How to Go From Couch to Marathon

In this episode we tell you How to Go from Couch to Marathon, plus we talk with a runner from California who went from weighing 400 pounds to running his first marathon! And just a reminder that you can go through our A-Z system for getting marathon ready inside the Academy. Find out how to join here.

One of the things that attracts people to long distance running and particularly the challenge of a marathon is that we all have the desire to live up to our full potential and get the most out of life.

Running is one of those things that connects the mind, body, and spirit in a unique way. We find out what’s inside of us and at the same time connect more fully to our environment.

We’ve heard from hundreds of runners over the years who have confirmed that running a marathon changed their life for the better. But we know that there can be a lot of fear and anxiety connected with taking on a big challenge like this (or any new challenge).

It’s normal to wonder if you have what it takes and sometimes doubt that you’re taking the necessary steps to successfully reach your marathon goal.

There are definitely some common pitfalls that can derail runners from safely reaching the marathon finish line. A few of these have to do with external preparation like gear and training but having the right mindset is equally important. Here are some essential components to successful go from couch to marathon (or from desk to marathon, as Trevor says)

1. Pick the Right Gear

You don’t need all the gear, you just need the right gear. One of the most basic items you need in your marathon training is a good pair (or two) of running shoes.

When it comes to finding the right pair of shoes this is not the time to get all fancy and buy the most expensive pair you can find or the ones that look the most attractive.  It’s all about comfort and fit when it comes to trainers. You should have plenty of room in the toe box and at least a half inch of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I totally didn’t realize this when training for my first marathon and wore too small running shoes for the first couple of years. Who knew that your feet aren’t supposed to go numb or that your toes aren’t supposed to feel continually battered. If you’ve never done so before, go to a specialty running store and have your feet and gait evaluated by a professional.  A pair of good fitting running shoes is going to prevent some of the possible injuries that come from the wrong shoes and greatly increase the comfort of your running. 
Socks-  While we’re talking about foot comfort you’ll probably find that not just any pair of socks will work for long runs. For example, cotton doesn’t breathe very well and will cause heat to build up inside your socks.  This heat combined with friction can leave you with some nasty blisters and have you hobbling around for days.  Basically you want a sock made out of technical fabrics like acrylic, polyester, bamboo, or wool blends. Some of our favorite go-to brands include Bombas, Injinji Toe socks, and Balegas (but there are many good brands).

Running clothes
When it comes to shorter runs you can usually keep it fairly simple and just wear things that are comfortable to work out in. The exception for women is getting a sports bra with maximum support. But as you continue the amount of time you run you’ll find that certain cuts, fabrics, and styles are more comfortable and others leave you swearing that you’ll never wear them for a long run again.  I would definitely recommend slowly investing in a wardrobe of running clothes made of technical fabrics. But, if you sweat at all you are going to be unpleasantly weighed down by cotton or things with obvious seams which can cause chaffing.  Cotton may work fine for a 3 mile run, but if you plan on going long cotton is not your friend and I’m still mystified that at nearly every marathon I see at least one runner wearing a cotton shirt.  In general you want garments that fit well, don’t have a ton of extra fabric, and don’t cause chaffing. Fabric rubbing against skin and skin rubbing other skin can cause this very uncomfortable condition known as chaffing. Use Body Glide or other anti-chafe products anywhere you may suspect that chaffing may occur. It usually only takes a few runs before you find out any potential chaffing locations.

GPS Tracking
It’s very helpful to track your distance and time (and maybe other stats) using either a GPS watch or your phone with a tracking app. If you’ve been running long enough you remember the days before GPS and focus on stats, graphs, and other metrics. When I was training for my first marathon I had a basic stop watch and drove my running routes in the car to estimate the distance. But having an app or GPS watch makes it so much easier. Some of the most popular apps include Map My Run, Run Keeper, Runtastic, Strava, Edmondo, or Nike Plus. Popular GPS watches include the Apple Watch, Garmin watches, Fitbit, TomTom and many others. They come in a variety of price points (usually associated with how many features you want).

2. Get Your Running Form Right

Running form can either make or break your experience as a long distance runner. While it’s true that no person has the exact same form due to biomechanical differences there are some general principles that can save you energy and prevent injuries.

Focus on the following:

  • Run tall. Keep your head up and eyes looking straight ahead.
  • Keep your torso up and shoulders relaxed, arms bent comfortably by sides, hands should not cross the midline of your body. Make sure your hands stay relaxed and not clenched.
  • The body should lean slightly forward from ankles to shoulders.
  • Your landing foot should be just under the hips which is the center of gravity.
  • Focus on short quick steps and don’t over-stride.

3. Plan for Your Personal Safety

Be sure that you’re cleared for physical activity by your healthcare provider before training for a marathon. Chronic issues like heart or lung problems can need specialized attention. Also, if you experience unusual shortness of breath, arm or neck tightness especially on the left side, numbness, nausea, and a cold sweat call 911 immediately.  These are signs of a heart attack and should not be ignored. 

At some point during your running or marathon journey you’ll probably have at least one non-running acquaintance point out all the cases of people who have died while running. Another thing you’ll run into is people predicting that you’ll need a knee or hip replacement someday. But statistically runners don’t have higher rates of osteoarthritis than non runners and keeping your weight in check will make for healthier joints. Runners also have a smaller chance of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Some additional safety considerations that you need to make a priority is being aware of your surroundings and being a defensive runner (don’t expect traffic to wait for you). We all know the stats of how many distracted drivers are on the roads so make sure you’re aware and alert at all times. You’d be surprised at how many runners don’t do some of these basic things.

Always run facing traffic (left side of the road) or on a side walk and make eye contact with drivers if possible.  Wear reflective gear and lights if you will be running in low light and don’t block out ambient sound entirely by wearing headphones. If you choose to listen to music or something else make sure that you can hear well.  If you’re on a path that is closed to traffic run on the right side and pass on the left. This can make sharing the path with cyclists much more easy. If you’re running with friends don’t run more than two abreast.

4. Take Time to Do Cross-Training

Incorporate strength training and other low impact exercises. It’s easy to just run but if you don’t build a firm foundation there’s a good chance that you will get injured. To improve your overall muscle strength and help you become a better runner it’s beneficial to include some cross training in your training.

We highly recommend low impact activities like core training, lifting weights, cycling/spinning, rowing, swimming, yoga, Pilates, etc. These can be done on your off days from running or even on running days if you have time. As a beginning marathoner it’s best to avoid doing high impact activities every single day which can increase your chance of injury and not allow your body necessary rest and recovery.

5. Nail Down Your Fueling and Hydration

Another important aspect of being physically prepared for the marathon is dialing in your approach to fueling and hydration. This is something that you should begin experimenting with and practicing early in your training so that the only new thing you do on race day is run 26.2 miles (or 42.2km).

The challenging thing about fueling and hydration is that there isn’t a one size fits all formula for success. Many factors like your body size, gender, pace, climate, and dietary preferances will factor into your fueling and hydration requirements. Plus the way you carry your hydration and fuel during training and also on race day will need to be practiced.

