10 Signs You’re Training for a Marathon

In just 3 months, I will be toeing the start line of the Boston Marathon. I feel like even if you didn’t know I was training for a marathon, after quick look through my room (and my Strava) it would become pretty obvious. Here are 7 signs you’re training for a marathon:

1. You’re super stocked up on run fuel.

Can’t train for a long-distance event without fuel, so I have a bunch on hand for all the long runs I’ll be doing leading up to race day.

2. This is the view from your bed.

These are the medals I have received since living in BC, and my acceptance card for Boston 2018. #motivation

3. Your hydration game is on point.

Hydration is obviously very important in life as well as in endurance training and I like to replenish electrolytes by using Nuun.

4. Your training journal lives next to your bed.

Though my training schedule is kept on an excel doc, I also like to have it written in a training journal. I write down what the run is, any notes about how it went, what shoes I wore as well as when I do strength training.

5. The answer to have you seen…on Netflix is almost always YES! Recovery is a major part of training and admittedly, I spend a lot of my recovery time watching Netflix. Always accepting recommendations! Just started Black Mirror.

6. You have a stock-pile of running shoes ready to wear.

Saucony is my preferred brand of running shoes, especially Kinvara’s and the Freedom ISO’s. I have run in Saucony’s for all 3 of the marathons I have done and plan to run in them in Boston as well.

7. You have pre-scheduled your sports massages for the entire training cycle. What can I say, runners tend to like structure, routine and planning oh and massages, duh.

8. Reading for pleasure is mostly made up of running content.

Other reading I have done recently includes a 46 page power point presentation on nutrition for marathon running. I plan to print out some of the key slides and post them on the fridge.

9. You use running as a means of transportation. I am a big fan of the run commute. Instead of spending the time and money to get home and then run, I run home instead. It allows me to run while there’s still daylight, and saves time. No brainer. I also “ran” an errand the other day during my run commute home.

10. When people ask what you’re doing this weekend, you send them this meme:

Or this one:


Fueling for Distance Runners: Advice from a Registered Dietician

On Wednesday night I ended up running 18km, but when I was done I failed to re-fuel properly due to nausea. This continued to the following morning when I was still unable to eat enough. I headed out for my 70 minute run and became so hungry I couldn’t think about anything else. There happens to be a really good bakery on route also incidentally the only food on the route (lucky me), so after 7km I stopped, ate a pain au chocolat and proceeded to finish my run. I have never done anything like this before, but sometimes things happen and well, it was a freaking tasty stop.

During 2XU Camp we had a presentation about nutrition by one of the resident dieticians at CSIO. This inspired me to make my own appointment with a dietician and see what she had to say about my specific fuelling needs for distance running. In January I will start training for the Eugene Marathon in May and in preparation for that I want to make sure I am eating as optimally as I can be. Before our appointment I was asked to fill in a 3 day food diary including the time of each intake and the amount of each item as precisely as possible, I also filled out an exercise diary to give her an idea of how much training I do. Going into this I felt that my eating habits were above average. I try and eat something every 3 hours, make sure to balance protein, carbs and fat, and drink lots and lots of water throughout the day. I am also very conscious of the types of foods I choose to eat and prefer natural foods to those with a long list of complicated ingredients.

I met up with the dietician last Friday and she said on a bigger training day my caloric need would be about 2700 calories, I am by no means planning to count calories, this is just one guideline. It should be adjusted to be more or less depending on how much training I am doing. When I submitted my exercise calendar the longest run was 18km, so with marathon training that will increase to be much longer as will my fuelling needs. In terms of distribution, I am recommended to have 20 servings of carbohydrates, 12 of which should be grain, 5 fruit/sweet vegetables (squash for example), 3 milk alternatives (1/2 cup of chocolate milk is 1 serving). For protein, the target is 9 servings, an example of a serving is 1 large egg . For fats it is 3 servings per day, examples include: 1/6 of an avocado, or 1 tsp olive oil. I normally eat half an avocado at a time, which would be the total fat allowance for the day (oops). There are also “free foods” and the target is “as tolerated”, but aiming for 5 servings of free vegetables. Free vegetables include: cauliflower, kale, peppers, tomato, though there are many more. In addition, there are 2 “other foods” included in the day and those are higher-fat carbohydrate foods and one fat choice, for example a chocolate chip cookie or a glass of wine. This is all ideally divided between 3 meals and 2 snacks throughout the day, and there is a suggested distribution of these servings among those 5 eating times, but I won’t bore you with that.

A few tips…

1) Combining carbs with lean protein, and healthy fats will help keep blood sugar from rising too high AND keep you full longer.

