Marathon Training Tips

From How to Train for a Marathon, by tailwindnutrition, June 3, 2019, Tips & Tricks

Meet Chris

I’m Chris, Chief Training Officer at Galloway Training, RRCA Certified Coach, Boston Marathon qualifier, Ironman distance triathlete, and ultra-runner with 14 finishes at the Hardrock 100. I’ve coached thousands of runners through local Galloway Training Programs and Galloway Customized Training Plans offered online at JeffGalloway.com. My body stays in Florida most of the year, but my heart is forever in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

There are few things more empowering than finishing a marathon. Whether it’s your first, fastest, or fiftieth, every marathon finish is a reminder that big things are possible when you work on them step by step!

Know Where You Are

The first step in marathon training is taking an honest look at where you are in your fitness. At Galloway Training, we use a tool developed by Olympian Jeff Galloway called the Magic Mile. The idea is to run a mile (after a warm-up) as fast as you can without making yourself sick. Once you have that time, multiply it by 1.3 to see your predicted marathon pace.

Embrace the Run/Walk Approach

Walk breaks make marathon training less intimidating for beginners and slower runners. Rather than thinking about the 26 miles you have to cover, you can focus on the next few minutes you have to run before the next walk break. “I don’t know if I can run 10 more miles, but I know I can run for 2 more minutes!” is a common phrase I hear. Faster runners also benefit from the run/walk method because walk breaks keep your heart rate from spiking early in the run and therefore prevent your body from going anaerobic.

Rather than hitting a wall, run/walk marathoners often run faster in the last few miles of the race. With each walk break, runners enjoy a few seconds of recovery, allowing you to stay strong throughout the race, including those last few miles where it’s common to feel like you’re running with a piano on your back.

Set a Schedule

After determining your pace and run/walk ratio, you can chart a path to the marathon itself. Do this by scheduling a long run each weekend starting with the longest run you’ve had in the last month. Add a mile to your long run distance each weekend until you hit 10 miles. Then you can stretch your long run to every other weekend but add 2 miles each time (10, 12, 14, 16).

While your long runs should be significantly slower than your race pace (about 2 minutes per mile slower), the in-between weekends are good times to practice your race pace for a few miles (up to 8-10 miles if you’re serious about a time goal). When your long run reaches 16 miles, you can put 2 short weekends between long runs, and when your long run reaches 20, you can put 3 short weekends between long runs and increase the distance by 3 miles each time.

A typical weekend progression for a runner who currently has a 7-mile long run would be 7, 8, 9, 10, 5, 12, 5, 14, 5, 16, 5, 5, 18, 5, 5, 20, 5, 5, 5, 23, 5, 5, 5, 26, 5, 5, 5, marathon. That’s 28 weekends, so you can see why summer is not too early to start your winter marathon training!

How to Train with Less Time

Don’t have 28 weeks to train? No problem! You can jump-start your training by walking the “extra” distance you need for a long run. If your schedule calls for 16 miles, for example, and you’ve only run 7, you can walk 9 miles then run/walk 7 for a total of 16 miles. That effectively gives you the endurance you would have gotten from a 16-mile run without risking injury by increasing your running mileage too quickly. Once you’ve used this technique to get your training on track, you can pick up your schedule and continue through the marathon.

Incorporate Weekday Runs

While the long run is undoubtedly the cornerstone of marathon training, no runner can afford to rely solely on one run a week. Weekday runs are great times for hill work, cadence drills, form drills, acceleration-gliders, and speed work. Which of these you do and how often will depend on your specific race goals, but every runner should put in at least 2 runs during the week of at least 30 minutes each. Longer is fine, but weekday runs should not be so long that they cause you to be tired going into the weekend. It’s also fine to run more than two weekday runs, but every runner needs at least one rest day per week. If you can’t stand to take a day off, go for a long walk. It will still allow your running muscles to rest, and it will let you work on your walking pace, something run/walkers often neglect to their detriment.

Go the Distance

In addition to run/walk, I recommend a long run of at least race distance when training for a marathon. Many runners report a feeling of “hitting the wall” around 20 miles into a marathon, and it’s no coincidence that 20 miles is exactly how far most of those runners have gone in training. Pushing your long run to 26 miles reduces the likelihood of hitting the wall by increasing your endurance to the full race distance. It’s important to remember to keep your long runs at least 2 minutes per mile slower than predicted race pace. There is proof to show that runners who include a long run of 26 or even 29 miles in training hold their pace far more consistently than those who stop at 20.

