Pete Kostelnick, Self-Supported Run from Alaska to Florida!

Pete Kostelnick was looking for a way to unlock his wildest dreams so he ran from Kenai, Alaska to Key West, Florida. He set out to accomplish this as a self-supported run, pushing all of his gear in a jogging stroller.

He began on July 31st and reached Key West on November 5th. In this interview you will hear how he got into long distance running ten years ago. Why he decided to take the adventure of a lifetime, and how he managed to pull it off. Enjoy!

Pete Kostelnick is a 31 year old ultrarunner from Iowa (currently living in Ohio) who holds the world record for fastest coast-to-coast crossing of the United States by foot -a record he set in 2016. He crossed in 42 days, six hours and 30 minutes . . . beating the previous record of 46 days, 8 hours, and 36 minutes set by Frank Gianinno Jr. in 1980.

Pete is also a two time winner of the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon in Death Valley and set the current course record there.

Stats from Pete’s Alaska to Florida Run

From Pete’s Feat Across America FB Page

  • Start point: Anchor Point, AK
  • End point: Key West, FL
  • Total Miles 5,390.76 miles (when mileage is added to the hundredths)
 distance in kilometers is 8675.58
  • 97 days 6 hours 57 min

  • Daily average: 55 miles
. (88.5 kilometers)
  • Total elevation gain: 175,301 ft (that’s 6 Mt. Everests)
Highest elevation gain run: 5,034 ft Day 6 in Alaska

  • Lowest elevation gain run: 238 ft Day 96 in Florida
Total moving time: 969 hours 32 min

  • Highest mileage run: 93.22 miles Day 24 in Yukon

  • Lowest mileage day: 0 Day 23 in Yukon (only 0 day due to wildfire)
Highest mileage state: Alaska 622 miles
Lowest mileage state: Kentucky 110 miles

photo credit: Pete Kostelnick

photo credit: Pete Kostelnick

photo credit: Pete Kostelnick

Pete Kostelnick

photo credit: Pete Kostelnick

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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Smart Pacing Strategies in the Marathon

In this episode we discuss smart pacing strategies with Coach Steve Waldon -one of our coaches here at MTA and a 3:30 pacer at the New York City Marathon. You will hear how to establish goals, the tricks to pacing (tools and tips), how to adjust mid-race, and how to get through the tough later miles!

Coach Steve Waldon is a RRCA Certified Running Coach and a 3:30 pacer at the New York City Marathon. He’s a 2:53 marathoner with over 25 marathon finishes, nine 50 mile finishes, and two 100Ks. He also completed the Atacama Desert Crossing -155 mile self-supported stage race.

Topics/Questions Covered in this Discussion

  • Common mistakes people make
  • Choosing an appropriate pace
  • What if you start out too fast?
  • Adjusting Mid-Race
  • The reliability of our GPS watches
  • What to do in the later miles
  • What about run/walkers
  • What does it take to become a pacer at NYC Marathon?

Also Mentioned in This Episode Don’t let knee pain keep you from completing your long runs, or worse, sideline you altogether. Let NuNee help you get back to running without knee pain. Use code MTA30 for a 30% discount. Right now, for a limited time, you can get 3 months of Audible for just $6.95 a month
Text MTA to 500 500.

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Pace Bans -here are some websites for finding both free and paid pace bans.

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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Listener Q & A with Angie and Athena

In this episode we do a listener Q & A session!

Angie and special guest Coach Athena Farias tackle questions about recovery, what to do in the off season, back-to-back marathons, how to train for a 50k, dealing with taper madness, and more.

Plus we will give you a quick rundown the 2018 New York City Marathon.

We like to do a Q & A episode about once a year because it’s always interesting to see what people are struggling with in their training.

Angie Spencer is the Co-Founder of Marathon Training Academy. She has a Bachelor of Science from Montana State University and has been a Registered Nurse for over 15 years. She is a RRCA Level 2 and USATF Level 1 Certified Running Coach, veteran of over 55 Marathons and Ultras, and a lover of books and dark chocolate!

Athena Farias is a RRCA Certified Running Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and Exercise Physiologist. She has a Masters in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, has run 15 marathons (5 Boston qualifiers), 5 ultras, and numerous obstacle races. She’s an endurance junkie and lover of all things trail running! She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

“MTA Coach Athena has been a phenomenal coach, . . . She was a great balance of pushing me to work harder and also pushing me to rest and recover, and thanks to her I scored a 35+ minute PR and a sub four hour marathon this past weekend in Indianapolis! I’ve learned so much from Athena and MTA and am excited to take all that knowledge and use it to become an even better runner.” -Ripley Doten

Questions Featured in This Episode

For this Q & A episode we solicited questions from our email subscribers and got back so many good ones! If you want to subscribe to our email newsletter you can do so here.


After running a marathon, how long should recovery be? When can I start running again? -Hannah Trimble Brown

My question would have to be about recovery between marathons. As I’m shooting for very specific goals in the next few years, I’d have to ask how long is the
recommended minimum time to wait between marathons? For example, if training goes really well but for some reason I have a poor race day, how long would I want to
wait to run another marathon to have another try at my goal time? -Andrew Lorenzo

The Off Season

With the help of your podcast I completed my goal of completing my first
Marathon, the Toronto Waterfront Marathon this fall. I even hit my time
goal of sub 4 hours in 3:59:15!

My question is what now? This is my first year of running and I don’t know
what to do now until spring Marathon season. I have already signed up for a
spring Marathon in May.