Here are some general recommendations to provide a jumping off point.

Most runners will need between 16-28 oz of fluid per hour during exercise. There are definitely some outliers from this range but studies show that regularly consuming over 30 oz per hour puts you at significant risk of overhydration (hyponatremia- low blood sodium).

The fluids that you take in should be spaced appropriately (every 1-2 miles) because your gastro-intestinal system simply cannot process large amounts at once and that will lead to the “sloshing” feeling in your gut. For extended efforts and hot/humid conditions it’s wise to also use a balanced electrolyte (either in capsule form or in your hydration of choice). An electrolyte solution containing a balance of sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium helps ensure the healthy functioning of all body systems.

One amazing thing about the human body is that we have fat stores to kick in during prolonged periods of exercise or fasting. But unless you’ve trained your body to perform in a fasted state having a steady intake of carbohydrates is going to allow you to have the physical and mental energy you need to run your best.

However with too much fueling or the wrong formula you may run into things like nausea and GI distress. Fewer calories per hour can be processed by runners because much of the blood supply is shuttled away from the GI system into the major muscle groups. But in general, most runners need between 120-200 calories per hour, divided in a way that keeps your energy levels stable.

6. Don’t cram for a marathon

Shortcuts undermine the process and often your health. The first part of your marathon foundation is building a solid running base. To stay injury free you will want to start your training out slowly.  There’s a tendency when you’re excited about something to start off too hard. Remember that each person gets in shape at their own rate so don’t compare yourself to others.  Make sure you find a running schedule that works for you. 

You may want to begin by running three days per week at first and not run on consecutive days to allow your body recovery periods.  Remember that your body gets stronger and adapts during periods of rest. It’s also okay to start with run/walk intervals and to stick with the run/walk method if that works for your training.

Another important tip is not to run too fast during training runs. Every run should not be attempted harder and faster. You’ll want to maintain a conversational pace as you build your endurance, especially during “easy” and long runs.

7. Always Listen to your body.

One of the best things about becoming a marathoner is that it gives you a different relationship with your body. You begin to have a new appreciation of what your body is capable of. And to fully appreciate and support your body you need to listen to it and intervene when necessary. Take care of any issues or niggles early before they turn into a bigger deal (like an injury or overtraining).

Listening to your body includes things like getting the amount of sleep that your body needs (marathoners need more), fueling your body with the foods that lead to muscle growth and decreased inflammation, taking regular days off, and rolling/icing/soaking any areas of concern. It’s also important to seek professional help early if you have a health concern. Doing so will give you the best chance of getting to the marathon finish line and more importantly being a healthy runner for life.

8. Examine your motivation

Your “why” is very important as you deal with the challenges of training. There are some “whys” that are better than others. Some of the common reasons people take on the marathon include the following:* to challenge themselves, *lose weight, *have more energy, *get into better shape, *fulfill a bucket list item, *to better keep up with their kids, and even because of *pressure from other people. Some of these are good motivations and some may get you going but won’t be reasons to keep you going.

9. Don’t fixate on a time goal for your first marathon

This is one of the biggest mistakes that I see new marathoners making. They get an idea of an ideal time in their minds based on other people’s first marathons or a shorter race time that they accomplished. Instead, try to focus on running strong and healthy and enjoying the experience. Don’t compare yourself to others. Yes, there are a few runners who qualify for Boston during their first marathon but that’s the exception, not the rule.

10. Don’t let fear hold you back.

Moving toward your fears is one important way to becoming a stronger and more resilient person. One thing that often holds people back from marathon training is that they don’t see themselves as a runner. We often get a specific idea in our heads about what a runner looks like. For example, everyone would agree that Shalane Flannigan who won the NYC Marathon last year and sprinter Usain Bolt, also known as the fastest man in the world, are bonafide runners. But if you run, you’re a runner. It doesn’t matter how often you run, how far you run or how fast you run.

In this episode we also talk with MTA podcast fan James Lacher whose transformation is definitely one of the most impressive we’ve seen!!

“After topping 400 pounds in 2014 I had bariatric surgery in 2015 and lost over half my body weight. I started rumning 18 months ago and on Sunday I ran my first FULL MARATHON. The pics are me day of surgery and holding up the front page of the local newspaper. I was the cover story on race day. The race was a life changing experience . . . I soaked up every moment and finished in 5hr 25min . . . Thank you Angie and Trevor for all you tips and wisdom I’ve learned from listening to numerous podcast episodes.” -James

James was profiled by the San Luis Obispo Tribune here.

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[Part 2] Angie and Trev’s Most Excellent Summer Adventure + Juneau Marathon Recap

In this episode we bring you part 2 of our 10,000 mile camping trip to Alaska which we are calling, “Angie and Trev’s Most Excellent Summer Adventure”.

Plus, Angie the Juneau Marathon in beautiful Juneau, Alaska.

When we ended part 1 we were just about to board a ferry in Skagway, Alaska, having pulled our camper through PA, OH, MI, WI, MN, ND, MT, ID, WA, BC, YK and of course AK and seeing some of the most rugged and beautiful land we’ve ever seen.

Now we begin in Juneau, the the capitol city of Alaska, accessible only by boat or plane, and a popular destination for cruise ships.

The Juneau Marathon and half marathon are put on by the Southeast Road Runners. Up until last year the race was known as the Frank Maier (named after a local runner who died in a fishing accident) Marathon & Douglas Island Half Marathon. The race gets good ratings on the Marathon Guide website including: Course 4.5, Organization 4.5, Fans- 3. I might have rated it a bit differently and I’ll get into my assessment soon. The race was very reasonable in cost, just $65 when I registered. They sent out good race updates via email and the website has the relevant details pertaining to the race.

We had a MTA meet up on Friday evening with Deb from Kenai Pennensula and Abel originally from Juneau (he took us gold panning earlier in the day).

Race Morning

The Juneau Marathon was held on Saturday, July 26, 2018. The Start/Finish area was located at Savikko Park (aka Sandy Beach) in the town of Douglas which is just across the channel from Juneau, approximately 3.5 miles from downtown Juneau.  The race offered a shuttle from the downtown area to the start/finish line for both the Marathon and Half Marathon Race Start. But they didn’t provide any post race transportation.

We stayed at a campground a few miles away from the race start. Fortunately traffic was minimal and it was already light so it was easy to get to the Savikko Beach area.

There were a few runners milling around and the race volunteers were set up to mark our bibs. They offered early start options for slower runners (or those not caring about AG awards) and there were at least a dozen marathoners who took advantage of the early start. They didn’t have any port a pots set up but there was a bathroom area in the park. However the stalls didn’t have doors which was a bit weird.

The weather on race morning was overcast and in the low 50’s which made it perfect for running. We actually didn’t get any rain the whole time we were in Alaska which was quite unusual for the area.

The Course

The start line was marked by START/FINISH painted on the road. There were no timing mats or timing devices and very little fanfare as they started the race. The course is USATF-certified and a Boston Qualifier out and back on the two-lane Douglas Highway.

