Miscellaneous Marathon Training Notes

I recently read multiple books to prepare for the 2015 Chicago Marathon, my first marathon. My official training schedule doesn’t start for another week, but I wanted to get my mind right, just as much as my body. I read 3 books: “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide” (by Hal Higdon), “You Can Go The Distance” (by Bruce Van Horn) and “Marathon Training” (by Joe Henderson).

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When I am reading for research like this, I usually have a notepad and pen by my side to jot down the important notes. As a result below are the notes I took from reading these three books to help in my training efforts. Hopefully they can help those in need as well.

On Nutrition:

  • Amount of protein needed per day during training is 0.8 grams per KG of body weight.
    • Body Weight / 2.2 = Weight in KG
    • Weight in KG x 0.8 = Amount of Grams of Protein needed per day
  • Successful marathon diet:
    • 55% carbohydrates, 30% fats, 15% protein
  • Carbo loading should happen months before the race, not the night before

Miscellaneous Notes:

  • “By skipping a run, you are actually training your brain to do that next time”
  • To become a successful marathoner:
    1. Follow a proper diet
    2. Eliminate extra body fat
    3. Refrain from smoking/ heavy drinking
    4. Get adequate sleep
    5. Exercise regularly
  • High mileage training helps you better utilize glycogen (the substance stored in muscles and liver that creates energy for running)
  • To run a marathon well, change your habits in 5 areas during the final weeks of training:
    1. Cut total mileage (cut by about 50%)
    2. Cut frequency (days you run per week)
    3. Cut distance, not intensity
    4. Cut the lifting
    5. Cut back on calories
  • Get a race day routine and practice it during your long runs
  • You build strength when resting not running
  • Yasso 800’s = Run 800 meters (0.5 miles) at your goal pace per mile. Lightly jog another 800 and repeat.

On Taper Period:

  • Tapering = Taking your running miles down 2- 3 weeks before race day
  • Begin tapering 3 weeks prior to marathon (after your 20 mile long run).
  • During the 3 week taper period long runs should be 12 miles, then 8, then race day.
  • During taper weeks, cut your distance not your pace.

On Race Week:

  • To do week of race:
    • Drink more water
    • Sleep longer
    • Stay off feet
  • Focus on fruits, vegetables and grains one week before the race
  • During marathon week, watch food intake for first 3 days, then the next 3 days eat more than your normal intake, with a focus on carbs
  • You may want to jog the day before the marathon to reduce nervousness, but do not go too far

On Pre-Race:

  • Eat your first race day pre-race food as early as 3 hours before the race start
  • Run/ walk a half mile or so on race day in preparation
  • Types of protein bars for pre-race should be something that is mostly carbs
  • Pre-Race Breakfast:
    • 1.5 to 1.8 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight 3 to 4 hours before race

On Post-Race:

  • After crossing the finish line you must keep walking. Drops in blood pressure and cramping increases by resting immediately after.
  • Try to get your blood sugar back to normal as soon as possible with sugar based drinks (Gatorade, Soda, etc.)
  • Types of protein bars for post-race should be something heavy in protein
  • After the first 5- 10 minutes post run walking around, get off your feet. Elevate your feet to ease blood flow to your heart.
  • Keep any stretching post-race short and simple.


Book Review: “Marathon Training” by Joe Henderson

The second book on my marathon training adventure was “Marathon Training. The 100-Day Program for Success”. This book was written by Joe Henderson.


I do not know the official background on Joe Henderson, but his words can be trusted. He mentions in the book that he was a contributor to Runners World magazine in the 1970’s. Also he talks about running marathons all over the country (including the major ones like Boston and NY). So as far as advice goes he is someone’s advice that I respect.

Having said that, truth be told I did not finish this book. I got half way through before deciding to call it quits. Not because I thought it was a bad book. But it is truly a 100 day program for marathon training. Yes, I do realize that is in the title so this should not surprise me. But I took a chance on the book because I am new to marathon training and am not too good for anyone’s advice.

Continue reading

Running: Just as Much Mental as it is Physical

Today I was having a conversation with my girlfriend about her wanting to run. She has run many times before. As she puts it she likes to do 5K’s and that is all. It’s not a major part of her life like it is mine, but she does it. She was saying how she wants to run a 5K in April (about 2 months from now) so she should start running now.