Fuel for Success

Once you know how fast to run, how far to run and when to run, it is vital to practice for your race at every opportunity. That includes practicing and dialing in your race nutrition on your training runs. Unfortunately, marathons often choose hydration that doesn’t work very well. Often it’s too sweet, causing upset stomachs late in the race, or it neglects electrolytes that are vital to balance what our bodies lose through sweat.

For short runs, a single bottle of Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel (2 scoops or 1 stick pack) should suffice. If it’s really hot, you’re a heavy sweater, or you’re going on a long run, you can create a concentrate to reduce the number of bottles you need to carry. This plan works great for marathon day as well – create a concentrated bottle of Endurance Fuel and grab extra water from aid stations to stay hydrated and dump on your head to stay cool. Endurance Fuel stick packs are easy to carry if you want to change flavors or add some caffeine throughout your race. There’s nothing like a kick of caffeine late in a race!

Don’t Forget Recovery

One of the great benefits of the above strategy is that run/walk marathoners recover much faster! Nevertheless, your body is going to remind you of your accomplishment with aches and pains after you finish a marathon.

Aches and pains can be greatly reduced with the right recovery strategy after your marathon. Some runners swear by chocolate milk and others insist on a beer, but both of those have more tradition behind them than science. Tailwind Nutrition Rebuild recovery is a much better choice to replenish glycogen stores, restore electrolytes, and start the healing process so your body doesn’t feel quite so much like it’s been hit by a truck.

Once you have the recovery process in motion, get your body back in motion by going for a walk. A few hours after your race, after you’re rehydrated and cleaned up, put on that finisher’s medal and go out on the town to show off your accomplishment and give your legs a chance to work out any lactic acid buildup from your race.

Walking a couple of easy miles a few hours after the marathon and repeating this the next morning will make a huge difference in how soon you are able to return to running (not to mention going down stairs without wincing)!

You’ve Got This

I’m often asked how much of running is physical and how much is mental, and I can honestly say that running is 100% physical and 100% mental. You have to do the physical work to train and prepare for a marathon. Without proper training, you might be able to finish the race, but you definitely won’t enjoy the experience. Likewise, you have to put your mind to work, both in visualizing your success and in believing in yourself throughout the process, including during the race itself.

The good news is that these two 100% important aspects feed off of each other. As you train physically, your mind accepts that you will succeed in your goal. As you grow in your belief in yourself, you are motivated to stay true to your training schedule and put in the miles each week that lead to race day. During the marathon, your strong body gives you confidence to run the pace for which you trained, and your strong mind keeps you focused to hang on even as you feel your legs getting heavy with effort.

Mile by mile and moment by moment you are accomplishing something as a marathoner that only a small percentage of the population ever achieves – not just a marathon finish, but a transformational experience, a clear message from you to the universe and from your body to your soul that you are not afraid of hard work and not intimidated by lofty goals because you know that any distance can be covered by those willing to take it step by step.

Tips for Running in the Rain

I know plenty of you are saying, “I don’t run in rain,” but we have some tips to help make it a more pleasant experience.  The fact is there will be days when it rains.  Think of it this way … when do we, as adults, get to play in the rain with our friends?!?  Tulsa Galloway trains in all types of weather in order to be prepared for whatever race day brings.  Better off knowing what it feels like and what to do in a practice run.

Our Training runs are canceled if it’s lightning, or if the ‘Real Feel’ is higher than 110 degrees or below 0 degrees.

Ready, Set, Splash! – Tips for Running and Walking in the Rain:

Wear a hat with a brim or a visor

It will keep the rain off your face and help block the wind allowing you to see.

Lube up

When you’re wet, things tend to chafe more.  Slather Vaseline, Body Glide, Aquaphor, or other anti-chafe cream on your feet before you put on your socks to help prevent blisters, and on any other body parts that may chafe (arms, nipples, legs, sports bra seam lines, etc.).

Jacket, Vest or Trash Bag

Wicking apparel is key—it pulls moisture away from your skin, which helps prevent chafing and blisters.  Tighter tops and bottoms are less likely to chafe.  Light-colored bras, tops, and bottoms become see-through when wet, so stick to darker colors in the rain.  If it’s also cold, throw on an outer layer.  This should be a wind and water-resistant jacket (a big trash bag can do the trick).  However, wearing more layers doesn’t mean you’ll stay dry; it may mean that you’ll be wearing unnecessary heavy and wet clothes.

Wicking Socks

Wearing a pair of wicking socks can make all the difference in preventing blisters from developing.  Remember—cotton is rotten.


