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marathonEven if you’re not competitive or you’ve never raced, a Turkey Trot is fun way to get the holiday season off to an exhilarating start. Most Thanksgiving day events are fun, non-competitive community events that benefit worthy causes. If you’re a more seasoned runner, you can use the Turkey Trot to test your fitness, or in lieu of a quality workout. Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy all the holiday treats much more knowing that you’ve already made an investment in your health.

  1. Make it a Family (and Friends) Affair. Whether you’re spending the day with family members or friends, a Turkey Trot is something loved ones of all ages, and levels of fitness and experience can savor. After the race, you’ll all have plenty of time for prepare the meal, catch the sports, and relax. The companionship from family and friends can ease any pressure you might feel about the event. And having a family outing helps reduce the stress and the focus on the holiday meal. Some exhilarating outdoor time can ease holiday stress and relieve any guilt you might be feeling about missing out on training.

  1. Dress Well. Wear shirts, shorts, and pants made of technical materials that wick sweat away from the skin. Avoid cotton, which can cause painful chafing. Dress in layers that you can shed as you warm up. If you’re racing in wintry conditions, it’s especially important to cover your fingers, ears, and head.

  2. Set Realistic Expectations. If you’ve been running on a regular basis, look at your training log and consider the paces of your recent workouts to figure out what a realistic finishing time be. If you haven’t been working out regularly, or you’re recovering from hectic travel, don’t sweat the outcome. Consider doing the race as a run/walk or running without your watch. Alternate between walking and bouts of running so that you can sustain an even level of effort from start to finish..  

  3. Fuel Well. There’s no need to carb load for a short race like a 5-K or 10-K. But have a carb-rich snack of foods that give you a boost without upsetting your stomach. Aim for foods that are low in fat and fiber. Bananas, oatmeal, and toast are all great choices. If you’re running in a 5-K, aim for 200 to 300 calories. Drink plenty of water, as dehydration can make even an easy pace feel difficult. Leave plenty of time before the race to hit the bathrooms.

  4. Start Slow, Finish Strong. When everyone around you is running as fast as they can, it can be tough to focus on running at a comfortable pace that feels sustainable for you. It’s easy to get caught up in the adrenalin of the race pack. But if it’s your first race, it’s important to focus on a strong finish that leaves you feeling positive, confident, and excited about racing again.  When the starting gun fires, think about taking the first 5 to 10 minutes of the race to warm up your muscles, shake out any stiffness and pre-race stress, and ease into your own personal feel-great pace. As the race continues, think about gaining strength with each step closer to the end, and finishing feeling strong.

  1. Adjust your schedule. Add your race to your Goals and Results feed, so we can make sure you have the proper spacing between this effort and your next challenging tasks, and “Adjust Schedule” if necessary. Use the unique flexibility of our training platform to stay on track!


Have questions? Contact Us!



Tips for Race Week

September 28, 2017

 

After sacrificing so much time, energy, and sweat to train for your race, the stress in the days before the event can feel overwhelming.

It is easy to get caught up in worrying about what you can’t control—factors like the weather, or how well your training went. But that’s not a good use of your emotional energy.

Focus instead on the many other factors within your control that can make or break your race.

Take the steps below to stress less on race week and arrive at the starting line feeling fit, fresh, and ready to run your best.


Hydrate. Dehydration can sap your performance, and make any pace feel harder. Prevent dehydration by consuming plenty of fluids  in the days before the race.  Aim to consume half your body weight in ounces each day. So if you weigh 160 pounds, try to drink 80 ounces of water or other calorie-free drinks each day. If you weigh 120 pounds, aim for 60 ounces. Sip fluids in small doses throughout the day. Pounding drinks right before a workout, or the race, could cause GI distress.

Eat well. Stick with the foods that have worked well during training and given you a boost without upsetting your stomach. Avoid any new foods or meals with spicy foods in the day before the race—you don’t to risk GI distress. There’s  no need to carb-load for a 5-K or a 10-K. But to ensure that you have plenty of fuel when the starting gun fires, in the days before the race make sure that there are plenty of wholesome carb-rich foods in your meals.

Review the course. Review the race course online, or better yet drive or run on stretches of the course in the days before the race. Take mental notes on where you’ll have to push and where you can cruise. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line feeling composed, strong, and exhilarated.

