Race Recap: Pennsylvania Spartan Super + Interview with Joe De Sena

As you will hear in this episode I had no plans to run a Spartan Race. I figured I would just stick to marathons and half marathons. But when Joe De Sena says “You’re going to Palmerton”, who am I to argue? Joe is, after all, the most punishing man in fitness according to Outside Magazine.

It’s always fun talking with Joe De Sena -endurance athlete and founder of the Spartan Race. Listening to his stories and perspective on life will challenge you to get outside your comfort zone! The interview took an interesting twist that we didn’t expect . . .

Our weekend plans changed when this happened: (See Video)

So, with only six days to go, I took Joe up on his offer and signed up for my first Spartan Race. It was brutal but definitely as cool as he said it would be.

Be sure to check out our full interview with Joe and hear about the Spartan way of life, obstacle immunity and common traits of successful people.

The Course

The Spartan Pennsylvania Super and Sprint Weekend was held at the Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Palmerton, PA, in the Appalachian Mountains.

From the Website:

Are you up for a course designed to challenge our elite Spartans? At the Pennsylvania Super and Sprint Weekend, you’ll come face-to-face with Pennsylvania’s BLUE MOUNTAIN, taking on steep slopes that intimidate you… long climbs that challenge you… and obstacles that threaten you.

A Spartan Super is between 8-10 miles with 20+ obstacles. At this venue you are either power-hiking uphill or downhill non-stop, most sections are just not run-able.

The trails were single-track, muddy, rocky, gnarly ankle twisters. Sometimes the uphills required ropes and the downhills were so slick you had to grab trees to slow your fall. This course will kick your A$$!

The Obstacles

I tried to study the best angle of attack and move through the obstacles in such a way that preserved my upper body strength.

I found myself having no trouble with the obstacles involving balance, climbing things, or carrying things. I did however fail 4 out of 20+ obstacles and definitely need to work on my grip strength, rope climbing and spear throwing technique. The Spartan website says that the spear throw has a 86% fail rate.

The penalty for failing an obstacle is 30 burpees (need to work on those too).

Here’s an unordered list of obstacles I encountered. They don’t published these beforehand or offer much of a course preview because they like the element of surprise.

  • Six foot and seven foot walls
  • Inverted Wall
  • Hercules hoist
  • Rope climb
  • Spear throw
  • Inverted bars
  • A-frame cargo net
  • Monkey bars
  • Ring swing
  • Sandbag carry
  • Log carry
  • Sled drag
  • The Olympus (wall)
  • The Z wall
  • Tire Flip
  • Mud pits
  • Lake plunge
  • Ape Hanger (rope to monkey bars)
  • Rock carry
  • Barb wire crawl

The Finish Line

I had to chuckle when after two strenuous hours I saw a sign saying “Mile 4”. I really had no idea how long it was going to take me so I’m glad I brought water and 2 Ucan bars. My fueling was solid but I needed every calorie! You should fuel for a Spartan Super like you would for a marathon.

Our top recommendation is Generation Ucan. It will give you consistent energy without GI issues or sugar crashes. Use the code MTASPARTAN to save 15%!

My total time on the course was 4:17:44. Finishing this race will be one of my proudest moments of this year. Big thanks to Joe De Sena for arranging race entries and nudging me out of my comfort zone. Everyone needs to do a Spartan Race!

Did My Marathon Fitness Prepare Me Well?

With only 5 days to prepare I didn’t do any training for this race. However, I am apparently still in decent shape after the Flying Pig Marathon.

I could definitely feel my marathon endurance kick in during the 4 hours I was out on the Spartan Course. I was able to run all the flat sections and downhill sections that weren’t too steep. Strange as it may sound, running felt like a rest period. It was the least strenuous aspect of the race.

I also think running over a dozen marathons has taught me a lot of valuable things about mental toughness, fueling, hydrating, running downhill without blowing out my quads, and not over-dressing on hot days. All this stuff came in handy at the Spartan Super.

The Kids Races

The Spartan folks were kind enough to provide our kids with entries as well. The boys were eager to compete and got a huge boost in confidence from their race! With the venue only being 2 hours from our house it made a perfect day trip.

Totally stoked to do another Spartan race!

Also Mentioned In This Episode

Joe De Sena – the founder and CEO of the Spartan Race series, an accomplished endurance athlete and host of the Spartan UP Podcast. Joe and his family make their home in Vermont.