The convo reminded me of when I was training for my first 5K. I remembered how nervous I was and how I was afraid of the distance. Fast forward a year and a half later and I laugh at that thought. I feel confident that if someone forced me to run a 5K after waking me up in the middle of the night I would have no problem with it.

What this convo made me feel the most was how much of your mental state plays a factor in running. Sure I have changed physically since I have first started running, but it hasn’t been a crazy transformation like the ones you see in one of those before and after photo’s. So for me I don’t think it is easier now to run a 5K because of my physical shape. I have never really been out of shape. Sure I could easily afford to lose weight, but at the same time for most my life I keep myself physically active. Whether it is backyard sports or casually going to the gym even when I first started running I could at least be considered “active” (whatever that may mean).

So if the physical part hasn’t been a major change, something must be causing that mindset. And it is clear it is the mental aspect. Like I said, when I first trained for a 5K I was nervous about it. Nervous I wouldn’t be able to finish or it would be too tough on me. Fast forward a year and a half and I have completed 3 Half Marathons, a triathlon, spartan race, duathlon, 15K, 10 mile runs, etc. etc. So by now a 5K just doesn’t present that big of a hurdle to me. I am not saying they are easy, but the way I look at it is different.

That would probably be my biggest advice to someone just starting out in running; don’t let the space between your ears stop you from achieving your goals. I recently wrote about how easy it would be for someone with no experience to train for a 10 mile run in 2 months. Someone wrote me backlash on how I was a fool for suggesting that and how difficult it would be. Sure it will be difficult, but that doesn’t mean impossible. I am living proof. I went from couch to Half Marathon in 2 months myself, and I never let my brain tell me I couldn’t. And in two months I completed my first Half Marathon. Because every day I went out there and just trained as hard as I could.

So for those of you thinking you need to be a specific body type to complete specific running goals, you are mistaken. Sure physicality has something to do with it. But just as important (if not more) you have to believe you can.

Half Marathon #3 Weekend Is Here!

In 2 days I will be completing my 3rd Half Marathon. The Philadelphia Half Marathon. And I could not be more excited. Being able to hang up my 3rd Half Marathon medal after only starting to run in July 2013 is an exciting thought.

However this will be my first winter half marathon. And what I learned is training for a half in the winter is hard. Not the running part. Luckily if it gets too cold both my work and my apartment complex have gyms on site so it isn’t difficult to get a run in. For me it’s hard to find the motivation to run. By the time I leave for work it’s bitter cold and pitch black out. To say seasonal depression has kicked in would be an understatement.

So training has dipped off a bit. I have really only run a handful of times in the past few weeks. And with any luck I will get a run in today to remind my body what running feels like. As a result doubt has crept into my mind. Will I be able to do as well as I know I can? Am I ready? Can I even do it?

Luckily I have faith in myself. By no means am I a half expert, but I have been to the dance before. I know what 13.1 miles feels like. I know that by mile 3 I will be doubting if I can even run any further. I know at mile 7 I will start to get so hungry I could eat a full Thanksgiving turkey. I know at mile 10 I will be convincing myself “only a 5K more!” And I know by mile 13 I will sprint my hardest .1 mile I know I can. So from that standpoint I have been through the motions before and know what I am capable of.

I also had a 10K run a few weekends ago and walked away from that experience feeling very positive. My time was good, I handled the cold weather well and the course was very hilly and I didn’t let that stop me.

So naturally I am just going through the nerves anyone experiences when they know they are on the doorsteps of something very important to them. And as long as I am confident in myself, don’t get too high, don’t get too low I know I will complete my goal.

#3 is on its way!

Want to Run a Half Marathon? Go do it!

For me running started in June of 2013 and it began with 1.27 miles. Took me about 11:30 to finish and I remember it being very difficult. Fast forward a year and a half later and I am in the middle of training for my 3rd Half Marathon.

During that first 1.27 mile I will never forget how difficult it was. I was training for a 5K at the time. And I will always remember how I wasn’t sure how I was going to finish 3.1 miles. I didn’t want to do it but decided I wouldn’t give up. Immediately after my first 5K I decided to go on a plan for a half marathon. I figured if I work hard enough I could do it.

Fast forward two months later and I completed a half marathon! I always thought I needed to be a certain body type or needed to run track as a high schooler to complete that goal. But here I was, close to 30 years old, running for the first time in my life and finishing a half marathon with only 8 weeks training.

