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:


Beyond The Workouts: How Training Impacts My Life

Every Monday I post a recap of what I did for training the previous week. It tells you how much time I spent running, what my workouts were and what cross-training I did. What it doesn't tell you is the implications training has on my life and how I spent my time when I'm not training. My life is not typical of your average 27-year-old, at least as far as I am aware. I honestly don't know anyone else my age who spends their time the way I do. Training involves a lot of sacrifice (to me it's normal, but to an outsider it may look like tremendous sacrifice and a strict way of living). I choose to make the choices I do because I prefer it (1000x more) to other ways I have lived in the past, and ultimately because it makes me happy.

Here is how training affects my life:

  1. I watch an insane amount of Netflix, seriously, I can go through 2 seasons of something over a weekend, even more, if I'm tapering.
  2. You won't find me at the bar/club on the weekend (or ever really). Even if I did enjoy spending time at bars and clubs it would not be conducive to running a big workout or long-run the following day. I do enjoy drinking beer, but it's mostly a 1 and done situation, and at home, not out.
  3. I go to bed super early, we're talking before 10pm often times. Running is tiring, what can I say. In the summer, I often wake up early to run  before it gets too hot.
  4. I spend my Friday and Saturday nights at home 99% of the time. This ties into numbers 1-3.
  5. It's common for me to take naps or lie down. This is especially true on weekends, when the workouts and runs are the longest of the week. Naps are essential to recovery!
  6. I don't participate in many (or any) other sports. I do not enjoy team sports at all, so that's no problem, however, I do enjoy trail running, hiking, and winter sports. I don't do this other activities often or at all because: a) my energy is already used from running and needs to be saved for more running the next day, and,  b) I am nervous about injuring myself and being unable to run.
  7. I think about food all the time, and am hungry all the time! Obviously, large training volume and increased appetite go hand in hand, but there is also a lot of meal-planning required. What I mean by that is, I always think about how what I consume will impact my running. Will it upset my GI tract? Am I eating enough to support current/upcoming training? Am I getting appropriate amounts of carbs/fat/protein? Am I getting enough iron? It's all important.
  8. I don't own a lot of "regular" clothes. I may have an excess of running and athleisure clothes, but when it comes to regular clothes, especially "going out" clothes, there isn't much.
  9. My feet have seen better days. I have some black toenails, some callouses, and a bunion. It's all part of the fun. Pedicures only go so far.
  10. I wear running shoes/sneakers everyday. I choose comfort over all when it comes to shoes, and that means cushioning. This also ties into #9, I don't need extra blisters or damage to my feet.

Training involves a lot more than running and this is what it involves for me. I enjoy putting my full effort into training and everything that comes with it, but I understand it isn't for everyone. There are definitely many ways of training and this is what I choose to do.

What impact does training have on your life? What sacrifices does it involve?

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!