The Sleep Episode! Perplexing Questions Answered

This episode is dedicated to helping you get better sleep! We bring on a Harvard-trained sleep expert to explain how to improve the quality of your sleep as a runner, share research and answer perplexing questions from the MTA community.

Emily Breslow manages all aspects of Data Science and Physiology Research at WHOOP. Prior to joining WHOOP as the first employee, she worked at the Analytical and Modeling Unit of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s hospital studying jetlag. Emily is also a gymnast and runner.

Questions Covered in This Episode

  1. If you have trouble sleeping would running in the morning be better for better quality sleep than running after work? -Nick
  2. My issue with sleep is falling asleep. My work schedule and life is so wonky…some days I get home at 4pm, some days at 11pm and everything in between. My life isn’t consistent so I find I can’t get up and go to bed at the same time every day. It’s nearly impossible for me to establish a “regular” schedule. Any tips for getting good sleep when your life/schedule is complete inconsistent and unpredictable? -Persephone
  3. I sometimes use Melatonin when I have trouble falling asleep. I’ve often wondered about taking it the night before a race? Any possible side effects or evidence it could hinder performance? -Tracy
  4. I know it’s recommended to get 8 hours of sleep for a myriad of reasons. But aren’t some of us wired differently? I’m at a point where I get 6.5-7 hours each night, perhaps another hour on Sunday morning. Are there long-term issues with compounded sleep deficiency? -Henry
  5. I’ve read different opinions on whether you should sleep in on weekends to catch up or if you should wake up at the same time every day. What’s better and why? -Emily
  6. What’s the perfect nap amount? I had heard either short 20 mins or full 90
Mins so full sleep cycle. -Allison
  7. If you sleep badly, should you still get up and run/train, both for training’s sake and to hopefully sleep better? Or would you be better served to skip your run? Oh also! What’s a good way to get out of a bad sleeping rut, as in a couple days where you just can’t fall asleep? If you can’t tell… I’m a bad sleeper. -Whitney
  8. I work only night shifts as a nurse and have some sleep difficulties on my free days. I might wake up in the middle of the night and be awake up to four hours. How can I get back to sleep easier? -Hanna-Leena

Also Mentioned In This Episode

Whoop -A scientifically grounded system designed to help athletes get the best out of their bodies and optimize performance. Athletes overtrain, under train, misinterpret fitness peaks and often don’t really understand the importance of sleep and recovery. Visit www.whoop.com to learn more and use code MTA for $50 off of your purchase.

Sun Basket -makes it easy to cook delicious seasonal, nutritious meals in your own kitchen—in just 30 minutes or less. Get organic, non-GMO ingredients from the best farms and fishermen, sent directly to your door! You can choose from Paleo, Gluten-Free, and Vegetarian options, created by an award-winning chef and approved by nutritionists. Use our link and the first three meals are free.

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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7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days! -Interview with Michael Wardian

Michael Wardian set the record for fastest marathon time on seven continents in seven days. In this podcast interview we get a blow-by-blow of this epic whirlwind challenge plus some of his other recent exploits.

Michael Wardian is possibly the most prolific racers in the world. In 2016 he ran 47 events and had multiple wins and records including setting the fastest ever time for all the Abbott World Marathon Majors consisting of the Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon, New York Marathon in an average time of 2:31:09.

The last time we had him on the podcast he had just set the record for fastest 50k time on an indoor 200 meter track. He also holds the record for fastest 50k on a treadmill.

I don’t know of anyone else who is so good at running back-to-back marathons. For example, he ran 2:21 at the US Olympic Trials in Houston and 2:31 at the Houston Marathon the next morning. He ran the legendary Badwater 135 called the toughest footrace on planet earth (he finished 3rd) and 4 days later he ran an indoor marathon and won it. Two week later he won the San Francisco Marathon despite having food poisoning the night before.

This year he set a record for fastest marathon time on seven continents in seven days -a feat that earned a lot of media attention.