The Spartan Iceland Ultra World Championship in December. We have thee ticket to give away. If you’re interested send us an email through our contact page.

SteadyMD. MTA is proud to be the official launch partner of SteadyMD. SteadyMD pairs you with a primary care doctor, online. A doctor who really gets to know you, listens to you, and has time for you. And not just any doctor. A doctor who is a runner just like you and who really understands marathon training, proper running form, common running injuries, nutrition for runners, and much much more. Available to you via phone, text, and video chat, anytime. Go to SteadyMD.com/MTA to learn more and reserve your spot. There are a limited number of spots available, so check it out now!

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The Running Form Episode!

elite runners

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

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

Poetry in Motion

Also Mentioned In This Episode

Revant Optics offers high-quality polarized, non-polarized, and prescription replacement lenses for ANY brand. Starting at just $24 a pair, they’re crystal clear, guaranteed to fit, and backed by a 1-year warranty. Go to RevantOptics.com/MTA today and get 20% off your first pair of lenses with offer code: MTA

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

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

About Angie Spencer

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

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

Dave Asprey

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

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

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

Interview Questions

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

Dave Asprey
photo credit @bulletproofexec

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Headstrong Book by Dave Asprey

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

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

Shout Out!

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

About Trevor Spencer

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

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Get to Know Your Podcast Hosts!

Angie and Trevor at Mumford and Sons Concert

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

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

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

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

Hidden Talents?

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

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

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

Most Unusual Marathons?

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

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

Best Post Race Food at a Marathon?

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

Toughest Marathon?

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

Favorite Podcast Episode or Guest?

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

Moment that is Non-Instagramable?

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

What Makes the Marathon So Special?

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

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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

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

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

About Trevor Spencer

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

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

climbing a peak

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

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

About the Authors

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

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

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

In This Interview You Will Discover:

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

Also Mentioned in This Episode:

Peak Performance Book website

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

Quick Tip: Marathon Training in the Heat and Humidity

Academy Member Shout Out!


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

About Trevor Spencer

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

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Race Recap: The Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio

flying pig art

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

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

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

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

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

At The Race Expo

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

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

Race Start at the Flying Pig Marathon

photo of Trevor

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

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

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

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

The Course at the Flying Pig Marathon

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

1. The Kentucky Loop (Mile 1-5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Killer Climb (Mile 6-8)

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

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

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

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

From the website:

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

Sin of excess lactic acid production. #YouMadeAFunny!

3. The Neighborhoods (Mile 8-18)

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

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

“Make America Chafe Again”

“Go PIG or go home”

“I like PIG butts and I cannot lie”

“Marathons are a pre-existing condition”

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

“Pain is temporary, online race results are forever”

“This little piggy cried all the way home!”

The Aid Stations

bacon stop

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

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

4. The Highway Miles (18-19)

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

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

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

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

5. The Home Stretch (20-26)

How I feel after finishing the Flying Pig Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Finish Swine”

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

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

Hogging Out At The MTA Meet-Up

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

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

Also Mentioned In This Episode

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

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

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

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The Injury Episode! With Special Guest Dr. Ben Shatto

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

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

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

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

Top Mistakes We See Runners Make

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

Questions Used in This Episode . . .

Injury Prone Runner

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

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

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

Returning to Running After an Injury or Surgery

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

Feet Hurt All The Time

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



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

Running After Pregnancy

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

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

Shin Splints

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

Tight Calves

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

IT Band

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

Knee Pain

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

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

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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

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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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Interview with Kathrine Switzer -Running Fearless!

Kathrine Switzer poses with a replica of her first Boston Marathon bib number 261. Credit: Hagen Hopkins.

Kathrine Switzer revolutionized women’s running when she broke the gender barrier and became to the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a bib number. That was 1967.

Kathrine just completed the 2017 Boston Marathon at the age of 70 -a record 50 year anniversary celebration of the run that changed her life and the lives of millions of women around the world.

You’re going to love this podcast interview!

Boston Marathon 1967

A woman, listed only as K. Switzer of Syracuse, found herself about to be thrown out of the normally all-male Boston Marathon when a husky companion, Thomas Miller of Syracuse, threw a block that tossed a race official out of the running instead, April 19, 1967 in Hopkinton, Mass.(AP PHOTO)

Just after the incident in 1967, Credit: Brearley.com

Switzer after Boston 67: notice the bloody feet; credit: Brearley.com

Boston Marathon 2017

Kathrine completed this year’s Boston Marathon with a time of 4:44:31! This year Kathrine was given bib #261, the same she had back in 1967. The field is made up of approximately 50% women.

