent in from listeners about carbo loading, considerations for female athletes, and fueling for an ultra.

We haven’t done an episode focused on fueling for long distance runners in a long time. And I know that many runners are currently in the midst of training, preparing, and running their fall races. It can often be challenging to figure out what your fueling strategy is going to be, especially for your first half marathon or marathon. Your fueling tolerance can also change over time so sometimes you need to go back to the drawing board. Figuring out a fueling strategy can often be quite challenging because there is no one-size fits all formula.

Your body burns through approximately 80-100 calories per mile (or per 1.6 km) while running. The total calories will vary based on your weight, amount of muscle mass, pace/effort level, and environmental conditions. The body stores fuel in the form of glycogen and keeps around 1200-1800 calories readily available in the muscles (and a small amount in the liver). The amount of muscle glycogen will also vary based on your size, muscle mass, and how carefully you’ve trained your body to absorb carbs (like during the refueling period post-workout).

During a longer run your body will burn a combination of carbohydrates and fat. If you run hard you’ll burn mostly carbs while easier effort running taps into your fat reserves. The body can also break down muscle to convert to energy which is definitely not something we want to be sacrificing. That’s referred to as muscle catabolism.

If you’ll be running for 90 minutes or more (or doing a very hard effort of shorter duration) you’ll want to start experimenting with fueling methods. The other alternative is going through the process of becoming fat adapted which can take from several weeks to several months. Whichever method you choose it may still take some time to learn what to eat before, during, and after running for the best results. We’re going to focus primarily on non-fat adapted runners in talking about a fueling strategy. If you’re fat adapted it is still wise to figure out a fueling strategy if you’ll be going the marathon distance and beyond.

Pre-run Strategy:

If you’ll be running for less than 90 minutes you don’t necessarily need any pre-run fuel. If the run is at an easy pace you may not need any fuel at all (everyone is a bit different). However, if you find your energy levels dipping during a run of 90 minutes or less, a pre-run snack can be beneficial to perform your best. Just make sure that you leave plenty of time for your body to digest the food so that you don’t have stomach issues/GI distress.

Running makes digestion challenging for the body because of the constant motion. Blood is shunted away from the GI system for priority use by the running muscles. This can make adequate digestion (and avoiding nausea and diarrhea) a bit of a trick. Some runners are very susceptible to “dumping syndrome” while running. Basically your body decides that the food in your stomach can’t be adequately digested and sends it on the express route through the intestines (and into a port-a-pot if you’re lucky).

If you’ll be running for more than 90 minutes make sure that any pre-race meal that you eat is finished at least 3 hours before you start. This is the amount of time it takes for the blood sugar and insulin levels to return to their normal state. If you eat closer to a long run or race your body will simply burn through your glycogen stores more quickly and it may cause a drop in energy levels while you run.

Many morning runners do their shorter runs in a “fasted” state. That means they don’t eat (maybe other than coffee) before heading out the door. But it’s actually okay to start a long run or race with an empty stomach too. I know that this may seem counterintuitive and a little scary at first. It was a hard concept for me to accept at first too. I was used to eating around 1 ½ to 2 hours before my long runs and marathons to provide the fuel I thought was necessary. I was sure that my oatmeal and a banana was a good thing. However, I couldn’t figure out why I had a constant churning in my stomach during the first few miles and then experience a blood sugar “crash” at about mile 6-7. It was a huge moment for me when I realized that my pre-race meal was to blame.

During your night of sleep the body is in fasting mode and it hangs onto its store of glycogen in the muscles. The muscle glycogen is sitting there ready to go no matter if your stomach is empty or not. The only thing that gets emptied during the night is the glycogen store in your liver. The goal of the pre-race meal is simply to top off the liver glycogen store and this can be accomplished right before the race without negatively affecting how your body burns the muscle glycogen.

For many years now I’ve used the approach of not eating before a race or long run (who wants to get up at 3-5 am to eat anyway). It was a little scary at first heading out with an empty stomach. However, the new strategy worked! I would simply start my fueling strategy before starting my run and then keep up with a steady fueling plan for the duration. No more churning stomach and energy crash! It’s definitely something to experiment with if your current strategy isn’t working well.

Since I’ve started sharing these new fueling recommendations I’ve heard from many people on this topic. Some said that they were skeptical and hesitant to not eat before a long run. However, once they’ve tried it, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. People are reporting fewer stomach problems and steadier energy.

If you’re having stomach issues on your long runs you can try changing to a different sports drink or fueling product (certain sweeteners like fructose, maltodextrin, agave, and stevia can cause problems for some). Another strategy to try is to make sure your pre-run meal is finished at least 3 hours before exercise. You may also want to avoid dairy products because many people are lactose intolerant and don’t know it. The deficiency of the enzyme lactase can cause cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. A final cause of GI distress for some people is their caffeine intake.

If you choose to eat before your race or long run you’ll want to eat something high in carbohydrate with some protein but low in fiber and fat. Make sure this meal is finished approximately 3 hours before your run (especially if you struggle with GI distress). Some people have “iron guts” and can almost eat anything before and during running while others have such touchy systems that it can be a challenge to figure out a good fueling regimen.

One thing that’s important to remember with fueling is that the goal is not to replace all the calories you burn. Your body simply cannot digest that many calories while you run. You’ll be in a calorie deficit (especially during long runs) but your body is equipped to deal with that. So, when you’re figuring out a fueling strategy for a long run you don’t want to plan on consuming 1000 calories if you’re running 10 miles. Men can usually take in a higher range of calories per hour while women should plan on using their body weight as a starting point. For example if you’re 150 pounds then try consuming 150 calories per hour while running.

What to Eat During Your Run:

Your long runs will be the time to try out various fuels and figure out your strategy. There are many different options available. Here are a few of the more popular options:

  • Gels: An energy gel usually has a syrupy/gel-like consistency and provides carbohydrates to the body quickly. Energy gels can also be referred to as endurance gel, sports gel, nutritional gel and carbohydrate gel. In the same category as gels would be most chews/Gus/blocks/chomps/sports beans/etc. Most contain around 100 calories per serving. Gels are frequently provided at a couple of aid stations during marathons. Some people also find that the concentrated sugar in gels makes them sick to their stomach. This is because most gels have approximately a 73% concentration of sugars and the stomach isn’t equipped to deal with that effectively. You’ll notice that most gels recommend that you take it with 2-4 oz of water to reduce the concentration. The recommended use of energy gels is using one 5-10 minutes before starting a run if you’re starting out fasted and then one every 25-40 minutes thereafter.

    The amount of gels (or related products) you’ll need to consume depends on your metabolism, body weight, how much your system can absorb, and fitness level. Which brand of energy gels you choose will be based on your personal preference and taste. If you have a sensitive stomach do some label reading to see what kind of sugars are contained in the product. If taking a whole gel at once doesn’t work for you it may be wise to take ½ at a time washed down with water from an aid station. If you’re planning on using the fueling products from an aid station during a race it’s wise to practice with that fuel during your long runs.

