Earlier this month on my Facebook and Instagram pages I asked what curiosities you had be it something related to the World Marathon Challenge, training, or just general running questions. I got some great replies so without further adieu - here are my answers to your questions!
Lisa J. asked: "I want to know how you prepare for the drastic changes in climates from Antarctica, to S Africa to Dubai, etc with no time for your body to acclimate!"
Well this is what makes the World Marathon Challenge, a Challenge. Unless you have unlimited resources it's obviously hard to train in all these different environments from extreme cold to extreme heat and humidity within' a relatively short time frame. So in that light I guess the simple answer is: you really can't! During the race it's going to be a constant battle of trying to manage effort especially when external factors like sleep deprivation and jet lag settle in. That said - we obviously have had plenty of cold weather training in Hampton Roads over the course of January. So one thing I did do is get a membership to Wareing's Gym in December so that I could purposefully run inside in an attempt to train in warmer conditions. We will see how this pay's off!
Avi K. asked: "Since I love to travel, I’m curious about the air and hotel and transportation itinerary. Type of aircraft, the hotels, etc."
I'm going to have a post about this shortly after this but here is the general rub: from Cape Town on the 30th of January we will fly specialist flights down to Novo, Antarctica on either a special Boeing 777 or a Ilyushin Il-76 which incidentally is the one I'm hoping to get to ride on! After Antarctica's Marathon we'll head back to Cape Town and run the next Marathon there. From this point through the finish line in Miami we'll all be traveling together on a World Marathon Challenge branded Airbus A340-VIP plane. As the flights get shorter through the trip, this presents more opportunities for brief hotel stays. Those start in Perth and then I believe we have a room in each location thereafter to catch a few hours of rest and have a shower. Stay tuned here as I'll post more information soon!
Anita R. asked: "What type of fuel, hydration and recovery do use to prepare for this. Oh...and jet lag. How will you handle that/prepare for that?"
Great questions Anita! So for fuel during the Marathon I generally stick with Tailwind Nutrition. I'll take around 200 calories of it the first half and about 150 calories the second half - both mixed in about 20-24oz. of water. On occasion I might have a sip of coke or PROBAR bite or something like that to change up the flavor. But Tailwind has been the best fuel I've found that easily absorbs and sustains energy. For recovery I am a huge fan of Hammer Recoverite and will be using that during the WMC. This has been a secret weapon for me between big back-to-back efforts and it really accelerates the recovery process. My energy levels recovery substantially quicker and I'm not nearly as sore. And this is one thing I don't regularly train with so I don't let my body get too used to it. And finally, PROBAR will play a big role in calories between the races. I'll be using their meal bars, base protein bars and nut butters to supplement between normal meals and anything I get generally hungry which I imagine accelerates as the 7 days go on.
In terms of jet lag: I wish I had an answer for that! My guess is we are never really going to perceive time well and the daylight cycles are always going to be messed up. Again I think this is what makes it a Challenge!
Coleen H. asked: "How about nutrition suggestions - favorite training go to recipes. I’m just getting back to running since the fall and finally got my weekly mileage up to 20 ish miles. Any thoughts on getting to 30 or 40 miles a week during winter months. I’m mostly using treadmill while temps are below 40s. Is training just as effective if splitting up 12 miles +- daily between 2 or 3 sessions throughout the day? The thought of long runs on the treadmill is just dreadful for me right now."
Wow lots of great, and complicated questions here Coleen! Ok so let me see how I can tackle this. First: nutrition is a very sensitive and also personal topic. My view on nutrition is very simplistic and it's been this way ever since I was into lifting weights some 15 years ago now. I believe in balanced meals, with quality carbs, proteins, and fats from primarily whole ingredients. So I could have a chicken breast cooked in olive oil, with brown rice and Asparagus for example and that is a great meal for me. Even when I'm having a snack, I try to combine each of the three main sources of calories. For example I could have greek yogurt and a big handful of roasted nuts. Our bodies require all three sources to operate efficiently so it makes sense to plan meals and snacks around that ideal. This time of year I love love love soups! Such a great way to get it all in a bowl and warm up in the frigid conditions. I try to avoid processed foods. All this said - I will absolutely let myself go from time to time. There's a balance.
Great job on getting back into running! I could write a novel here on training. So here are a couple of brief thoughts and maybe this is a topic for a post in and of itself! First - I don't monitor weekly mileage. We all talk in how many miles we do a week. There's a big problem with that. If I'm running 70 miles a week at 8 min./mi. pace I'm training for a bit of 9 hours. Now let's say someone running 10 min./mi. pace runs 70 - that's over 11.5 hours of training. Similarly, someone running 6 min./mi. pace at 70 miles has trained for 7 hours. Do you see the problem here? I believe in primarily time based training and that is the level factor between all of us who train. As your paces increases, you do cover more miles in a given time. But if I train for 9 hours, and you train for 9 hours guess what: the training effect was similar. So I might encourage you to think more along those lines as opposed to the miles a week. Increase your time instead and this should help reduce the risk of injury. To your question on splitting up runs: this can be a fantastic way to get some great time on feet in a shorter time period. But it's something I would do maybe once or twice a week and I would advise against breaking up your long run. Say your long run would take you three hours normally - if you break it up into 2 hours and 1 hour, it's not the same training effect. Don't fear the cold! Once you're out there provided your properly dressed you will warm up! And don't fear the treadmill as a tool in the arsenal. I just wouldn't make it habit because the impact of the treadmill is far different than road or trail running.
Howie H. asked: "What's your top secret recovery drink?"