The photos that follow are from Mike’s Instagram page. Follow him @mikewardian.

Day 1 Antartica

Day 2 Punta Arneas, Chile

Day 3 Miami, USA

Day 4 Madrid, Spain

Day 5 Marrakech, Morocco

Day 6 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Day 7 Sydney, Australia

Mike won every event and set a New World Record for fastest time on seven continents in seven days. He averaged 2:45:57.

For more context about the World Marathon Challenge, the race organizers, and the other participants there’s a good story in Competitor.

If you are interested in running the World Marathon Challenge it looks like it will only cost you EUR €36,000.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Whoop -A scientifically grounded system designed to help athletes get the best out of their bodies and optimize performance. Athletes overtrain, under train, misinterpret fitness peaks and often don’t really understand the importance of sleep and recovery. Visit www.whoop.com to learn more and use code MTA for $50 off of your purchase.

Mike Wardian links!
http://mikewardian.com
https://twitter.com/mikewardian

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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Hate the Treadmill Less! [Part 2 of the Treadmill Episode]

We’ve heard from many people who enjoyed our Q&A episode about the treadmill.

In this episode we bring you part two of our amazing treadmill series and share tips and on how to maximize its effectiveness, run stronger, and learn to hate the treadmill less!

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the treadmill (but I don’t think anyone we be celebrating). An article from Mental Floss gives the inglorious history of the treadmill.

In 1818, an English civil engineer named Sir William Cubitt devised a machine called the “tread-wheel” to reform stubborn and idle convicts. Prisoners would step on the 24 spokes of a large paddle wheel, climbing it like a modern StairMaster. As the spokes turned, the gears were used to pump water or crush grain. (Hence the eventual name treadmill.)

In grueling eight-hour shifts, prisoners would climb the equivalent of 7,200 feet. The exertion, combined with poor diets, often led to injury and illness (as well as rock-hard glutes), but that didn’t stop penitentiaries all over Britain and the United States from buying the machines. In 1824, prison guard James Hardie credited the device with taming New York’s more defiant inmates. He wrote that it was the treadmill’s “monotonous steadiness, and not its severity, which constitutes its terror.” 

Over the years, American wardens gradually stopped using the treadmill in favor of other backbreaking tasks, such as picking cotton, breaking rocks, or laying bricks. In England, the treadmill persisted until the late 19th century, when it was abandoned for being too cruel. The machine was all but lost to history. But when Dr. Kenneth Cooper demonstrated the health benefits of aerobic exercise in the 1960s, the treadmill made a triumphant return. Today, well-paid personal trainers have happily taken the place of prison wardens.”

Oh the Lengths We Will Go To Avoid the Dreadmill!

photo creditQuinn Schneider @TheQSchneider

I’m sure that running on the treadmill has felt like punishment to many runners at some point or the other. I have to admit that it’s not my favorite mode of getting my miles in.
So, maybe you go out of your way to avoid running on the treadmill, like a high school runner who recently shoveled an entire track lane after a major snowstorm to avoid doing his miles on the TM.

It Makes Mice Healthy, So Why Not Give it a Try!

But, there is evidence that running (even on a treadmill) is good for you. Ottawa researchers found that a molecule triggered by running helps repair some brain damage in mice. The molecule, called VGF nerve growth factor, had previously been discovered to promote an anti-depressant response. It also assists with the healing of the protective coating that insulates nerve fibres promoting better motor coordination and balance. This might be especially applicable to people with conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinsons which show nerve degeneration.

The mice who ran on a tiny mousy treadmill lived longer than their sedentary siblings. The research also showed that when mice stopped exercising they began to notice debilitating symptoms again.

So, remember that getting those miles in, even on the treadmill, is good for you and hopefully after listening to this episode you’ll have a more positive attitude about treadmill training.

Don’t Try This At Home

How to Choose a Treadmill:

There are a dizzying array of treadmills to choose from.  I’d encourage you to do a few things before you decide to buy.