Get your gear out.  It’s tempting to try something new to honor the special occasion of the big day. But it’s not a good idea. A gear or wardrobe malfunction before or during the race can throw off your focus and end up derailing the day you’ve been preparing so hard for. Plan to race in the shoes, apparel, gear, and gadgets that have been reliable in training.

Review your logistics.  What are your plans for picking up your race packet? How will you get to the race in the morning and get home afterwards? Where will you park? Make a plan, write it down, and stick to it. Spending time to nail down these logistics will help relieve stress on race morning.

Get some rest. Avoid the temptation to cram extra miles or intense workouts in the final days before the race.  Your fitness on race day is the result of the cumulative effect of all the workouts you’ve done over weeks and months. It’s unlikely that any workout you do in the week of the event will propel you to a PR. And by pushing the pace or the mileage right before the race, you risk getting injured, and sidelined from a goal you’ve worked so hard and long to achieve. Use the days before the race to rest, run easy, and get plenty of shuteye. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night.

Review your training log. Add up all the miles you logged to train for this big event. Take note of all the times you pushed yourself out the door for a tough workout when you would have rather stayed in. Draw confidence from all that you accomplished on the way to the starting line. Anyone can show up on race day. But it takes months of dedication, sacrifice, and hard work to train for it and get your body and mind into shape to give that race your all. Take some time to reflect on some of the major milestones and highlights of your running life so far—say the first time you completed a mile, ran five miles, broke a new personal best, or hit a pace that once felt impossible. Savor that success. Use those memories, and that pride to fuel your confidence heading into race day.

Review your goals.  Have a few time goals in mind that are realistic based on how your training went. Consider the miles you logged, how healthy you feel, and any aches or pains you may have accumulated along the way. If you set a goal at the outset of training, but work, life, illness or injury got in the way, save that goal for another day. It is far better to go in with a conservative goal and surprise yourself than to go into a race with vaunted unrealistic expectations that ultimately lead to disappointment. In addition to setting time goals, be sure to set consider objectives that aren’t so tied to the numbers on the finish-line clock. You might aim to run up the hills you previously walked, try to perfectly execute your fueling plan, or run each mile within 10 to 20 seconds of the previous mile. Or you might try to do a negative split—that is, finish the second half the race faster than the first half.




chasechallenge2Check out our final tips to run your best at the J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge San Francisco. (Be sure to look for the Movecoach Team on race day!)

Race day is almost here! Remember to lay low and stay off your feet the days before the race. Your reward is race day itself and
the challenge of running. . . .

Arrival

We recommend arriving to McCovey Cove at least one hour prior to the start of the race. This will allow you enough time to park, find your team and warmup. Go for a 10-20 minute walk or jog 30 minutes prior to the start to prepare your body for the race ahead.

As you warmup, think about what you did, not what you didn’t do in your training. When you go to pick up your race number and run into old friends, family etc. everyone will want to ask about your training so they can tell you about theirs. Forget about theirs and don’t compare yourself to anyone. You followed a terrific training schedule and are well prepared.

Night Before, Day Of

Have a full meal the night before. Try and consume some complex carbohydrates (pasta). Do not over eat, but make sure you fill up.

The Chase Challenge is an evening race, so you’ll want to stay fueled through the morning and taper your intake during the afternoon. If you have a normal pre-race breakfast and lunch, then stick with it. Don't try any new foods before the race. Eat a light lunch of 200-300 Kcal Drink Gatorade (or any sports drink that doesn’t include protein) and/or water frequently to assure you are hydrated (clear urine is a good sign). You should stay well-hydrated throughout the day before the race. At some point prior to the race stop drinking so you can empty your bladder before the start. It is important to refrain from over-consumption of water alone, as that will drain your body of needed electrolytes.

Take a bottle with gatorade/sports drink to the start with you and right before (less than 5 mins) the gun goes off drink 4-8 ounces. This is your first water stop. If you drink close enough to the start you shouldn’t have to pee – the fluid should only drip through your kidneys because most of your resources (blood) will be in your legs and out of your gut as soon as the gun goes off.

Early Miles

We suggest that you start 5-10 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace. By the 2nd mile you should be running at around goal pace while listening to your body. We recommend this approach as it may activate (and utilize) a higher percentage of fat fuel over the first couple miles. Remember we are trying to conserve glycogen and muscle for as long as possible.