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Kathrine Switzer | Marathon Woman -See Kathrine’s schedule and learn more about her book.

261 Fearless -a global supportive community which empowers women to connect and take control of their lives through the freedom gained by running.

Sporthooks Medal Displays founded by Marcy Futris -an accomplished female runner and entrepreneur that credits Kathrine Switzer as a role model and mentor.

PlateJoy -designs custom meal plans to fit your unique health goals and taste preferences. Offer code MARATHON for 10 days free and $10 off your membership.

From the Community . . .

Boston was such an incredible experience! I got to meet so many great runners and running celebrities, see the premiere of the Boston Documentary, visit some wonderful friends, and of course, run the Boston Marathon! When I turned right on Hereford the crowds were cheering so loudly and I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, a bad sunburn and a tear in my eyes. I am so grateful for this experience and could never have done it without Coach Angie and the support of the MTA community. You all are such a wonderful, supportive group and I love being a part of such an awesome community! Thank you for everything! -Debbie from Texas

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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Train Smart, Run Forever: Interview with Bill Pierce and Scott Murr

In this podcast episode we talk with Bill Pierce and Scott Murr from the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training.

Their new book is called Train Smart, Run Forever: How to Become a Fit and Healthy Lifelong Runner by Following The Innovative 7-Hour Workout Week, published by Runner’s World.

Bill Pierce, director of the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training is an experienced marathoner and professor of health sciences at Furman University.

Scott Murr, is a marathoner, 12 time Ironman triathlon finisher and assistant professor of health sciences, and director of the Human Performance Lab at Furman University.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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

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.

From the Community . . .

I wanted to say thank you to MTA members, Angie and Trevor for being the supportive running group I’ve needed to shoot for my goals. I went through a dark time when I finished college soccer and was left with no team and no support network other than my family that lived 2 hours away. No goals and no direction. I found running as a way to cope and then it later became my new athletic identity and main sport. I became a marathoner with the help of MTA! Because of this, I recently tried out for a semi pro soccer team that FC Wichita is starting this year. And all be darn if I didn’t make the call back and will be going to training camp to compete for a roster spot! I would not have had the confidence or fitness base to do this had I not of found running or had the backing of the MTA to keep me goal oriented and motivated. Thank you! I am grateful for you all! -Traci

About Trevor Spencer

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

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The Recovery Episode! Seven Things to Do Post-Run

Taking time to recover is absolutely essential if you want to get stronger and improve your fitness. During your speed work or long run (or even weight training session) you’re adding stress to your body systems which results in depleting energy levels, broken down muscle tissue, and stressed bones, tendons, and ligaments.

In the period post-workout (the recovery period), the body starts repairing itself so that you can come back stronger during your next run or workout if you do these seven things . . .

After you workout, your body starts to repair or replace damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process. Muscle growth occurs when the rate of muscle protein creation is greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown. And this happens during the resting period, not during the actual workout.

So if you’re doing the same workouts day after day without rest your body isn’t going to be able to keep up with the recovery process. You may start to notice overall fatigue, that your legs feel flat, that you aren’t making gains in speed, strength or endurance. If this goes on long enough it’s considered overtraining syndrome which comes with a host of problems that you don’t want to have.

When it comes to your need of recovery there is not a one-size fits all formula. Each runner’s need for recovery will be influenced by genetics, age, gender, overall health, additional life stressors, nutrition, sleep, etc. So you shouldn’t compare yourself to someone like Dean Karnazes or Mike Wardian and follow the same training or racing formula that they do. It’s not a weakness to admit that you need more recovery.

I’ve said it multiple times on the podcast through the years, that I consider myself to be an injury prone runner. Maybe it would be more accurate to state that I have a greater need for recovery than many people. Yes, I’ve pushed my limits over the years and have sometimes not gotten the best results. For me, and many other runners, increased quantity does not equal higher quality runs and races. And now with 44 marathons and 4 ultras under my belt I’ve noticed that my body needs more recovery time. In fact, like we talked about earlier I made the decision for the first time to withdraw from a marathon. I don’t know when my next marathon will be but I’m trying to prioritize my health first.

The key thing is not to see the need for recovery as some kind of weakness. It’s an essential part of being a strong and healthy runner for life and reaching your fitness goals. The more you can listen to your body and tune into its needs the better you’ll be able to guard against overtraining and injury.

