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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The Running Form Episode!

elite runners

In this episode we talk running form with Jonathan Beverly author of the new book Your Best Stride -How to Optimize Your Natural Running Form to Run Easier, Farther, and Faster–With Fewer Injuries.

Jonathan BeverlyJonathan Beverly is the former editor in chief of Running Times and shoe editor for Runner’s World. He lives in western Nebraska, near the Colorado border, with his wife, Tracy, and son, Landis. He helps coach the high school cross country and track teams and can often be found running the dirt roads and grassy hills of the high plains.

Poetry in Motion

Also Mentioned In This Episode

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

Bombas Socks -Bombas are the most comfortable with no annoying toe seam, no falling down your leg, added arch support—they’ve solved every annoying sock problem imaginable. Use our link for 20% off.

Health IQ -a life insurance company that celebrates marathon runners and other health conscious people. Visit healthiq.com/mta to learn more and get a free quote, or check out their life insurance FAQ page to get your questions answered. In addition, take the MTA quiz and see how you score!

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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Interview with Dave Asprey, Changing Your Environment to Upgrade Your Health

Dave Asprey

In this episode we speak with Dave Asprey, author of the book Headstrong -The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster

Dave is a Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur who spent two decades and over $1 million to hack his own biology. He went from 300 pounds to fit and able to perform at a high level.

Dave Asprey is founder of the Bulletproof Company and host of one of the largest podcasts in the Health category. When I asked him if he kept his ties with Silicon Valley he said. “We never wore ties in Silicon Valley”.

Interview Questions

  • Take us back to the beginning, what got you interested in enhancing physical and mental performance?
  • Who coined the term bio-hacking?
  • Let’s talk about inflammation, what causes it and what does it do in to our bodies?
  • You call the mitochondria the “cellular powerhouse of the brain”. Can you take a minute and explain what the mitochondria are?
  • So, since mitochondria respond to our environment, what are some ways we can hack it?
  • What are some of the hidden toxins in one’s environment?

Dave Asprey
photo credit @bulletproofexec

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Headstrong Book by Dave Asprey

Relive App -This is a free IOS and Android app that launched early this year by a group of friends who are cyclists. It was recommended by Debbie, an Academy member, in our private FB group. You can relive and share your outdoor adventures with 3D videos of your runs and rides.

CozyPhones have created a very special headband headphone with super thin speakers held in a lightweight wicking fabric, which allow the speakers to comfortably stay in place while you move.

Shout Out!

Thanks to coach Steve I Got a 3 min PR in my half marathon and have been part of the MTA community for 2 months now. Coaching and MTA is really helping me to improve. -Salil

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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Get to Know Your Podcast Hosts!

Angie and Trevor at Mumford and Sons Concert

In this episode we talk about our favorite races, hidden talents (or lack thereof), stories and reflections on what makes the marathon so special!

And in the quick tip segment we explain how to get to the root cause of a running injury.

At the time of this recording we are in the midst of moving from Missouri to Pennsylvania . . . so we are thankful to our friend Tina Muir for allowing us to replay this interview with us from her podcast Running For Real.

We’ve done guest interviews on a few dozens podcasts but Tina definitely asked us questions we’ve never before.

Hidden Talents?

  • Angie loves to play the piano although she refuses to perform in front of others. I play the guitar though I won’t call it a “talent”. I’m also a pretty good downhill skier.

How does it work to run MTA as husband and wife?

  • Recalling our interview with Gretchen Rubin and her teaching on the 4 tendencies, Angie is an upholder and I’m a rebel. As long as we understand what makes each other tick (and ticks each other off) we do fine. Angie is the running coach and content creator, I’m the technical guy behind MTA.

Most Unusual Marathons?

  • Angie picked the Shadow of the Giants 50k because of its foul mouthed, politically incorrect race director. I picked the Tupelo Marathon because their motto is “Trample the Weak Hurdle the Dead”.

Race headquarters at the Shadow of the Giants 50k. Going back to school reminded Trevor of his love of breaking rules.