Thank you for taking my question. -Anthony Barton

Back-to-Back Marathons

How would you train for back-to-back marathons that are 4-5 weeks apart? Kim Cannon


Wondering if it is “normal” to experience a sluggishness in the later
weeks of marathon training? Like the 18 and 20 mile weeks and after during the taper
weeks? I ask because this is my second time to run a marathon and both times I have
experienced a sluggish few weeks leading up to the marathon.
Thanks! -Wynnifred Hoodis

Hot Weather

Hi, I have a question about running in a tropical climate. Most of the year where I live it is very hot and humid. The temperature is usually over 35 celsius (100
fahrenheit), with extremely high humidity, and it only drops around 5-8 degrees at
night. Do you have any advice for training and racing in these conditions? In
particular, do you have any advice on heart-rate training and whether I should
adjust my aerobic threshold heart-rate because of these conditions? Thanks!
Geoff from Cairns, Australia


I would like to know how training for a 50km differs (or is similar to)
training for a marathon. Thank you! -Trista

I keep experiencing a whole variety of niggles after marathon
distances. I wonder if I’ll ever make the necessary adaptations so I can graduate to
ultra distances. Various foot, knee, hamstring, back, pelvic, shoulder… pains! 
 They are mostly bi-lateral, and go away if rested. Probably there because I’m over
zealous and taking on more than I should in my first year of running. Thank you!


Often when I finish a run I have a very distinct smell that could best be described as like cat urine. My question is what causes it, and how do I prevent it. Thanks, Russell from Cantonment, Fl.

Taking Advil

Hi Angie, When I finished the NYC Marathon I heard a runner on the phone saying she took two Advil about half way through the race. How common is this and is it
recommended? Is this hidden in what the pros drink? I think my body would have
welcomed that pain relief during the last several miles. Thanks for all. John

Knowing My Limits

I have been running for 5 years.  Completed 2 full
marathons, about 10 half marathons and 1 half Ironman.  I have never, ever been
happy with my finishing time.  My fulls were completed at 6 hours each and my half
marathons range from 2:30-3:00 finish.  I don’t mind being in the back of the pack,
but it is frustrating to see others celebrate their new PRs while I stay in the same

How do I know if this is my physical limitation and I need to accept it or if I need
to push myself mentally and physically?
Thanks for any advice you can give!
SaraRaleigh, NC

Becoming a Coach

How did you know you wanted to be a running coach and start this podcast? Learning to be a coach or stepping into some sort of career or side hustle geared towards running- something that makes me so happy and brings me so much peace, has been on my mind a lot lately.  I just wanted to get your feedback on how you got started in this field and any advice you have! Thank you guys for all you do!!
Whitney Young

How Coaching Works

If it is possible, I would like you to explain more in detail how does the
MTA personalized coaching services work taking into account that maybe most
clients don’t live in the same city as the coach: How do clients interact with coaches? How often do they communicate? How are training plans designed? Thanks and greets from Mexico, José Juan Cabello

Also Mentioned in This Episode

MTA Coaching Services -currently accepting new clients. See how it works.

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Anolon Cookware. Shop Anolon’s cookware sets, baking tools, even pasta makers and culinary torches – all at Macy’s • Anolon – designed for creativity in the kitchen.

Bombas Socks -With an Arch Support System that provides extra support where you need it most and a Cushioned Footbed that’s reinforced for comfort without added bulkiness, Bombas feel like a hug around your foot. Use the code MARATHON for 20% off your first order.

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Heart Rate Training and More with Dr. Phil Maffetone

When it comes to heart rate training perhaps you have heard of the Maffetone Method -which is a calculation that uses 180 minus your age to find your maximum aerobic function.

The genius of heart rate training is that it trains your body’s systems to tap into its fat stores for energy instead of burning sugar.

That’s why we are excited to have Dr. Maffetone himself on the podcast to pick his brain about MAF Method, inflammation, and the over-fat pandemic.

Dr. Philip Maffetone is an internationally recognized researcher, educator, clinician, and author in the field of nutrition, exercise and sports medicine, stress management, and biofeedback. He is the author of more than a 20 books, including The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. He is probably best known for the MAF heart rate training (180 minus your age) also referred to as the Maffetone Method. He was the first person to publish a book on heart rate training back in the 1980s.
In addition to working with top athletes he is also a musician and has published articles on the effect of music on human development. And he worked as a physician to Johnny Cash, James Taylor, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The MAF Method, Calculating Your Maximum Heart Rate

noun_343728_ccDr. Phil Maffetone developed a formula for establishing the peak heart rate you should achieve during the first three months of training. One of his mantras is, “Speed up by slowing down.” To calculate your ideal training heart zone for building your aerobic base do the following:

Subtract your age from 180 to determine your maximum aerobic heart rate. For example I’m 39 years old so . . . 180-39 = 141

Then subtract 10 if you’re recovering from a major illness or hospital visit or on regular medication for a chronic condition; subtract 5 if you have not exercised before or are just beginning to rebuild your running base; 0 if you’ve been exercising regularly without interruption. If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

This number would represent your maximum heart rate to use for aerobic training to promote fitness gains while staying mostly in the fat burning zone. A training range from this heart rate to 10 beats below would be used as the training range. (for example my range would be a heart rate of 135-145). This provides a conservative guideline for a 3 month period of base training.

He also recommends doing a maximum aerobic fitness (MAF) test once per month to track your progress. After warming up with 10 minutes of easy walking or jogging, run 1 mile at your maximum heart rate in zone 2 (ex 145) and record the time, jog a 2nd mile at the MHR and record time, finally jog a 3rd mile at MHR and record. The times from each mile should progressively get a little slower. If you do this test regularly you will see how your aerobic endurance is increasing.

Some people get frustrated because they find that their normal pace is outside the training zone. But lacking a solid aerobic base could be the reason why they’re not experiencing fitness gains or struggling with overtraining syndrome.