In the driving rain, wearing a pair of light-tinted or clear glasses can help protect your eyes from getting pelted.  A good anti-fog lens cleaner will keep your vision clear in the moisture and humidity.

Protect your electronics

Store your electronics, such as your cell phone, run-walk timer and car keys, in a Ziploc bag.

Be careful

While running, be extra careful and watch your footing.  Puddles may hide a pothole, and roads get slick when it’s wet.  Anything on the ground that’s painted or metal will be slick, so try to avoid them.

Bring a towel or change of clothing

For your ride home.

Dry out your shoes

When you get back from a wet run, take off your running shoes, loosen the laces, take out the insoles, and stuff them with crumpled balls of newspaper.  This helps the shoes keep their shape, and the paper draws moisture away from the shoes.  Don’t put your wet shoes on direct heat!  The heat will dry out the materials in the shoes and mess with the shoe’s integrity.

Pat yourself on the back!

Running in the rain isn’t always fun, especially if it’s cold and windy.  Be proud of yourself that you ran against your normal element.

Endurance Training Benefits

Endurance training offers plenty of benefits for your mind and body. You’ll build up both muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance, leading to better fitness and health overall. And you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment too – because let’s face it, endurance training isn’t easy! It takes a lot of mental toughness to keep going when the going gets tough. But that’s exactly what you’ll learn from endurance training: how to push through the pain and reach your goals. This can be applied to other areas of your life, making you more successful in everything you do. Not to mention, you’ll also develop strong bonds with other people who are going through the same thing as you.

The Many Benefits of Endurance Training:

Feeling of Accomplishment

When you make it through a tough training session or do something that not many other people can do, you feel an overwhelming sense of achievement. It’s tough, and at times you will want to give up, but this feeling will make you want to do it all over again. The sense of achievement you feel is unlike any other, and it’s what keeps you going when the going gets tough.

Improves Mental Strength

Your mind will tell you to quit a thousand times before your body ever does. It’s character building to be able to say I want to quit, but I won’t. Pushing through the pain can make you a very hard person to beat in all other areas of your life, too. You’ll develop an incredible will to succeed, whether that’s winning or simply finishing.

Great For Your Health

Your health should always be your number one priority, and endurance training is a great way to stay healthy. By completing endurance training, you will be putting yourself very high on the health charts. This means that you will have a lower chance of developing illnesses and a longer life expectancy. Your cardiovascular system will be in excellent shape, which will have a positive impact on your day-to-day life. Exercise improves the overall physical performance of your body in sports, everyday work, normal routines, as well as offering the advantage of aesthetics. As you continue to train, your muscle mass will increase, and you will notice significant improvement in your balance and coordination. Not to mention, you will feel the obvious anti-aging effects of endurance training.

You Won’t Be Taking It Easy

If you’re competing in endurance events, you’ll have fewer people to beat than other sports because the process weeds out the weak. The commitment to training for such an event will discourage many others from even attempting it. But that’s what makes you special – your dedication and willingness to go the extra mile!

Change For The Better 

Other people may be able to juggle going out on the weekends and hitting the gym the next day or playing some sport after work when they haven’t eaten a lot all day.  But if you’re performing an endurance sport, you’ll not be able to do those things half-hearted.  Being dehydrated from not drinking enough, or being under-fueled nutritionally from not eating enough will have a dramatic effect on your training and competition, and so it will force you to be prepared, plan ahead, and sacrifice.  It will make you a much more dedicated person.

You Will Build Muscle

Endurance sports require the use of both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. According to recent studies, your body will first recruit slow-twitch fibers and, once they are fatigued, it will recruit your fast twitch fibers to help. This is why soccer players build huge calf muscles and cyclists have quads big enough to rival some bodybuilders. So if you’re thinking that endurance sport will take all of your gains away, then you need not worry. You will not only gain muscle, but you will also get much stronger by building your muscular endurance by expanding on its ability to work hard for longer.

Growth In Bone Density

If you’re looking for a way to stay young and healthy, why not try following in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s footsteps? As many people know, Arnold had a bone deficiency when he was younger. So, he decided to bulk up his muscles to help support his bones. By choosing diet and exercise to improve your health, you’re giving your bones the extra support they need to grow and develop properly. This can help prevent osteoporosis, especially if it runs in your family.

As you train, your body releases growth hormone into your bloodstream, which helps build up better density in your bones. This is especially important as you age and your bone density naturally starts to decrease. A solid training routine can help keep fractures at bay, so you can feel young and look young for years to come!

