Marathon Training Opens Up a Can of Worms!
When I started training for my first marathon, I was a beginner runner. By beginner, I mean that the last time I had run was in high school gym class... 8 years earlier.
And the only reason I ran on that particular day was because they told me I couldn't graduate unless I ran that one lap around the track. It was painful and miserable. When I finished, I gave out some serious high fives, and vowed never to run again.
I kept my promise for a long time. I never even thought about running again until I was 23 and received a mailer about Team in Training, the marathon running/fundraising team for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. That mailer (and the recruiting event that I subsequently attended) tugged at my heartstrings so hard that I decided to run the Dublin Marathon with the team.
The problem? I hadn't run since that infamous lap in high school.
As I laced up my running shoes for my very first virgin marathon training run (OK, let's be honest, they were $15 sneakers from T.J. Maxx... brand is of no importance... because, well, let's be honest... they were just generic sneakers from T.J. Maxx)... I thought to myself, "The only thing I need to get good at is putting one foot in front of the other... for 26.2 miles." No biggie. I can do that.
The thing that Team in Training failed to mention was that running your first marathon is about so much more than just putting one foot in front of the other for 26. 2 miles.
There are other things that will require your immediate attention like:
- What shoes to buy (it took me only a week of incredibly painful shin splints to realize that my $15 T.J. Maxx shoes weren't gonna cut it).
- What clothes to buy (because if you're goign to run 26.2 miles, you may as well look as bad-ass as possible... or at the very least, your clothes would need to have some kind of reflective stripes on them so that you don't get run over by aggressive Boston drivers in the dark post-work hours of winter)
- What kind of food to eat and liquids to drink to sustain yourself through 4-hour training runs and multiple shorter mid-week runs.
FOOD IS A CRUCIAL PIECE OF MARATHON TRAINING
It was the food piece that had me really confused. And during my first marathon training, I ended up gaining 15 pounds. Because I took carb-loading very seriously... and started carb-loading during my very first week of training. Um... that doesn't work out so well.
In my second marathon, I was still confused. I didn't gain weight, but I also bonked quite hard and quite badly at Mile FOUR of the Boston Marathon... which made the remaining 22.2 miles pretty painful.
By my third marathon (Chicago) I had been trained as a holistic health coach... and I had become well-versed in the way that food impacts every aspect of your training regiment... from your stamina during your runs, to the speed of your recovery afterwards, to the energy that you have at work throughout the week.
I put to use everything I knew about food and performance during that marathon, and I had a delightful experience... both during the race and during the training season.
YOU CAN USE FOOD TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
I don't want any other new marathon runner to struggle the way I did... so I put together the information I used to accelerate and improve my marathon performance. Now, you can spend your timing worrying about your kick-ass marathon clothes, your time splits, and your running shoes... because I've got the food piece covered for you.
INTRODUCING... drum roll, please!...
Performance Nutrition Program (PPNP)
The program includes information on what you should eat before, during, and after runs. It will teach you how to speed recovery, boost your energy, and buy healthy, portable snacks. It will coach you about avoiding dehydration and that all-too-awful-I-wouldn't-wish-it-on-my-worst-enemy gastrointestinal distress during training.
How Does PPNP Work?
Every week, you will receive an email with your nutritional gameplan for the week. Each weekly email outlines:
- the most critical nutrition training change that you must make during that particular week of your training season (i.e. hydration, preparing for your 20-miler, recovery foods, etc.). See below for a complete list of topics.
- a wellness tip to compliment the nutrition changes (i.e. how to avoid cramps, how to avoid weight gain, how to stay inspired when you hit a plateau, etc.)
- one important food that you should incorporate into your diet during that week (and for the duration of the training season)
- a delicious, easy recipe that incorporates that food (because, frankly, who has time to go looking for recipes when you're training for a marathon?)
Every few weeks, you'll also receive a *Bonus Email* that introduces a new extra credit nutrition topic like caffeine, healthy snacks, or how to create a runner's shopping list.
By the end of the program, you'll received 19 emails in total.
And if you've been following the advice and suggestions in the emails, you will feel like a whole new person... and your training sessions should be improving week by week.
Why Buy PPNP... When You Could Just Buy A Nutrition Book?
Well, you could buy a book. And you probably will. But I speak from experience when I say that books are not always the best tool when you want to make health changes.