Best Post Race Food at a Marathon?

  • Angie picked the Missoula Marathon which she remembers having a nice spread (watermelon) and the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY. I picked the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and make a special note that the Marine Corps Marathon had a Duncan Donut Hole aid station.

Toughest Marathon?

  • Without hesitation Angie chose the Leadville Trail Marathon -which starts at 10,000 feet and takes 30 minutes to go one mile. I chose the Tupelo Marathon (again) because of the beastly Mississippi heat in September.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Guest?

  • We love all the guests who’ve been on the show! Dr. Tim Noakes never fails to explode my brain. The Boston Marathon Race Recap was a popular one. Angie always enjoys speaking with Gretchen Rubin but she doesn’t listen to the finished episode because she doesn’t like to hear herself.

Moment that is Non-Instagramable?

  • On a recent run Angie stopped to use the bathroom at a park and got stung by a wasp nesting in the toilet paper roll! I had to DNS the 2015 Tupelo Marathon because of my achilles pain.

What Makes the Marathon So Special?

  1. The marathon still has the power to WOW people. That’s why it’s a popular bucket list goal
  2. It is a personal challenge that will reveal what’s inside you.
  3. Less than 1% of the population will ever run a marathon
  4. You can’t “wing it” like you could a 5k or even a half marathon
  5. Yet, it is a challenge that is within reach of most people if they desire it
  6. There are various motivations that lead people to the marathon that are equally valid
  7. To your non-running friends you will be viewed as super human if you run 26.2 miles

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Health IQ -a life insurance company that celebrates marathon runners and other health conscious people. Visit healthiq.com/mta to learn more and get a free quote, or check out their life insurance FAQ page to get your questions answered. In addition, take the MTA quiz and see how you score!

Bombas Socks! For the best socks in the history of feet, visit www.bombas.com/marathon TODAY, and you’ll get an additional twenty percent off your first purchase!

Quick Tip: How to Get to the Root Cause of Injury

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 Science of Peak Performance -Interview with Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

climbing a peak

In this episode we speak with the authors of the forthcoming book Peak Performance -Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success.

What do peak performers do differently and how can we condition ourselves to achieve more in running and life?

About the Authors

Brad StulbergBrad Stulberg writes about health and the science of human performance. He is a columnist with Outside Magazine and New York Magazine.

Previously, Brad worked as a consultant for McKinsey and Company, where he counseled some of the world’s top executives on a broad range of issues.

Steve MagnessSteve Magness coaches track and cross country at the University of Houston and is the personal coach to several professional athletes, including Olympians. He consults with start-up technology companies on innovation and growth, holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Science from George Mason University, and serves as an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s University (UK). Steve ran at a world-class level, clocking a 4:01 mile as an 18-year old, one of the fastest results in Texas history.

In This Interview You Will Discover:

  1. How both authors “burned out” in their early careers
  2. The importance of periodization in running and life
  3. What leads to breakthrough thinking
  4. The growth equation: stress + rest = growth
  5. What Roger Bannister did the week before he broke the 4 minute mile barrier
  6. How elite runners view stress versus how non-elites view stress
  7. The halo effect (cognitive fallacy)
  8. Peak performers are not good multi-taskers
  9. Why so many great people meditate
  10. The amount of sleep peak performers get
  11. How to prime your body and brain through routines

Also Mentioned in This Episode:

Peak Performance Book website

Health IQ -a life insurance company that celebrates marathon runners and other health conscious people. Visit healthiq.com/mta to learn more & get a free quote, or check out their life insurance FAQ page to get your questions answered. In addition, take the MTA quiz and see how you score!

Quick Tip: Marathon Training in the Heat and Humidity

Academy Member Shout Out!

Ryan

1st marathon is in the books with a finishing time of 3:51:41! My finish time and how I felt during the race would not have been possible without everything I’ve learned from MTA and this community! Thank you Angie and Trevor for everything you guys do. It’s crazy how many times your voices popped into my head during the race today! When the Fargo Dome came into view I got pretty emotional thinking about how much work I’d put into getting to that point. My wife ran the half and was there at the end which was great to share with her. Thanks MTA, I do have what it takes to run a marathon. I’m looking forward to my next one in September (unless I find one sooner). -Ryan H.