  • Sports Drinks: Another popular method of fueling is using sports drinks. You can buy readymade drinks or powders that you mix on your own. Depending on how much water you mix the powder with will determine the amount of calories per serving. It’s wise to follow the package directions because the osmolality of the carbohydrate solution is important in how it is assimilated into your body. If you choose to mix the powder thicker than recommended make sure you take it with water. Osmolality is basically the concentration of dissolved particles in your blood plasma. The higher the concentration of your carb source, the higher the osmolality. This means that it will take longer to leave your stomach and intestines (during which time it’s not being made available to your muscles).

    Most races will provide sports drink at nearly every aid station. If you plan on taking advantage of this for your fueling it would be wise to practice with it in advance. If you choose to carry your own sports drink to fuel with make sure that you’ve practiced carrying the amount you’ll need for the race. Many larger marathons don’t allow hydration packs so that that into account as well.

  • Combination products: There are some products that contain a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Many find that including some protein in their fuel helps the body avoid breaking down as much muscle during long distance efforts. A few combination products that come to mind include UCAN Performance Energy with protein, Hammer Perpetuem, and many energy bars. Energy bars typically have a high percentage of carbs, some protein, and minimal fat. They usually contain around 200 calories and have a more substantial consistency. Many people find that eating bars can disrupt their rhythm, require more space to carry, and may present digestion problems. You’ll also want to follow your bit of a bar with some type of fluid to help wash it down.
  • “Real” food: Many runners like to steer clear of more highly processed fuels and rely on real food options. Some of these may include: baked sweet potato, baked salted potatoes, rice balls, baby food pouches (applesauce, fruit sauces), nut butters, honey, maple syrup, flat pop/soda, trail mix, cheese, bacon, bananas, dried fruit, candy, pretzels, etc. A possible disadvantage of real food during running is that it often has a higher amount of fiber and fat and this many cause stomach upset. If you choose to use real food be sure to practice, practice, and practice. You don’t want to get in the middle of a race and have your stomach rebel. During races there are often “unofficial” aid stations set up with everything from beer and pretzels to pickles and candy. Unless you have an iron stomach, have practiced with these foods, or are running at a very easy pace be very careful about trying anything new on race day.

Post Run Fueling:

Proper fueling doesn’t stop when you’re done running. What you do in the post-run period is also very important. Make sure that you begin the refueling process with some protein within 30 minutes after your run. This is the optimum window of time that your body refills your muscles glycogen stores and starts repairing muscle. In other words, the time to carb-load is now. You can train your muscles to store extra glycogen by faithfully refueling during this time period. Many experts recommend using a 3-1 carbohydrate to protein ratio for refueling. But for women progesterone can increase muscle breakdown. We should be getting in at least 25-30 grams of protein with our carbohydrates within 30 minutes post-long run or strength workout. There are many different types of recovery products out there to try or you can reach for “real” food options.

If you feel nauseated during or after running, try to avoid consuming too many simple sugars which can cause “dumping syndrome.” Dumping syndrome is when your body can’t absorb the amount of sugars (or fats) consumed and sends them on through quickly. When that happens you better hope you’re near a bathroom. If you experience regular GI upset after running, try eating bland carbs like mashed potatoes, cream of wheat with maple syrup and ginger or peppermint tea sweetened with honey.

You will probably be ready to eat a more substantial meal around an hour after your long run (sometimes you may not feel hungry at first or you may even be slightly nauseated if your electrolyte level is off). Make sure the substantial meal includes a balance of complex carbs, protein, and fat. Also, focus on maintaining hydration in the hours after running. You don’t need to guzzle water the rest of the day, but make sure that you continue to drink. If it was a hot day or you sweated a lot it can be wise to add electrolytes to your water in the post-run period.

If you are having trouble with “bonking or hitting the wall” at some point during your run, this is probably the point where your muscle stores of glycogen get used up. You need to focus on taking in more carbohydrate calories during the recovery period (to teach your muscles to carb load) and also practice fueling during the long run. Some people wait too long before beginning their fueling strategy. If you wait until you’re feeling weak or shaky you most likely will have trouble replenishing calories to get on top of your energy needs. Remember, long runs are for practicing and you shouldn’t be doing anything new on race day.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Generation Ucan -the revolutionary new way for runners to fuel. UCAN keeps your blood sugar stable, is gentle on your stomach, and allows your body to burn fat. Use the promo code “MTAFUEL” to save 15% off your order. Or if you’re new to UCAN, save 25% on your first order with code MTA25”.

The MTA Virtual Half Marathon. Registration now open! Check out this year’s awesome medal and hat.

Roar -How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life by Dr. Stacy Sims

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Interview with Dean Karnazes + How to Manage Hunger During Training

In this episode we speak with Dean Karnazes ultra runner, best-selling author, and running ambassador.

And in the quick tip segment, you will hear how to manage hunger during marathon training while still losing weight and keeping your energy levels stable!

Dean Karnazes might be the best known ultramarathon of all time. He’s been featured by The Today Show, 60 Minutes, The Late Show with David Letterman (watch the clip below), The History Channel . . . the list goes on. Time Magazine named him as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World”.

His book Ultramarathon Man was one of the first running books I read. He is newest collaboration is the book Running for Good -101 Stories for Runners & Walkers to Get You Going! Produced by Chicken Soup for the Soul.

From this Interview . . .

Dean’s 525k run through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakstan

photo credit: Dean Karnazes

Hilarious Interview on the Late Show

Breaking a Rib in Chile

photo credit: Dean Karnazes

photo credit: Dean Karnazes

Running in the Marin Headlands

photo credit: Dean Karnazes

Also Mentioned in This Episode

The Kaisermarathon in Söll, Austria. Trevor is running this on October 5th. Send us an email through our contact page if you know about this race or if you live in Austria.

The Hartford Marathon in Connecticut. Angie is running this on October 12th 2019. This will be her first race in Connecticut and state number 47 in her 50 state quest.

On-Running Shoes -Try a pair of On’s for yourself for 30 days and put them to the test. That means actually running in them before you decide to keep them.

Managing Hunger During Training

Angelo Poli

Angelo Poli, metabolism expert and founder of MetPro joined us to answer the question, “How does one manage hunger during marathon training while still losing weight and keeping your energy level stable?”.

Since November, Angie has lost 30 pounds and got her marathon time back down to Boston Qualifying level using the MetPro system. Visit www.metpro.co/mta for a free consultation call.

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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Ask the Coach Episode (Part 2) + Books!

In this episode we answer questions sent in by Academy members about finding time for strength training, when to stretch, how to avoid cramping at the end of a marathon, and more, as we bring you part two of our Ask the Coach Q & A.

In the quick tip segment Angie shares the top book picks from her summer reading.

Coach KristenOn this episode we were joined by Coach Kristen Williamson the newest member of the MTA coaching team. Kristen is a Registered Dietitian and Road Runners Club of America certified running coach. She is a 3:29:00 Marathoner, Boston Qualifier, and has a Master of Science in Dietetics as well as a MBA. To learn more about our coaching team see this page.