2) Eat 3 meals a day about 4-6 hours apart.

3) If meals are more than 4 hours apart, have a snack between them.

4) Aim for variety and choose at least 3 out of the 4 food groups at each meal and at least 2 food groups at snacks.

5) 1-4 hours before exercise, consume at least 60 g of carbohydrates (4 servings), for example a nut butter sandwich and a piece of fruit. And hydrate!

6) During exercise lasting longer than 1 hour, aim for 30-60 g of carbohydrate per hour (I generally don’t fuel until the run is 90 minutes or longer).

7) During exercise lasting longer than 2.5 hours, you may benefit from up to 90 g of carbohydrates per hour.

8) Post exercise, aim for 1 g per kg of bodyweight in carbohydrates over the next 4-6 hours, 15-25 g of protein and fluid to re-hydrate.

9) If planning to be active the next day, have a snack within 30 minutes after your activity.

10) Improve iron intake by including at least one iron-rich food and one food rich in Vitamin C at each meal (it helps your body absorb more iron).

Most of what the dietician mentioned were things I already knew. Like I said, I consider myself to be above average with my nutrition and that proved to be true. Upon her analysis of my eating habits, I am successful at meeting the needs she outlined. I do need to increase my iron intake which is not something to take lightly. I often eat oatmeal for breakfast because of the iron content, however I have a coffee with it which is not ideal for absorption. It is hard to imagine waking up and not having a coffee, especially at 5am, but I might have to switch to tea and have the coffee later in pursuit of increasing iron absorption!




5 Simple Snacks for Runners 

During the 2XU Camp, the sports dietician mentioned the importance of eating every few hours. The reasoning for this is to keep blood sugar and energy levels consistent rather than peaking and dipping like they do when you only eat 3 times a day. It can also prevent over-eating. The answer to eating more frequently is…SNACKS. Now don’t get too excited, I don’t mean chips and cookies (though they are tasty and allowed in moderation). I’m talking healthy, wholesome, ingredients-you-can-pronounce snacks. I have eaten more than 3 times a day for as long as I can remember, I get hungry every 3 or so hours, so I use that as a cue to eat something. I have been snapping photos of some of my favourite snacks, they are all fast, easy to make, and super satisfying. 

1) Crunchy Chickpeas: this is as easy as it gets, all you do is drain and wash the chickpeas, coat them in a bit of olive oil, and season with your preferred spices. I did cumin and tumeric. Then bake in oven at 350 until crunchy, about 20 mins. You can eat them alone or use them in salads which I’ll get to..

2) Soft Pretzels: I freakin’ love soft pretzels and these are so easy to make. I used whole wheat flour, but you can use another kind if you prefer. The recipe I used can be found here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/12/25/30-minute-whole-wheat-pretzels/

3) Cottage Cheese Toast: we all know runners need carbs, but another tip from the sports dietician was to pair carbs with protein if possible, rather than having them alone to have a more satiating effect. Bonus, protein is necessary for muscle repair and micro-tears are common after a hard workout. Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein and low in fat. All you do is toast your bread of choice, I recommend toasting it a bit longer than normal, then spoon cottage cheese on top. I like to add spices for an extra zing. I used black pepper and chilli flakes. 

4) Mini Salads: this is where you can use your extra crunchy chickpeas, I used cherry tomatoes, half and avocado and a little bit of Greek yogurt dressing. Good and satisfying and takes 2 minutes to make. 

5) Guilt-Free Scones: growing up I would bike alongside my dad keeping him company during training runs and we would end the run at Starbucks where he would have a coffee and we would share a scone. I can’t tell you the last time either one of us had a scone because in most cases coffee shop pastries are pretty unhealthy. So, when I saw the scone recipe in Run Fast. Eat Slow. I knew I had to try it. Each scone has less than 1 tbsp of butter, much more suitable than your coffee shop version. 

What are your favourite snacks to keep you going through the day?

Prep and Raceday Plan for my First Marathon

I am still feeling pretty excited about next weekends’ race, fingers crossed I don’t go crazy during the taper and turn into a ball of nerves. I plan to go into this race ready to conquer it. A lot of planning is involved in gearing up to run a long distance race, including volume of running, nutrition, race day clothing, warm-up, fuel, and best of all, the post-race celebration!

Running: I have about 43km of running total to do between now and the marathon next Sunday, not much considering my total weekend mileage is often around that. The longest remaining run is a mere 13km. Considering I ran about 100km last week, the 2 weeks pre-race involve a significant decrease in running volume. The goal is for the legs to have a chance to recover from all the training and be ready to hold marathon pace throughout the race.