The road wasn’t closed to traffic and we had to stay on the left of the white line. There wasn’t much traffic earlier in the morning but traffic did pick up later on. There were a fair amount of hills on the course which made it moderately challenging. Fortunately Juneau is nearly at sea level so elevation wasn’t a concern.

We ran out 13.1 miles to a volunteer posted in the road and then turned around and came back which made it nearly impossible to get lost. Until around mile 10 the course was tree lined which provided some shade and there were some glimpses of the water. For the next three miles there was a beautiful view of the mountains and water. The half marathoners had the same course except they ran out 6.55 miles and returned to the finish area. Since they had a later start time I didn’t come across any half marathoners on the course.

Aid Stations:
There were three aid stations along the course manned with volunteers and three aid stations that were serve yourself. All the aid stations had water and sports drink. One had candy and fruit which was a welcome sight. The volunteers at the aid stations were very friendly and encouraging which was helpful because there were no spectators to speak of out on the course. I fueled with UCAN snack bars washed down with water and that worked great.

It would have been helpful if all the aid stations were manned by volunteers because it takes time to stop and fill your own cup. Another challenging thing was that there weren’t any port a pots out on the course. I ended up using a park one that didn’t have any toilet paper and another lady just went in the woods. This was definitely a no-frills marathon. Maybe you get what you pay for.

Finish Line

Like I mentioned earlier there weren’t any timing mats, simply START/FINISH painted on the road and a group of people cheering for finishing runners. Volunteers took down bib numbers and final times at the finish. They also gave out a nice medal. The male winner was Shawn Miller with a time of 2:43:20. The female winner was Alta Anzalone with a time of 3:52:43. There were around 200 runners total with 67 running the marathon.

My Experience:

I enjoy smaller low key races and this one had very easy logistics. The weather was perfect and the course was scenic much of the way so that was very enjoyable. I decided to take it easy and take lots of pictures since my body wasn’t feeling in top form. I’d been dealing with some heel pain for the previous two weeks and started having some neck pain the day before (this seems to be a new pre-race tradition). Another uncomfortable aspect of the race was that I forgot to put anti-chaffing ointment under my arms which resulted in some nasty chaffing on one side. I knew at mile 6 that I’d made a big mistake in not doing that.

While running I met Marla from TX (her husband finished as the 3rd male and I recognized them from being on the ferry with us from Skagway), Jonathan from OH, and Wesley a local runner doing his first marathon. I also saw prolific marathoner Larry Macon out on the course. I ran several miles with Carolyn from Indiana who was doing her 47th state. There was one lady dressed like Wonder Woman doing her 50th state and she came from the Carnival cruise ship which seemed like a good way to get there. Among the participants there seemed to be a good mix of locals and runners who had traveled to the race. My finish time was 5:19:10, mostly because my heel was hurting from mile 20 on and I ended up walking/limping the final six miles. The Juneau Marathon was my 54th Marathon and 43rd State.

Post Race:

After the race I met Steve Boone who started the 50 State Club with his wife Paula. He’s done 750+ marathons which is just astounding. For the post-race food they were serving carbonated water, salmon burgers, spinach salad, chips, and fruit snacks. However they were running out of some of the food by the time I got there so I felt a bit bad for those finishing later. After the race I put on my compression pants and recovery sandals and took it easy the rest of the day.


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Interview with the Indomitable Jenn Shelton

Jenn Shelton is an American ultra marathoner and running nomad. She spends her winters ski mountaineering in the Italian Alps and her summers trail running in all sorts of beautiful places.

In 2007 she set the women’s U.S. 100-mile trail record at the Rocky Raccoon ultramarathon. She has won numerous trail and road races and has run a 2:45 marathon which qualified her for the Olympic Marathon trials.

She is perhaps best known from Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book Born to Run in which she is one of the main characters.

photo credit: Jenn Shelton

There is a film about her called Outside Voices which came out in 2016. It follows her from place to place as she lives in her van, glides down spectacular trails and jumps into alpine lakes. The film doesn’t follow any sort of plot other than to give people a look into her bohemian life. In the last scene she is playing a game that involves repetitions of sprinting, chugging beer and shooting a beer can off a fence.

I’ve always been fascinated by people who live an adventurous life (at the moment we are on our own adventure in Alaska and Canada), so it was exciting to meet and speak with Jenn. I’ve been following her on social media ever since reading Born to Run. It seems that she is always on some far-flung adventure!

We happened to be in Juneau at the same time. She was there as a special guest at Geoff Roe’s mountain running camp (Geoff won Western States in 2010) so I reached out for an interview.

We met in the upstairs of a pizza restaurant at 9:00 pm, so you will hear some background noise in the interview. This was a lot of fun! I hope you enjoy getting to know Jenn Shelton a little better. Follower her on Twitter and Instagram @sheltonjenn. She and a friend are working on a coloring book for runners. If you are interested in supporting the project (not sure if they are doing a kickstarter campaign or what) you can direct message her on Instagram.

Also Mentioned in This Episode . . .

Angie’s Summer Reading List

  • Daring Greatly, Rising Strong & Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
  • Capture by David Kessler
  • The Places that Scare You by Pema Chodron
  • Drive and To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
  • Devoured by Sophie Egan
  • Mom & Me by Maya Angelou
  • Blitzed- Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler
  • Rabid by Bill Wasik
  • What to Remember When Waking by David Whyte
  • The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu
  • I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi
  • Eating Mindfully by Susan Albers
  • The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely
  • The Spy by Paulo Coelho
  • Lots of fiction…. The Otherland Series by Tad Williams, White Fang & The Call of the Wild by Jack London, The Three Musketeers by Andre Dumas, The Bear and the Nightengale by Katherine Arden, The Secret Place by Tana French, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and How to Walk Away by Katherine Center.

CBDMD Freeze Roller -uses all-natural CBD Oil to help your body to heal and recover fast. Use coupon code MTA20 for 20% off any of their products. -Marathon Training Academy is sponsored by *Health IQ*, an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special rates on life insurance. Go to to support the show and learn more.

Google Play -For a limited time, get $10 off your first audio book by visiting

Honest Tea -With great-tasting, healthy, USDA organic beverages, Honest Tea offers both a refreshingly transparent product and outlook. Visit today.

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 Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota

The 42nd edition of the Grandma’s Marathon was held on Saturday June 16, 2018 in Duluth, Minnesota.

The race was first started in 1977 by a group of local runners who planned a scenic marathon from Two Harbors to Duluth. There were 150 participants that first year. It has since grown into one of the top 15 largest marathons in the United States.

Runners come from all 50 states and from over 50 countries.

The City of Duluth

Duluth is a major port city on Lake Superior and situated in the far SE corner of Minnesota. It was originally the home of native tribes but due to the fur trade several forts were established for trading. The city was officially incorporated in 1857. It is currently the 4th largest city in MN with a population of around 86,000 people.

The city has a lot of small town charm. Duluthians are friendly and helpful. Duluth was voted Outside Magazines “Best Outdoor Town” in 2014. They have great trails and parks which provide many outside activities for the whole family. There’s also camping nearby which we took advantage of because hotel rooms sell out quickly and tend to be rather costly if you register close to the race date.