Enhanced Immune System

No matter how strong you are, viruses can always find a way to attack your immune system. But don’t worry! Regular endurance training can help boost your immunity by creating additional proteins needed for white blood cell and antibody production. Not to mention, endurance training also has anti-inflammatory effects which can be helpful for people with chronic inflammatory diseases. And over time, your body will get used to the training and experience less muscle soreness after workouts.

Diabetic Benefits

Preventing and controlling diabetes is possible with regular exercise because it can improve the body’s insulin sensitivity. By increasing your muscle mass, you also gain extra glucose storage, which can help keep your blood sugar levels at a safe count.

Enhanced Metabolism

As we age, our metabolisms slow down and we tend to put on weight. But there’s no need to despair! Regular exercise can help offset this by building muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns just by doing its daily activities. So for every pound of muscle you gain, you’ll burn an extra 70 calories each day.

Lifestyle Benefits

Exercise is a great way to get your blood pumping and oxygen flowing to your brain. This can help keep your mind sharp and your body functioning properly. It also helps release stress, improve thinking skills, and increase reaction times. Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is reduced during exercise, which can have a positive effect on our mental state. Regular exercise also leads to better sleep habits, including falling asleep faster, staying asleep throughout the night, and feeling more rested in the morning. Plus, looking good and feeling confident about yourself can boost your self-esteem.


Endurance events can be a great way to challenge yourself and stay motivated. They provide an opportunity to push yourself physically and see what you’re capable of. If you find a passion for endurance racing, you can really commit to it and see some amazing results.

Running Mistakes to Avoid

Run Towards Success: Avoid These Common Running Mistakes and Unleash Your Inner Speedster!

Little habits – that you don’t even realize you have – can cost you a lot of energy and keep you from running/walking faster.  Ignoring them is like driving down the highway with a tarp on top of your car – when the tarp has a loose corner.  The tarp resistance can cause your fuel economy to dip – and your energy and enthusiasm for the trip can go with it. We can help you avoid common running mistakes.

Look around on the road and you’ll see runners/walkers doing the same thing.  Runners/walkers move parts that don’t need to move and compromise their ability to speed up and stay fresh.  Here are some of the most common bad running/walking habits – and how to fix them.


Swinging your hands across your body

It’s a running/walking mistake to keep your arms still at your sides while running/walking, or swing them without bending them.  When you run/walk, all your movement should be forward or back.  Any other motion saps energy.  Crossing your hands over the midline of your body is a big one.  Not only does this force your upper body to work harder, it makes you cross your legs over each other, too.  If there’s a white line on the road and you’re hitting it with every step, then you’re spinning your body more.  The easiest fix is to be aware of where your arms are.  Relax your arms, keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle close to your body, and swing your arms forward and back.  As they come forward, your hands should not cross the center line and should come up no further than your breasts.  This arm motion will give power to your run/walk.  Your feet generally move only as fast as your arms.

Looking at your feet

Look down at your feet and try to breathe in.  Now look in front of you and do the same thing.  When you look down, you’re cutting off valuable oxygen.  Good posture for running/walking allows you to breathe well and provides a long body line to prevent problems with your back, neck, and shoulders.  Chin up when running/walking – it should be parallel to the ground.  Focus your eyes a few feet ahead of you.

Squeezing your fists

The pressure that you put on your hands translates into your forearms and shoulders.  That energy starts to travel to every part of your body.  If you’re not relaxed in your arms and hands, you’ll eventually feel it in your legs.  When you feel yourself tightening up, let your arms fall to your sides, relax your shoulders, and shake out your hands.

Trying to get faster every day

To get strong and fast, your body doesn’t just need a workout; it needs to rest.  Remember how Sunday was a traditional day of rest?  There is wisdom in that.  Take a day off at least once per week.  Rest helps to repair muscle tissue, which is what makes you stronger over time.  To get faster, you should either build in rest days and/or truly go easy on your easy days.  Easy doesn’t mean 30 seconds slower than your race pace.  Some of the top runners in the world go as much as two and a half minutes slower per mile than marathon race pace.  And if they can back off some days and still run fast, so can you.


When runners/walkers try to run/walk faster, a natural inclination is to lengthen your stride in front, reach out farther with your forward foot.  This leads to a clumsy, ungainly gait, striking hard with your feet.  Your shins hurt, and you really don’t get any faster.  All the power of your run/walk comes from pushing with the back leg and foot.  If you’re trying to run/walk fast, concentrate on taking shorter, quicker steps.  Then think of really rolling through your step with your back foot and leg, getting a good push off.  The result will be faster feet and a longer stride where it does you some good – in back.