Questions Featured:

  1. Strength training. I hear so much about the benefits of getting into the gym, but struggling with how to fit that in with 5 days of weekly running and appropriate recovery. If I go to the gym on a rest day does that compromise recovery? If it does, how can it be fit in? if you add up all the advise out there it’s like run 5 days a week, but also make sure you are taking full days off for recovery. But also make sure you are getting into the gym twice a week for strength training, but not before or after a long run or quality run. And also add in a day for cross training. Would be great if there were 11 days in the week. -Eli
  2. How do you stretch appropriately before/after a long run or race? Especially when there is a lot of standing around before you actually start running? What about stretching in cold weather vs warmer weather? What are some of the ways you stretch before and after? -Yali
  3. How to avoid muscle cramps at the end of marathons? -Hanna-Leena
  4. What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you on a run? -Pat

Non-Fiction; Running and Mindset

  • Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
    This book was definitely the top book I read this summer. I read it at a time when I was gearing up for big physical challenges and I could directly see how the motivation gleaned from this book helped me perform my beat. David’s narrative of his life, the things he’s overcome, and the challenges he took on are intertwined with great motivational lessons. This book will change your mindset forever.
  • You (Only Faster) by Greg McMillan
    If you’re the type of person who really likes to dive into the individual variations of running and training plans this is the book for you. He talks about how you can maximize your running potential, be a healthy runner for life, and the differences between more endurance based and speed based energy systems.
  • Running Outside the Comfort Zone by Susan Lacke
    This is a fun and relatable book that really makes you want to get outside your comfort zone and not let fear hold you back. Check out our interview with author Susan Lacke on episode #291 for more information.
  • The Long Run by Matt Long
    This is one of those running books that sat on my shelf for nearly a decade that I never got around to reading it. When selecting books to take with me this summer this one made the cut and it was very inspirational. Matt tells the story of how he went from a NYC firefighter, triathlete, and marathoner gunning for a BQ to being hit by a bus. He survived despite overwhelming odds, had multiple surgeries, and had to relearn all aspects of mobility again as well as deal with serious depression. This is one of those books where you end up feeling like any excuses you have are weak-sauce.
  • Run or Die by Kilian Jornet
    This is another book that I’ve had for a long time but finally read. It was fascinating to hear the story of how Kilian grew up and his mindset and determination to take on some of the world’s top running challenges. Impossible and give up are not in his vocabulary.
  • 14 Minutes by Alberto Salazar
    This memoir by Alberto Salazar was very interesting and provides a behind the scenes look at the way he was raised, how to turned to running, his long-time battle with career ending injury, his coaching, and the near fatal heart attack that he had at a young age. The only thing I knew about him was that he was a famous coach with the Oregon Project and what I’d read from Dick Beardsley’s book Duel in the Sun.
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
    An interesting book about the humble and often tenuous beginnings of the Nike Corporation. After reading about the struggles that Phil Knight went through to bring his company to success it’s truly amazing that the global phenomenon we know today almost didn’t get off the ground.
  • Presence by Amy Cuddy
    This book explores the power that being present has over our emotional, mental and physical state. She talks about how the posture of our body can influence our thought process and help us take on challenges. Even two minutes of doing a power pose can increase your testosterone and decrease your cortisol levels. You feel more confident, passionate, authentic, and enthusiastic. Fake it until you become it. Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

The MTA Virtual Half Marathon. Registration now open! Check out this year’s awesome medal and hat.

The Runner’s Toolbox -8 inexpensive items to keep at home to prevent and self-treat running injuries.

Generation Ucan -the revolutionary new way for runners to fuel. UCAN keeps your blood sugar stable, is gentle on your stomach, and allows your body to burn fat. Use the promo code “MTACOACH” to save 15% off your order. Or if you’re new to UCAN, save 25% on your first order with code MTA25”.

On-Running Shoes -Try a pair of On’s for yourself for 30 days and put them to the test. That means actually running in them before you decide to keep them.

DripDrop O.R.S. An electrolyte powder developed by a doctor to treat dehydration. Go to www.dripdrop.com/mta to get 20% off any purchase.

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 Outside The Comfort Zone

In this episode we bring you an interview with Susan Lacke, author of the new book Running Outside The Comfort Zone -An Explorer’s Guide To The Edges of Running.

In the quick tip segment Angie answers a question about what to do if your training plan doesn’t have the correct number of weeks until race day.

Susan Lacke is a college professor and writer for Women’s Running, Competitor, and Triathlete. Her new book is called Running Outside the Comfort Zone -An Explorer’s Guide to the Edges of Running.

Some of the races she did in her year of running outside the comfort zone:

  • The Pony Express 50 miler in Utah
  • Empire State Building Run Up
  • Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim
  • Across the Years 24-Hour Race
  • Caliente Bare Dare 5k (naked run)
  • Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll in the UK
  • Midwest Wife Carrying Championship with her husband
  • The Comrades Marathon in South Africa

Also Mentioned in this Episode

Susan Lacke online: www.susanlacke.com

The Drury Hotels -Use our link to save 15% off your stay at our home away from home.

On-Running Shoes -Try a pair of On’s for yourself for 30 days and put them to the test. That means actually running in them before you decide to keep them.

MetPro.co -Nutrition concierge and coaching company to help you reach your body composition goals.

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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Angie and Trevor’s 50k Sufferfest Extravaganza!


In this episode we tell you all about our summer ultramarathon sufferfest in the mountains of South Dakota and Montana. Plus coach Angie will explain how to effectively go from marathon to 50k.

The Black Hills 50k

I choose the Black Hills 50k in Sturgis as my South Dakota race in my quest to finish a marathon or beyond in all 50 states. There were a couple of other options in the state that I’d been eying but this race was too convenient to pass up. It also landed exactly one week after my Michigan marathon.

Pre-race:
Even though this is not a big race I received good communication from the race directors. In fact, they sent out a couple very amusing missives detailing information about the course. The 50k was part of multiple other distances that they offered including a 30k, 50 mile, and 100 miler.

We arrived in town Thursday before the race and stayed at the Sturgis RV Park & Campground where packet pickup was taking place.

Race Morning:
The race offered busing out to the start line from the city park and the 50k bus left at 6am. It was already completely light by this time and getting warm which worried me a bit. It was a 45 minute bus ride to the start line. When we got to our starting area near the aid station at Dalton Lake there was a few port-a-pots, a couple camper trailers for the volunteers, the drop bag area for the 50 and 100 milers, and the food table. The sun was feeling very hot already and we had over an hour wait until the 8am start. As we waited there were several 100 milers coming through the aid station and we were able to cheer them on.
 
Course:
The 50k distance was a point to point course. 95% of it was single track following the Centennial Trail. Marking the 100th anniversary of statehood, 1889 to 1989, the 111-mile Centennial Trail represents the diversity of South Dakota. The Trail crosses the prairie grasslands near Bear Butte State Park and climbs into the Black Hills high country, skirting lakes and streams until it reaches Wind Cave National Park near Hot Springs.