Take-A-Ways from This Interview

People often find the topic of heart rate training confusing because there’s no one size fits all strategy. It’s not like we can promise that if you follow Dr. Maffetone’s system (or that of anyone else’s system) for 3 months that you’ll be able to take 2 minutes per mile off your pace. But I think one big take way from this conversation is that health and fitness is about more than just setting PRs. There are many factors that go into giving you the best quality of life possible and you are an experiment of one. We’d encourage you to think about a few things:

  • Measure your waist. If it’s not less than your height consider changing how you look at training and nutrition.
  • Consider whether you need to improve the functioning of your aerobic system. Have you reached a plateau with your training? Does your body always seem to be in a state of stress, inflammation, and fatigue?
  • Find your MAF (maximum aerobic function) heart rate:
  • Perform the MAF Test- get your baseline numbers and retest on a monthly basis:

Eight Step Methodology

You can go through the 8 Step Methodology and take the associated quizzes to consider which areas you need to work through:

  1. Carbohydrate Intolerance– Do you have excess belly fat? Do you feel fatigued regularly? Do you get hangry? Do you have hormonal imbalances?
  2. Control Inflammation– Do you have ongoing joint or muscle pain? Are you struggling with chronic injuries? Do you deal with allergies, skin, or gut issues?
  3. Vitamin D Status– Get a blood test to determine what your Vitamin D levels are. Vitamin D is essential for optimum health and fitness and deficiencies are fairly common.
  4. Folate Status– Folate is an essential B vitamin found in vegetables, meats, and legumes. It has a role in preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and much more.
  5. Build the aerobic system– By training to improve your aerobic (or fat burning system) you can increase energy, improve circulation and immunity, and much more.
  6. Manage stress– We live in a fast paced world where much is often demanded of us and we also demand a lot from ourselves. It’s important to recognize areas of stress in order to take steps to manage stress.
  7. Build a better brain– The brain controls and manages nearly every body system and improving the functioning of our brain will help us manage the aging process better.
  8. Healthy aging– We can’t control the fact that we will grow older. But we can learn to maintain the quality of our life and approach the future with a positive mindset.

photo credit

We recommend that you head over to Phil Maffetone’s website for more information on any of the things that we talked about on this episode. We’ll provide links to both the MAF heart rate formula and the MAF Test with the show notes. If people are interested we may talk about the 8 steps in more detail in the future.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

The Fat Adapted Eating Plan – Let us help you cut out sugar and grains.

Dr. Maffeton’s website. -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.

Anolon Cookware -Shop Anolon’s cookware sets, baking tools, even pasta makers and culinary torches – all at Macy’s. Anolon – designed for creativity in the kitchen


Dear Angie, I recently completed the Bournemouth Marathon following MTA’s intermediate
training plan. Throughout the training I stuck to Phill Maffetone’s max heart rate (180 minus my age, which is 36). In the beginning of the race I felt a bit sluggish but when I got to 20 miles in 2:57 still monitoring my heart rate and there was no wall. For the last 6.2 miles I felt more of a running flow than I’d experienced since I ran a fast half marathon in 2004. I finished with the last 3 miles at 7:30 pace. What an experience to go slow, get to half way and have something left! I came in 3:48 which I was delighted with since I hadn’t run properly for 13 years until I came across MTA last autumn. The experience was magical and owes a tremendous amount to the wisdom, inclusive encouragement and confidence building of MTA. I did a negative split and finished really strong. My mantra ‘stay strong, stay tall, stay calm, stay positive’ (an adaption of one I’d heard on MTA) was repeated throughout the second half. Miles 20-26.2 feel like an almost sacred space. Thanks Angie and Trev, I’ve still got what it takes. Best wishes, -Tim

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The Loch Ness Marathon in Scotland

I’ve had the long-time dream of visiting Scotland and it just happens that they have some pretty amazing races there including the Loch Ness Marathon in the Highlands.

Since Trevor couldn’t travel with me to this race I convinced my friend Adrianne from MT to meet me over there and we both flew separately into the small airport in Inverness.

Due to the effects of a hurricane the weather was windy and raining hard which we took as normal Scottish weather. But the weather challenges weren’t the last that day.

We rented a car which had a standard transmission that Adrianne was going to drive and we started off for our first B&B. But soon we realized that between the weather, fatigue, hunger, unfamiliarity with directions, driving on the left side of the road, and a burning smell the car emitted when switching gears that this car was a poor choice.

We checked into the Arden House in Kingussie, called the rental agency, and headed back to Inverness to trade in the car for an automatic. By the time we got back to Kingussie we were ready for a hot meal, a dram of whisky and an early bedtime.

The next day we had a traditional Scottish breakfast which included black pudding (a type of blood sausage consisting of pork blood, fat, and a cereal like oats), Scottish oatcakes, sausage, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatos, and beans. Then we set off headed for the John Muir Trust offices located in the town of Pitlochry.

We met with MTA listener Kevin Lelland and he gave us a tour of their facility which included a great visitor’s center and art gallery. Then he took us to the mountain Schiehallion “The Fairy Hill of the Caledonians” which was part of the land they care for in the Highland Perthshire. We met with land manager Dr. Liz Auty and went for a hike around the land.

One thing that struck me about the land is the variety of colors and textures. Some of the autumn colors were beginning and we could see vivid greens, gold, browns, reds, and many other shades. There are also abundant waterfalls and sheep grazing in many fields.

I was also fascinated by old stone walls that dotted the countryside. The weather was chilly but the rain held off and we enjoyed getting some exercise and learning about the conservation efforts being done there.

John Muir
The John Muir Trust is named after John Muir who was born in Scotland and emigrated to the United States as a boy. He was a great nature lover and influential in the beginning of the movement to preserve the wilderness in the US National Parks System.