How to Dress for a Run

Don’t know what to wear on your next run?  

A good rule of thumb is to dress as though the temperature is 10-20 degrees warmer than it actually is. This number will depend on your body size, pace, and the length of your run. Remember that you’ll heat up quickly once you start running, and cool down just as fast when you’re done. So have a plan for getting out of your wet clothes ASAP!

If you’re running in cold weather, dress in layers. Start with a base layer of something that will wick sweat away from your skin, like polyester or wool. Add a layer of insulation, like a fleece jacket, and top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer.

In warm weather, you’ll still want a sweat-wicking base layer, but you can probably get away with a lighter insulation layer. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

Learn how to dress for success on your next run with this helpful guide:

  • 60+ degrees: tank top or singlet and shorts (feels like 7080 degrees)
  • 50–59 degrees: short sleeve tech shirt and shorts (feels like 6079 degrees)
  • 40–49 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, mittens or gloves (optional), headband to cover ears (optional) (feels like 5069 degrees)
  • 30–39 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves, and headband to cover ears (feels like 4059 degrees)
  • 20–29 degrees: two shirts layered—a long sleeve tech shirt and a short sleeve tech shirt or, long sleeve shirt and jacket—tights, gloves, and headband or hat to cover ears (feels like 3049 degrees)
  • 10–19 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, gloves or mittens, headband or hat, and windbreaker jacket/pants (feels like 2039 degrees)
  • 0–9 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, windbreaker jacket/pants, mittens, headband or hat, ski mask to cover face (feels like 1029 degrees)

Advantages of Winter Running

Embrace the Elements and Level Up: Discover the Advantages of Winter Running

It’s tough to run in the dark, in bad weather, and in cold temperatures. But, as the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” Let’s explore some of the advantages of winter running.

Winter running is the time to develop your mental toughness and up your game. Finishing a run under miserable weather conditions is an incredible confidence booster, and it will help get you out there next time.

Sure, it’s freezing outside. But before you retreat to the treadmill for your run, consider this:

Advantages of Winter Running
  • Chilly temperatures may change unwanted fat into a different kind of fat that actually burns calories.  The fat in your body isn’t equal.  There’s white, brown, and shades in between.  White fat is what we commonly think of when we think of unwanted body fat.  Brown fat is metabolic tissue that actually burns calories.  There’s a growing body of scientific literature that suggests exposing our bodies to cold temperatures turns our white fat to brown.  That means heading outside for a winter run could not only help you burn calories, it could change your body composition.

  • Cold is actually the ideal weather for running.  You aren’t likely to overheat.  Because of this, winter running is actually somewhat easier.

  • Running is a great tool for preventing winter weight gain.  We tend to move less and eat more in the colder months.  Running burns significant calories and is therefore a powerful tool in maintaining and even losing weight during winter.

  • Running will keep your metabolism going strong.  Our bodies are programmed to preserve our fat stores in the winter, slowing down our metabolisms in direct response to our decreased exercise levels.  Running in the cold serves to ‘trick’ the body, preventing this seasonal slowdown of metabolism and helping to maintain a healthy weight.

  • You’ll burn more calories.  When it’s cold, you start shivering because muscle movement helps heat up the body.  When you’re running in the cold, your body works harder and burns more calories to keep you alive.  Ergo, when you run outside in subzero temperatures, you’re dieting without realizing it.

  • You’ll strengthen your heart.  Cold weather also makes the heart work harder to distribute blood throughout the body.

  • You’ll feel happier and more energized.  Cold-weather exercise also has the ability to boost one’s mood, thanks to the lack of humidity (which creates that heavy air feeling in the summer months) and the stimulating aspect of the chill.  As the body works harder to stay warm, the amount of endorphins produced also increases, leaving you with a stronger sense of happiness and lightness following a workout in the cold.

Running in the winter is pretty hard core and pretty awesome.  When you layer up with your running friends, there’s something special and bonding about bundling up and braving the harsh winter air. And living to talk about it the next day.

Nutrition Hydration Sleep

Following are some common truths that apply to pre- and post-workout nutrition, hydration and sleep.  All of which are important while training and racing.

Nutrition: Don’t Skip the Carbs

Carbohydrates are fuel for your “engine” (i.e., your muscles).  And, the harder your engine is working, the more carbs you need to keep going.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to eat immediately before a workout because while your muscles are trying to do their “thing,” your stomach is trying to simultaneously digest the food in your stomach.  These competing demands are a challenge for optimal performance.  And, even more of a factor, eating too close to a workout may cause you to experience some GI discomfort while you train.