Pre- Race Meet Up

The pre-race meet up was held at Grandma’s Saloon and Grill (where the race got its name as the first major sponsor). This establishment was founded by Italian immigrant Grandma Rosa Brochi in 1869. She opened a boarding house and became affectionately known as “Grandma” by her clients. She returned to Europe to help with the war effort in 1944 and was never heard from again. In 1976 her grandson opened the restaurant in the same building.

MTA Meet up in Duluth

MTA listeners braved the torrential downpour of rain to get to the restaurant and we had a great time.

Race Expo

The expo was held at the DECC Arena (on Thurs from 4-8pm and Friday from 10am -11pm). They had 100+ booths with vendors giving out samples including beer, wine, chips, soda, chocolate milk, massages, and more. The race bibs were easy to get and race shirts were given out at the finish line. The race did send out a nice race jacket when I registered for the marathon so I was able to enjoy that a few months in advance. They also sent out regular email updates and have a helpful website.

Race expo. Can you find me?

The marathon put on an all you can eat spaghetti dinner running Saturday afternoon and had several guest speakers during the day including MN native Dick Beardsley, Carrie Tollefson, and Kara Goucher (who was running the half marathon).

Race Morning

The marathon began at 7:45 am and they don’t allow anyone to drive to the starting line. Because of this they bused approximately 15,000 runners to the start of the half marathon and marathon from 16 locations in and around Duluth. There’s also a train that the first 1,000 runners can take to the starting line. The starting line is located in Two Harbors, MN near a car dealership.

The race had a well organized bag check and rows and rows of port a pots. The weather was overcast, a bit foggy, and in the mid-40’s. They did some pre-race announcements, played music, saluted the flag with a group singing the Star Spangled Banner, and then played the song “Chariots of Fire.” The marathon had pace groups and runners lined up according to expected pace.

The Course

The course was a point to point course starting at Two Harbors and ran along the waterfront into Duluth along Highway 61. There were several timing mats located along the course along with time clocks. The course was well marked with large helium balloons at each mile marker (yellow for the marathon and teal for the half). There were marathon pace groups ranging from 3:05-5:30 and half pacers from 1:30-2:45.

The roads were moderately filled with runners but not overcrowded. After the first mile things opened up well and you could easily hit your pace. The highway was also closed to traffic.

The course starts at 740 feet and ends at 610 feet. The route is run along the world’s largest freshwater lake with a scenic point to point course along the shore of Lake Superior. There are over 32 rivers, creeks, streams and beautiful views (on a clear day). You can also take a dip in the lake after the finish to cool off. Unfortunately it was too foggy this year to see much of the lake views.

While there weren’t any big hills along the course there are plenty of gradual up and down sections. They advertize it as a fast, rolling flat course. Because of the net downhill elevation many runners find this a good place to PR and BQ each year. The weather stayed in the upper 40’s to low 50’s with wind off Lake Superior and it was mostly overcast with a brief heavy rain shower followed by some mist. Mostly, it was ideal marathon weather.

There were a good number of fans along the course, with several sections at which family members were able to see their runners. From around mile 20 on the fans were especially enthusiastic and often in costume. I saw one spot where there had to be 100+ troll dolls lined up along the course.

photo credit: #Grandmasmarathon @ocir1320

There were several local bands playing everything from gospel to rock and a senior citizen’s dance brigade. The marathon had a 7 hour time limit (and the half marathon a 3 hour time limit).

A couple of runner’s costumes that stood out during the marathon was a guy dressed in tie die and peace signs and another called the Rubber Ducky Runner who was shirtless and had fashioned some bottoms out of a yellow terry cloth towel to which he had attached a couple rubber ducks. His hat was made to look like a duck bill.

Aid Stations
They had 15 official aid stations along the course, about every 2 miles starting at mile 3 (and every mile after mile 19). The aid stations were stocked with two sections of water and sports drink so it was easy to get what you wanted.

I fueled with 1 UCAN snack bar pre-race and carried 2 bars with me. I ate ½ bar every 5 miles washed down with water. Use the code MTAGRANDMAS to save 15%.

  • According to race information they use 500,000 cups at aid stations, 30,000 sponges, and 5,000 gallons of water. 6,000 volunteers are needed during the weekend and the races have 120 sponsors.
  • The race is working on becoming a zero waste event by recycling, providing transportation, and donating discarded clothing and extra race shirts to Goodwill.
  • There were a number of unofficial aid stations along the course giving out everything from lemonade, bacon, beer, hard liquor, and candy. At one spot it looked like a frat party was going on and one runner was chugging a beer.

My experience

Overall the vibe and organization of this race were great and it would be a good location to PR if you were aiming for a fast time.

I wasn’t feeling the best going into the race because my period had started the day before and I was feeling bloated, dealing with cramps, had some muscle aches and low energy. Plus, I’d dropped a can of soup on one of my toes a few days before and it was sore and tender so I hadn’t run the week before the marathon. That probably contributed to me feeling a bit stiff (plus traveling for 6 days in our camper). Thankfully the toe didn’t bother me much during the race.

I saw our friend Eric Strand out on the course around mile 24 looking strong after running over 50 miles. He does the Grandma’s Double- a self-styled ultra where he runs the course from finish to start and then start to finish to train for the Leadville Trail 100 miler.

I felt fairly good through the half and that split was around 2:01. Then I started fading from miles 16-23. I got a second wind around mile 24 and was able to bring it in strong and I crossed the finish line in 4:21:46. It was my 53rd marathon and 42nd state.

The Finish Line Area

They were giving out water, heat sheets, nice medals, and then we funneled into the food area which had orange juice, bananas, strawberries, chips, Clif protein bars, chicken broth, chocolate milk, bagels and peanut butter, and yoghurt.

There was also a drink area and each runner got a free alcoholic drink of their choice. The changing tents were perfect because the weather was still cool and I was getting chilled in my wet clothes. Then I found a spot to meet Trevor and the boys.

I call this my bag lady look.

The total number of finishers for the marathon was 6,093.

  • The male winner was Elisha Barno with a time of 2:10:06.
  • The female winner was Kellyn Taylor with a time of 2:24:28 (and she set a new course record).

The number of half marathon finishers was 7,579.

  • The male winner was Panuel Mkungo with a time of 1:02:50
  • The female winner was Monicah Ngige with a time of 1:09:55
  • Kara Goucher finished 21st in 1:18:15

According to the race website, a prize purse of $100,000 was awarded to the top marathon finishers and $26,000 was awarded to the top finishers in the half marathon.

After the race I saw this posted on social media:

“Congratulations to John Lunz who completed his first marathon at age 80! He finished the Grandma’s Marathon in 5:26:55, won his age group, and ran negative splits!!!”

You are never to old to start running!

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Quick Tip: How the Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Marathon Training

CEP Compression Socks and Tights. Perfect for the long run, the recovery run, or speed work. Use promo code MTA to save 20% on your order.

