Motivation to Do the Hard Thing!

In this episode we motivate you to do the hard thing in endurance and life! We speak with Rob Jones, a double amputee who just ran 31 marathons in 31 days. Plus, Trevor recaps his Spartan Beast race in South Carolina and Angie gives a survey of the toughest races in the world -which will change your definition of hard.

Rob Jones was wounded by a land mine as a combat engineer with the Marine Corps in Afghanistan in 2010. His injuries required double above the knee amputations and extensive recap. He was fitted with prosthetics at the Walter Reed Medical Center where he relearned how to stand, walk, run, ride a bicycle and row.

photo credit: Rob Jones Journey

Rob trained for the 2010 Paralympics where he got a bronze medal in rowing. In 2013 he did a solo self supported transcontinental bike ride where he rode 5200 miles across the US in 181 days. His most recent challenge was running 31 marathons in 31 cities in 31 days to raise awareness and funds for wounded veteran charities (we talked to him on day 28).

Rob successfully finished his 31st marathon on Veterans Day 2017 -running 812 miles total and raising over $150k for charities.

You can find out more by visiting: www.robjonesjourney.com

Rethinking What We Call Hard


Life can be full of pain and if you doubt that then a few minutes of listening to the news should be sufficient to change your mind. Although life is also good it can be hard and there is value in doing the hard thing. One benefit of challenging yourself is that through chosen discomfort you can build better resilience to face the pain that we don’t choose and can’t control. Building mental, physical and emotional resilience can make you a stronger and more compassionate person.

One great things about training for marathons is that it can help us redefine what is truly hard in life. In the grand scheme of things most of the irritations we experience on a day to day basis are first world problems.

The dictionary defines this as “a relatively trivial or minor problem or frustration (implying a contrast with serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world).” Many first world problems include not finding a close parking spot, having to take the stairs, not having WiFi 24/7, not having a Starbucks nearby, having little leg room on a flight, dealing with a grumpy waiter or service professional, etc. These things are not truly hard.

Marathon training gives us a broader framework to experience the world. And if you’re at the point in your fitness where you don’t find the marathon hard anymore there are always lots of other hard endurance races to choose from.

Here are some of the hardest endurance races in the world:

  • Marathon de Sables– Sahara Desert, Moroco: 150-156 mile stage race split over 6 days through the blistering desert.
  • Hardrock 100– Silverton, CO: 48 hour time limit through the San Juan Mountains, 33,000 feet of ascent with the highest point at 14,000 feet and 33,000 of descent through tough terrain.
  • The Everest Marathon– Mt Everest Base Camp: participants are required to spend 3 weeks in Nepal prior to get acclimated to the elevation which starts at 18,000 feet and finishes down the mountain at 11,300 feet in very cold conditions.
  • The Barkley Marathons– TN: very hard to get entry, 100+ mile course: 120,000 feet of climbing, having to navigate and finish in less than 60 hours. Only 15 people have finished in the race’s 30 year history.
  • Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc– France: 106 mile course loops through France, Italy and Switzerland through tough and gorgeous mountains.
  • The Patagonian Expedition Race– Chile: this team event has a different course of 375-500 miles every year and requires navigation and survival skills as well as rock climbing and sea kayaking within a 10 day period. The race course is not announced until 24 hours before.
  • Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile– NY City: longest certified road race where runners start at 6am and run through midnight for 52 days in a row.
  • Badwater 135– Death Valley, CA: starts at the lowest part of Death Valley in July and finishes at the end of the road on Mt Whitney. Over 14,600 ascent, 6,000 feet of descent and extremely hot conditions.
  • Pike’s Peak Ascent and Marathon– Manitou Springs, CO: Starts at 6,300 feet and winds along a narrow trail to 14,115 feet on top of Pike’s Peak and then turn around and make the descent.
  • The Munga– Belfast, South Africa: Along the Munga Trail where you have 120 hours to navigate around 400k (250 miles).
  • Iditarod Trail Invitational– Alaska: You can run, fat bike or ski the 1,000 mile course. Only about 58 individuals have finished since the event was started in 2000.
  • The Jungle Marathon– Amazon Jungle, Brazil: It’s called the world’s “wildest eco race” that transverses jungles and swamps through 100 degree heat and humidity. They offer a marathon, a 4 stage 80 mile ultra and a 6 stage 158 mile ultra.
  • Spartathalon– Athens, Greece: 150 miles+ along the route that Pheidippides ran from Athens to Sparta. Dean Karnazes talked a lot about this in his book “Road to Sparta.”
  • Other honorable mentions include Western States 100 in CA, Eastern States 100 in PA, Leadville Trail 100 in CO, HURT100 in Hawaii, Bob Graham Round in UK (hits 42 peaks in the Lake District), The Dragon’s Back Race in Wales (5 day, 188 miles, total climbs double the height of Everest 56,000 feet), Grand to Grand Ultra (Grand Canyon in AZ to summit of Grand Staircase in UT- self-supported 170 miles in 7 days), 6693 Ultra (choose 120 or 350 miles across the Arctic Circle, described as coldest, toughest and windiest), Ultra Trail Mt Fuji in Japan (105 miles in 46 hours), Plain 100 in WA (100-112 miles in 36 hours, totally self supported).