Ideally, you should fuel your body about 1 to 3 hours pre-workout, depending on how your body tolerates food.  Experiment and see what time frame works best for your body.  This is something you need to explore during your training days and not during race day.

Suggestions for pre-workout fuel:

  • A peanut butter and banana, or peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit
  • Apple and peanut or almond butter
  • Handful of nuts and raisins (two parts raisins, one part nuts)
  • Cereal with low fat milk

Notice that each of these suggestions include some protein as well as carbs.  Carbs are the fuel.  Protein is what rebuilds and repairs, but also “primes the pump” to make the right amino acids available for your muscles.  Getting protein and carbs into your system is even more vital post workout.

Nutrition: Mid-Run

In general, runners need to add in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate each hour they’re running longer than 75 minutes.  But you’ll need to start fueling earlier than 75 minutes into a run; by that time, your tank will be empty, and once you hit empty it’s very hard to recover.  Start taking in fuel within 30 minutes of hitting the pavement.  Start slow; you need to train your gut (and your palate) to handle fuel on the run.  If you’re new to fueling on the run, take in a little bit of fuel every 15 minutes.  Be sure to follow your fuel with water.  Your stomach can only tolerate a certain percentage of carbohydrate so you need to dilute your fuel in order for it to go into circulation (rather than sit like a stone in your gut).

Nutrition: Post-Workout

Your body uses stored energy (glycogen) in your muscles to power through your workout or race, but after that workout, you need to replenish the nutrients lost.

As soon as possible post-workout, get carbs and protein immediately into your body.  This gives your muscles the ability to replenish the glycogen they just lost through training and helps your tired muscles rebuild and repair with the available protein and amino acids.  Try to eat within 20 minutes of completing an intense workout.

Post-workout meals include:

  • Post-workout recovery smoothie (or post-workout smoothie made with low-fat milk and fruit)
  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Turkey on a whole-grain wrap with veggies
  • Yogurt with berries

The above offer mainly carbs, some protein, and are convenient — with the first two liquid options also helping to rehydrate the body.


It’s important to make sure you get the right amount of water before, during, and after exercise.  Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints.  It also helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy.  If you’re not properly hydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level.  You may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, or more serious symptoms.

A simple way to make sure you’re staying properly hydrated is to check your urine.  If your urine is consistently colorless or light yellow, you’re most likely staying well hydrated.  Dark yellow or amber-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.

There are no exact rules for how much water to drink while exercising because everyone is different.  You need to consider factors including your sweat rate, the heat and humidity in your environment, and how long and hard you are exercising.

The American Council on Exercise suggests the following basic guidelines for drinking water before, during, and after exercise:

  • Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before you start exercising
  • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
  • Drink 7-10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise

In terms of sleep, aim for at least eight hours of quality sleep a night. The majority of recovery happens when we sleep.  If you want to recover well, sleep well.  It’s that simple.

  1. Your body needs carbs to fuel your working muscles.
  2. Protein is there to help build and repair.
  3. Get a combination of protein and carbs in your body 1 to 3 hours pre-workout, and within approximately 20 minutes post-workout.
  4. You need to train your gut to handle fuel on the run.
  5. Stay hydrated all day, every day.
  6. Recovery happens when we sleep.



Running is a mental sport, more than anything else.  You’re only as good as your training, and your training is only as good as your thinking.

Lauren Oliver

Running is both physically and mentally challenging, but that’s what makes it so rewarding! To achieve your goals, powerful legs and big lungs aren’t enough—you also need a strong head and a positive mantra. Our group runs will prepare you physically, but I also want to address the mental aspect. The negative thoughts and conversations we have in our heads can be our biggest obstacle, but with a little effort we can overcome them! So let’s talk about mantras: positive affirmations that help us stay focused and motivated.

Let’s talk about MANTRAS.

Words are powerful. They can rally crowds, inspire greatness, and get you out of a terrible funk halfway through your training or race.

Whether you’re looking to improve your performance in the gym or on the road, positive thinking is key! Research has shown time and again that athletes who approach their workouts and races with a positive attitude perform better than those who don’t. So how can you tap into that power? Many athletes use motivational quotes or short phrases known as “mantras” to help them get through tough workouts. The Sanskrit word “mantra” literally means “instrument for thinking.” As such, these short words or phrases have long been used to focus the mind in meditation. Mantras have been around for thousands of years, but they are having a mainstream moment right now. So find one that resonates with you and see what it can do.

Use your mantra as a mental tool to get through the tough parts of your workout. Spinning negative thoughts into positive ones can help you stay in control and in the moment.