He’s particularly known in California where he made his home and because he spent so much time in Yosemite National Park. Some of his famous quotes include these,

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilised people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”


“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”


Mid afternoon we took off for the town of Leith which is close to Edinburgh. A former coaching client of mine named Elspeth and her family were going to host us for a couple of nights. We enjoyed meeting Elspeth, her husband Dave and two kids. After a quick dinner we went with Elspeth to a belly dance class that she teaches.

It was the first time I’d ever tried belly dance and like most things it’s more challenging than it looks (especially for someone as uncoordinated as me). It was also more physically challenging and I’d soon worked up a sweat (and had sore calves the next day). But it’s important to try new things and get outside of our comfort zone so it was fun to try.

On Friday we got an early start and walked from Elspeth’s house to the foot of King Arthur’s Seat which was around 2.5 miles. It’s a fairly challenging hike to the top and I was surprised that there wasn’t more of a defined path. From the top you can see a panoramic view of the coast looking out toward the North Sea and the city of Edinburgh.

It was very windy at the top so we got a few pictures and then hiked down by the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel which was built in the early 1400’s and by St. Margaret’s Well.

As we continued down we came across wild blackberries (or brambles as they’re called). Next we toured Holyrood Palace and Gardens which was beautifully preserved and is still visited by the queen on an annual basis.

We then walked to the Royal Mile and met Elspeth for lunch at The Salt Horse which had some great food. Our next stop was the Edinburgh Museum and we enjoyed the section on Scottish history. We shopped a bit more and stopped for tea at The Elephant House which is where JK Rowling is said to have written much of the Harry Potter Series.

We also walked along Prince’s Street.
Before returning to Elspeth’s house we stopped at a Co-op and purchased some Scottish sweets for our children (and ourselves) including Scottish Tea Cakes, Irn Bru (a type of orange soda), Tunnek’s caramel bars, and tablet (a crunchy fudge like dessert). Later we walked to a new bar in the area called Nautilus which served locally sourced foods and Scottish liquors. I tried a whisky from a distillery at the bottom of Ben Nevis that had quite a kick. All in all we were on our feet for around 13 hours that day and when I was taking my boots off that night I noticed blisters on the tops of two toes. Not the best thing to have with just a day before the marathon.

On Saturday morning we toured Edinburgh Castle, an imposing fortress build into the rocky hillside, which is home to the Stone of Destiny and the Scottish Crown Jewels, ate a Scottish breakfast, walked through the Grass Market, saw the Scott Monument from a distance, said goodbye to Elspeth, and started the drive back to Inverness. It was truly a beautiful drive with intermittent rain.

The Race Expo

Prior to the marathon the race sent out regular emails and was very active on social media. They also have a very thorough website. The Loch Ness Marathon race expo was held at Bught (pronounced Buct) Park in Inverness at the event village.

They had several tents set up for post-race festivities, rides, food trucks, and a large inflatable Nessie. We found a nearby car park and it was easy to get my race packet. They also had an area with vendors set up and the runner’s café with the pre-race pasta dinner going on.

I didn’t linger long because there was a MTA meet up organized by a local listener named Helen. We met up at the Eden Court Theater for dinner and it was great to meet Helen who was running the 10k the next day as well as Brian from Glasgow running his 2nd marathon, and Chris from Edinburgh.

MTA Meet UP before the Loch Ness Marathon

After dinner we went to our very nice B&B just outside of Edinburgh and crashed. I hadn’t been sleeping well the previous few nights and wasn’t expecting much for the night before the marathon either.

Race Morning:

The race was held on Sunday, 23 September 2018 and the Baxter’s Loch Ness Marathon has been run every year since 2004. It’s one of the most popular marathons in the UK and the largest marathon in Scotland. It’s also one of the most scenic marathons and raises a large amount of money for charity.

They also had a 10k, 5k and kid races the same day starting in different locations. Since this was a point to point course there were buses located at the Inverness Ice Center near Bught Park to get us to the start line. I got there promptly at 6:45am and was on the first bus (which was a comfortable climate controlled coach bus).

My seatmate was named Paul from England and this was going to be his 2nd marathon. The buses left promptly at 7:30am and we had a beautiful drive to the starting line up and around Loch Ness. I saw lots of sheep and a couple red deer along the drive.

They dropped us off at a Christmas tree farm which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. But there was the familiar line of port-a-loos and I got in the queue for those. There seemed to be a mix of runners from all over the world based on the conversations I was hearing.

They had music playing and an announcer talking about the marathon and discouraging impatient runners from watering the trees. After the bathroom I got in line for the tea and coffee which helped dissipate the chill of the morning. The weather was clear, slightly windy and in the low 40’s (or around 5 degrees celcius). When it was time to put my bag in the bag drop truck I stood in the informal corrals and shivered a bit.

At the starting line there was a bagpipe band playing which added to the atmospheric feel and just before the start time they played their traditional starting song “I’m Gonna Be- 500 Miles” by The Proclaimers (a Scottish duo) *(soundbite from the starting line) At 10am the starting gun was fired and we were off.

The Course

The starting line was near Whitebridge, located up in the hills above Loch Ness and the course immediately started slanting downhill which continued through around mile 10. The road wasn’t overly wide and the course felt a bit congested for the first 5 miles as runners spread out based on their pace.

In the midst of the downhills there were some rolling hilly sections. The air was crisp and fresh and I quickly warmed up. I really like wearing arm sleeves because you can pull them up if you’re cold and pull them down if you’re warm.

There were quite a few runners in some type of costume like a group of ladies in caterpillar onesies, a guy dressed in Union Jack gear, a squirrel, a guy in an elephant suit, and lots of people in kilts. There was also a man trying for the world record in full Highland Regalia.

