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.


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.



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!...

The Peak Performance Nutrition Program (PPNP)
PPNP is a 13-week online nutrition program that includes the most critical nutrition information that you - as a beginning or intermediate marathon runner - needs to stay healthy and perform well during your training season.


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:

The Importance of Water/How to Properly Hydrate


How to Figure Out Your Perfect Training Breakfast

How to Fuel for Powerful Mid-Week Training Runs


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


- 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

- Learn how to make steady changes to your diet, rather than overhaul everything all at once

- Learn the difference between "training" and "non-training" diets - because what you should be eating while you're on a run - and what you should be eating when you're at your desk in the office - are two very different things.

- 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!)

- Clear up confusion around nutrition - because, frankly, none of us are taught about food in school (which is crazy) and so we have to try to navigate through the contradictory diet information out there, which is enough to make anybody crazy.

- Take the guesswork out of race day nutrition.  When you finally get to race day, you want to know that you have a solid nutritional plan... so you can just focus on putting


I bet you are!  So, to view a sample PPNP issue,

click here.

PPNP costs $80 (if you're a charity marathon runner, I donate 10% of your PPNP fee to the charity you're running for, so please identify your charity when you order the program).


** To view a sample PPNP issue,

click here.**




To sign up, visit the Upcoming Programs page and select the appropriate PPNP program.






"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

"Initially, 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 was particularly happy with last week's information - preparing for the 20 miler - because I wouldn't have had any idea about my carb intake. Apparently it worked, because I didn't fall apart during the run!

I am grateful I signed up for this program because, in speaking with other runners, it is amazing how little people know about "fueling" your body for endurance."
- Mary C., '05 Boston Marathon Runner for Team in Training

"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


"Every newsletter is filled with great tips and I learn something new every week. I normally skip breakfast, but after starting the nutrition program I have learned how much this can impact my performance during training. I have noticed a significant improvement in my energy levels and endurance during long runs since trying out the recommended breakfast plans!" - Kim B., TNT Marathon Runner

"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:

1. What was most helpful about the PPNP?
"The weekly reminders about what I should and shouldn't be doing nutritionally were very good things. I typically eat well but making nutrition a priority and having weeks to focus on various aspects clearly helped on race day... thank you, Christi!! The lifestyle tidbits were good, too.  The runner's shopping list in week 14 is great. I'm living on my own for the first time so buying all my own food is new to me. The list and your market tour have been big helps to me."

2. Was there a recipe or new food that you liked the most?
"Mudslide smoothies and powerballs. Yup, I have a sweet tooth!"

3. What was the one change you made from the PPNP that had the most impact on you?
"Better snacking. Less salty items (except when increasing salt a week out from race day) from work's snack cabinet... more veggies and fruit."

4. What would you like me to change/edit/improve about the PPNP for next season?
" Honestly, I can't think of anything. The newsletters are visually appealing and well written. The program covers a bunch of important nutritional and lifestyle topics and relates them to marathoning. The recipes are simple. To top it off, the cost is very reasonable and you kick money back to TNT... awesome, A+!! I'll definitely refer back to the program."


PPNP costs $80 (if you're a charity marathon runner, I donate 10% of your PPNP fee to the charity you're running for, so please identify your charity when you order the program).




To sign up, visit the Upcoming Programs page and select the appropriate PPNP program.




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