When you’re running, keep your mind focused on the joy of the activity. Remember why you love doing it and let that fuel your positivity. When discomfort strikes, instead of dwelling on the pain, think about how good it will feel to finish the race or workout. Your mantra should be something personal that will inspire you to push through tough times. Keep it short, sweet, and action-oriented for best results.

Strength Mantras

When you’re feeling tired, these strength mantras will help connect you to your hidden inner resources. The right words can make subconscious and intuitive connections with your muscles and resolve. As you learn to tap into the right brain, you’ll come up with phrases that continue drawing on mental or spiritual resources. The best ones will be your own mantras that relate to your experiences with words that work. Action phrases not only keep you going but also help you perform as you find ways to dig deeper into your resources. The following have been used when under physical and mental stress, but use these only as a primer.

    • Feet-stay light and quick, keep moving
    • My legs are strong
    • My heart is pumping better
    • More blood in the muscles
    • Lactic acid, go away
    • More oxygen, lungs
    • The strength is in there, I’m feeling it
    • Talk crazy to me, right brain
    • I’m feeling creative–I’m making adjustments
    • I feel comfortable–I’m in control
    • I feel good–I feel strong
    • I’m floating
    • Come to me–endorphins
    • I’m having fun
    • How bad do you want it?
    • It takes strength to do what you love
Funny Mantras

Funny Mantras get you to laugh, which is a right brain activity.

    • I feel like a clown, ballerina, football player, stooge
    • Float like an anchor, sting like a sponge
    • Where’s the bounce, glide
    • I’m all about that pace … no trippin’ (spinoff of the song by Meghan Trainor)
Creative Mantras
    • I’m building a house, railroad, community, bookcase, etc.
    • What type of novel could that person ahead of me have written?
    • What type of profession could that person on the sidewalk have?
    • What type of movie could be staged here?
Distraction Mantras

Distraction Mantras start by preoccupying your left brain so that it won’t send you so many negative messages. After saying these over many times you may be able to shift into the right brain.

    • Look at that store, car building, sign, etc.
    • Look at that person, hair, outfit, hat, T-shirt design, etc.
    • One more step, one more step
    • One more block, telephone pole, stop light, etc.
    • Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps
    • I can do anything for [##] minutes/seconds
Vision Mantras

Vision Mantras help you feel that you’re getting where you want to be.

    • I can see the next mile marker
    • I can feel the pull of the finish line
    • I can feel being pulled along by the runners ahead
    • I can feel myself getting stronger
    • I’m pushing through the wall
    • I’m moving at the right pace to finish with strength
Remember your Mantras!

Remember your mantras when the going gets tough during a race! A short phrase can be just the thing you need to push through and cross the finish line. They can also help during fast workouts or long runs when you feel like giving up or slowing down. Just think about all the training you’ve done and trust your abilities! The race is just an extension of what you’ve already accomplished.

Don’t let negative thoughts defeat you before you’ve even started. Think strong words. Repeat inspiring phrases. You are strong, ready, and capable of meeting the challenge ahead. Repeat to yourself: “I CAN do this!

Eating for Endurance

Eating for Endurance:

What’s the best way to fuel for the Boston Marathon?

Should I eat a high fat diet to train my body to burn more fat and less glucose?

What percent of calories should come from carbohydrate? protein? fat?

When it comes to eating for endurance, today’s athletes are confronted with two opposing views:

    • Eat a traditional carbohydrate-based sports diet, or
    • Eat a fat-based diet that severely limits carbohydrate intake.

What should an eager marathoner, Ironman triathlete, or other endurance athlete eat to perform better? Here’s what you want to know about eating for endurance, based on the Joint Position Statement on Nutrition for Athletic Performance from the American College of Sports Medicine, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietietics, and Dietitians of Canada.

1. Eat enough calories.

Most athletes need ~21 calories per pound (45 cal/kg) of lean body mass (LBM). That means, if you weigh 150 pounds and have 10% body fat, your LBM is 135 pounds and you require about 2,800 calories a day. That said, energy needs vary from person to person, depending on how fidgety you are, how much you sit in front of a computer, how much muscle you have, etc. Hence, your body is actually your best calorie counter—more accurate than any formula or app!

If you eat intuitively—that is, you eat when you feel hunger and stop when feel content, you are likely eating enough. If you find yourself stopping eating just because you think you should, if you are feeling hungry all the time and are losing weight, you want to eat larger portions. Under-fueling is a needless way to hurt your performance.