The course followed the southern side of Loch Ness, passing through three small villages. All the roads were well marked with mile signs and the course was very scenic with green hills, trees changing colors, babbling brooks, and lots of sheep and cattle in the fields. Around mile 7 views of Loch Ness came into sight. We ran near the lake until around mile 20. From mile 18-20 there was a very challenging hill at a section of the race which can already be a bit tough. Then the route goes into Inverness, crossing the River Ness by the Ness Bridge in the city center and finishes at Bught Park.

Aid Stations:
The aid stations were well supported and supplied with small water bottles, several with electrolyte drinks, and gels and blocks. There were also regular port-a-loos and medical stations. There weren’t many spectators since we were running through the country side most of the time but there were some people out in the small villages we went through and more as we got back into Inverness and closer to the finish line. The race felt well supported and the beautiful scenery made up for the few number of spectators.


As we got into Inverness we ran on the opposite side of the river from the finisher’s festival and from there you could hear the announcer and crowd. I was thankful to have been warned of this and didn’t feel disillusioned when I still had 3 miles left.

The roads were lined with people in the final miles to the finish and there was a definite atmosphere of encouragement and excitement. I even saw my friend along the sideline and she managed to get a couple pictures.

The marathon was chip timed and it was great to finish under the marathon arch and cross the final timing mat. We were given a nice medal, a bag for food and gear, and then got our finisher’s shirt. I headed off to get my drop bag so I could access my jacket for some warmth. Then I went into the food tent which was nice and warm and had a live band

Post race food consisted of hot soup, rice with a meat or veggie sauce, bananas, shortbread, oatcakes, and a granola bar. They also had other food and drinks that you could purchase. After eating I met up with Adrianne and walked back to the car.

  • The 2018 Loch Ness Marathon male winner was Mohammad Abu-Rezeq in a time of 2:22:56.
  • female winner was Sheena Logan in 2:51:11.
  • The 2nd place male was Adam Holland with a time of 2:24:24. I read later that he’s one of the UK’s most prolific race winners having 200 marathon and ultra wins to date. The total number of marathon finishers was 2,810 with the final finisher coming in at 8:12:58.
  • Other notable finishers include Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrat party and Jonathan Ward running as Ben the Elephant for the RAF Benevolant Fund (he finished in 4:37:30).
  • Another amazing finisher of the 10k was 83 years old Antonio Countinho from Portugal who just started running at age 80.

My Experience

I definitely wasn’t sure what to expect with the marathon considering I’d been dealing with heel pain since my last marathon in Alaska and the fact that I hadn’t been sleeping well the previous few nights. Sometimes the rigors of travel can do a number on your body.

But my body really liked the cooler weather and my energy levels were strong. I didn’t even mind that it rained several times and I was soaked by mile 10. Fortunately the sun would come out in between for some relief to the wetness.

My pacing strategy was to power walk the hills and run the flat sections and downhills. I was very thankful not to experience any heel pain during the race. I think one key to a more positive experience was that I felt more prepared mentally and my mantra was “I am strong, I am relaxed, I am thankful.”

I had a great time and felt very grateful to finish my 55th marathon in 4:20:14 (which although not particularly fast for me, was my fastest marathon in 2.5 years).

I felt good post race and after getting a good shower, a few snacks to eat, and a bit of rest we went out to Culloden Moor Battlefield and walked around.

It was there in April of 1746 that the Jacobite forces clashed with the English army in the last battle of the Jacobite uprising (those who supported Prince Charles Stuart’s claim to the throne). Around 700 Jacobite soldiers were killed in the few minutes of fighting. On the battlefield they had many markers and stones with the clan names engraved on them where many of those killed were buried in mass graves.

After we were back in the car it rained and we saw a beautiful rainbow over a field. The frequent rain and appearance of rainbows was something that happened frequently.

I also heard from MTA listeners from the meet up. Brian finished his marathon in 3:49 and Chris achieved his sub-4:00 goal with a time of 3:50. Congrats guys!

The rest of my trip:

The day after the marathon we did a Loch Ness Cruise out to Urquart Castle and toured the visitor’s center and walked around the ruins. It was absolutely beautiful being out on Loch Ness and approaching the stately castle ruins by boat. After a nice brunch we drove out to the Isle of Skye, stopping along the way to tour Eilean Donan (eelin donan) Castle.

It is located on a small island right by the shore with a stone bridge connecting it to the mainland. It’s owned by a family and was completely renovated starting in 1911. Many parts of the castle have been restored with artifacts while part of the castle is still private living space. There have also been many TV shows and movies filmed at this location.

Then we continued our drive to near Glen Brittle and hiked to the Fairy Pools. A waterfall cascades down from the mountain collecting in these vivid blue/green pools. After a plunge in an ice cold pool for luck we hiked back to the car and went to check in at our B&B in Portree which we discovered had no heat. The radiators were broken so we had to content ourselves with a hot shower and dry clothes before seeking something to eat.

We ate at the Antlers Restaurant and sat in the bar area. We shared our table with a few people who were waiting for a table including a honeymooning couple from Michigan and an 83 year old man from Southern Scotland who had climbed all the mountains (or munros) in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. I had venison, neeps & tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes), and white pudding for dinner.

We spent a chilly night in our room and on our final day got an early start so we could climb to the Old Man of Storr. It was an absolutely beautiful and strenuous hike, especially as we neared the top and were nearly blown off the mountain by the high wind gusts. This was one time in my life where I was thankful not to be a lighter weight.

The Storr Mountain is the highest point on the Trotternish Ridge. It’s really hard to describe how gorgeous it is there and the pictures certainly don’t do it justice. One of the interesting things about hiking in the Highlands is that the ground often has this spongy feel- probably because it has a high water content.

We hiked around up there seeing sheep grazing by the trails, took lots of pictures, and headed down once it started to sleet and snow. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. Back in Portree we stopped for lunch at a café to warm up and then drove back toward Inverness.