  1. Figure out what you can realistically spend.
  2. Go to a sporting goods store that has several treadmills in stock or try out different treadmill options at local gyms.  Wear your running shoes and try a variety of models to see which features you like and those you don’t really need.  For example, make sure that the length and width of the platform and belt are comfortable for your running stride.  Some models run a little short and small and you feel like you’re going to be ejected any minute.  Make sure that the controls are easy to understand and use.  Sometimes a treadmill with a plethora of programing options is something you probably won’t use.  Try the treadmill at a variety of speeds from walking to your fastest run and try the incline.  Make sure the machine doesn’t shake, clunk, or sounds like it can’t handle your speed or weight.
 

  3. Write down the model you like best and what you liked about it.  Start doing some research online and read reviews for that particular treadmill.  Often a wealth of information can be gleaned from others who have purchased a similar model.  Usually the cheapest and most expensive TM’s are ones you should avoid.
  4. Once you have a good idea of what you want, start checking for specials in local stores, online, ebay, and Craig’s List.  People often buy nice TM’s, use them a couple times, and then they become a clothes hanger.  You can often get a great deal just by knowing what you want, checking around, and waiting for a good deal.  I’m sure that by the time winter rolls around again you’ll have found something that will suit you well. A coaching client of mine said that if you choose to buy from Costco they will deliver it and help set it up.
  5. Some brands that come highly recommended include Woodway, Landice, Precor, Proform Official Boston Marathon Training Treadmill, and Matrix Fitness Treadmills from Johnson Tech.


Treadmill Tips from Academy Members . . .

I cover up the screen and try not to pay attention to how far I have or haven’t gone. That let’s me not only not see the distance or minutes but I put the speed based on where my effort feels right and not where “I think I should be running”. Then I play with that up and down. I also play with the incline to entertain myself and mix it up. Every .10 I’ll bump it a level and go up half a mile and back down the other half for a hill mile. Happy treadmill running my friend! You CAN do this! -Traci

Treadmill is a huge mind game since it is boring and you only see the room you are in. Movies help. -Lou

I have no problem running on a treadmill and have done a number of 20+ mile runs over the years with my longest being 25 miles. The secret is to learn to run on the treadmill, don’t wait until you are forced inside and then expect an easy transition. The treadmill can be a great training tool! Here are my hints.
-Try every treadmill in the gym. They will all feel a little different. Find your favorites. This helps you establish consistent treadmill running paces.

-Don’t expect an 8 min mile on the treadmill to feel like an 8 min mile outside. Establish your own conversion table.



-Find what will keep your mind occupied. I listen to audio books but TV or podcasts might work as well.

-Never do a 16 mile run, do 4×4 miles or 15 min x 10, for me breaking it down makes it more manegable.



-I drink and fuel on the treadmill exactly like I will for my next race. Gives me a little practice and again it breaks up the run by looking ahead to my next water or fuel break.



-Have a change of clothes for a long run, after 10 miles I’m pretty sweaty so fresh shorts and shirt really help.

-Have intervals of varying pace and incline during your run. Only slight changes are necessary to give some variety.



-Sometimes we are our own worst enemy on treadmill runs. We’re supposed to hate treadmill running right? Attitude is important. -Marty

I like watching sports documentaries or sometimes sports movies while on the mill. It motivates me. The Barkley Marathons, From Fat to Finish Line, Touch the Wall, Prefontaine, Finding Traction – they are all on Netflix and I always have some saved in my list for bad weather. For shorter workouts, a friend suggested the Sufferfest videos – mostly cycling but there are three running ones too. Intervals you don’t have to think about make the time fly by. -Katie


Also Mentioned in This Episode

Health IQ -The only place where runners can get lower rates on life insurance from A+ carriers.

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

Matrix Fitness Treadmills -Right now, you can save up to $400 on treadmills, bikes or ellipticals from Matrix Fitness plus we’ll ship it for free. We stand behind our products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Head over to www.johnsonfit.com/matrix to see the lineup and change the way you think about home fitness.