Also Mentioned in This Epsisode . . .

The Spartan Beast in South Carolina

Spartan Race

Does this look fun?

Trevor completed his Spartan Trifecta -running 3 distances in 1 calendar year. Read his race recap here.

Health IQ -Marathon Training Academy is sponsored by Health IQ an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special rates on life insurance. Go to healthiq.com/mta to support the show and learn more.

BEDGEAR® Performance Bedding uses heat-deflecting, moisture-wicking, and air flow technologies to get you sleeping deep so you wake ready to perform at your peak. Use code MARATHON20 to get 20% off through December 31.

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

Molekule – Creates a clean air purification experience, from the materials used on the device – like it’s sleek solid aluminum shell, to a streamlined filter subscription – with replacement filters arriving at your doorstep right when you need them. For $75 off your first order enter the promo code MTA at checkout.

Shout Out!

Hi Angie and Trevor, I am a relatively new listener and live in San Francisco. 5 years ago I was hit by a truck as I was crossing the street. My journey to return to health has been long but in some ways that accident was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It helped me to understand in a profound way how important our health is in order to live an enjoyable life. Somewhere along that journey I got it into my head that I want to try a half-marathon. I searched for a podcast on running tips and motivation, found yours, and it became my favorite right away. I wanted to suggest the book *Running With the Mind of Meditation* as a recommended read. The idea to recommend it came to mind during a couple of your shows, particularly in the Munich marathon recap where Trevor mentioned the emotional feelings he experienced during that race. Thank you both again for all of the good work you are both doing. Warmly, -Michelle

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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Marathon Success Story + What it Takes to Qualify for Boston

In this episode we bring you a marathon success story with Academy member Karima Modjadidi who kept a recurring knee injury at bay and earned a PR and BQ at her recent Marathon.

Plus, Angie talks about the Boston Marathon qualifying standards and what it takes to run a BQ.

Karima ran the Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon (we refer to it as the Via) in Allentown, Pennsylvania this Fall.

The race is known for being a last chance Boston Qualifier however last year (2016) it was interrupted by a train crossing for 8 minutes which led to people missing their BQ.

Karima’s goal was to run a Boston Qualifying time at this year’s Via Marathon, but a nagging pain in the knee messed up her last 4 weeks of training.

In this conversation you will hear how she and her coach worked through it and what he told her before the race. She’s been training with MTA Coach Steve Waldon. Spoiler alert: She did qualify for Boston and set a PR! She’s amazing!

Karima is originally from Bethlehem, PA, hometown of Bart Yasso. She’s a PhD student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC and studies Psychology and Law. Her marathon PR is 3:24:56

This conversation illustrates the ups and downs of training and the often epic struggle that goes into earning a BQ. We hope you enjoy it!

Karima and parents after the Via Marathon

Karima with fellow MTA-ers Foti Panagakos and Mitch Goldstein

Also Mentioned in This Episode

MTA Coaching Services -if you are interested in putting the power of a running coach behind your training we have a limited number of spots open at the moment.

Health IQ -Marathon Training Academy is sponsored by Health IQ, an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special rates on life insurance. Go to healthiq.com/mta to support the show and learn more.

BEDGEAR® Performance Bedding uses heat-deflecting, moisture-wicking, and air flow technologies to get you sleeping deep so you wake ready to perform at your peak. Use code MARATHON20 to get 20% off through December 31.