What will happen if you buy a marathon training book? You'll read the first few chapters, then lose interest, or get totally overwhelmed when you try to implement all the info in the book. At least, that's what happened to me.
Wouldn't it be much easier to get step-by-step instructions on how to change your diet and lifestyle... so you can make changes slowly and surely... without getting stressed out?
The reason I put PPNP online, and spread the content out over 13 weeks, is so you don't get overwhelmed. Since the program takes place over several months, you don't have to overhaul your diet all at once. Rather, you make 1-2 changes every week, and these changes build on each other. By the end of the training season, you'll be eating quite differently, and the changes will have "stuck" because you integrated them into your life one week at a time.
Will I Have to Give Up Brownies or Beer?
Never fear! There are no PPNP 'rules.' The program will help you crowd out unhealthy foods by suggesting healthier foods that will support your body best during training (and, all the foods that PPNP recommends can be purchased at any local grocery store). Once you start eating better, your body will start craving healthier foods. I promise.
PPNP features 19 different articles on the following nutrition topics:
How to Figure Out Your Perfect Training Breakfast
Healthy Snacks for Power and Energy
Which Carbohydrates Should You Choose?
Protein Power for Runners
How to Fuel Your Body for Saturday Long Runs
How Can Fat Help You Race Better?
Vegetables: A Runner's Best Friend
The Most Effective Recovery Foods
Say Good-bye to Your Sweet Cravings
Hydration, Part II (for longer runs)
How to Avoid Digestive Troubles During Long Runs
The Runner's Grocery Shopping List
How to Fuel For Your 20-Mile Run
Three Weeks and Counting...
The Low-Down on Caffeine
Race Day Preparation - Putting Everything Into Practice
Reentry - How To Eat Once the Marathon Is Over
PPNP Also Includes:
19 different easy-to-make recipes
19 different tips on how to take care of your body and spirit during training
BENEFITS of PPNP:
- Stop stressing about what to eat - you'll know what foods will work best for you at any point during the season. Save your brain cells and energy for the runs, leave the food stuff to me.
- Don't get sucked into the unhealthy world of Gatorade and Clif bars... foods which will hurt your health and your training progress
- Figure this difference out, and you'll avoid that weight gain that so many new runners fall prey to. Just because you're training for a marathon doesn't mean you should eat for two (trust me, I made this mistake the first time around, too, so I speak from experience!)
CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT PPNP LOOKS LIKE?
I bet you are! So, to view a sample PPNP issue,
** To view a sample PPNP issue,
HOW DO I SIGN UP?
"Your online Peak Performance newsletter is probably the most valuable thing next to sneakers that our runners could spend their money on." Mike Ferragamo, Boston Team in Training Running Coach
"What I really, really enjoyed about the program was how it split all the information into small bits to "digest" each week. The recipes were very helpful as well and you didn't give out so much information that it became overwhelming, which I think can sometimes happen if you read a sports nutrition book." - Sarah L, TNT Runner
I bought nutrition books, but it's difficult to retain all of the information.
What I like about the Peak Performance Nutrition Program is that it
focuses on one subject at time and parallels our actual marathon training.
This makes it much easier to absorb. When changing eating habits, it's
much easier to do it slowly.
"I have found the Peak Performance Nutrition Program very helpful. It's enabled me to select healthy food (ex: tonight I plan to have wheat pasta in lieu of traditional pasta). Your newsletter has provided a number of other good tips which I have incorporated into my running regime. I plan to re-read all your newsletters this week to ensure that I am doing all the right things to prepare for the marathon. Thank you very much Christi!" - Melissa T., '05 Boston Marathon Runner for Team in Training
"Thank you so much for your guidance. This season has been amazing for me. Your PPNP tips and newsletters took the pressure off of me trying to figure out what the heck I should be eating! I'm in the best shape I've ever been in, I feel and look great, and am so happy." - Sarah C., Marathon Runner for Team in Training
"First of all thank you for your words of wisdom and inspiration - I always read every word of PPNP and took your advice seriously. The marathon was absolutely awesome. The weather, the crowds, the whole experience was fantastic, and I really enjoyed every mile of it!" From Theresa R., Boston '05 TNT Runner
This is an email I received from Paul McCarron, a long-time Team In Training Runner who ran Chicago with me one year, and most recently ran Boston '05. I asked him to provide feedback on the program:
was most helpful about the PPNP?
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