Stay on top of hydration. Fluid stations will be located at 4 stations throughout the course. Take note of these opportunities to rehydrate and plan to drink 4-8 ounces every 20 minutes. It is better to consume enough fluid early and sacrifice the later stops if necessary.

Remember the 3 ‘C’s’

Confidence: Have confidence in your ability and your training. Remember all those hard workouts you did. Remember those early mornings, late nights, sore calves, tight hamstrings etc. - they weren’t in jest.

Control: You must relax yourself early in the race. You absolutely must go out under control for the first half of the race. We want to save a little bit for the final miles.

Collection: Keep your thoughts collected and on your objective. There will always be lots of distractions on race day. The further you get in this race the more you need to focus on yourself, goals and race strategy. Don’t let the fans and competitors into your zone.

The Ebb and Flow

We said before that we can’t guarantee anything about the training or the race itself. Well, I can guarantee this: you will feel good at some point and you will feel bad at some point within the race.

Races usually ebb and flow, runners rarely feel terrific the entire way. We always hit little walls. If you hit one just focus on the next mile, don’t think about the end of the race. If you take each difficult moment one mile at a time you will usually feel better at some point. It always comes back because. . .

You Always Have One Cup Left

That’s right – you always have one cup of energy left. The difference is that some people find it and some don’t. Remember what normal, untrained people do when they feel discomfort – they slow down and feel better. You are not a normal un-trained person.

You are a running machine!

You are programmed to give your personal best so. . .

Go get that last cup!

Don’t forget to come see us after the race! 
Swing by the Movecoach tent in McCovey Cove after the race to refuel, hydrate, and celebrate with the Movecoach team!



Here at Movecoach, the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge San Francisco is a tradition that we look forward to each September. Though we walk and run at a wide variety of paces, as we prepare together as a team—celebrating one another’s successes, and commiserating about setbacks—we forge bonds that wouldn’t have been possible during regular office hours.

Meet the Movecoach team, and be sure to come say hello on race day!

Let Movecoach design a training plan for the event that’s personalized to fit your current level of fitness, and workout schedule. Click here to learn more.

Tom McGlynn, Founder and CEO 
tomrunning_smallest
Movecoach CEO and founder Tom McGlynn will be running in his eighth Corporate Challenge.  “I love lining up just before the gun and seeing former colleagues, friends and other runners,” he says.  His race goals: to run faster than at least 1,000 runners who are 20 years younger, then dash back to the course to finish with Movecoach engineers, Charles and Aaron. Like so many Movecoach Challengers, for Tom, running means way more than anything that could be measured on a finish-line clock. He relies on running to manage stress and think more clearly. “If I don’t run, I’m completely non-productive and often times unbearable for co-workers and family members,” he says. “Running literally keeps me going.”

Cori Tresser, Head of Marketing
cori
This will be Cori’s fifth year in the Challenge. She’s aiming to get to the starting line—and the finish—feeling fit,  fresh, and running her best. But even beyond the finishing times, she loves the benefits that a regular exercise routine bestows. “Exercise— whether I’m doing my Pure Barre Class or running outside for a few miles— makes me feel wonderful,” she says. “I usually feel like I can do anything after a good exercise session (that only lasts about 20 minutes).”




Aaron Bentley, Application Engineer

aaroncristina Aaron will be participating in his first Corporate Challenge. He started walking last year with his fiance, Cristina, when they adopted their dog Zoe. Now he cherishes that time to unplug from work, and reconnect. “It’s a time for me to unwind with Cristina and our dog, Zoe,” he says. “It gives us time to talk about our days without the distraction of technology.” Aaron plans to walk the event, finish in under an hour, and meet some Movecoach clients along the way.


Sarah Lippitt, Data Scientist

sarahrunningphoto 1Sarah ran the Corporate Challenge for the first time last year. Her favorite part is the finish line. As a night owl, she especially appreciates the fact that the race occurs inthe evening—those are rare! 

She’ll wait to set a goal until the week before the race, “when I know where the summer training has taken me,” she says. Sarah loves the spectacle of large running events. But she also enjoys how training helps her discover and explore new places she’s never been before. “I like to create new routes for either a run or bike ride and find new scenes and places that I otherwise may not come across,” she says. “I also like to create GPS art. Completing the picture will definitely keep me going!”