The Runner’s Toolbox -Free downloadable pdf reveals eight essential items to help fight injury. In order to get a copy of The Runner’s Toolbox all we need is your name and email and we’ll send it right over. We’ll also keep you informed about the best injury prevent strategies and practices. –>Yes! Send it.

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The Treadmill Episode! -Listener Q and A

In this episode we are joined by special guest Chris Galaty to talk about the joys of treadmill training and answer listener questions about training on the treadmill (#dreadmill). You will learn about pace conversion, stride length, the 1% rule, mental training and more! See how you and the treadmill can become BFFs!

Since Angie and I don’t own a treadmill and do 99% of our running outside we decided to bring Coach Chris Galaty on the podcast to help us answer these listener questions about treadmill training.

Chris Galaty -a RRCA certified running coach, a sub 3 hour marathoner and accomplished triathlete. When he lived in Bangladesh he trained for 4 marathons and half Ironman triathlon exclusively on the treadmill. He works one-on-one with runners through our MTA Coaching Services.

  1. You don’t need to run at 1% incline to simulate outdoor running. According to this runner’s world article, there is no science to back up this rule. The originally notion was that a 1% incline would simulate the wind displacement of running outside (as your body cuts through the outside air). But, if you are running less than an 8 minute mile there is not enough air displacement to matter in a measurable way.
  2. Treadmill speed might not match the speed on your GPS watch. So, if your online MPH to pace conversion doesn’t seem quite right it’s because treadmills are not perfect in their calibration. Coach Chris uses the speed on the treadmill as a basic guide but ultimately goes by his perceived effort.
  3. Researchers have found that there is little bio-mechanical difference between running on a treadmill and running outside.
    There does appear to be higher stride frequency and reduced impact on the body -which are positives for a runner.
  4. If you keep bumping into the front of the treadmill then you probably need to speed it up.
    Since the calibration could be off, you might be used to running faster than the speed on the dashboard indicates.
  5. Training on a treadmill is better than an indoor track
    because on an indoor track you are making many turns (probably in a single direction) which over time can be hard on the body.
  6. A slick way to do interval training is to use two treadmills side by side! Chris would workout at a gym where he could use two treadmills -one he could set fast and the other slow. Then he’d bounce from treadmill to treadmill for his tempo and recovery runs. This was more efficient than adjusting the settings every time.
  7. You should welcome the monotony of treadmill running. We know the treadmill can be boring but remember, a key part of marathon training is developing mental discipline.

Thanks again to our wonderful MTA Members for sending in the great questions used in this episode!

Also Mentioned In This Episode . . .

OMbra -the first running bra that combines heart rate and breathing to get a deeper, more accurate, and personalized view of your body. Let your body be your coach with OMbra. Visit omsignal.com and use the code MTA20 to get 20% off.

Matrix Fitness Treadmills -Right now, you can save up to $400 on treadmills, bikes or ellipticals from Matrix Fitness plus we’ll ship it for free. We stand behind our products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Head over to www.johnsonfit.com/matrix to see the lineup and change the way you think about home fitness.

Thanks again to our special guest Chris Galaty for helping us with this episode. Read Chris’ story here.

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 Gretchen Rubin -How to Make Time for Running through Knowing Yourself Better

The month of February is often a time when many New Year’s resolutions end up abandoned by the wayside. And this can be a major happiness stumbling block if you had high hopes for accomplishing certain goals this year. This episode can help you gain new insight and motivation to continue pursuing your running and fitness goals. And to help us dive deeper into this subject we were excited to welcome back Gretchen Rubin.

Gretchen is the author of multiple New York Times bestselling books like The Happiness Project, and Better Than Before. Her books have been so helpful and I consider her my personal happiness guru. I know you will enjoy this interview as we talk about some key productivity tips for busy people who want to pursue marathon training!

Questions you will hear discussed . . .