Care/Of – a monthly subscription vitamin service made from effective, quality ingredients that are personally tailored to your exact needs. Enter the code MTA for 25% off your first month of personalized vitamins.

Sunbasket -makes it easy and convenient to cook healthy, delicious meals at home—no matter how much experience you have in the kitchen.

Pitney Bowes -The C200 lets you send mail and packages right from your desk.

Shout Out

With Academy Member Ryan Hoffman at the MTA Meet Up

I ran 3:55:39 at Grandmas Marathon with basically an even split! Sure makes a difference when you don’t go out too fast! Great conditions too. I got to run the last 3 miles with a guy who wanted nothing more than to go sub 4. It was a great feeling to cross the line with him and get a hug from a complete stranger who thanked you for keeping him on pace. Runners are awesome. Also had lunch with some celebrities at Grandmas on Friday! Great to finally meet you Angie and Trevor and everyone else there! Hope everyone had a great race! Ryan H.

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Strength Training for Runners, Interview with Jason Fitzgerald

In this episode we talk with coach and fellow podcaster Jason Fitzgerald about the wrong and right ways to do strength training when preparing for a marathon.

And in this episode’s quick tip we share recommendations on sunglasses for runners.

Jason Fitzgerald is the founder of and the Strength Running podcast which we were just on recently (Jason interviewed us about marathon training for beginners). He ran competitively in college and is a USATF certified coach. He lives with his family in Colorado.

In this interview you will hear the compelling case for why you should be doing strength training, common mistakes people make and how to do it the right way. Jason knows his stuff and we know this episode will be a huge help!

If you are interested in learning how to use weight lifting for strength and power Jason has a great program called High Performance Lifting. There are four phases he works you through and it’s all demonstrated on video.

Quick Tip: Sunglass Recommendations for Runners

Since I don’t usually wear sunglasses while running I turned to the awesome people in our private Academy Facebook group to get their advice.  Here are their top suggestions:

Roka! Stylish and highly functional! I have two styles. My husband uses his pair for every day outdoor activities in addition to running. Emily

It’s a love hate for me…haven’t found a brand that doesn’t collect sweat on the inside of the lenses eventually blurring my vision during long runs….that said usually wear Spy Optics….somewhere in the range of $40 – $60 cuz I can’t stand spending more on sunglasses. Tom

I wear prescription glasses and mine are Ray-Ban wayfarers. When I have races or long runs that start before the sun is out they ride on top of my head nicely without me worrying about losing them. Marty

And we had numerous runners recommend the brand Goodr! I didn’t even know I needed/wanted running sunglasses until I received these as a gift – they’re super lightweight and come in fun colors!

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Honest Sport – Made with Less Calories and Sugar and Sea Salt for Electrolytes, Honest Sport is the perfect everyday fitness drink.

Pitney Bowes – Start saving today and get a free 60 day trial of a Pitney Bowes C200 – Visit online at -Marathon Training Academy is sponsored by *Health IQ*, an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special rates on life insurance. Go to to support the show and learn more.

Spartan Race – With over 60 races all around the country, Spartan is an obstacle course racing company with races for every athletic ability and skill level. Visit for an exclusive offer, to find a race near you and view training and nutrition tips.

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 Deena Kastor -Let Your Mind Run

In this episode we speak with Deena Kastor, three time olympian, author, and American Women’s record holder in the marathon. And in the quick tip segment, we recommend some post-run recovery sandals that feel like walking on clouds.

Deena Kastor might be the most decorated female American runner of all time. Not only does she hold the fast marathon time (2:19:36) she also holds the record in the Road 10 mile, Road 15k, Road 8k, and formally held the record in the half marathon, 10k and 5k. She has won the Chicago Marathon and the London Marathon once, and she earned a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympic games. She also currently holds the U.S. Women’s Master’s marathon record when she ran 2:27:47 at the age of 42. Her new book is called Let Your Mind Run -A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory.

In this episode you will hear how Deena’s positive attitude during training propelled her forward and the mental strategies she used to get through tough spots in her races.

Kastor family. photo credit: Deena Kastor

Here’s my favorite quote from the book, (see page 86)

It took tremendous effort to control those thoughts. My brain easily slipped back into negativity, and I found I had to stay on top of my thinking in the same way I had to remain conscious and diligent about my pace in a workout. “Oh, you’re doing it again”, I said to myself when I became aware of negativity, being careful not to rebuke myself and therefore wind up being negative about being negative. I told myself: Find a thought that serves you better.

Just a heads up that you can watch the video version of this interview inside the Academy member’s site along with our interview s with Ryan Hall, Shalane Flanagan, Tim Noakes, Sean Astin, Gretchen Rubin, and others.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Deena Kastor’s website:

Deena’s book: Let Your Mind Run

Spenco Recovery Sandals -In addition to being waterproof and antimicrobial they have arch and heel support that provides heel to toe cushioning, a forefoot pad which reduces pressure at the forefoot, a metatarsal dome which optimizes foot function and provides increased comfort beneath the ball of the foot, and an anatomically designed heel dome to reduce pressure in the heel area.

CBDMD Freeze Roller -uses all-natural CBD Oil to help your body to heal and recover fast. Use coupon code MTA20 for 20% any of their products.

The Juneau Alaska Marathon -Angie will be running this beautiful race on July 29th 2018. To see photos from our adventures follow us on Instagram @marathonacademy

RX Bar -a protein bar made with 100% whole ingredients. Angie loves the chocolate coconut flavor. For 25% off your first order, visit and enter promo code MTA at checkout. -For a limited time, every order will receive free samples
-Free sample offer ends June 30th.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of additional resources.

Shout Out!

Hi guys! I’ve been listening to your podcast for quite a while now, and I can finally say I’ve joined the marathon club. I ran the Cleveland Marathon in May and I couldn’t have done it without your tips, stories, and constant motivation. I listen to the podcast all the time while training and, in the spirit of not trying anything new on race day, had it playing for approximately the first half of the marathon. It felt amazing to prove everybody wrong, including myself, as I was having doubts as race day approached. I am injury free and feel so much more confident in my ability to change my life as I see fit. I cannot thank you enough. -Avery

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 Avoid Overtraining as a Long Distance Runner

In this episode we speak with Dr. Ben Shatto about overtraining -which is a leading cause of injury and burnout in long distance runners. And in this episode’s quick tip, Angie answers a listener question about how Boston qualifying times work.

There aren’t a lot of books focused specifically on overtraining out there. That’s why we are excited to have Dr. Ben Shatto on the podcast to answer questions on this important topic. He just authored a book called Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome.

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.


Also Mentioned in This Episode

Dr. Ben Shatto’s website:

SteadyMD pairs you with a primary care doctor, online

NuNee– a revolutionary new product designed to prevent and relieve that dreaded knee pain. Available today at Use code MTA30 for a 30% discount.”

Boston Marathon cut off times article

The Resilient Runner course for running injury prevention and self-treatment

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 Laura Vanderkam, Time Management Expert

Laura VanderkamIn this episode we speak with time management expert and runner Laura Vanderkam about how you actually have more time in your week than you might realize, which is great news for busy runners!