Brett Miller, Director of Business Development
brettson
 Brett will be participating in his fourth JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. “My favorite part of the event is meeting lots of other people from different companies who are working towards making fitness a part of their lives,” he says.  “Through our clients, Movecoach has a ton of employees participating.  Getting to meet them, and hear their stories is a great part of the event.” Brett’s goal this year: To have fun and feel like he performed well.

But like so many Movecoach participants, the real rewards come on the way to the starting line. “When I can consistently get out for a 30 to 60- minute run, lots of other things start falling into place,” says Brett. “ I get time to clear my head, my body feels better, and I start to see real improvements in my running too!”


Ashley Benson, Head of Product
ashleyrunningphotoAshley will be running in her fourth JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. “My favorite part of the event is the camaraderie and team spirit that the race inspires amongst the Movecoach team,” she says. Her goal: to contribute to a mixed team title, and to be among the top female finishers in the race. But running holds so many rewards, even beyond the finish line, namely, “the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve achieved a goal,” she says. “ It’s addicting!” 





Charles DeWald, Senior Application Engineer

charlesCharles has completed the event twice before. For him, the event presents a great opportunity to see the scenic lower part of the city that he doesn’t get to see during his normal workday routine. The time he puts into working out on a regular basis gives him a strength and resolve that shines into so many other corners of his life. “Finishing a workout—regardless of how you feel—builds mental toughness,” Charles says. “And that’s always in demand.”



The JP Morgan Challenge
San Francisco is Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 7:15 PM. For all the details about the event, click here.


Have questions? Contact us!





























5 Reasons to Race

June 21, 2017

racepackEven if you’re not competitive, there are many good reasons to sign up for an organized event.

1. Ease your jitters.  Most races—especially 5-Ks— are community-oriented events with runners and walkers of all abilities, ages, and levels of fitness. They provide a very supportive low-pressure setting for you to get a sense of what racing is all about. 

2. Check out some new territory. You’ll get a chance to check out new parks, trails, and fun running routes that you might not otherwise discover.  Exploring a new setting is a great way to avoid boredom and burnout.

3. Meet other runners. Chatting with others makes the miles roll by much faster. Races are opportunities to meet people with similar interests and fitness goals.  You might find that friends and coworkers you already knew, love getting outside to run too!

4. Test yourself. Use  a race to establish a baseline of fitness. Enter a race every four to six weeks to track your progress, and determine whether you need to tweak your routine. Plug in your results to the “Goals and Results” page, and we will design a plan that matches the level of activity and fitness you have now. The plan will gradually ramp up mileage and intensity so you can unleash your fitness potential.

5. Get your speedwork done.  Have a hard time getting yourself to do speedwork solo?  Sign up for a race instead of your weekly track session. Once you register, you’re less likely to blow it off. Plus, pinning on that number, and joining the pack of other runners will give you the adrenalin rush you need to push yourself farther and faster.

Remember, in addition to a personalized, training plan, as a Movecoach participant you'll access to expert coaches certified by USATF, USAT, and RRCA. We’re here to answer your questions about training, nutrition, and technical issues.  

Any questions? Contact us.



Every finish line is the start of a new adventure. Here are some tips to consider as you recover from your race and charge toward your next challenge.2race

REST. Races take a toll, regardless of how easy or hard you run them. Negotiating crowds, logistical gymnastics, and the adrenalin rush of running in a pack of people who are racing as fast as they can, can drain your energy.  After you finish, take time and rest to recharge your body and mind. If you’ve got achy muscles, cross training at an easy effort with low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and the elliptical may ease your soreness.  This recovery time is plugged into your training plan, so stick to it.   These low-key days won’t wreck all your hard-earned fitness; they will ensure that you charge toward your next goal feeling healthy, and mentally fresh.

REFLECT. Consider how this training cycle and race went. Did you meet your goals? Why or why not? What lessons did you learn on the way to the starting line? What happened in the final days and hours leading up to the starting line, that impacted your results? What would you like to do differently next time? The answers to these questions will help you make a smart decision about what challenge to take on next. If you want help making sense of your race results, or determining your next goal, reach out to us. 