I think I was setup here. Thanks Howie! Well I talked about Hammer Recoverite above and this is definitely a secret weapon in my recovery between big back-to-back efforts! But I know the answer you're looking for here. Yes: craft beer is also a part of my secret arsenal! Putting aside the "feel good" effects of a beer after a hard run (which I don't downplay because mental is every part important as physical) there are some ways I think beer fits into my training. First, it is primarily water (yes alcohol dehydrates <insert moderation here.) Second, carbonated beverages have been shown to accelerate hydration affects. Third, beer has a ton of different B-vitamins and the maltier a beer, the more it has. B-vitamins play a key role in the way the bodies uses energy. Hops also have flavonoid's which have an anti-inflammatory effect. And finally depending on the beer it can actually provide complex carbohydrates (although usually there are a fair amount of simple carbohydrates as well in the form of residual unfermented sugars). This is by no means an endorsement to go out and drink a keg in a sitting and obviously what works for one, doesn't work for everyone. All I'm saying is it works for me and well, I love craft beer!
Erica W. asked: "What about specific strength training exercises to keep your hips, gluts, and IT band happy?"
Well I must confess, I am probably not the person to ask about this! It might come as a shock but I don't regularly stretch, roll, cross-train or do any kind of supplemental training. So I'll answer this in two ways. First: massage and chiropractic/ART IS a vital part of my training and those two combined I believe have been key to keeping my body happy and nearly injury-free over 10 years of training. When everything is working in unison as it should, then you don't have those imbalances that lead to weaknesses and can lead to injuries. And then I rely on running and smart training to build strength. This is the idea of "specificity of training". If I get a nag from time to time then I will hit it with my ORB ball. But primarily, I rely on preventative maintenance. That said there is one routine I know of that you might want to check out called MYRTL. It focuses on quick exercises you can do in that girdle region to help build strength. Check this PDF out: http://www.njsportsmed.com/files/myrtl_routine.pdf.
Sandy B. asked: "How about the impact of fad diets? Ketone Diets are getting a great deal of press lately. Is this a sustainable diet for an athlete? How long do you need to stick to a diet to see its influence on your running?"
I feel the need to insert a disclaimer here that I am not a nutritionist! I have my theories from my reads, training, experiments, etc. over the years but I am by no means to be considered an expert. That said: ugh where do I begin. First: I hate the word diet. Diet has an implication of short-term. When it comes to nutrition I think long-term is the only way to think. How do I change my eating habits to support my goals in a sustainable way - over a long period of time? So when you're thinking about changing your eating habits, goals aren't bad in the short-term but think about how you'll sustain over the long-term with your changed habits. Ok off the soup-box. I mentioned above our bodies need carbs, proteins and fats to operate efficiently. Carbs are the primary source, of energy, then fats and finally proteins as a very last resort (which you never want to get to because it means your muscles are breaking down). To burn fat efficiently, our body's need carbs as well. Our body's need protein to rebuild muscle tissue. That said I'm not a fan of diets which attempt to alienate or isolate any one of these macronutrients. And once you start to dig into the fad diets a bit you'll see drastically increasing or decreasing any one of the three energy sources might support a short-term goal but it can also have severe long-term effects on other systems in the body. So be sure you're looking at something you're considering from all possible angles. And to be clear I'm talking mostly at the macronutrient level. So vegan or vegetarian for example are fine because you can still get macronutrients from these types of eating.
In terms of effects on your running from a change in eating habits: I think this is very much individual. I'd say 4-6 weeks depending on your volume would be a good time to assess. Just don't forget that us endurance athlete's need long-sustaining carbs to run at peak! No reason to make it harder than it already is.
Erin M. asked: "Also I think nutrition and training are good topics. Especially nutrition, which I think many people struggle with in our busy days."
Well I've definitely talked a lot about nutrition here! But you bring up a good point about nutrition and training on the context of busy lives. So let me respond to these separately. Nutrition can be challenging for me as well as I do stay pretty busy. That is really where I like the idea of trying to prepare meals that combine ingredients from each of the three major fuel sources together. There are a lot of great slow-cooker meals for this. I've just got an Instapot and I've been making a lot of soup that I can eat on for the week. But before I had all these fancy tools a pot and casserole dish worked fine just the same. If I do eat out I try to make good decisions. I try to stick to places that use a lot of fresh ingredients and prepare things in-house as opposed to coming prepared. It's all about whole ingredients and knowing what goes into what you're consuming. I eat fast food very infrequently. Also this is a good point to say EAT BREAKFAST! So many people skip breakfast when you've fasted for 6-8 hours! No bueno. I actually typically eat 5 times a day - 3 meals, and snacks between. I like the idea of frequent eating to ward off cravings. And I do not count calories! But I know my body VERY well now. Most importantly: keep it simple.
As for training: life can be unpredictable and I realize there are a lot of extenuating circumstances when it comes to training and it's not always going to go to plan. That said if there is something you are really passionate about and you really enjoy, you will figure out how you work that into your daily routine in a sustainable way. There will be some give and take but for something you really enjoy, there's almost always a way to make it work. I will often run during lunch and then just eat when I'm back to work. If I know that's not going to work out, then I either run early or save it for late in the day. It's not ideal, but I enjoy my runs and training so I make it work. Plan your training around the knowns in your life. If you find yourself in a constant state of dreading training - then reflect if you're really passionate. I would never discourage someone from exercising or training but there are a million different ways to do it and sometimes it's just about finding that one way or one sport you love.
Well that's all the questions I have folks! I hope you found this informative. Certainly if you have a question (not of the personal nature) or crave elaboration on something above don't hesitate to reach out to me or post it in the comments below. Thanks and until the next time: be the best you!