In the quick tip segment, Angie answers a listener question about underwear for runners.

Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management and productivity books, including Off the Clock, I Know How She Does It, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and 168 Hours. She loves running half marathons and has also been doing a running streak (at least 1 mile per day) since 2016. Laura lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and four children, and blogs at

Through the years listeners have told us that the hardest part of training for a marathon is finding the time. So, we’re excited to bring talk with Laura about how to reframe our thinking about time, because we all have the same 168 hours in a week.

Laura Vanderkam at TEDWomen 2016 -San Francisco, California. Photo credit: Marla Aufmuth / TED

What Time of Day Do You Run?

Quick Tip: Underwear for Runners

Here’s a question we received from a listener named Jen . . .

Hello Angie and Trevor, I’ve been listening to your podcast for about a year now and I’m so grateful for all of your support around running. I look forward to each new episode! This question may be best directed to Angie. I wondered if you can help me with a running dilemma I have not yet been able to solve: I have not been able to find a comfortable pair of underwear. I have tried about a half dozen with no success. I wear leggings and find that mid run, my underwear seem to be one of the biggest challenges and distractions. Chaffing, wedgies, rolling and twisting waistbands and moisture issues due to sweating all contribute to my challenges. I have appreciated your product recommendations in the past and would love it if you had any ideas about this one. Thank you so much for all you do for our running community and for personally contributing to my running endeavors! -Jen

While training for my first two marathons I struggled with the underwear dilemma too. It seemed like I was spending too much of my time thinking about my underwear or yanking it back into place. I didn’t find any great solutions so I decided to go commando and haven’t looked back since.

If you’re used to wearing underwear at first it seems a little weird to go without but I’ve discovered that the majority of runners don’t wear underwear while running. Most running shorts/shirts have some type of built in liner and even those without typically work just fine. If your leggings or capris have prominent inner seams they may not be best for long runs or you may want to use some anti-chafe ointment in any areas that seem to be rubbing.

Someone in our members Facebook group asked this same question a few months ago and one lady said she wears compression shorts with a built in cotton liner. A couple other suggestions were invisible line underwear from Soma and a brand called Runderwear from the UK (I haven’t tested either of these). Hope that helps. -Angie

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Laura Vanderkam TED Talk about ‘How to Gain Control of Your Free Time’.

Fully -standing desks and collection of active chairs that give you the freedom to sit, stand, perch, or lean yourself into healthy, comfortable positions that work for your body’s unique and changing needs. I have the Jarvis standing desk and the Back App chair by Fully and absolutely love love love them! -Marathon Training Academy is sponsored by *Health IQ*, an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special rates on life insurance. Go to to support the show and learn more.

Sun Basket -makes it easy and convenient to commit to healthy eating. Get $35 off your first order through our link.

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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Race Recap: Road Races Newport + What I’ve Learned from 10 Years of Running Marathons

In this episode I recap my most recent marathon in Newport, Rhode Island. Plus we look at the 2018 London Marathon, and in the quick tip segment, I will share 3 lessons from 10 years of running marathons.

The 3rd annual Rhode Races Newport Marathon, half marathon and 5k was held on April 14, 2018 in Newport, Rhode Island. The race is put on by Rhode Races which also does a variety of other events in the area throughout the year. There is also another marathon in Newport held in the fall which is not affiliated with this company. Since I registered in late March the fee was $100. I was impressed with the amount of information available on the race website and the amount of email communication they sent out. Interestingly enough the race isn’t listed over on Marathon Guide although it is over on Running in the USA. The race allowed transfers to another race in their series, deferrals and switching to another distance.

Pre Race:

I drove the 7+ hours to Newport, RI on Friday (the 13th) and was excited to discover that the place I was staying was even closer to the start/finish area than I thought. Packet pickup that day was held at the Newport Storm Brewery which had a bit of a chaotic parking situation. There wasn’t an expo but simply a packet pickup line which went smoothly (thankfully since it was chilly outdoors). They had race and gender specific shirts but I did find out later that they gave me the shirt for the half marathon. There really wasn’t much other swag other than the ads and brochures normally given out besides a granola bar and a pack of band aids (hopefully not a sign of what’s to come). The race also offered packet pickup on Thursday and race morning at the start/finish area. The races coincided with the town’s Daffy Days festival and there were some glimpses of beautiful yellow daffodils around the area. After getting my packet I drove to a local beach and walked along the water for a while before finding a place to have an early dinner.

Race Morning:

Since I had the great fortune of being less than a 5 minute walk from the start area I was able to sleep in until 6:15 in the morning and get ready fairly leisurely. They didn’t allow parking at the start/finish area which was at Easton’s Beach. Many runners were getting dropped off and they also offered shuttle service from Second Beach which was a few miles away. The start area had plentiful port-a-pots and there was a large pavilion where many runners were standing. Many other people were walking along the beach and taking pictures of the water. The weather forecast had changed for the better and temps were in the mid-40’s and clear. I had prepared for colder temps by wearing tights and arm warmers with my singlet and my throw away jacket really wasn’t needed. They had gear check available as well.
The morning announcer didn’t seem to be much of a runner because she kept making comments like “you don’t look like a runner” and “you people must be crazy to do a marathon.” I was able to see my friend Rhonda Foulds before the start and meet a couple of her friends. Just before the marathon start at 7:30 there was a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and we were off. The half marathon started at 7:45 and the 5k started at 8am. They offered pace groups ranging from 3:30-5:00 for the marathon and 1:40-2:45 for the half marathon.


The marathon course is USATF certified and is a Boston Marathon Qualifier. After the start at Easton’s Beach with lovely views of the sun rising above the water we ran into the town of Middleton and out to more areas of ocean views. In the early miles we ran by Fort Adams and then along Ocean Avenue. The course is advertized as “moderately hilly” with overall ascent of 750 ft and it was somewhat windy at times. But the temps never got above mid-50’s so it never felt cold. The marathon and half followed the same course until the halfway point during which the half finished and they had dividers set up where the marathoners had to run right by the finish and out again for the rest of our miles. That was a bit discouraging since we came so close to the finish and runners getting medals and hitting the food and beer. But overall the course was so beautiful with frequent ocean/water views, nice neighborhoods and running by many of the historic mansions and architecture that it stayed enjoyable even with a few out and backs. One thing they were very strict about was respecting the native environment and staying off the dunes. In fact, information repeatedly said that you could be disqualified if you went on the dunes. In later miles we ran by the Norman Bird Sanctuary and into Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. This is not a marathon with many spectators (pretty much only at the start/finish area) but there were a fair amount of runners spread out along the course. The course time limits were 6 hours for the marathon and 3.5 hours for the half marathon.

Aid Stations:

The aid stations were located approximately every 2 miles and staffed by friendly volunteers handing out sports drink and water. There were a few aid stations handing out other fueling options and bananas. Port a pots were located at every aid station as well. For my fueling I used UCAN snack bars and ate one 30 minutes pre-race and carried two during the race (I ate half a bar at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20). I usually carry the liquid mixture but decided to try the bars because I didn’t want to carry anything in my hands due to some neck problems. The UCAN snack bars worked great and my energy levels were solid and my stomach felt good.