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: The Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio

flying pig art

For years I’ve heard great things about the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, OH, and in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to run this race.

So I signed up because . . . life is short and you regret the things you don’t do more than the things you do, as they say.

The marathon was on May 7th but they have multiple events all weekend. You will find (appropriately) that everything is pig themed.

  • The staff at the information booth are called “info pigs”
  • The volunteers on the course called “grunts”
  • Corrals are called “pig pens”
  • The kids divisions called . . . “Piglet”, you guessed it!
  • The finish line is called the “finish swine”

This year they had participants from all 50 states and 20 countries.

At The Race Expo

The race expo was in downtown Cincinnati but the parking was easy. From the moment you entered you building you are greeted with pig culture. -A pink car with a pig noise, pig sculptures, pig inflatables, volunteers in pink shirts, huge pig balloon archways.

They gave me a technical t-shirt, back pack, and poster. They do a great job a merchandising (the best I’ve seen yet). You could buy Flying Pig gear as well as drinking glasses and stuffed animals. I posted a picture of this on Facebook and Angie (ever the hater of clutter) said, “Please tell me that you’re not bringing home lots of pig related knick knacks!”

Race Start at the Flying Pig Marathon

photo of Trevor

A wise man once said, “A journey of 26.2 miles begins with a 10 minute walk from your car”.

I was wearing racing shorts, short sleeve t-shirt, and compression socks. I also had a long sleeve throw-a-way shirt but it didn’t provide any warmth. Once you get into the corral the body heat makes it noticeably warmer.

Excitement was in the air. A barbershop quartet sang the National Anthem and the race got under way.

I was in a corral (pigpen) towards the back so I think I didn’t cross the start line until 30 minutes after the official race start. The bad part about staring in a later corral is having to weave through people for the first 3 miles or so.

The Course at the Flying Pig Marathon

I’ve divided the course into five main sections: (The Kentucky Loop, The Killer Climb, The Neighborhoods, The Highway Miles, and The Home Stretch)

1. The Kentucky Loop (Mile 1-5)


We started by the Cincinnati Bengals Stadium down by the River then ran past the Cincinnati Reds Stadium -which is the most exposure to professional sports I’ve had in a while. Beautiful riverfront.

Soon you cross a bridge into Newport Kentucky and it was here that I remember shading my long sleeves. It was still very congested and I couldn’t help notice how over-dressed some people seemed to be.

We ran through the City of Newport for a bit then crossed another long bridge back into Ohio. At this point I had weaved past many people and was starting to feel like I was hitting my stride. A train was crossing the river at the same time and was close enough I could have reached over and touched it.

I made a game out of racing the train (it was going about 11 minutes per mile). It’s fun to gamify your run, especially in the later miles. At mile 3-4 when your feeling like superman/superwoman be sure to pay attention to your pace.

I brought some new songs for my running playlist (songs that Angie won’t let me play in the car when she’s riding with me). The German band Rammstein has a song Ich Tut Dir Weh which translates to “I hurt you”. It’s a great song to run to although you might not care or the lyrics -which have something to do with sticking sharp medals in your face. I look at the chorus which says I hurt you, I’m not sorry, It’s good for you”, as a good metaphor for the marathon.

We finished out this section by running through some industrial looking areas of town like a boss hog.

2. The Killer Climb (Mile 6-8)

view from <strong data-recalc-dims=Eden Park” width=”1024″ height=”768″ class=”alignleft size-large wp-image-10258″ />

I was warned about the hills and sure enough we hit a long gradual climb from mile 6-8 as we headed up to Eden Park. I managed to run most of this section without taking walk breaks (except for one stop to use the bathroom). Thankfully there was lot’s of music and crowd support to propel you up the hill.