Nutrition: I have been extra hungry these last few days, not too sure why, it’s almost as though my body knows it will need all the healthy food it can get in preparation for this race. I am making sure I give my body what it needs and if I am hungry, it means I eat, but I always make sure I’m getting enough carbs, protein and fat, not too much of one macronutrient  and too little of another. For running, carbs are and will always be king, but protein and fat can’t be neglected.

For dinner, pre-race, I will likely have pasta, cliche I know, but it works. I will either have some form of protein in the pasta or on the side. For breakfast, I will have hot oatmeal, gotta stick to your regular foods so you know your body will react well.

Race Outfit: As of now, the weather report is saying it will be 14 degrees on race day. There is still ample time for that to change of course. I think I will bring two options: a singlet and split leg shorts, and a t-shirt and crops. I will be forgoing the hat for fear of how long the forehead dent would remain after running 3+ hrs with a hat on. The non-negotiables are my Saucony Hurricane Iso 2’s, Flip Belt (best running accessory ever) and my Garmin (duh).

Pre-race Warm-up: Typically, I warm-up for 15-20 minutes before running a race. This is true for distances beginning at 5km all the way up to half-marathons. The marathon distance will be the exception, my warm-up with be a measly 5 minutes, so as not to use up energy needed for the race.

Fuel: What I will be taking throughout the race is an energy gel called Endurance Tap, they are just sachets of maple syrup and I plan on fuelling every 30 minutes. Fuelling this often really helps me continue to feel great, I recommend trying it. Since I will be taking at least 6 gels, my one concern is that I might get sick of taking so many of these maple ones. I am still deciding whether I want to alternate them with another gel that I have also trained with.

Post-Race: My first wish is to be able to walk. Aside from that, I am sure I will be ready to eat something large and not ingest anymore gels. I also imagine I will be looking forward to a long, hot shower or bath (if I can’t stand). Following that, I am planning to meet up with some fellow EVRC folks to celebrate over a craft beverage or two at my favourite beer bar in Victoria, The Drake.

What do you do in the days leading up to a race to prepare?

Thoughts on Marathon Training with 1 Month to Race Day

The big day is only a month away now! I must say, I am feeling pretty excited to finally join the marathon club. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but I wasn’t ready. Am I ready now? I guess time will tell, but as it stands I am feeling pretty freaking good going into this. Before my marathon training started I had envisioned it as being a lot more challenging than it has been, say 30+ km runs every weekend and spending the rest of the day vertical, doing nothing. I also thought I would be insanely hungry all the time, but this also isn’t the case, maybe because I already am hungry most of the time?Obviously, these were some naive assumptions because running that long of a long run every week would be pretty damaging to the body and if you eat properly before, during and after a run, hunger is no big deal.

I think for me, the key to feeling great during the race will be to fuel often. I recently tested this during VanRace which you can read about here:Training August 22-28 and VanRace Recap . I have found that fuel intake should never be underestimated. The other realization that my training has provided is the importance of choosing your run clothes carefully and ALWAYS using BodyGlide. I used to only use glide when I was running with shorts because sometimes the seams cause chaffing and let me tell you, that burning feeling never gets easier. I like to use glide in the area between the arm pit and top of the sports bra on my sides because during long runs, I often get chaffing there, but with glide this is totally avoided!

Another important aspect is eating foods you 100% know you react well to. For breakfast before a run, I normally have oatmeal and top it with a banana and unsweetened coconut flakes. If it’s going to be a longer run, I will add a banana. After I am done running, I like to have some form of eggs to re-fuel, last weekend was home-made huevos rancheros, during the week it has been soft-boiled eggs with toast. It is integral to have a breakfast routine to avoid stomach issues on race day, and I have unfortunately had a few stomach issues this training cycle. I think eating at home the night before a run is the best option. That being said, a lot of great races are out of town, even out of the country, so it isn’t always possible to eat at home. I think eating something simple, that you often have, is the best choice.

The last lesson I have learned so far is to put in the work and trust the process. I have been doing my absolute best to follow a training schedule made specifically for me, I made sure to fit in my runs on vacation, when friends from Toronto were visiting, and in spite of any other excuse someone might have to not run. The truth is, I actually don’t like to miss runs or take unscheduled days off. It makes it hard for me to sleep and I have this sense of not having used enough energy that day or something. With an average of 1 day off per week, it is manageable, but it will be interesting to see how my final two weeks of training/tapering play out! Any tips on managing excess energy are welcome!

What has marathon training taught you? Is there any advice you have for a first timer?