The finish area was nice and had an enthusiastic announcer commenting as runners crossed the finish line. They had a nice nautical themed medal but were out of heat sheets by the time I finished. The food area was a disappointment and seemed to have been totally decimated by previous runners. There were bottles of water, sports drink, what looked like dry rice cakes and cold pizza (which I passed on). They did have a beer garden with local RI brew so I headed over there to get my free beer. I talked to Jodi & Tracy who are fellow Marathon Maniacs over there.

The first place male finisher was Adam Crombie (age 32) with a time of 2:54:07. The first place female was Heather Cirka (29) with a time of 3:16:31. There were 335 finishers for the marathon, 1121 for the half marathon, and 309 in the 5k. The race offered live tracking and free photos (although there weren’t many photographers along the course).

My Experience:

My finish time was 4:23:21 (a solid positive split 2:01:19, 2:22:02). This was my 52nd marathon and 41st state. I realized that this race was almost 10 years to the date from my first marathon in 2008. A decade has gone by fast.

My training for this marathon was a bit different. As many long time listeners know I started struggling with my health just over two years ago and have been dealing with hormone imbalances, weight gain, and energy issues. Because of this I stepped back my running from the summer of 2016-2017 and didn’t do any races for a year in an effort to give my body more support. Then last September I did a come-back marathon and did two more to finish out 2017.
I purposely didn’t schedule anything this spring to let my body tell me when it was time for another marathon. I just ran the mileage I felt like during the winter (my long run was never more than 6 miles) and was dedicated to strength training. After doing the Mount Dessert Island Marathon last October I came away feeling like I had some definite week areas and knew it was because I wasn’t being very dedicated to core and strength work. So I signed up for several sessions with a personal trainer to work on my strength and that gave me enough momentum to continue on my own over the winter. I also got a TRX system for Christmas and have integrated that into strength and mobility work. I’ve been doing one upper body + core, one lower body + core and another yoga + core day per week.

In February I did a spontaneous 10 miler just because I felt good, and then did a 12 miler, a 16 miler, and 20 miler. They went well so I signed up for the Newport Marathon with the goal of finishing healthy and strong. All was going well until two days before the race when my neck froze up and I could hardly turn my head (and my chiropractor’s office was closed). I decided to drive to RI on faith and just do the best I could during the race. I felt good for the first 13 miles and after that whenever my neck started to spasum I just slowed to a walk and tried to loosen up my shoulders. This was the main reason I didn’t want to carry anything in my hands and cause additional tightness. I also listened to an audio book during the marathon which helped take my mind off the physical discomfort. And I can honestly say that I enjoyed the marathon and felt healthy and strong. The fact that the course was so beautiful and the weather was nice was icing on the cake.

You do you.
What works for other runners may be different from what works for you. Don’t feel like you’re less-than as a runner because you don’t follow the same training routine, do the same amount of races that others do, run a large number of miles, look different from other runners, or run at a different pace. I’m reminded of the great quote by Teddy Rosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This is something I have to battle in my own life. Social media can be a great thing but if you’re not careful the perfectly polished lives that some people present can lead to discontentment with your own life. Remember that no one looks perfect 100% of the time. They also don’t always have perfect training cycles, run in beautiful places all the time or PR at every race. It’s important to keep learning and growing as a runner but to also keep in mind that you’re an experiment of one.

Don’t neglect the little things.
It’s often not the big decisions that make the most difference over time but the little things. The little things may include practices like: focused cross training to prevent injury, regular strength training to build up support muscles and address body imbalances, eating healthy, balancing rest with training, building back slowly from injury or time off, using stress management techniques like meditation, and being prepared with tested gear for your marathon. Even tiny things like bringing safety pins to a race can decrease your anxiety level (true story- I didn’t get any safety pins for my bib at this marathon. I was able to borrow one from the hotel clerk and had two pinned to my race hat). Being diligent about the little things can go a long way to success in your running goals. Remind yourself that next time you’re struggling to find motivation to do your core work.

Aim for progress, not perfection.
This is a theme that I always come back to. You’re likely to struggle in certain areas, we all do. I can get down about the fact that I can’t run high mileage without getting injured or I can be thankful for the miles I am able to run. I could wish that I had the body type of an elite runner or I can be thankful for the strong body that I have. Keep your goals in sight but know that progress is not always linear. The decisions we make now don’t always pay off immediately (like those little things I talked about previously) but our actions do go a long way to helping us progress in the right direction. Remember that your goals and even physical and mental capacity for training and running will change over the years so it’s important to keep a long term perspective in mind. We fall down (sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally) and we get back up. Setbacks are just part of the overall journey and can help mold us into stronger people. I’ve changed so much since I did my first marathon 10 years ago and I know that I’ll continue to change in the next decade.

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Boston Marathon 2018, Staying Tough in Brutal Conditions!

Elite women at the 2018 Boston Marathon

Condistions were completely miserable at the 2018 Boston Marathon. Rainy, cold, and winds hitting the runners at 25 mph! In this episode we give you an overview of this year’s race, plus we’ll tell you how to stay strong during tough marathon conditions.

The 122nd edition of the Boston Marathon was held on Monday April 16th (Patriot’s Day) and was the coldest on record in 30 years. Along with the cold came headwinds of up to 30mph, constant rain, temps in the 30’s, puddles on the course, stores selling out of jackets/rain gear, hundreds of runners treated for hypothermia and other cold weather conditions, and 23 elites dropping out including top runners such as Deena Kastor, Galen Rupp, Philemon Rono, Lemi Berhanu, Lelisa Desisa, and Caroline Rotich.

Shalane Flannigan said it was the most brutal conditions she’s run in. She and Molly Huddle went in as top contenders but struggled with the cold and were just thankful to finish. At one point her teeth were chattering so hard that she bit her tongue. At around the 12 mile point Shalane had to make a bathroom stop and Des Linden slowed down to help pull Flanagan back into the lead pack. After the race Shalane speculated that this might be her final Boston attempt.

Looking at the pictures from the starting line you know when the elites are running in jackets that it’s cold out there.

  • The medical team of 1,800 people along the course were extremely busy.
  • 25 elites needed medical attention,
  • 81 people were taken to the hospital,
  • 2500 people were treated at the finish line.
  • A number of hotel rooms near the finish line were reserved for runners needing to warm up
  • A church near Wellesley (around half way along the course) opened its doors for runners to warm up.

I’ve also heard reports of people along the course opening up their homes to runners and even giving them jackets to wear. There have been other tough years of race weather like in 2012 when the heat peaked at 89 degrees, in 2007 a Nor’easter brought heavy winds and rain early in the morning, and in 1976 temps topped out at 100 degrees and there weren’t nearly enough aid stations causing 40% of the field to drop out.

But these challenges really allowed us a glimpse into the perseverance and toughness of marathoners and made it an exciting day (especially for those of us watching from the comfort of indoors). It became a race where the very toughest who weren’t brought down by the conditions would finish.