RXBAR -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.

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 + What Angie Has Learned From Running 50 Marathons

In this episode we recap the Mount Desert Island Marathon in the beautiful state of Maine, USA.

Since this was my 50th marathon you will hear Trevor ask me to share some lessons and take-a-ways from my journey thus far. We also take a short walk down memory lane.

You never know where running will take you!


The 16th running of the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Maine took place on Sunday, October 15th, 2017. They also offer a half marathon (in its 4th year), a team relay and kids run.

The MDI Marathon fills up every year and has an informative website. They offered race deferrals, transfers to someone else and switching between races up until 6 weeks before the race. Another cool thing is that the race numbers are color coded so that participants, spectators, and race officials can identify the various groups:

  • BLUE = Experienced Marathoner (You have completed at least one marathon)
  • GREEN = Greenhorn (This is your first marathon – you picked a good one!)
  • PURPLE = Charity Fundraising Participant (Cheer loudly for these generous participants!)
  • ORANGE = Team Relay (Each relay participant will be issued two bibs. The bib with the team name and number is to be worn on the front, while the “RELAY” bib must be worn on back.)
  • RED = Half-Marathon

Race Exop

The race expo was located at the Atlantic Oceanside Event Center on Friday from 3-8pm and Saturday from 10-5pm. There were a few booths in the room and it was very easy to get your race packet.

Race swag consisted of a long sleeve tech shirt, maple water, balsamic vinegar and usual brochures and advertisements. They also had a pre-race pasta dinner on Saturday evening (which I didn’t attend).

The race director also started the Sea to Summit Series which includes MDI and the Millinocket Marathon and Half Marathon in Dec. Some of you may have heard of this event where race entry is free as an effort to support the community with more tourism after the lumber mill closed.

MTA Meet Up

I drove part of the 12 hour drive up to Maine on Friday and then finished up on Saturday. When I got to town I first went to packet pick up and then to the MTA meet up. We gathered at a coffee shop called Choco Latte on Saturday afternoon. It was awesome to meet Jason & Katy, Liz, Abby all from Maine. Another MTA member Kathleen also at race but wasn’t able to attend.

Bar Harbor is a beautiful area that gets millions of visitors each year from around the world. There are lots of great restaurants, art galleries and culture. When I was walking around town I saw a cruise ship sitting just off the island. Bar Harbor was settled in 1763 by fishermen, shipbuilders, artists, outdoor enthusiasts.

It has Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the North Atlantic Seaboard, and also the beautiful Acadia National Park. There are lots of area activities including hiking, biking, kayaking, birdwatching, snowshoe, cross country skiing, horseback, and great seafood.

Acadia was established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson with 6,000 acres. It has since expanded to 49,000 acres and encompasses nearly half of MDI and a scattering of smaller islands. The area has 125 miles of trails and of course some stately lighthouses.

Race Morning

I was thankful for easy logistics on race morning and found parking at park area near the YMCA. The half marathon had separate starting time (8:30) and location. The weather was overcast and in the mid-50’s which is perfect for running.

The race offered an early start for those runners who would take longer than 6.5 hours and had made prior arrangements. The race announcer did announcements over a PA system, there was a beach ball being bounced around in the corral of runners and they played the song ‘Thunderstruck” to pump everyone up.

There weren’t any designated corral sections for different paces or pacing teams. The Star spangled banner was played by a trumpeter and the race cannon sounded at 8am to get the race started along Main Street in Bar Harbor. The course had a 7 hour time limit.

The Course

The race start was on Main Street in Bar Harbor and somewhat flat and slightly downhill before hitting the first of many hills. The course continued around Otter Creek and Seal Harbor, through Northeast Harbor, up Somes Sound to Somesville and down the other side to Main Street in Southwest Harbor where the race ended. There were not many spectators along course, just a few through town areas and around the aid stations.

The trees were spectacular with fall colors and the beauty made the numerous hills a lot better. It started to get foggy and misty around the half marathon starting line which obscured some views of the ocean. On a clear day the view of the water would have been wonderful but the fall colors were stunning throughout. It started raining around 10:30am and continued rest of morning but fortunately the temperatures remained mild so that it didn’t get chilly if you kept moving.