The starting elevation was 4,455 ft and there was a total of 3,891 ft of climbing. Here are some excerpts from the race directors about the course:

“Every year we say pretty much the same thing: the course is easy to follow, but don’t miss this one key turn. And every year someone misses that one key turn. The majority of our course follows the Centennial trail, which for the most part is well marked with the standard #89 buffalo skull trail signs. FOR ALL DISTANCES, if you’re cruising along and you see a small white sign with a red ‘W’ on it, that doesn’t mean, “WOW, you’re doing a great job!” It actually means, “WOW, you’re about to f%&* up!” For our purposes, W=WRONG WAY. No matter where you are, a W sign is a bad omen. If you see a W, turn around, go back to the last intersection and reevaluate your options. The basic rule for our course is, if you don’t see very clear markings telling you to turn off the trail you’re on, don’t turn off the trail you’re on.”

There were five creek crossings, one which came over my knees. I always find the first creek crossing (or time you get your feet wet to be a bit daunting). They had ropes strung across the crossings to hang onto since the creek bottom was a bit slippery and the water flowing fairly strong. But after that first crossing the coId water felt very refreshing. Thankfully my On Cloudventures dried quickly. I found the course to be very clearly marked and it was beautiful with views of mountains, valleys, trees, and a few cattle.
 
Aid Stations:
The aid stations were located approximately every 7 miles. They were well stocked with fueling supplies and the usual great ultra food offerings. They handed out collapsible cups at packet pick up to cut down on the number of disposable cups. The race email said,

“In reality, if you’re running an event like this you should probably have a liquid carrying vessel of some sort on your person. We really don’t care if it’s a collapsible cup or an empty beer can that you scavenged from the bed of your truck, but we would strongly encourage you to carry something reusable to drink out of. Just doing our part to save the planet, one cup (or beer can) at a time!”

My experience:
I stayed very conservative the first half and didn’t really pass people unless they were hiking uphill more slowly than me. I remember looking down at my watch about midway and thinking that I’d already been out there longer than my last marathon. But overall I enjoyed being out on the trail and was able to keep my headspace very positive. I kept rolling my right ankle several times which really hurt but it didn’t seem to interfere with my ability to run. I also caught my foot several times on the trail but managed to catch myself before falling.

For gear I was wearing my compression socks (for support and protection of the legs in tall grass/weeds), ON Cloud Ventures, Trail Toes ointment, Nathan Vapor Airess Pack, and UCAN bars. Trevor and the boys met me at the final large aid station at Alkali Creek (around mile 24) and gave me a Mountain Dew which hit the spot with the jolt of caffeine and sugar.

I didn’t get passed by anyone in the last 8 miles and was able to make up some ground. For the final mile the course came off the trail back into town to the finish area in the City Park. I was able to pass several people and my final mile was my fastest with a 9:45 pace. My finish time was 7:41:44 for my 3rd 50k (and slowest to date). They gave out a nice finisher’s mug (and the race shirt was great as well). I was 34th out of 96 50k runners.

Finish Line:
The finish cut off for all the distances was 8pm on Saturday June 29th, 2019 (the 100 milers had started the previous day).

  • The 100 miler had 41 finishers. The men’s winner was Andrew Pavek with a time of 21:47:58. The women’s winner was Lisa Walbridge with a time of 27:01:04.
  • The 50 miler had 62 finishers. The men’s winner was Devon Olson with a time of 7:50:40. The women’s winner was Christine O’Gorman with a time of 11:14:34.
  • The 50k had 96 finishers. The men’s winner was Mark Marzen with a time of 4:36:25. The women’s winner was Denise Kaelberer with a time of 6:16:44.
  • The 30k had 93 finishers. The men’s winner was Tim Fryer with a time of 2:50:38. The women’s winner was Alicia Porsch with a time of 3:18:03.
  • Shout out to MTA listener Yoko Hartland who finished in 3:36:19 and placed first in her AG.

Post race:
After finishing I felt pretty tired from all those hours in the heat. We had a nice dinner to celebrate and then hit the road the next day to continue our travels. I was pretty stiff and sore, especially through the quads, for the next three days and came away with a couple bruised toenails. I’m guessing that my body wasn’t completely recovered from the marathon a week before. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the race and would recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy some great trails in South Dakota.

By Trevor
The Divide 50k took place on July 13. My build up wasn’t stellar but I had good mental training after reading the book Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins.

The race started in Thompson Park- a large land area south of Butte that connects to the Continental Divide Trail (the CTD runs from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide 3,100 miles).

The Course: The course was single track- kinda congested the first mile until everyone spread out. It took a while for everyone to filter out to their correct pace. The course description just listed a bunch of trails that I’d never heard of since I wasn’t from the area. There were tiny orange flags along the course for directions. Sometimes there weren’t any flags there and you had to refer to your directions. Ran for a couple miles and I knew there would be tunnels- the race recommended bringing a headlamp (which I didn’t since I didn’t want to carry more stuff- I could make it through with my phone light).

We came to the first tunnel and there were runners ahead of me so I took it easy so I didn’t trip on anything. We came out the other side (an old railroad line turned into a trail/bike path (Milwaukee Trail) but then I started seeing runners coming toward me and I realized that something was wrong. There was a group of four runners who said they saw the fast people ahead emerging from the side of the trail. They thought they missed a loop.

Sure enough, before the tunnel, the course went off to the left. It was marked with flags but we all missed it (10 in front of me and 5 behind me). I back tracked for a mile. As we were running back to find the turn we missed we kept intercepting runners and telling them the bad news. We had to run back through the tunnel. I pulled out my map (it says, “do not go through the tunnel- turn left before the tunnel).

This illustrates that when you’re out there running on trails it’s so easy to get into a rhythm, especially if it’s a hot day, and your brain is totally not alert to the course. It also illustrates how easy it is to follow people ahead even if you’re not totally sure about it. It felt like a vortex (black hole) that pulled us all in since we were expecting to run through a tunnel. We got back on course and it added a couple miles to our total distance.

We eventually came to the right tunnel (the one we were supposed to run through) and right when I got to the mouth of the tunnel (it was an old railway tunnel-massive), there was a huge slab of ice spanning the whole front of the tunnel (which was cold with water dripping through). Everyone was walking through the tunnel to avoid slipping on the ice. There was a nice cool breeze coming through the tunnel which felt good in contrast to the hot day. The further into it the darker it got and pretty soon I couldn’t see a thing.

I thought, “Oh, this is why they told us to bring a headlamp.” It was so dark you couldn’t see your feet. There was a runner behind me that I was talking to and I waited for her to catch up so I could run in her light to the end of the tunnel. Another interesting feature was that we got to run across a bridge that was also at one time, like a rail to trail bridge, which spanned this massive canyon with beautiful views.

We came to the first aid station at the 16k point (Pipestone Pass). It was a dude at a table where they had all kinds of water and snacks. All I needed was some salt so I grabbed a bag of potato chips and was good to go. We had to run up the highway a little ways to get back on a trail. Once we got back on the trail it eventually connected to the CDT (the first time we ran on it). It has wooden markers (little signs with CDT burned on them). I was pretty much by myself for the next couple of hours. I saw maybe one other runners. I also saw some hikers and cyclists out recreationally, not connected to the race. But the higher I got the more spectacular the views got. I could see Butte in the distance. It was a clear and gorgeous day, even though it was a bit hot.