Along the way we saw some Highland cattle (the breed with long horns and long wavy hair) and had to stop to take some pictures. Back in Inverness we checked into our B&B, walked to the Inverness Castle, explored around town buying a few final souvineers, and had a great dinner at the Fig & Thistle. The next day we had our long flight back home and it took me about 3-4 days to get my sleep back on schedule.

I’ve found myself wondering why I’ve been so tired this week and then remembered, “oh yea, I just ran a marathon, spent a busy week hiking and exploring, and traveled back home.”

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Episode 26.2! How Has Marathon Training Changed You?

We started podcasting eight years ago and this week we finally reached episode #262!!

Since the number 26.2 represents the distance of a marathon we deiced to ask our listeners how the process of training for a marathon has changed them. Runners from all over the world called in and left a voice mail and we are amazed by the stories and insights they shared!

Big thanks to everyone who called in and wrote in to tell us how marathon training has changed them. In this episode you will hear short audio clips from 25 different callers. We also received the following wonderful emails . . .

Change in Mindset

The tag line of the MTA is “Run a Marathon and change your life”. I would posit that training for a marathon will change your life. I am about halfway through my training and I am a totally different runner than I was just a few short months ago. My legs are stronger and my endurance is at a point that I didn’t think was possible. The biggest change is in my mindset – I feel like anything is possible. I am no longer nervous about doing my 1st marathon but excited about the challenge. -Dave

Confidence to Go the Distance

Before I started on my fitness journey at age 49, I would have told you that I was full of self confidence.  But I had no clue what I was capable of.  I have been in sales for many years and have had some success at that.  But it was mainly because I am good with people and sales are about relationships.

In 2015, I started running.  I did some 5k’s and 10k’s.  My 1st race at both distances was a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s because my mom is battling Alzheimers.  Running quickly became a source of stress relief and I lost 100 pounds.  I am always wanting to see how far I can push myself so I trained for a half marathon, ran the race and was hooked.  I immediately knew I was going to sign up for a marathon. 

I started training for the marathon and that is when the magic started to happen.  There are several things that happened that changed me.  I watched the movie Patriots Day and it motivated me to want to one day run Boston.  Once I got into the long runs of 15 miles or more, the demons of self-doubt and desire to quit to avoid the pain became real.  I did every run by myself. 

I committed to stick with the plan.  I remember my feet hurting and feeling weak with 5 miles to go and just praying to God to give me the strength to keep pushing forward.  Some days were harder than others, but I started and finished every single run on my plan.  The confidence to meet any adversity grew out of those long Saturday runs.  Even before I actually ran the marathon, I gained the absolute confidence that no matter what the task, if you follow the plan with a sincere effort that is laid out by someone who has been there before and succeeded, it can be done. 

Once I ran the race, I was an emotional wreck.  I was so proud.  Losing 100” pounds is great, but joining the club of 1 percenters is amazing.  I now have many short term goals to work towards to help me get qualified for the Boston Marathon.  MTA Coach Lynn and MTA are a part of my team of experienced winners.  I have absolute confidence in success.  Sometimes it happens quickly and sometimes slowly.  I take real pleasure in the process of getting there.  It is a journey not an event.  Thanks MTA for taking me on and helping me on my journey.  Sincerely, -Marty Gardner

No Longer Living in Fear, on the Couch

I spent the majority of my first 40 years sad, depressed, and unhappy and I thought about suicide often.  My wife told me she wanted a divorce just days before my 40th birthday.  I was scared and decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone.  I hated running but I love Disney.  So I decided to run a race at Disney.  It would be out of my comfort zone but being at Disney would motivate me.  So I signed up in March of 2014 for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I had 7 months to go from a 250 pound couch potato to being able to run this race. 

Along the way I ran a 10k and did so well I decided I’d be a genius and sign up for a full marathon 2 weeks after my Disney race. I finished the 10 mile race in the top 5% of runners and my life began to change. I was now experiencing life.  No longer was I living in fear on the couch.  Then two weeks later I went to my first full marathon.  I had no family of friends there.  I went on my own, scared to death. Although I got cramps in both hamstrings at mile 18 and had to walk to rest of the race I finished in just over 5 hours and my life hasn’t been the same since. Running has shown me a whole new way of seeing life. Thanks, -Scott

Learning Diligence

I just gave a talk in church today on “Diligence”. I made the comparison of the diligence it took for me to be able to run marathons. I didn’t just wake up as a marathoner, but it required me to train, sacrifice, and keep at it for a long time. I made the comparison of the diligence spoke of in Hebrews 11:6. As a result of my marathon training, I can make comparisons and analogies of perseverance, diligence, dedication, overcoming trials and adversities, and many other important life topics. I love you guys and I love your podcast!! –Richard Jones

Seeing it All Come Together

Trevor and Angie, I am currently in the process of training for my first marathon, and wow let me tell you….I am not the same person I was when I started my training in June. I just graduated from college and was looking for something new to challenge myself, and give me something I could do
for myself.

I was waiting to see if I got into law school, what my next steps would be, and I needed to have control of something in my life, so I started running. I told myself if I could make it through a month of a training program, then I would sign up for a marathon because, what an ultimate goal!

I have been known to quit on things very easily when things get tough in regards to fitness, and I had actually signed up for a marathon in the past and ended up not running because I literally did not train at all. After I ran my first 10-miler, I decided to sign up for it. I decided it was time to do this and prove to myself that I can conquer anything I set my mind to and wanted, and I was doing this for myself.

My family did not understand what I was trying to gain from this and were afraid I would get injured. While I will admit I am accident prone, I didn’t let that stop me from running. I have done all of my training by myself. I wish I had a running group, but I also think being by myself taught me so many lessons about accountability, confidence, courage, and strength. When I didn’t have anyone to cheer me on or encourage me through the 16 and 18-mile runs, I was there for myself. 