Let’s get into some principles of recovery and start with the post-run period.

1.Cool Down:

After a run it’s important that you take time to properly cool down. That’s why I recommend that during the last 5 minutes of your run it’s wise to drop to an easy pace and after finishing your run to walk for at least 5 minutes. The purpose of the cool-down is to help return your body to pre-exercise conditions. This includes reducing your heart rate, breathing rate, and core body temperature.

2. Stretch:

Gently stretching your muscles while they are warm is another way many runners stay injury free and flexible. There is also a growing body of research into the benefits of yoga, which is good both for recovery and injury prevention. There’s no need for a runner to have the flexibility of a gymnast, but many runners have tight hips and quads which can lead to problems down the road. Doing a post-run stretching session of 5-10 minutes that targets your tight or problem areas can be very beneficial.

3. Body Temperature:

After you stop moving your core temperature is going to start dropping and wet clothes will cause further chilling. One of the first things you should do to protect your core temperature is get out of any wet clothes, especially if you won’t be taking a shower right away. Many of you have probably had the uncomfortable experience of having uncontrollable shivering after a race due to dropping body temperature. Two instances stand out in my mind- the Boston Marathon 2015 where it was wet and rainy and I had to wait a long time in the finisher’s area to be reunited with Trevor. Then there was the New Jersey Marathon 2016 where I underdressed for the conditions of wind and rain and had barely functioning hands by the end of the race. So get out of those sweaty clothes and into dry gear if you can’t shower right away.

4. Refuel:

Another way you can speed recovery is through refueling within approximately 30 minutes. The glycogen repletion window is actually open to convert carbs to glycogen at a higher rate for two to four hours immediately following vigorous exercise. In the past when I would walk in the door from my long run I was often immediately bombarded with demands that have built in my absence (kids tend to save all their issues and problems for mom). It’s very hard to find the time to eat something right away. So, my perfect solution is using a recovery drink.

There are a large variety on the market but I like the one from Generation UCAN which provides protein and carbs without simple sugars or a lot of calories. The UCAN bars are also very handy when you can’t get a proper meal right away. Then I can attend to the needs of my kids and do other aspects of recovery.

Even if you use a recovery drink right away it’s still important to eat a balanced meal or snack within 1-2 hours post-workout. If you don’t eat enough in this 2-4 hour window post- intense workout you may notice yourself feeling ravenously hungry during the next 1-2 days. Now obviously if you’re doing a light workout or shorter run that doesn’t get close to depleting your glycogen stores, shoving extra carbs and calories in post-workout may only lead to fat gain so be sure to refuel wisely.

5. Hydrate:

Since fluid makes up approximately 60% of your body weight it’s important to be mindful of staying properly hydrated. Many runners focus on staying hydrated during a run but neglect to drink water the rest of the day. Now I don’t believe in forcing large amounts of fluids down. In general you should drink to thirst and let your body be the guide. Signs of inadequate hydration include headaches, darker colored urine, not having to urinate for longer periods or only passing a small amount, and nausea. After a long run I often like to add an electrolyte solution like UCAN hydrate or Hammer Fizz to my water to help replace any electrolytes that may have been lost while running. I also like to take a reusable water bottle with me so that I’m getting plenty of fluids during the day.

6. Compression:

Compression gear can provide more oxygen, improve blood circulation, muscle and joint stabilization, an improve metabolization of lactic acid, and speed recovery. The true benefits of compression garments occur if they’re worn post-race or long run when they stimulate circulation to give a faster lactate recovery rate. Wear them during a long run or race if you like the way they feel, but the ideal time to put them on is during the recovery period. Be sure to read our recent blog post all about the benefits of compression.

7. Cold Therapy:

Submersing your lower body in cold water below 59 F for 10-15 minutes can noticeably reduce muscle soreness in the next few days and reduce performance related decreases from inflammation. Taking an ice bath (or sitting in a cool lake or stream) within the first 2 hours post-run can be of great benefit. If you can’t handle the thought of submersing that much of your body and you have a sore area (knee, ankle) be sure to get an ice pack on the area right away. Ice the area for 15 minutes every 2 hours for the first 24 hours to decrease swelling.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Academy Membership -Get the full training of How to Recover LIKE A BOSS

Generation Ucan – our preferred source of fuel for entrance runs and recovery. Use the code MTARECOVER to save $15.

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.

The Resurrected Runner -author of Ice Bath Baby Song

Go! St. Louis Marathon

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