Slogging Up the Mountain
I’m slowing way down slogging up the mountain. I knew that the next aid station was at the 25k (halfway) point and ending for the 25k runners. But I didn’t know at any given point what kilometer I was in because my watch always dies so I was only using it for music. The instructions that they gave us didn’t give kilometer marks and the course didn’t say what point I was at. All I knew was what time I had started. On the way down the mountain it was endless switchbacks, that’s all I remember.

I had thoughts of “this is just going to be a long day on the trails.” I love trails and nature so I thought it was an awesome way to spend the day. But like happens to every runner during a race I was concerned at how long it would take me to finish. But I tried to crowd those thoughts out with things like, no sound of civilization, no other runners, enjoying the trail, alone trek through the mountains.

But I was wondering if I was going to have to run the entire course again, I was confused because people past the turn around point were coming back on that trail. They were very nice and said “great job”. I was amazed because they were running all the uphills, uphills I knew I would be walking.

Half Way Point
I got to the aid station. There were 4 or 5 runners there (one or two had just finished the 25k and they were going to get a ride back to the start). There was lots of food to choose from, all kinds of goodies. I grabbed another bag of chips and filled my water up. There was all kinds of candy and bars. They did have some lawn chairs and I sat down and got the rocks out of my shoes (it felt great to sit down). The clouds started to get very dark because there was a 40% chance of thunderstorms that day. Around that time you texted me and said “are you getting any of this rain?” So I knew it was coming. When I refilled my water I filled it to the brim and immediately felt dumb because I knew I’d have to carry all that weight. In retrospect it was a good decision because that was the last water I would come across. The last aid station was unmanned with a bunch of empty water jugs.

After leaving the aid station I had a long slow slog back up the mountain. One lady passed me as we went 5 miles back up the way I came. The next turn was not going to be marked with flags I was told. So I had to pay close attention to Beaver Ponds Road. It started to rain and actually hailed on me a little bit. It cooled the air down and blocked the sun but it didn’t really soak us. I did get out my poncho and put it on but it was superfluous and it actually made me sweat more because they’re not breathable.

I continued on feeling very tired and my legs feeling quite dead. And then I got a text from you wondering how far I was along. All I knew was that I’d passed the 25k point plus 5 more miles. So I had you help me figure out how much I had left because I couldn’t do math very swiftly. My ears got all plugged up which happens to me when I’m out trail running and I couldn’t hear very well. I was worried about my water situation because I couldn’t get enough, I was sucking it down like a camel. Since I couldn’t breathe through my nose I had to catch my breath after getting a drink.

I ate a pop tart after around 21 miles that tasted so good. I hadn’t had one in decades (strawberry with frosting).

There was a tiny stream crossing and I bent down to splash some water on my face and could see little gold specks in the stream and it reminded me of gold panning in Juneau, AK. When I bent down I laid down on the ground and it felt so good. Then I thought to myself, “Angie would never allow herself to do this, even if no-one was around on principle.”

After I got going again it seemed like every rock and tree stump looked like an inviting chair. I had to resist the urge to sit. There was one point where I tree had fallen across the trail and I just laid back for a minute and it felt great. I thought, “if this wasn’t a race I’d probably take a longer break here.” As I was laying there a runner came up to me and said, “how’s the lactic acid treating you?” And I felt embarrassed to be laying on the ground with another runner nearby because I hadn’t seen another runner for a long time. I ended up running with Anna from Bozeman (grew up in PA) for a while and we did some talking. She was feeling tired but went on ahead of me.

Originally when you guys dropped me off we talked about getting you at 3pm which would be seven hours. By 2pm I knew I wouldn’t make it in by 3pm. It was hard to make myself keep going and it was still mostly uphill, but gradual, so I was doing a lot of walking. All I could think about was how I would love to jump in a lake and to hold my head under a fountain of fresh clean water and guzzle water. I would have drank out of the stream if it was safe because I was having to ration my water. I was also starting to get cramps on the inside of my thighs which I’d never felt before.

I got to the very last stop where there was supposed to be water but all there was was five empty gallons of water.

Other than that it hurt in the usual places that a marathon does. And my neck was sore too from the combination of looking down and carrying my pack, maybe bad form. So, with 2 miles to go a runner came upon me and he had told me that this was going to be his fastest 50k (his 3rd one in 14 days). I asked him “why.” He said, “just to see what I have in me.”

I crossed the finish line at about 4:30 in the afternoon. There was a small group hanging out who started clapping for me as I crossed. The race director gave me the chintziest medal that I’d ever seen. But they had some great food. I grabbed some Pringles and a beer and sat down and put my recovery sandals on. But it was great to be done and it was a very satisfying feeling to have finished that distance on very minimal training.

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Podcaster Meet Up! Joint Episode with C Tolle Run

In this episode we bring you a special joint episode with Olympic runner and podcaster Carrie Tollefson from the C Tolle Run. And in the quick tip segment, Angie will explain how to communicate expectations with your running partner before you race together.

Carrie Tollefson is a middle distance runner from Minnesota. She represented the US in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in the 1500 meters. She does regular media coverage for the New York Road Runners including the NYC Marathon and the NYC Half Marathon. Carrie has done commentary for the Twin Cities Marathon, Boston Marathon, and Tokyo Marathon. She hosts a weekly podcast called C Tolle Run.

It’s been fun to meet and collaborate with other podcasters through the years. We kept the agenda loose on this episode -the goal was to have a fun conversation. We ended up talking about some important topics, like pregnancy and running, time management, elite runner Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald -a fellow Minnesota runner and friend of Carrie’s who lost her battle with cancer on June 11th. We also share our top picks for small town marathons.

Enjoy!

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 + How to Keep Pushing in a Marathon

The first main stop on our 2019 camping trip out West (which Trevor is calling our Ultramarathon Sufferfest Extravaganza) was the beautiful Charlevoix Marathon along the shores of lake Michigan.

This was my 58th marathon, 45th state, and 4th fastest marathon.

The day went better than I expected and I managed to squeak out a BQ and 1st place in my age group.

Let me tell you all about it . . .

The 13th annual Charlevoix Marathon was held on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019. They also hosted a half marathon, 10k and 5k the same day.

Pre-race:

Packet pick up was available on Friday afternoon and early race morning. The packet pick up and race finishing area was held at Bridge Park in historic downtown Charlevoix, adjacent to the famous draw bridge. Traffic into downtown Charlevoix was very slow but once we got there getting my bib, shirt, and reusable race bag was very easy. One thing I loved about the race was how small the bib was

Angie and Trev in Charlavoix

After scoping out the race area and getting my bib we strolled around the beautiful lakefront and then headed to our campsite which was located about 15 miles away. I spent the rest of the day taking it easy and getting my race kit put together.