I believe ultimately, we, ourselves, should be our biggest cheerleaders. This journey has given me so much self-confidence, to say “Yeah, I ran 18 miles this weekend,” Our bodies are capable of so much, and I have seen that through my training. I have loved being able to encourage myself through each mile with saying, “come on, you’re almost there!” and “Think of how proud you will feel!”  I think one of the important takeaways from this journey is that I have done this for myself.  I get excited and nervous butterflies thinking about my actual marathon.

I know I have put in the work, and the mileage, and the mental strength. I am excited to see it all come together and reach the destination of this journey! Thank you for all of the knowledge and support, Angie and Trevor. I would have been lost this summer without your podcast and MTA! Best Regards, -Nicole Cote

How You Think and Feel About Yourself

Long before I started listening to MTA, I heard people say running a marathon would change your life. So, I was a little disappointed when I crossed the finish line of the Gobbler Grind in November 2017 and felt exhausted but not really different. Then, I realized it was the process leading up to the marathon that changes how you think and how you feel about yourself.

Through that process, I learned I could do something very challenging but I also learned there were certain things I had to do to be successful — such as planning and following a calendar and getting advice. Although I’m a lone runner I called upon the encouragement and advice of many acquaintances and people I didn’t know personally to become a stronger and smarter runner.

I started running after my brother, who was three years younger than me, died unexpectedly after collapsing during his 154th marathon. I started running to help cope with my grief and to try to get to know better the running community that loved him. I learned that physical activity does help. I think the endorphins that make you feel good also open your emotions in other ways, and sometimes you can cry for a bit and feel better. Finally, through running, along with the other things going on in my life, I learned that you can’t rely on one thing to change your life. But something such as running can help you be strong and adventurous in other areas.

You can adopt a new identity as a runner but that will still be just part of who you are. It’s all good. #R4J -Heidi Wells

Calm and Focused

Marathon training has taught me so much, but one of the skills I’ve been able to apply to everyday life has been a kind of serenity brought on by preparation in the lead-up to challenges. Trusting the training in a way. I once wrote about an exam situation in the Facebook group and how while waiting for the big exam to start, I felt calm and focused, like when I wait for the bang at the marathon start line. Another big one is perseverance through challenges which I hope to be able
to make use of during labour when the time comes to have my baby. Kind regards, -Ida

Grit and Gratitude

When I think of the marathon training experience, there are really two words that resonate – grit and gratitude. Grit is a pretty obvious one for most runners – that quality of digging deep within oneself when the going gets tough.

For my first marathon which I ran last year, I wore a shirt that has a great deal of meaning and significance to me. I am from Pittsburgh and a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In recent years the Pirates had endured 20 straight losing seasons, a historic losing streak in all of sports. But in 2013, the Pirates broke through and made the playoffs. As the game approached, my brother and his family sent me a Pirates shirt that I wore as I watched them get a victory.

That game embodied that gritty quality of overcoming adversity, fighting back, and celebrating the character of where we have come from and who we are. Sadly, my brother died the next year, in late 2014. For me, this shirt was a tangible representation of my brother and all that we shared, my gratitude for his life and my admiration for his fighting spirit. 

Many runners have a practice of dedicating a race to a person or a cause. I dedicated my first marathon race to my brother, but also more broadly to all of those living with mental illness and the challenges that it brings. In my both personal and professional life, I have been privileged to walk alongside so many inspiring people overcoming challenges and adversity.

My journey of running 26.2 miles is very trivial in comparison to these challenges. However, my experience is that distance running connects me to some inner quality of grit that contributes to remarkable resilience of the human spirit. This was a true gift of the marathon training journey.

One of the most surprising aspects of distance running has been the gratitude that emerges in my heart when I run longer distances. But I think this is an experience that many runners can connect with and one that propels us forward that gratitude for feeling our feet on the trail, the breeze on our skin, the simple act of moving our bodies. It’s really hard to capture in words.

One of my favorite reflections on running is by the Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge who once said “I don’t run with my legs, I run with my mind and heart”. This says it all for me. When I can embody a space of grit and gratitude in my mind and heart, this makes the whole experience worth it. For me, that is where the magic is and where marathon training has changed my life. -Aaron

Now Seen as a Healthy Person

How has marathon training changed my perspective and life? I don’t think I can summarize it in a few sentences- but I will try to hit the highlights. I started running in January 2013 at the age of 42 and I am about to start training for marathon #5. I found MTA while training for my second marathon.

I wanted to become a runner because so many successful people I had read about or knew were runners. What I was looking for was a way to become better at managing my career while losing weight.  What I found was a way to improve my professional life and my personal life while becoming healthy.

I love just about everything to do with marathon training. Training is something that I have control over. I decide on my goals for the race. Then each day I decide whether or not to get up in the morning and run the miles
on my training plan. I decide whether or not I make time for my PT exercises. I decide if I am going to eat 2 cookies …or 8 cookies.  There are so many parts of our day that we do not get to decide, but marathon training has made me realize that I have control over more things that I thought I did.

During my long runs I get the chance to figure out which decisions each day are the most important to me and how to accomplish more than just my race goals. Training has changed my perspective to recognize and acknowledge my own, and other people’s accomplishments, and how hard people work to reach their goals (instead of thinking things come easy for “those other people”).