RESET. Use the insights you gained from your reflections to reset your next goal. You can incorporate your recent race finish by selecting “Goals & Races” and adding a new race. And new distances and finish times aren’t the only goals you can set. And with our platform, you can join and create your own challenges that will help you continue to build fitness, without racing. Join a challenge to post the most workouts, or cover a certain amount of miles in a certain amount of time. Enjoy the community of other runcoach users who are reaching for their own personal bests. High five one another’s successes, and enjoy support on your own. Click on “Challenges” at the top left of your screen after log in.

CONNECT. If you have any questions about your race, recovery or training, reach out to us.  Share your success story. We would welcome any feedback you might like to provide about your experience using our system!


After all the time and effort you invested in training, you want your hard work to pay off on race day.  Here are 10 tips to keep in mind in the final days before the big day. jva_2racing

1. Hydrate. Dehydration can make even an “easy” pace feel harder. Consume plenty of water in the days before the race.  Sip fluids in small doses throughout the day to avoid stomach upset. 

2. Stick to familiar foods. Avoid the temptation at the expo to test out new sports foods and drinks. Stick to foods that have given you a boost during training without upsetting your stomach.  Avoid any new foods or ingredients to avoid GI distress.

3. Stick to the training plan. In the days before the race, it’s tempting to cram in extra mileage or intense workouts to propel yourself to a PR. That’s not a good idea.  You can’t boost your fitness at this point—you only risk injury.  Use the time to rest, run easy, and get plenty of shuteye. You want to feel springy and energetic, and ready to unleash all the strength, and speed you worked so hard to develop.

4. Don't diet...Some runners attempt to cut back on calories during the taper, as they cut back their miles. But in the days before the race, you want to be building up your stores of glycogen so that you can have them to burn during the race. If you’re training for a half-marathon or a marathon, aim to get 70% of your daily calories from carbs in the final three days of your race. If you try to restrict calories, you could end up at the starting line feeling depleted and fatigued.

5. ...But don't get carried away with carb-loading. Other runners use the race as an excuse to eat with abandon. That can lead to GI distress, a heavy-legged feeling at the starting line, and a race that's derailed by emergency pit stops.

6. Review the course. Review the race route and course elevation, or if you can, drive or run on stretches of the course. Take mental notes on where you’ll have to push and where you can cruise. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line feeling composed, strong, and exhilarated.

7. Gather your tried-and-trusted gear.  Resist the temptation to use or wear something new for the special occasion of race day.  A gear or clothing malfunction before or during the race can rock your focus and derail the day you’ve worked so hard to prepare for.  Plan to race in the shoes, apparel, gear, and gadgets that have been reliable in training.

8. Review your logistics.  What are your plans for picking up your race packet? How will you get to the race in the morning and get home afterwards? Where will you park? Make a plan for race weekend, write it down, and stick to it. Spending time to nail down these logistics will help relieve stress on free up energy you need to focus.

9. Reflect on your training. Add up all the miles you logged to train for this big event. Take note of all the times you pushed yourself out the door for a tough workout when you would have rather stayed in. Draw confidence from all that you accomplished on the way to the starting line. Take time to reflect on the major milestones you hit—say the first time you completed a mile, achieved a new personal best, or hit a pace that once felt impossible. Use those memories and that pride to fuel your confidence heading into race day.

10. Reset your goals.  Have a few time goals for the race. Consider how your training went,  how healthy you feel, and any niggling aches and tweaks you may have developed along the way. If work, life, illness or injury got in the way of training, save your original time goal for another day. And be sure to set process goals for the race, which aren’t tied to the numbers on the finish-line clock. You might aim to run up the hills you previously walked, or try to do a negative split—that is, finish the second half the race faster than the first half.

Good luck!

After you cross the finish line, be sure to tell us about your training and racing experience. Share your story here. 



Race day is almost here! Remember to lay low and stay off your feet the days before the race. Your reward is race day itself and the challenge of running. . . .

Arrival

Make sure you get outside and feel the air. Go for at least a 20 minute walk or jog on either the day before, or two days before (or whatever is on your schedule).

Think about what you did, not what you didn’t do in your training. When you go to pick up your race number and run into old friends, family etc. everyone will want to ask about your training so they can tell you about theirs. Forget about theirs and don’t compare yourself to anyone. You followed a terrific training schedule and are well prepared.

Night Before, Morning Of

Have a full meal the night before. Try and consume some complex carbohydrates (pasta). Do not over eat, but make sure you fill up.