Race Morning:

Since the marathon start time was at 6:30am and I like to be early we decided that I would drive myself to the race. So, if you’re envisioning Trevor and the kids out on the course cheering me on or waiting at the finish line, that didn’t happen.

Look at this tiny race bib!

There was plenty of free downtown parking on race morning. I got there around 45 minutes before the race started and had my choice of spots. There was also plenty of time to use the port-a-pots and head over to the start area. A listener named Mike who was there for the half marathon found me and we had a nice chat and got a picture. He mentioned that he might find me out on the course later and run a couple miles with me. I also saw MTA member Heidi at the start. She and her sister were doing the 10k which started at 7:15am.

The half marathon started a half hour after the marathon.
The race had a good announcer and sound system and they solicited a volunteer from the crowd to sing the National Anthem (since their scheduled person called in sick). The weather was clear and mid-50’s at the start and the early morning light was beautiful. I lined up just behind the 3:45 pace group and waited for the starting gun. I felt excited to be there with just the right amount of pre-race anticipation.

The Course:

The start line is on Bridge Street just beyond the draw bridge which opens every 30 minutes. Lake Michigan was visible just to the left and Round Lake to the right. For the first three miles we went through some nice shady neighborhoods before winding out of town on a paved bike/walk path.

The course is an out and back so that makes it more predictable than point to point courses. You know anything that goes up on the way out will be down on the way back and vise versa. The course is mostly flat with a few rolling hills. There was one hill in the earlier miles that I briefly walked because I didn’t want to elevate my heart rate too much at that point. There were also some downhill sections that I let my legs fly on a little bit. A couple times I looked down at my pace and it made me hopeful that I wouldn’t blow up later.

The course ventures around the local ski mountain Mount McSauba, down tree lined roads, along the lakeshore, and then the turn around point was at Little Traverse Bay. There were a couple miles of the course on a wooden bridge that was a nice change on the legs. I can see why Runner’s World Magzine named the Charlevoix Marathon as one of the best “small town marathons” in the United States.

The course stayed nice and wide throughout and there was plenty of room to run. This felt like a big contrast from previously running the London Marathon where it was crowded the whole way. There were stretches that I wasn’t running around anyone but there were also plenty of sections where I leap frogged other runners who were around the same pace. Toward the last 10 miles there were some half marathon walkers out on the course as well. The course is advertized as fast and flat (unless you’re from Florida says the race info). They also advertize a high rate of BQ’s on the course. In 2018 19.6% of marathoners BQ’d and this year 16.4% BQ’d.

The weather warmed up to the high 60’s and it felt warm out in the sun. However, there were also frequent shady sections which were helpful. Several times the course opened up with great views of Lake Michigan which was beautiful. The fire department had a hose sprinkler set up around mile 23 for runners to cool off if they needed to.

Aid Stations:

There weren’t many spectators out on the course so it was nice to see the friendly people at the aid stations. The aid stations were located approximately every 1.5 miles and had water and sports drink. A few locations also had extras like candy and there was even a bacon stop. Since the course was out and back the bacon stop was located at mile 3 and 23 and I didn’t feel like testing my body with it at that point. For my fueling I used Generation Ucan snack bars (one 30 minutes before) and ½ bar every 5 miles. I also took some electrolyte capsules. I was also drinking a cup of water at each aid station and dumping one on myself to stay cool.

Use the promo code “MTABQ” to save 15% off your order. Or is you’re new to UCAN, save 25% on your first order with code MTA25”.

Finish Line:

During the marathon my mantra was “keep pushing.” This kept me from getting comfortable at a pace and slacking off (and also helped keep my mindset strong). My legs felt strong although I did have some glute soreness which I took as a good sign that they were doing their job (and not giving me hamstring pain).

At mile 24 I was surprised to see Mike, who I’d met earlier, show up to pace and encourage me. It was great to have his company and that helped me push up a final hill and finish mile 26 with a 7:58 pace. I had a strong finishing kick the final 0.2 miles to cross the finish line in 3:39:25. This was my 58th marathon and 45th state and 4th fastest marathon (haven’t run faster for 5 years). My split for the first half was 1:48:40 and 2nd half split was 1:51:06. Overall, I was 88/364 and the 21/168 female. In addition to squeaking out a BQ (my qualifying time is 3:40).

The finish line was located back in historic Charlevoix. There were a good number of spectators cheering runners to a strong finish.

Winners: The men’s winner for the marathon was Leo Foley with a time of 2:42:46. The female marathon champion was Rachel Whipple with a time of 3:07:30. For the HM the male champion was Will Schrantz with a time of 1:13:44 and the female HM winner was Shelby Kelsh with a time of 1:23:27. The marathon had a total of 364 finishers, the HM had 719, the 10k had 279 and the 5k had 359 finishers. The finisher’s medal was large and had a beautiful design.

The post race area was past the bridge in the downtown area where they’d hosted packet pickup. For food and drink options they had water, chocolate milk, licorice, fruit snacks, bananas, apples, chips, popcorn, pizza, and rice krispie bars. Runners reclined on the grass out in the sun to eat their food, wait for family members, and to participate in the post-race award ceremony.

MTA Meet Up:

I drove back to our camper and was able to get a shower before we headed back to Charlevoix for the MTA meet up at The Villager Pub. It was awesome to get to meet Dan Beard from MI who ran the marathon, Heidi from MD (who was coming off an injury that prevented her from doing the marathon and walked the 10k and her sister Wendy who walked her first 10k, and sisters Karen and Beth from MI who did the half marathon as part of their training for an upcoming marathon.

MTA Meet Up

After the race I met up with another MTA listener from the Traverse City area named Amy. She’d run and did great in the 5k and it was fun to talk with her. Since my phone died she graciously became my personal photographer. I went and checked my time and was shocked to see that I finished first in my AG (40-44). However I wasn’t able to stick around for the award ceremony because I needed to get back to Trevor and the boys. I also met up with listener Tina and her husband Mike (who was a great at cheering out on the course). Tina also finished 1st in her AG and BQ’d.

I mentioned that I started the marathon around the 3:45 pace group but quickly passed the group because there was too much talking and it was hard for me to focus. I guess I just wasn’t in the head space for being around a group the whole marathon (maybe because I’d basically had no privacy or alone time in the previous 5 days as we traveled with the camper). I put on an audiobook (which I find helps keep my mind engaged without the adrenaline spikes that music can provide) and listened to that until my phone died around mile 15.

My strategy going into the race was to run as strong as possible and leave it all there. That was one reason why I kept a fairly aggressive pace in the beginning.

I had just come off reading the book Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins and that really helped me be in a good place mentally. For those who aren’t familiar with him, he came from a very rough background of poverty and abuse and went on to become a Navy Seal and general bad ass.