When I got to the top I was rewarded with an amazing view of the River and could see over into KY. Some dude was yelling “Who just killed that hill? YOU DID!”

At this point you would think that now there would be some downhills but their wasn’t.

From the website:

“In about half a mile and after a few turns you will notice St. Ursula Academy and Convent on the right side of the road . . . Now that you find yourself at a convent, have you committed the sin of excess lactic acid production? If so, you will pay. But, if you have run smart in this section, your reward awaits 12 miles ahead when you run strong on the very gentle roll of Eastern Avenue.”

Sin of excess lactic acid production. #YouMadeAFunny!

3. The Neighborhoods (Mile 8-18)

For the next ten miles we ran through various residential and commercial sections of town which are all a blur now. The half marathoners split off around mile 9. I remember seeing the 13 mile mark come and go and I didn’t feel discouraged! My time at this point was 2:21:59 (10:51 pace)

One thing I can say for the Flying Pig Marathon is they do a great job keeping it fun. And it looks like the community really gets behind it. I was struggling the remember some of the funny signs people were holding so luckily I got some actual quotes sent over from MTA Fan Cari Masek,

“Make America Chafe Again”

“Go PIG or go home”

“I like PIG butts and I cannot lie”

“Marathons are a pre-existing condition”

“You get to keep your medal forever, all I get is this poster”

“Pain is temporary, online race results are forever”

“This little piggy cried all the way home!”

The Aid Stations

bacon stop

  • Just about every mile you came to an aid station with either water or Gatorade
  • There were also people handing out Orange slices at times.
  • A few times I saw crackers, salt, candy and Fig Newtons (pig newtons).
  • They had a greased pig stop for getting Vaseline.
  • Hog wash station with a dude who would spray you with water

However, the moment that filled me with the will to strive on was when I came to the famous bacon stop (mile 15). They handed me a small dixie cup with three strips of bacon. I hesitated for less than a second. I’ve never eaten bacon half way in a marathon so didn’t know how it would go down. It goes down mighty fine! And you can take it twice because it’s an out and back section.

4. The Highway Miles (18-19)

This section was kind of a drag because you are running along a highway (with half marked off with cones) as cars are going by. There is not much to look at and no shade. But apparently it is the only reasonable way to get back downtown.

This was the most boring part of the course but there were motivational signs (Shoat Quotes) to keep your mind occupied.

“What I’m looking for is not out there, it is in me.” -Hellen Keller

“Don’t fear moving slowly forward . . . fear standing still. -Kathleen Harris.

5. The Home Stretch (20-26)

How I feel after finishing the Flying Pig Marathon

I felt pretty tired by the time I reached mile 20 (as one does) and I started taking more frequent walk breaks, especially on all the uphill sections. I knew I still have an hour to go, which can seem like a long time. A mantra that popped into my head was “hang on for the ride.”

I ran through a cheering section where all of a sudden people were handing out mini basket balls. I took two then a coupe yards away you run past some portable basket ball hoops they had set up. It’s hard to shoot on the run and most people were missing. I kid you not, I made the sweetest one-handed drive by bank-shot and then followed it up with a left-handed nothing-but-net to the delight of the crowd. It was my only 2 seconds of glory in the marathon!

At mile 23 my Apple Watch died though I left the hotel with a full charge. My pace was very slow and walk breaks frequent. “I just wanted to finish feeling good and happy” I thought. “No pretenses. Enjoy the journey”. It’s natural to obsess over your finish time.

At mile 24 I was translating everything I could into German to keep my mind occupied. “Hallo aus dem Fliegende Schweine Marathon. Ich laufe sehr langsam und mein Deutsch is sehr schlecht”.

At mile 25 this dude with a sincere face said “your almost to 12” I was like TWELVE!!1??? The lady next to him tried to help the guy recover by saying “He’s seeing if you’re with it, so good job!”

At mile 26 I saw the white fence keeping the crowds off the road. One final hill before the end. Of course. I told myself “ok, no stopping now!”. Saw a sign that said, “the first person that ran a marathon died.” Which is true.