That’s what this post is about: if you want to complete a half marathon (or any distance you want) you just need to go for it. You don’t have to set a world record. You don’t need to have running in your DNA. You don’t need to be elite. Just pick a plan and go after it. Whether you finish in the top of your group or you are the last person across the finish line, you can say you finished.

For me personally I had always wanted to run a half marathon because I thought it would be a major accomplishment. But for years I avoided it because I always thought I wasn’t special enough. Until I finally got a plan and stuck to it. At the end of the plan I had a half marathon medal. A year and a half later and I have 2 Half Marathon, a Triathlon and countless other medals of varying distances.

You don’t need a special gene in your body to complete a goal. You just need a plan and an attitude that won’t give up. Like Nike says: just do it. It sounds so simple, however I know from personal experiences it is not. But don’t let fear or doubt get in your way. You are possible of so much more than you think. You will realize the only thing stopping you from achieving your goals is yourself.

Just as the picture says, don’t think about it. Just go out and run. Now go out there and accomplish your goals!

Eat Well, Run Well

Tonight was my second official run of my half marathon program. Nothing much, just 2.5 miles. I decided to go back to basics to prep for the Philly Half Marathon in November. I could easily get out there and do a 10K or 15K right now but I am a creature of habit so I decided to go back to my first ever half marathon plan.

The 1st run wasn’t bad. It wasn’t amazing but I finished no problem. Two days later and I ran the same distance. Only this time I felt better. Didn’t feel sluggish like I did two nights ago.

The difference? Food.

Lunch on the day of my first run: 3 sausage pepper and onion sandwiches.

Lunch today: grilled chicken with steamed broccoli.

Obviously I’m not breaking any news here but focusing on your food is equally important as completing your training miles. And I have always known that but feeling the difference really helps put it in perspective.

A few weeks back I completed a 28 day meal plan. And I really educated myself that you don’t eat healthy by just sticking to salads. You need protein, carbs, etc. It helped my discipline on good meal preparation. So now for this half marathon I am adding clean eating to my training and with any luck it will help me set a PR.

Running and healthy eating, match made in heaven.

9/20: The Day I Ran Two Races

On Saturday 9/20 I ran the Philly Rock N Roll 5K at 8:00 in the morning, and by 10:00 AM I crossed the start line of the Spartan Race at Citizens Bank Park in South Philly. Needless to say it was a fun day.

Last year I ran the Rock N Roll Half Marathon and it was the first time I ever ran a Half Marathon. This year they introduced an inaugural 5K. I am not quite ready for a Half Marathon right now (training for one in November) so I thought the 5K would be a fun option. Honestly, for as amazing as the Half Marathon was last year the only thing left to be desired was the finisher medal. However the Rock N Roll 5K medal this year looked a lot better so I felt it was worth the run. And truth be told I run a lot of races for the medals. Call it what you will, I make no apologies about it.

This year I decided I would run the Spartan Race. As I have written before I really like trying out new races so when I found out they were running a Spartan in Philly I knew I had to sign up. I also saw that the Philly Rock N Roll 5K was that morning. So I made the decision I was going to run both races. The 5K started at 8:00 and I signed up for the 10:00 wave of the Spartan Race, so I figured no problem.

So first, the 5K…

It was a lot of fun. It was the day before the Half Marathon so the course was prepped for the thousands of people who would be running the Half Marathon however only 2,500 ran the 5K. So it wasn’t too crowded and there was plenty of room on the course. Also the portable toilets we’re set up to handle 10’s of thousands of runners. I don’t think I need to tell a runner how this was a positive impact for a race that had not even 3,000 people.

The course was an out and back so it was good to see the people who started earlier than you running towards you and cheering everyone on. Also a state record was set for the fastest 5K run in Pennsylvania ever. Cool to be a part of  running history.

Overall they did a great job with the run. This was to be expected as they were handling the Half Marathon the next day so setting up a 5K should have, and was, a simple process.

Next, to the Spartan Race….

I finished the 5K, met up with my girlfriend and got out of there without really waiting around. I never really feel the need to take in post 5K celebrations. Not that I do not enjoy them, but just give me my water bottle and let me head home. So her and I left there and headed to our next stop. My first race was in Center City Philadelphia and my next one was South Philadelphia, so a quick ride on the Subway and we were there.