He’s a very extreme personality who is driven to find the limits physically and mentally (he also went through Army Ranger training, set the pull up record for 4,230 pull ups in 24 hours, has run the Badwater 135 numerous times, etc.) While I don’t endorse his way of training because he absolutely trashes his body, he shares a lot of great mindset strategies and tips. In fact he starts out the book with a solo mission that goes like this:

“Situation: You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft that you will die without ever realizing your true potential. Mission: To unshackle your mind. Ditch the victim’s mentality forever. Own all aspects of your life completely. Build an unbreakable foundation. Execution: Read this cover to cover. Study the techniques within, accept all ten challenges. Repeat. Repetition will callous your mind. If you do your job to the best of your ability, this will hurt. This mission is not about making yourself feel better. This mission is about being better and having a greater impact on the world. Don’t stop when you are tired. Stop when you are done.” -David Goggins

There’s a lot of language in the book but it’s also fascinating and a great way to dial in a stronger mental game.

My Training

“Please share your goals, pacing strategy, and any adjustments you made during the race.” -Peter

My goal going into this marathon was to have a strong race and finish as sub-4 as possible. I had a lot of confidence coming off the London Marathon 7 weeks ago that I could at least do that time (3:59) or better. After London I took 2-3 weeks for easy running and didn’t do any runs over 90 minutes during that time. Then I had time to do a 17 mile (2:30) long run and 20 mile (3:05) long run before doing a 3 week taper before this marathon. Both long runs were run in fairly warm conditions on a hilly course and I averaged around a 9:35 pace. So this didn’t give me a lot of information on how my body would do on a flatter marathon course. I’d lost about 6 more pounds since the London Marathon so I knew this would also be a factor in my favor.

Are you still using the Hanson’s Marathon Training Method? -Debbie

When we did the episode about how we were training for the London Marathon I mentioned that I was loosely basing my training off the Hanson’s Training Method. So, I need to clarify that I never strictly followed this method. But I did take some features and incorporate them into my training. That would include running more days per week, going into my long run with my legs somewhat fatigued, and capping my longest run at 3 hours.

Since the London Marathon I’ve been doing most of my shorter training runs on the treadmill because my allergies have been so bad. I also find that it’s easier to keep my pace slower for easy runs on the TM because there isn’t the variation in terrain. I’ve been keeping up my schedule of core and lower body strength training, getting regular massage, and getting lots of sleep.

My Pacing Strategy

I can’t say that I had much of a pacing strategy going in to the Charlevoix Marathon. I wanted to keep my effort level fairly steady in the first 20 miles so that it was challenging but not exhausting. From experience I know that I can usually muster a few strong finishing miles so I had the mental confidence going in that I can be strong after mile 20.

One of my go-to mantras is “I’m stronger after mile 20.” I’ve also heard some coaches say that the first half of a marathon is through mile 20 and the second half is the final 10k. I started just behind the 3:45 pacing group thinking that it would be a nice stretch goal. However, like I mentioned, I decided early on to pass that group because it felt too wearing to listen to the constant chatter. I figured at some point that I might end up seeing them again.

I tried to take advantage of certain features of the course like opening up my pace a bit on downhill sections. A couple times I glanced down to see my pace, saw it was pretty fast for the early miles, did a body scan (breathing, muscles, etc), and hoped I wouldn’t regret that pace later. I think every marathoner worries occasionally about a fast first half coming back to bite them. I’ve certainly blown up plenty of times later in a marathon. But I knew that my energy felt solid and the cool morning was working to my advantage so I wanted to capitalize on that as much as possible too.

Mentally I tried to maintain a balance of being focused but not obsessing over the little things. It’s a temptation during a marathon to fall back to the pace of least resistance and I was determined to fight that. My mantra every time I felt any negativity or doubt creep in was “you’re okay, stay hard.” I also kept telling myself, “keep pushing.”

I was able to reel in a couple runners who had gotten ahead of me during the race and that felt good. It’s okay to let a bit of competition creep in as long as you’re careful to keep the big picture in mind. Most of us aren’t racing for 1st place so it’s important to not let your ego get the better of you by racing people mid-race.

Around mile 20 I was trying to do some calculations in my head and figured that if I could keep sub-9:00 miles to the finish I would finish around 3:40. But math is hard during a marathon so I didn’t obsess over my pace and just kept pushing. With 3 miles left I realized that I had a good chance of finishing sub 3:40 which would be a BQ if I kept up my pace. But I never allow myself to get overconfident until I’ve actually crossed the finish line.

At mile 24 MTA listener Mike showed up to run the last couple miles with me. He figured out what my pace was and stayed just ahead of me with his orange shirt. One thought I had was “I can’t let him see me whimp out in the last couple of miles.” Despite pushing hard up a final hill around this point I still had enough in me to have a good finishing kick for the last 0.2 miles. It was almost unbelievable to look down and see sub 3:40 on my watch. I got the biggest post-marathon high feeling so happy and grateful for such a strong marathon. When I got over to the timing table and saw my official time of 3:39:25 along with the news that I was first in my age group it was icing on the cake.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

CEP Compression -Check out the latest tall compression sock from CEP, the 3.0 with an updated look, upgraded fit and feel thanks to a blend of 16 yarns, with the same best in class graduated compression, now just a little easier to put on. Use the code “Marathon” for 15% off from now till August 31st.

Generation Ucan -the revolutionary new way for runners to fuel. UCAN keeps your blood sugar stable and allows your body to burn fat. Use the promo code “MTABQ” to save 15% off your order. Or is you’re new to UCAN, save 25% on your first order with code MTA25”.

MetPro -Using Metabolic Profiling, MetPro analyzes your metabolism and provides you with an individualized strategy to obtain your weight or body composition goals.

DripDrop O.R.S. 0an electrolyte powder developed by a doctor to treat dehydration. Go to dripdrop.com/mta to get 20% off any purchase.

VARIDESK -the world’s leading standing desk solution, converting any desk into a standing desk so you can maintain a healthy active lifestyle in the office or at home.

Love Beets – Love Beets offers fun flavors and simple beet products for beet lovers and beet newbies alike! Use code MTA at checkout for 20% off online orders

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Marathon Success Story with Dr. Jon Lepley

In this episode we bring you a marathon success story with Academy member Jon Lepley who after a life-long struggle with addiction decided to run a marathon at the age of 40 and well . . . you will just have to hear what happened next!

And in the quick tip segment, Angie will explain how to intelligently gauge your response to training so you know if what you’re doing is working.

Jon Lepley is a long time listener to the podcast and Academy member from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is the Medical Director at Eagleville Hospital -a large inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility with a long legacy of treating underserved and stigmatized people. Before this he was the doctor at the Philadelphia Jail where he started an addiction treatment program that has now been studied by other correctional systems around the country. Last year alone he was able to treat 1200 people entering the Philadelphia jail addicted to heroin.

This interview was inspired by an email that Jon sent us back in April. His story is a powerful illustration of how running can help turn one’s life around.

Here is the email.

Hi Trevor and Angie,

I’ve been meaning to reach out for a few months now. I didn’t really make time to contribute to your episode 262 last year, and I just wanted to make sure you were aware of the role your podcast played in my life these past few years.