With just a little bit further to go my body was begging me to stop but I thought “Too much pride to walk now.”

The “Finish Swine”

There’s nothing like crossing the finish line of a marathon and knowing that you just did something epic! Amazingly, I still felt strong and wasn’t looking for a place to sit down. I also had my appetite. They had pretzels, chips, cups of fruit, bananas, and HOT CHEESE PIZZA.

They handed me a beautiful Flying Pig Marathon medal, a heat sheet, and I headed toward the post race party. In thinking about this marathon I’m glad I ran in under 5 hours (I finished in 4:56:51) and I’m glad I felt strong at the end. This was marathon number 13 for me.

Hogging Out At The MTA Meet-Up


I drove back to the Drury hotel and got a nice shower and some rest but the day was not done! I met some wonderful MTA fans for diner and drinks at the Hofbrauhaus brewery. It was fun to hear how each person got into long distance running.

I definitely recommend the Flying Pig Marathon and want to give a big thank you to all the race organizers and volunteers who do an amazing job! Next year is the 20th anniversary and they predict that the race will sell out.

Also Mentioned In This Episode

Generation Ucan – our preferred source. You will go hog wild for the Ucan Snack Bar! Use the code UCANFLY to save 15%.

The Drury Hotel Company. They have 140 hotels in 21 states (we have stayed at dozens of their locations). Exceptional service, great treadmills, free wifi, huge breakfast and free evening food and drinks! Use our link and get 15% off your stay and a free gift from us.

The Resilient Runner Program for Preventing and Self-Treating Running Injury

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The Injury Episode! With Special Guest Dr. Ben Shatto

In this episode we talk injury prevention with our friend and physical therapy doctor Ben Shatto. Plus we answer injury related questions from real everyday runners like you. -Glutes, claves, hamstrings, IT Band, foot and knee pain . . . we cover it all!

We wanted to make this episode as practical as possible so we start with discussing the prevalence of running injures (as high as 70-80% runners effected according to some sources) then Angie shares some of the biggest mistakes she sees runners make that lead to injuries.

Next, we dive into some excellent questions sent in by email subscribes that deal with specific injuries.

Dr. Ben Shatto, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS is a physical therapist who specializes in managing orthopedic conditions and strength and conditioning. Ben has been running since 2005. He is co-creator of the Resilient Runner Program for Prevention and Self-Treatment of Injury.

Top Mistakes We See Runners Make

  1. Only running and neglecting to cross train
  2. Racing too much
  3. Not taking time for recovery
  4. Ignoring smaller issues that may turn into bigger injuries
  5. Not doing the needed body maintenance (stretching, sleep, foam rolling, massage, chiropractor)

Questions Used in This Episode . . .

Injury Prone Runner

Hi Trevor!! A huge thank you to you and Angie for an excellent podcast. I have two (semi-related) questions. I consider myself an 42 year old injury-prone runner (I’ve have had hip, ITB, plantar issues), although currently I’m healthy. Yes, I’m knocking on wood.

I’m signed up for a challenge race, the Disney Dopey Challenge in January, which
I’ve done before. However, I seem to get injured when my long runs get high. I’ve
had marathon plans that go beyond 26 miles “to prove that I can do it,” but I’m
thinking that’s not the best plan for me. I’ve done 4 marathons, so I know I can do
it, so I’m thinking I should do a plan that has a much lower maximum run.

So my first question is, if you are injury-prone runner, what is the maximum
suggested long run distance to prepare for a marathon? THANKS! -Katie

Returning to Running After an Injury or Surgery

I’d love to know Ben’s advice on how to return to running after an injury. I’m 4
weeks into a severe ankle sprain. When I’m cleared to run again I want to jump
right back where I was pre-injury but don’t want to risk re-injury either. How do I
safely return to running after six weeks? (I have continued to do the stationary
bike and core work while injured) -Tina K