The Spartan Race was a lot of fun. They set the course up at Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies play. So there was tons of running up stairs, through stadium seats and more. We even got on the field to do some obstacles in the clubhouse!

The race itself is probably one of the most difficult runs I have done so far. I have run a triathlon, duathlon and a few half marathons but this one included a lot more than just running. There was so many more obstacles to fight through that caused additional fatigue.

Overall it was really cool to run through the stadium like that. As a sports fan I have been to the stadium a bunch of times however never like that. So the race itself was a lot of fun and organized very well.

So there you have it, my first ever two-a-day organized race day. I pushed myself hard that day and kicked my butt. And I would do it again in a heart beat.


Active Day


Race #1!


Race #2!


My girlfriend, my amazing support sysetm. Got up early with me, carried my racing gear around and traveled all over the city with me. I am a lucky guy


Spartan Finisher!


Productive Saturday

Why Do I Run?

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. Besides the obvious benefits of running (increase life expectancy, being healthier, feeling better, etc) there are other reasons on why I run.

Those are all great reasons, I do feel a lot better physically and look forward to hopefully tacking on a few extra years to my life. However above all of that I run because of what it has done for my life. Of all the times I look back at running I do not think I have ever looked back on it with any sort of negativity. Running has been the one constant in my life that has brought me a lot of pleasure.

Running always seems to bring people together for the better. If you look at the unfortunate events at the Boston Marathon last year and then fast forward a year later, people seemed to band together stronger than ever. You see it at almost every run you go to. Strangers becoming friends, or random people helping fellow runners get through an obstacle or injury. The running community has an appreciation for one another that is hard to find elsewhere.

For me, in a majority of my runs this year I ran for the Organization for Autism Research. As such I would wear shirts with the organization logo. People would come up to me and tell me they are also running for that organization and we would share personal stories as to why. Here I am with someone I never met before and would normally have no reason to talk to and we are now sharing personal details of our life for the better.

Running also helps relieve stress. I know personally anytime I am going through a hard time or serious stress, that if I go out for a run it helps eliminate any issues I am worrying about. Talk to a runner and they will tell you how a good run empties your mind and takes you away from the hard times you may be going through.

So why do I run? Because it just makes me a better person. Sure I enjoy the health benefits, and love a good challenge. But since picking up running a little over a year ago I feel more positive about life than I probably would without running. It shows me that no matter what challenge lays in front of me, through hard work and practice I am able to overcome it.

Weekly Workout Recap

The third week of my Tough Mudder training is now in the books. This week was a really good week because my girlfriend asked to be a part of it. After my workout on Monday she asked “why don’t you ever want me to work out with you?” And it was never about not wanting her to, I just assumed she didn’t have an interest. Not that she doesn’t like to workout (she is a Crossfitter) I just figured since I was on my own plan doing my own thing that she did not have an interest. But we did and we had a lot of fun. She even helped me with my form, as I can be an uncoordinated mess sometimes.

Saturday- 1 Hour Spin Class

Sunday- Rest Day

Monday- 1 Mile Run (10:00 Min pace) + 40 Minute Upper Body Workout

Tuesday- 4 Mile Run (9:39 Pace)

Wednesday- 1 Mile Run (10:00 Min pace) + 40 Minute Lower Body Workout

Thursday- Rest Day

Friday– 40 Minute Upper Body Workout


Also this week I have decided to go on a 28 Day Meal Plan. As I highlight in that blog, I am looking to drop some weight and tone myself so I can handle the difficulty that my upcoming races (Tough Mudder, Half Marathon, Spartan) will ultimately present.

And as of about 10 minutes ago I decided to run the Rock ‘N Roll Philadelphia 5K and Spartan Race on the same day. I do not think this will be too physically impossible, however the mental aspect of finishing one race only to have to get to the next one will be intense. I cannot lie, the whole reason I am doing this is because of the 5K Medal (pictured below). The Philly Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon was my very first Half Marathon I ever run. I loved it and thought the Rock ‘N Roll organization did a great job, however the medal really left something to be desired. I have run countless races since then whose medals blow it out of the water. So call my reasoning superficial, but ultimately it gets me up and active so that’s not a bad thing right?

Onward and upward…..


Look at this medal, wouldn’t you squeeze this race in before a Spartan Race?!phi-5k-medal1