I spent many years of my life addicted to various drugs and alcohol. There’s no real cause for that, it’s just how I’m put together. I had been able to achieve a lot of things despite these addictions…finishing college, getting in to medical school, becoming a doctor, getting married…or perhaps partly because of it. Most of these endeavors were largely undertaken in attempt to “fix” myself. However, by age 30, my use of drugs and alcohol was simply not sustainable. I found myself in a ton of debt and out of work and in a psychiatric hospital…just lucky to be alive.

I did receive addiction treatment at age 30, and a second chance at a career. I figured out how to go through life without using drugs and alcohol for the sake of retaining a medical license, but I definitely did not figure out how to be content in life. In the years that followed, I found myself on a downward spiral of different sorts. By age 37 I had totally lost my way and reached even lower depths without the aid of addictive substances. From a career standpoint, I decided to quit my job and work nearly 90 miles from my home as a doctor in the Philadelphia Jail system. Truth be told, I just wanted to hide from the world. A relatively massive big city jail system seemed like a good place to do that.

It was in that bleak setting that I found your podcast. I just turned 40 years old and was working as a jail doctor 90 miles from my family. In some ways, I did thrive in that jail environment. I learned how to be a good doctor and how to genuinely care for people while setting healthy boundaries. But a familiar boredom was setting in and I aspired to nothing in particular. The idea of running a marathon at age 40 popped in to my head, and gave me a spark. I clung to that as something to give me purpose.

From July until November of 2015, I probably listened to every one of your back podcasts as I joined MTA and committed to running a marathon. To this day, whenever I hear the opening of your podcast, it still reminds me of that time almost 4 years ago. So many mornings of getting up before dawn, and strapping lights on to my knuckles, and (no matter how tired I felt) running whatever number of miles were on the training plan that day.

I can see now that I was on a path back then. I didn’t believe in God back then, but he definitely put me on that starting line of the marathon that day. To this day, after years of being involved in MTA and running many marathons and half marathons, I still have never run so many miles as I did in the 3 months preparing for that first marathon. These days, I seemingly am always injuring something anytime I exceed 20 miles per week. But not back then. Not before that first marathon. I ran hundreds of miles…hundreds of thousands of individual steps…without so much as a twisted ankle or pulled muscle in 2015.

After all of those miles, the importance of that marathon seemed to dwarf everything else that was going on in my life. I was filled with fear and that fear functioned as a form of anesthesia on race day. I felt good for the first 10 miles and so I ran way too fast. By mile 13, fear was only taking me so far and I realized that I felt way more tired than I should feel for only being half way done. At mile 18, everything fell apart. I felt tired and defeated and certain that I could not finish. I still remember how badly I felt in that moment, knowing that I worked so hard and that I was about to fail anyway despite all of it. Not knowing how else to cope, I simply started to find reasons to be grateful.

Everything about that day changed for me once I decided to just be grateful. I suddenly saw things as they really were. I could see how unimportant being able to run 26.2 miles on that particular day really was in the grand scheme of things. Truly important things in life came in to focus. I was able to see how far I had come as an athlete and a human being. I could see how much I loved my job at the jail, and that I was a father to an amazing daughter, and that people whom cared about me would be waiting for me at the Finish Line. I found myself able to keep pushing forward, always finding some reason to be grateful as a way to cope with my fatigue and pain. I was different person from the one who started when I crossed the Finish Line that day.

It wasn’t sheer guts and determination that got me through those last 8 miles. For me, it was gratitude. Gratitude is definitely a theme in all of your podcasts and that’s surely no coincidence that it’s what got me to the finish line that day.

The success in my career and my marriage that followed after that first marathon are also no coincidence. I learned so many things from that process that I couldn’t possibly fit it all in one email. I have since started one of the largest medication assisted treatment programs in the country at the Philadelphia jail. I was able to treat over 1200 people entering the Philadelphia jail addicted to heroin last year alone. In January of this year, I left that job on good terms in order to take a job as Medical Director at Eagleville Hospital, which is a large inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility with a long legacy of treating underserved and stigmatized people. Eagleville Hospital is much closer to my home and allows me to see my family every day (whether they like it or not).

So thank you for coming in to my life with your podcast and with Marathon Training Academy. You truly helped me to change my life.

Jon Lepley, DO

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Soar Running -They’re giving away a SOAR Summer Training Bundle to 2 lucky winners: each bundle includes a pair of shorts or bottoms, a T-shirt or vest and a Lightweight Cap. Simply head over to www.soarrunning.com/mta to enter and for your chance to win.

VARIDESK -the world’s leading standing desk solution, converting any desk into a standing desk so you can maintain a healthy active lifestyle in the office or at home.

Love Beets -offers ready-to-eat beet products, perfect for beet lovers and beet newbies alike! Find their products at most major retailers nationwide, like Kroger, Whole Foods, Costco, and more. Check out lovebeets.com and use code MTA at checkout for 20% off online orders.

The Runner’s Toolbox for injury prevention. Eight inexpensive items to keep at home.

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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Weight Loss Tips for Marathoners

In this podcast episode we bring you a special conversation with our nutrition coach, Natalie Mason, about how marathoners can lose weight and still maintain energy to do what they love.

And in the quick tip segment I’ll share how you can incorporate lower body strength training into your routine and never skip leg day!

Our Guest on This Episode

Natalie Mason is a Managing Dietitian at MetPro -a company that provides concierge nutrition and fitness coaching. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Food Science and Masters of Science in Nutrition Sciences. She’s a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

In this conversation will you hear why marathon training doesn’t automatically lead to weight loss, the most common mistakes runners make with their diet, how the principle of “contrast” through “up adjusting” and “down adjusting” leads to metabolic proficiency, and the shocking number of runners who do zero strength training.

How This Interview Came About

In late 2015 I started inexplicably gaining weight despite keeping up my marathon training schedule (I ran 10 marathons and ultras that year) and eating as healthy as I knew how. The weight continued to pile on.

I finally realized that I was dealing with a hormonal imbalance -probably due to a combination of stress and other factors. I began working with a functional medicine doctor who put me on thyroid medicine for 1 year until my hormones balanced. Thankfully, I was able to go off all medications but I the extra weight (about 35 pounds) did not budge.

I encourage people to appreciate their bodies no matter what they weigh, but as a runner the extra weight impacts your joints and can effect your marathon times. For me it was like carrying around an extra 35 pound weight on all of my runs.

I started working with Natalie from MetPro in November of 2018 and have lost 26 pounds at we recorded this podcast episode. I was initially skeptical at first but MetPro has been and amazing system for for helping me reduce fat and keep my energy levels high for doing what I love . . . which is running marathons! And Natalie is a wonderful coach as you will hear in our interview.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

MetPro -Using Metabolic Profiling, MetPro analyzes your metabolism and provides you with an individualized strategy to obtain your weight or body composition goals.

NuNee -designed specifically to relieve that dreaded Runner’s Knee pain. Use code MTA10 for a 10% discount.

High Performance Lifting -Strength Training Program for Runners –

Love Beets -ready-to-eat beet products, perfect for beet lovers and beet newbies alike! Use code MTA at checkout for 20% off online orders.

Varidesk -converts any desk into a standing desk and is designed with durable, best-in-class materials that fit in any environment or workspace.

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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