On race day eat a light breakfast of 200-300 Kcal of carbohydrates including the sports fluid you drink. If you have a normal pre-race breakfast then stick with it. Don't try any new foods before the race. Drink gatorade (or any sports drink that doesn’t include protein) and/or water frequently to assure you are hydrated (clear urine is a good sign). You should stay well-hydrated throughout the morning before the race. At some point prior to the race stop drinking so you can empty your bladder before the start. It is important to refrain from over-consumption of water alone, as that will drain your body of needed electrolytes.

I suggest you take some throw away warmups to the start especially if it rains or will be cold. This could be an old t-shirt or old sweat pants. Also old socks will keep your hands warm. Some runners will even wear a t-shirt for the first couple miles of the race until they warm up and then pull it off and throw it away. This is a good strategy to prepare for all temperatures.

Take a bottle with gatorade/sports drink to the start with you and right before (less than 5 mins) the gun goes off drink 4-8 ounces. This is your first water stop. If you drink close enough to the start you shouldn’t have to pee – the fluid should only drip through your kidneys because most of your resources (blood) will be in your legs and out of your gut as soon as the gun goes off.

Early Miles

I suggest that you start 5-10 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace. By the 2nd mile you should be running at around goal pace while listening to your body. I recommend this approach as it may activate (and utilize) a higher percentage of fat fuel over the first couple miles. Remember we are trying to conserve glycogen and muscle for as long as possible.

Stay on top of hydration. Fluid stations will be located at 4 stations throughout the course. Take note of these opportunities to rehydrate and plan to drink 4-8 ounces every 20 minutes. It is better to consume enough fluid early and sacrifice the later stops if necessary.

Remember the 3 ‘C’s’

Confidence: Have confidence in your ability and your training. Remember all those hard workouts you did. Remember those early mornings, late nights, sore calves, tight hamstrings etc. - they weren’t in jest.

Control: You must relax yourself early in the race. You absolutely must go out under control for the first half of the race. We want to save a little bit for the final miles.

Collection: Keep your thoughts collected and on your objective. There will always be lots of distractions on race day. The further you get in this race the more you need to focus on yourself, goals and race strategy. Don’t let the fans and competitors into your zone.

The Ebb and Flow

I said before that I can’t guarantee anything about the training or the race itself. Well, I can guarantee this: you will feel good at some point and you will feel bad at some point within the race.

Races usually ebb and flow, runners rarely feel terrific the entire way. We always hit little walls. If you hit one just focus on the next mile, don’t think about the end of the race. If you take each difficult moment one mile at a time you will usually feel better at some point. It always comes back because. . .

You Always Have One Cup Left

That’s right – you always have one cup of energy left. The difference is that some people find it and some don’t. Remember what normal, untrained people do when they feel discomfort – they slow down and feel better. You are not a normal un-trained person.

You are a runnining machine!

You are programmed to give your personal best so. . .

Go get that last cup!


Guest Blog Post from Heather Tanner

Heather Tanner is a 3-time Olympic Trial marathon qualifier, 2004 USA World Half Marathon Team Member and decorated NCAA Cross Country and Track & Field Athlete during her time at the University of North Carolina and Stanford University. Tanner is currently preparing for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials and offers her advice on fueling for the marathon to runcoach and movecoach trainees.

There are many things to worry about in the final days leading up to a marathon. Like mapping out a race strategy in line with your fitness so that you don’t end up becoming intimately acquainted with the “wall”. Like taking care of the not so little things such as sleep, nutrition and stress management to ensure that you can get to the starting line healthy. Point is, fueling strategy really shouldn’t be one of those worrisome things. As long as you practice your fueling method in the long runs leading up to the race and have figured out a way to ensure regular carbohydrate replenishment during the race, you will be ok on this front.

During my first marathon experience (Columbus Marathon, 2003), I was a novice on many fronts and broke some major cardinal marathon rules (most importantly: don’t start a marathon injured, ever!). I had no idea what I was doing on the fueling front either and recall being alone at the expo the day before, trying to decide what type of fluids to try (water or maybe that new, strange-tasting Accelerade?) and how many gels I might need (is 1 or 2 enough?). As was inevitable, my hip injury helped me avoid hitting the wall, by slowing me down in the form of 8 stretching breaks. Not pleasant, for the record. Let’s just say fueling probably would have gotten the better of me had something else not have gotten there first.

Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some amazing runners over the last 10+ years and have since followed a few simple yet important guidelines in order to avoid the “bonk”:

1.) Take fluids as EARLY as possible – Do not pass the early water stations by. I typically try to take fluid at every station available, sometimes both water and the race-provided electrolyte beverage. This often means fluid consumption at least every 2 miles. You may only successfully take in a couple of ounces per cup, depending on your speed and your ability to coordinate moving and drinking at the same time, so it’s better to focus on frequency of water stops.

2.) Take your gels SLOWLY – Your digestive system can only absorb about 1-1.5 grams of carbohydrate per minute. An average gel contains 20-22 grams of carbohydrate. The quick math here means that your body can’t keep up with you very well if you down the whole gel in one second. In addition, gel consumption becomes even slower if you do not consume it with adequate fluids. I may take a gel every 4-6 miles during the course of the marathon (4-5 gels in total), but I take each one in slowly.

Note: Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, US Olympian and VP of R&D for Gu, told me about me this slow Gu consumption method after she had a successful marathon in cold “frozen Gu” weather (CIM, 2001 – 2nd: 2:37:57). Her Gu had formed into a cold, solid state and she was only able to consume small amounts at a time as it thawed. Despite this, Magda felt properly fueled.

Logistically, slow gel consumption can present some challenges. I prefer to hold onto the packet and take a small amount every minute or so, i.e. “sipping” on the gel. It can become a sticky mess, and the only helpful thing I can offer here is that this is all less annoying if you are wearing gloves. If you prefer other types of fuel, there are options that are already conveniently partitioned into smaller caloric chunks. Think Sport Beans or Clif shot blocks. Always intersperse gel consumption at or near water stations and practice this slow fuel consumption method in training.

3.) Ingest electrolyte-based drinks, not just water - This is another fairly obvious one, but not always followed. Research has supported evolution of sports drinks over recent years and many are purportedly optimal for electrolyte replenishment during the marathon. If you have the choice, it’s best to use beverages backed by science and your own experience. Osmo, UCAN, GuBrew and Nuun are some good newer beverage options with solid science to support their use. The more common beverage choices serve their purpose for most of us too though (Gatorage, Powerade, etc.).

    The same slow carbohydrate absorption rule may apply for your electrolyte drink, but remember that these drinks are often significantly diluted, which can be a good thing. If the race-provided drink tastes too concentrated, try to balance it out with more water consumption at the next station. This may help your digestive system to absorb the carbohydrates more easily.
    Also, if you are at all at risk for hyponatremia, or essentially over-hydrating, counterbalancing your fluid intake with an appropriate volume of electrolytes is even more important. The risk threshold for hyponatremia is known to apply to those who consume approximately 8 oz of fluid (any type) every 20 minutes (a lot!) and this risk is even higher if that fluid is water alone. Don’t over drink.

    4.) Adapt your strategy for weather conditions – Heat and/or humidity will of course greatly increase your rate of sweating and will necessitate increased fluid consumption. Stay on top of that early. Potentially equally damaging in a different way, extremely cold conditions may interfere with your desire to consume fluids. You could then be at risk for dehydration and subsequent muscle cramping if you do not drink according to your normal plan, despite your perceived lack of thirst.

    5) Don’t worry if something goes wrong – If you miss a water station, or an untrained child volunteer throws the cup all over your shirt at mile 16, do not panic. It will be ok as long as you’re following rule #1. Make it up for it at the next stop by grabbing both water and electrolyte drinks.

    I try to remember these themes as I race, but do so in an unscientific way because, in most cases, there are many other elements you cannot control over the course of 26.2 miles. You don’t want to create an overly specific fueling plan in case it becomes difficult to execute. One missed water station and you could find yourself in an unnecessary tailspin of distraction. Based on your individual body composition, it is certainly possible to estimate the precise amount of carbohydrate, electrolyte and fluid you should consume over the course of a marathon. It is extremely difficult to make that precision happen in real life, particularly if you are not fortunate enough to have the luxury of elite water bottles placed at regular intervals over the course. Fortunately, by keeping these general guidelines in mind, you can still get pretty close to optimal fueling and feel good come mile 26!



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