Around the Sargeant Drive area there was the Maine Seacoast Mission’s vessel SUNBEAM just offshore tooting her fog horn in support! They were also using the PA to cheer runners on and played “Chariots of Fire” which was really motivating and unique.

Along the course I saw one guy’s shirt that said,

“The best pace is a suicide pace and today is a good day to die.”

As we got toward the final ¼ of the course the portion designated for runners narrowed and was along a busy highway for the last 10k. This was definitely not my favorite part of the course as we were splashed by cars and treated to vehicle exhaust. Around the 24.5 mile mark there was a Citgo Sign as a tribute to the Boston Marathon.

Aid Stations

There were aid stations approximately every two miles manned by very enthusiastic volunteers. Many of these were themed aid stations (one had a lady dancing in a fat suit, one was put on by midwives called “The Final Push”). They offered water, sports drinks, and gels toward the last few miles. I had a Generation UCAN snack bar pre-race and then 2 servings of UCAN in a bottle to take throughout. My energy felt solid throughout even though the hills took a toll on my legs. Use the code MTAMAINE to get 15% off!

Ucan-Ad-1024x90

Finish Line

The finish line area was in the town of South Harbor. My time was 4:56:42. At the finish line festival they gave out heat sheets. For refreshments they had Maple Water, sports drinks, granola, milk (white & chocolate), bagels, chips, bananas, and beer. I found the finish line area to be a bit confusing and challenging to find gear check and shuttle bus area to transport back to starting area in town. But in all fairness they did include a map in the race packet but I get notoriously turned around in unfamiliar areas. The race had live results and the medal was a gold lobster claw with a nice ribbon. Another awesome thing was free race photos.

They had a Sunday evening official post race party at the Side Street Café. I didn’t attend because I needed to start my drive back home.

  • The marathon had 651 finishers (Males – 343, Females – 308),
  • 508 half marathon finishers and 54 relay teams.
  • The male marathon winner: 2:28:18 Bryan Morseman (32).
  • The female Winner: 3:05:02 Leah Frost (4x winner and US Olympic Marathon Qualifier).
  • 1st place male for the half marathon was- Eric Ashe 1:15:25;
  • 1st place female winner- Erica Jesseman 1:21:57.
  • MDI also hosted the 2017 RRCA Eastern Region Championship.

This race is a great one to do if you want to visit a beautiful area of the country, love great scenery and fall colors, like smaller races and don’t mind a lot of hills. It was a great one to do for my 39th state and 50th marathon.

Also Mentioned In This Episode

Generation Ucan -the revolutionary new way for runners to fuel with sugar. Use the code MTAMAINE to save 15%

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

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

Rehoboth Beach Marathon in Delaware – my next marathon.

Shout Out!

Not the greatest of marathons (very warm post mile 16) but I shaved off 37 minutes from my PR and last marathon with Coach Lynn’s guidance. Onto the next race in that elusive search for a BQ! -Megan at Marine Corps Marathon

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Interview with Bart Yasso -Race Everything!

Bart Yasso is the Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World Magazine and author of the new book Race Everything -How to Conquer Any Race at Any Distance.

He will retire from RW this December after 30 years at the magazine. As Chief Running Officer he travelled to 45-50 races events per year and personally completed over 1,000 races!

In this episode’s quick tip segment, Coach Angie answers a listener question about how to decrease pre-race anxiety.

Bart and I happened to be wearing the same running shoes . . . out of thousands of possibilities.

Bart’s first book My Life On The Run was the first running related book I read soon after I started training for my first race.

He was the fist high-profile experts we interviewed on the MTA podcast after we launched the show in 2010.

I kicked off our conversation by asking him about the Badwater 146 which Bart he ran in 1989, back when the race only had 7 runners. Bart was the only one at Runner’s World crazy enough to run it.

In our 45 minute conversation you will also hear . . .

  • Top picks (though it’s hard to choose) for 5k and 10k races
  • Tips for half marathon training
  • Running according to feel
  • What to do if you feel like crap on race day
  • Having to DNF a race and how to pick yourself back up
  • Tips for racing the New York City Marathon
  • The Runner’s World Half Marathon festival which Bart helped create
  • Why Bart loves the running community

How they visualize and plan the upcoming magazine issue at Runner’s World

Here is a question we received from a listener named Eli.