Feet Hurt All The Time

Hey, Trevor and Angie! I love your podcast, and have been an avid listener for
several months now. I’m emailing you today in the hopes of gaining insight on a
recurring foot issue. I’ve never had plantar fasciitis or a stress fracture, but my
feet hurt ALL THE TIME. Sometimes it’s just a niggling pain after a day on my feet, and occasionally (although rarely) it hurts to walk for a day or two . . . I can’t seem to overcome the issue. I run an average of 14 miles a week, teach a Zumba class twice a week, and throw in strength training, yoga, and cycling for cross training. Any light you could shed on the matter would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance! Blessings, -Mariah

injury

Pirifromis

I am a Masters runner (53 years of age) and have been running since grade school. I currently run 45-65 miles a week depending on where I am in my training cycle for a marathon. In the past I have had ankle soreness and a heel problem that quickly responded to ART (Active Release Therapy). Over the past couple of months, I have been having issues and have been getting ART treatment for piriformis syndrome . . . it is not responding to ART as quickly as other issues. Because of this I decided to back way off on my miles (once or twice a week and only about 15 miles total) to see if that will help it heal. My question for Dr. Ben: Do you know if there are their other treatments that work better than ART for piriformis syndrome (e.g. dry needling, ultra sound, etc.)? Thanks! -Greg J.

Running After Pregnancy

Hi Trevor and Angie, I have been listening to your podcast for about a year, when I began training for my first marathon. I ran it 14 months postpartum while still nursing my son. I never in a million years thought I could pull it off, but somehow I did and you two were in my ear for every long run. I am expecting again and would like advice for how to take care of my body while running through pregnancy. Specifically, how to care for my back as my belly starts to bulge. And how to know when enough is enough. It can be difficult to distinguish the general uncomfortableness (is that even a word?) of
growing a human from an actual developing injury.

Any and all advice from Dr. Shatto would be wonderful. Thanks so much! -Allie

Shin Splints

Hi Trevor and Angie, I’m signed up to run my first marathon at the end of May in Traverse City, Michigan. A couple weeks ago my shins started bothering me. Last year I got shin splints in the spring. I tried to treat them the same way as I’d done in the winter (lots of icing, maybe a day or two off, stretching, massages, etc.), but this time they just didn’t go away. Do you have any more suggestions for shin splints? I just bought a pair of compression socks, I ice once a day, and I massage my calves with a lacrosse ball. If I continue to back off on the running, but maintain a high level of cross training, do you think I will still be able to run the marathon on May 27? Thanks, -Kate

Tight Calves

I often have tightness in my calves. This can range from being slightly
uncomfortable on one day to cramping calves the next. I would say that in about 70% of my runs, I feel the tightness in my calves and have just learnt to run through it. (Which is never really a good thing!!). Any ideas? Thanks for a great podcast. -Wayne

IT Band

My question has to do with IT Band tightness/irritation. When my IT band
(left side) is particularly aggravated, it manifests in extreme pain just
under my left ankle-why is that and how can I prevent it? The pain gets so
bad that it feels like I’ve broken something! Thanks, -Britt

Knee Pain

Hi Angie and Trevor. My name is Clayton Bryant. I’m a New Zealander that lives in China. I’ve been listening to your podcasts for about the last couple of years and it has helped me tremendously. Here’s my question. What do you do if you have a running injury and you do not have access to professional help that understands your sport? It is widely said that You should find a doctor or a physiotherapist that is also a runner so that way he or she will understand your injury and assist you in the right way to get you back out training. In my city I have been told that with my knee injury, I should stop running completely and that running is bad for your knees. I know this is untrue. Is it better to take someone’s advice who doesn’t understand your sport and your needs or should you try and find the answer on a website, running blog or YouTube? Are there other options for us runners that aren’t in the most convenient place in the world.

Thanks for all you guys have done for me over the years. Your podcasts have been a life saver. Sincerely Clayton B. A kiwi runner in China.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

We are totally stoked about our new resource that is now available at a special introductory price. This has been a project 1 year in the making and we believe it is the most in-depth resource for preventing and self-training running injuries anywhere on the internet. Click the logo to see what’s inside:

Resilient Runner logo

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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