In addition to changing my perspective, marathon training has changed other people’s perspective of me. I am now known as a ‘healthy person’. Marathon training has made me realize that your identify is not set in stone. Anyone can change their life and their perspective on life during any decade of their life. Crossing the finish line of that first marathon isn’t where my life was changed. It was slowly changed over multiple training cycles and hundreds of runs, so slowly that I can’t say when that change happened. But it has happened and it has changed my life for the better and MTA is one of the best parts of my running experience. -Suzanne

Running and Training has Kept Me Fighting

I started running four years ago to combat severe depression and anxiety. I was 31 years old and hadn’t lived the most healthy life before starting running. It has been one of the only things in life that I have begun on my own accord for my own reasons. After a year and a half I entered the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and last year I ran my first full at the Richmond Marathon.

I learned to set multiple goals from the podcast and I finished in 3:11:50 (yes, every second counts). Running and training has kept me fighting to get through a post-surgery DVT, crippling depression, severe anxiety, divorce, suicide attempt, relocating and many other things.

This all influenced me to join the SpeakUp Race Team raising funding for the Cameron K. Gallagher foundation which goes towards education on teenage depression and anxiety. Being a SpeakUp Team Member has helped add more purpose to each and every run. It even helped me commit to running the Erie Marathon and the JFK 50 Miler to use as motivation and fundraising tools.

I am super excited to say that I was able to BQ with a 3:04:53 at the Erie Marathon and am excited about running Boston in 2019. Thank you for all your wisdom! –Eric Suvak

Opportunities to Serve

I have been running for a long time. All through school I ran, and have continued to where I am now. I just completed my 30th marathon this past week. Even with all my running the change that happened to me was three years ago. It was the spring after my wife and I had our 1st child. I was training for the Salt Lake marathon and I felt like my training was very selfish and taking over other responsibilities. I actually prayed about it and wanted my running to be more about sharing this talent of running I have.  

A couple of weeks passed and I got a message from an old co-worker asking if I could push a child with disabilities. So that Saturday I pushed a boy named Reese in a 10k, and the races have not stopped for the past 3 years. Reese and I have done everything from a 5k to triathlon to marathons. He has changed me as a runner because I don’t think about me or how bad I hurt or tired I am. I just focus on Reese and how happy he is. He can’t talk, but anytime he sees me he gets the biggest smile on his face because he knows it is time to race.

We have had some pretty crazy times out on the course together. His mom, Carla, is a saint and will always say “thanks for being his loaned legs”. Carla also got me into pacing races too. Pacing has been awesome too because I don’t think about myself, I am more worried about the people I am pacing who are trying to get a PR or BQ.

This last Saturday I paced Huntsville and it was HOT. It was difficult to not complain about the heat, but as a pacer if I had started complaining, it would have made it harder for the people I was pacing. I am grateful for running and how it has changed me to not focus on myself. I am grateful that I can serve others through running.

Running is a individual sport, but there are some amazing opportunities to serve those around us through our crazy sport. It does not have to be what I have done it can be as simple as writing a name of someone on your arm and doing the race in their honor or running for a charity. Things like that can change the focus and purpose of your training and racing. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I did not run and have the opportunities to serve that I have. I am a huge advocate for pushing people in races literally and metaphorically and just serving others through running. Thanks again, -Andy

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Boston Qualifying Times Change. The Boston Athletic Association announced that they’re tightening up qualifying standards for the 2020 marathon by 5 minutes. The cut off time for qualifiers this year was 4:52 and of 30,458 applicants there were 7,384 Boston Marathon qualifiers that were shut out. The cut off was 3:23 for the 2018 race.

The NuNee -designed specifically to relieve that dreaded Runner’s Knee pain.
Let NuNee help you get back to running without knee pain. Available today at Use code MTA20 for a 20% discount.

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.

CBDmd freeze roller is da bomb!

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If Life is a Marathon, Here Are the Rules!

Hey guys this is Trevor and I’m currently in Switzerland for the Jungfrau Marathon -which is a brutal but absolutely gorgeous race in the Swiss Alps.

This episode is going to be a bit unusual. You will hear a recording of a motivational talk I gave, to a group of non-runners, about what running marathons has taught me about life.

In the quick tip segment Coach Angie explains how to successfully taper for a race, because many runners go through “taper madness”. Enjoy!

I first gave this talk to a local Rotary Club luncheon when I lived in South East Missouri. The recording you will hear on this podcast episode is from the second time I gave the talk -which was to a group of young men between the ages of 16-21. It was recorded in 2016. I used to go every Tuesday night and hang out with these guys and speak to them.

You can tell by my presentation that I was trying to entertain and inspire, not necessarily inspiring them to be runners, although I did take some of them out running from time to time but to inspire them to live life more intentionally and fully. Below are the powerpoint slides that go with the talk.

New York City Marathon has over 50,000 runners and 2 million spectators

Should have worn his Nip Guards®!

Non-runners find it funny that this is a real product.

If you google “runner’s trots” you can find this photo. What’s happening below the waist is not pretty. Click here to see the full version. Yikes!

marathon sign #1

marathon sign #2

marathon sign #3

marathon sign #4

marathon sign #5

marathon sign #6

we interviewed Rhonda on the MTA podcast here

His shirt says, “50, Fat, Diabetic, Ahead of You”

We featured Derek’s story here

Harriet died in 2017 at the age of 94. She was a cancer survivor who started running marathons at age 76 and ran the fastest time for a woman over 90

Matt is the author of the book The Long Run


Angie at her 50 mile ultramarathon. She recapped the race here

If you think running a marathon is tough, remember there are people who do this!

Here our interview with Dr. Noakes about the central governor

The “finishing kick” shows that we don’t run our muscles to fatigue. Our body reserves energy though our brain tells us that we too depleted to go on.

Holding down the floor after the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

My audience. I had the privilege of speaking to a group of young men between the ages of 16-24 every Tuesday night. That’s me in the center (with glasses)

Thank you for listening!

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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. -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.

The Jungfrau Marathon -I am currently in Switzerland and just completed this epic mountain marathon. Race recap coming soon!

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 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.

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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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