Women’s Race

Desiree Linden
Most exciting was Desiree Linden age 34 who broke a 33 year drought where an American woman hasn’t won in Boston. She took home the victory with a time of 2:39:54. Over the past 11 years Desi Linden has started 15 marathons, finished 14 of them, is a two time Olympian and has come in second three times (one time by only 2 seconds at Boston 2011). But until this year she had never broken the tape. Her story is one of perseverance. After graduating from Arizona State University she had no major sponsors and talked her way onto the Hansen-Brooks training group in Michigan. Last year after finishing 4th in Boston she took the summer off from running and didn’t do a fall marathon. At a press conference post-race she said, “This is hands down the biggest day of my running career. If it hadn’t been difficult, I don’t think it would mean as much.” Early in the race, Linden said she felt horrible and was considering dropping out. She chatted with Flanagan, who won New York and was one of the favorites, and offered to help block the wind or do anything she could to ease Flanagan’s path. Linden drifted back from the pack while Flanagan made a pit stop, and together they ran back to catch the leaders. Taking the focus off of her own pain and offering an assist to the other Americans got Linden out of her own bad patch. (3) So even though it was a bad day for elites overall (especially the East African runners) it was a good day for Americans with seven women finishing in the top 10.

Sara Sellers (USA) (2:44:05)-
In fact, the 2nd place woman left the world wondering where she had come from. She’s a 26 year old nurse anesthetist from Arizona running her 2nd marathon. She competed well in college at Weber State University but took time off to heal from injury. When she began training again she ran around her work hours, often at 4am or 8pm and didn’t put in as high mileage as many of the elites (although 100/week is still a lot). Her first marathon was in Sept. 2017 in Huntsville, UT where she got first place and set a course record. With her Boston race she also qualified for the US Olympic Trials and came away with $75,000 of prize money. “I think I’m going to wake up and this will be a dream,” Sellers said. “It was a like a hurricane out there.”

Men’s Race

Yuki Kawauchi
The top spot on the men’s podium was also a surprise and went to Japanese runner Yuki Kawauchi (the first Japanese man to win Boston since 1987). Born in 1987, he started to be well known in his home country after running the 2011 Tokyo Marathon in 2:08:37. The 31 year old is often called the “citizen runner” since he works full-time as an administrator in a high school and runs in his spare time. Despite his busy schedule he has run 79 sub-2:20 marathons, including his 2:08 PR and 25 sub-2:12 marathons.(5)

He’s also set records while running in a 3 piece suit and panda costume. Clearly this is an accomplished runner who doesn’t take himself too seriously. He trains differently than most top athletes by only running once a day and making up the most of his mileage on his days off from his job. He’s aiming to run 100 marathons under 2hr 20 before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He has run four so far this year, winning all of them.

Because of his job he’s not allowed to take sponsorship money but will come away from Boston with $150k in prize money. During the marathon he started out strong with a 4:37 first mile and then dropped back into the pack. Kawauchi, who was running alone in second place, saw Kirui with less than one mile to go. He surged once more, this time dropping Kirui for good. He said that with 100 meters to go that he didn’t know he was truly winning. After the race he said,“ I’ve been running for 26 years & this is by far the best day of my life. I never gave up. I knew he was up there. I could see him. I ran my own race and I ran him down.” The American men also had a good day with 6 in the top 10.

Wheelchair Division

In the wheelchair race the first place man was returning champion Marcel Hug with a time of 1:46:26. First place woman was Tatyana McFadden with a time of 2:04:39. She trailed the leader for a large portion of the race but eventually passed her competition. When asked after the race how she was able to win from behind she said that she trusted her training and her coach and just did her own race at her own pace. This was her 5th Boston victory. Another inspiring story was 85 year old Katherine Beiers who was one of the last runners to make their way through Newton. Big kudos to all listeners who ran Boston this year and to all the volunteers and spectators out there who braved the conditions.

Academy member Rhonda Foulds finished her 5th Boston Marathon as a mobility impaired runner.

How to stay strong during tough marathon conditions

  1. Be as physically prepared as possible for the weather conditions: whether it’s cold weather or hot it’s wise to dress in layers that you can discard if necessary of hang on to for later on, staying dry as long as possible when it’s raining and cold. Things like a warm hat, gloves, poncho or rain jacket can go a long way to helping you be able to finish.
  2. Mentally prepare by thinking back to other times that you’ve overcome hardship whether it be during training, other races of in life. Draw on the experiences and mantras of other people who have overcome tough things or races (like Lisa Smith Batchen during Badwater). Some of the key factors in those who finished Boston this year was having an attitude of mental toughness and being prepared. Another strategy is to think about the experience in the third person like, “wow, Angie is cold and tired but she’s continuing to move forward and is determined to finish.” You can think about the race recap that you’ll tell later (and obviously in your version you finished strong).
  3. Break the race into segments and conquer one at a time. Like Coach Dom one segment was seeing her husband and then taking it a mile at a time as she counted down the single digits.
  4. Realize that this is a shared experience of suffering so encourage and draw inspiration from those around you. Smiling and offering a word of encouragement or help can go a long way to boosting your attitude and performance (like Desi Linden did to her teammates).
  5. Be prepared to let go of time goals in extreme cold, wind and heat, especially if you didn’t train in those kind of conditions. Your body is going to be spending extra energy on keeping your temperature balanced and it will take more out of you to run at your normal pace. Reframe your goals by deciding to be proud of yourself no matter what and finish strong. I’ve read so many Boston recaps from this year where the runners said that they certainly didn’t finish with the time they previously wanted but that they were happy and proud of themselves for finishing without drowning.
  6. Appreciate how ludicrous it all is and keep your sense of humor. The ability to laugh at the irony might be your secrete weapon on a day like Boston 2018.

Most runners can handle rain or wind or cold temps on their own, or even a combination of any 2 of those. But when you put all three together, things get pretty miserable pretty fast. Everyone was soaked and shivering before the race even began. Good thing misery loves company; there was plenty of both. We had rain and a 25 mph headwind every step of the way. What stuck out most for me this year was the spectators and the volunteers. Crowds were understandably lighter, maybe down 25% or so from normal, but the ones who did show up were hardcore marathon aficionados. They had to have been just as uncomfortable as the runners, maybe more so. But they were loud, they were super encouraging and I didn’t see a single one of them who wasn’t smiling. In fact, most of the runners (at least the ones not going hypothermic) were smiling . . . it was all just so ludicrous that you couldn’t help but laugh. -Eric Strand

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Coach Dominique Hamel -ran this year’s Boston Marathon after qualifying at the Steam Town Marathon.

Mental Toughness Episode -Mastering the Endurance Mindset

Karia Modjadidi Episode -Marathon Success Story + What it Takes to Qualify for Boston -Marathon Training Academy is sponsored by *Health IQ*, an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special rates on life insurance. Go to to support the show and learn more.

Sun Basket -makes it easy and convenient to commit to healthy eating. Get $35 off your first order through our link.

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