  1. Why is it so hard to make time for certain habits (like running) when we know they’ll end up making us happy?
  2. We all know people who are very gung ho about training if they’re signed up for a marathon and then the rest of the year they slide back into not running at all. How can people look beyond the finish line to focus on making exercise a habit for life?
  3. You written about the Strategy of Convenience. Can you explain this strategy and how it would help with something like making time for regular exercise?
  4. Another concept that I thought was very helpful to removing barriers to exercise was un-pairing. Talk about what this means and how un-pairing can be used to remove excuses.
  5. Is the idea of “finding balance” overrated?
  6. You’re working on a new book that dives deeper into the Four Tendencies which you talked about in Better Than Before (upholder, obligor, questioner, and rebel). For those who aren’t familiar with the Four Tendencies, what are they?
  7. How can people maximize their productivity and get things done with their natural tendency in mind?

Also Mentioned in This Episode

The Happier With Gretchen Rubin Podcast.

The Four Tendencies Quiz -find out if you are an upholder, obliger, questioner, or rebel.

The Role of the Elliptical Machine in Marathon Training. Read my post here.

Health IQ -The only place where runners can get lower rates on life insurance from A+ carriers.

Sun Basket -makes it easy to cook delicious seasonal, nutritious meals in your own kitchen—in just 30 minutes or less. Get organic, non-GMO ingredients from the best farms and fishermen, sent directly to your door! You can choose from Paleo, Gluten-Free, and Vegetarian options, created by an award-winning chef and approved by nutritionists. Use our link and the first three meals are free.

About Angie Spencer

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

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Interview with Tina Muir -How She Fulfilled Her Ultimate Running Goal

In this podcast episode we talk with fellow podcaster and elite runner Tina Muir who last year fulfilled a lifelong dream of representing Great Britain at the World Half Marathon Championships.

You will hear Tina relate the ups and downs of accomplishing that dream, how she deals with negative thinking during the marathon and her down-to-earth thoughts on building self-confidence.

The year 2016 was epic for elite runner Tina Muir. She was able to fulfill what she describes as “my ultimate running goal, the only hard set running goal I ever had”.

Though she was originally told she didn’t make the cut, Great Britain called her one week before the Half Marathon Championships and asked her to be on the team.

She finished as the 3rd Brit (out of 5) and 49th overall with a time of 1:15:12. She proudly represented her country with a smile that lasted 21.1 kilometers.

What We Learned About Tina from This Conversation

  • Tina and her husband Steve had a running themed wedding.
  • She has switched from gels to Generation Ucan.
  • She ran 2:36:39 at the California International Marathon in 2016.
  • She wrote names on her fueling bottles to dedicate miles to people.
  • She can eat a tub of frosting and not feel sick.
  • We were at the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon at the same time and didn’t know it!
  • The first time she broke tape in a race she was unsure about what to do with her hands.

What You Can Learn About Marathon Training from This Conversation

  • Even elite runners deal with negative thoughts in the marathon. Have a plan beforehand to combat this. Come to your race prepared with mantras, a playlist, and positive messages written somewhere on your body. It sounds silly but it works!
  • Getting passed can be discouraging when you’re feeling tired so pace yourself well from the beginning of the race.
  • Doing a month of speed work before you officially start your marathon training cycle will help you get faster. But be sure to rest and taper appropriately!
  • As Tina said, “Let your body tell you what it’s ready for” on race day. Sometimes a PR might not be in you on that particular day. This is why Angie believes in having layered goals.

Also Mentioned In This Episode . . .

Links for Tina Muir Blog | Run to the Top podcast | Twitter

Generation Ucan -the fueling source that we use at all our marathons. Allows you to keep your blood sugar stable and burn fat. Use the promo code MTATINA to save 15%.

Sun Basket -makes it easy to cook delicious seasonal, nutritious meals in your own kitchen—in just 30 minutes or less. Get organic, non-GMO ingredients from the best farms and fishermen, sent directly to your door! You can choose from Paleo, Gluten-Free, and Vegetarian options, created by an award-winning chef and approved by nutritionists. Use our link and the first three meals are free.

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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