I really enjoyed the latest recap of the Munich Marathon. I had a question that I thought might make for a good quick tip. I completed my first marathon – Chicago – last weekend. I was thrilled to complete the marathon with a smile, but my performance was not nearly as good as my training runs leading up to race day. As I analyzed my data, I noticed that my heart rate was 15-20 bpm higher than the same pace in training runs, and that started from the first mile. My resting heart rate and recovery runs have been back to normal since then so I’m guessing that could be attributed to nerves and excitement. Are there strategies to make race day feel more like a regular run? -Eli

Great question about your heart rate and performance during the race.  Many, many runners (most, in fact) find that they notice a higher heart rate during races and this can lead to pacing challenges and more fatigue. 

Much of this phenomena is due to higher anxiety levels going into the race.  Things like subpar sleep the night before, navigating pre-race logistics, too much caffeine, crowds of people, worries about performance, and the generalized excitement in the starting corrals and beyond can account for the body feeling more tense and high strung than normal. 

Another factor that can lead to a higher heart rate is warmer running conditions which frequently happens at the Chicago Marathon.

Most of us develop a sort of long run routine during training so it’s easier to settle in during those and have lower stress levels. As you run more marathons your body should start to settle down a bit on race day.  But it’s helpful to work on positive (and calming) mantras that you repeat before each long run and race. 

Some runners find that doing some meditation on race morning helps their physiological and mental state.  Sticking as close as you can to your sleeping and eating routines can also help along with laying out everything you’ll need for the race the night before. 

I also find that building in extra time to get to the race decreases my stress level.  Then when you’re in the corral try to focus on your positive mantras, breathe deeply, and don’t think too far ahead.

Some runners find that big city races simply add too much stress to the experience and prefer smaller to mid-sized marathons.  Easier logistics and fewer runners help them settle in easier and have a better performance.

-Coach Angie

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Bart’s book Race Everything -How to Conquer Any Race at Any Distance. The book cover is a photo of Bart’s office door.

MTA Virtual Half -only a limited number of registrations left!

Health IQ -Marathon Training Academy is sponsored by Health IQ an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special rates on life insurance. Go to healthiq.com/mta to support the show and learn more.

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

Shout Out!

Congratulations to MTA coaching client Judith Dahl who ran the Amsterdam Marathon recently. Despite struggling with cramping during the race she was able to finish with a 5 minute PR!

Huge thanks to MTA Coach Steven Waldon who has been a big support this training cycle. I never would have managed to collect myself in the midst of my struggles and finish strong without the solid training plan. -Judith

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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Munich Marathon Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

The Munich Marathon

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

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

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

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

Pre-Race Revelry

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

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

With my gracious hosts Andy and Franziska

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

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

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

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

Meeting an old friend in Stuttgart, Germany

Munich Marathon Race Expo

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

What I’ve learned from my 2 marathons in Germany

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

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

Race Morning

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

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

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

photo credit: Munich Marathon

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

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

The Course

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

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

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

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

photo credit: Munich Marathon

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

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

Running through the Englisher Garten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

photo credit: Munich Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Finish Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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Nutrition for Runners with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

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

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

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

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

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

Running form clinic at Two Rivers Treads.

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

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

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

Resources Mentioned in this Interview

Keep It Simple

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

  • Grains
  • Potatoes
  • Sugars and starches

The Fat Adapted Eating Plan

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

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

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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

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

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

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

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

About Trevor Spencer

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

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Addicted to Running -Interview with Dr. Rachel Tambling

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

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

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

Interview Questions

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

About Angie Spencer

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

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Recap of the Jackson Hole Marathon + Heart Rate Training

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

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

Pre Race Happenings

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

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

With Lisa Smith-Batchen

Race Morning

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

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

With MTA fan John Danby

The Course:

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

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

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

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

Around mile 24. Photo credit: Jackson Hole Marathon

Aid Stations:

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

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

Ucan-Ad-1024x90

Finish Line:

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

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

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

My recovery:

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

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

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

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

What is heart rate training?

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

What gear do you need?

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

Finding your heart rate zones

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

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

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

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

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

See our podcast episode about Heart Rate Training.

Replay Episode: How Heart Rate Training Works

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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

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

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

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

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

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How Running Makes Us Human

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

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

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

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

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

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Trevor Spencer

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

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

Joel at the NYC Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

About Trevor Spencer

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

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