If you can’t tell when enough food is enough, wait 10 to 20 minutes after eating and then, mindfully ask yourself “Does my body need more fuel?” Athletes who routinely stop eating just because they have finished their packet of oatmeal (or other pre-portioned allotment) can easily be under-fueled. Even dieting athletes want to surround their workouts with fuel. Their plan should be to eat enough during the day to fuel-up and refuel from workouts, and then eat just a little bit less at the end of the day, to lose weight when they are sleeping.

2. Eat enough carbohydrates.

According to the Position Statement on Nutrition for Athletic Performance, the optimal amount of carbohydrate on a day with one hour of training is 5 to 7 grams carb/kg. On high volume days, you need about 6 to 12 g carb/kg body weight. For a 150-pound (68 kg) athlete, this comes to about 350 to 800 grams carb a day—the equivalent of about one to two (1-lb) boxes of uncooked pasta (1,400 to 3,200 calories). That’s more than many of today’s (carb-phobic) athletes consume. You want to make grains the foundation of each meal: choose more oatmeal for breakfast; more sandwiches at lunch; and more rice at dinner to get three times more calories from carbs than from protein. Otherwise, you set the stage for needless fatigue.

3. Eat adequate­—but not excess—protein.

Protein needs for athletes range from 1.4 g/kg (for mature athletes) to 2.0 g protein/kg (for athletes building muscle or dieting to lose fat). For a 150-pound (68 kg) athlete, protein needs come to about 95 to 135 grams protein per day, or 25 to 35 grams protein four times a day. That means 3 eggs at breakfast (with the bowl of oatmeal), a hearty sandwich at lunch, portion of lean meat/fish/chicken at dinner, and cottage cheese (with fruit) for an afternoon or bedtime snack.

For vegetarians, generous servings of beans, hummus, nuts and tofu at every meal can do the job; a light sprinkling of beans on a lunchtime salad will not. By consuming protein every 3 to 5 hours, you will optimize muscle building and deter muscle breakdown.

4. Fill in the calorie-gap with fat.

Include in each meal and snack some health-promoting, anti-inflammatory fat: nuts, salmon, peanut butter, avocado, olive oil, etc. Fat adds flavor, offers satiety, and is a source of fuel for endurance exercise. Training your muscles to burn more fat for fuel happens when you do long, steady “fat burning” exercise. By burning more fat, you burn less of the limited carbohydrate (muscle glycogen, blood glucose) stores. You will have greater endurance and avoid or delay hitting the wall.

A (tougher) way to train your body to burn more fat is to severely limit your carbohydrate intake and push your fat intake to 70% of your calories. That could be 1,800 calories (185 g) of fat per day. This very high fat diet produces ketones and forces the body to burn ketones for fuel. Keto-athletes endure a tough, 3- to 4-week adaptation period as their bodies transition to burning fat, not glucose, for fuel. While some keto-athletes rave about how great they feel when in ketosis, the sports nutrition literature, to date, reports little or no performance benefits from a ketogenic sports diet. It might nix sugar binges, but it’s unlikely to make you a better athlete.

5. Drink enough fluids.

A simple way to determine if you are drinking enough fluid is to monitor your urine. You should be voiding dilute, light colored urine every 2 to 4 hours. (Exception: athletes who take vitamin supplements tend to have dark colored urine.) You want to learn your sweat rate, so you can strategize how to prevent dehydration. Weigh yourself nude before and after one hour of race-pace exercise, during which you drink nothing. A one-pound drop pre- to post-exercise equates to 16 ounces of sweat loss. Losing two pounds of sweat in an hour equates to 32 ounces (1 quart). To prevent that loss, you should target drinking 8 ounces of water or sports drink every 15 minutes. Athletes who pre-plan their fluid intake tend to hydrate better than those who “wing it.”

6. Consume enough calories during extended exercise.

If you will be exercising for longer than 60 to 90 minutes, you want to target 40 to 80 calories (10 to 20 g) of carbohydrate every 20 minutes (120 to 240 calories per hour), starting after the first hour (which gets fueled by your pre-exercise food). If you are an Ironman triathlete, long distance cyclist or ultra-athlete who exercises for more than three hours, you want to target up to 360 calories per hour. The key is to practice event-day fueling during the months that lead up to the event. By training your gut to tolerate the fuel, you’ll be able to enjoy the event without fretting about running out of energy.

The bottom line:

If you are going to train, you might as well get the most out of your workouts. Performance improves with a good fueling plan. Eat wisely and enjoy your high energy!

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) counsels both casual and competitive athletes at her office in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook and food guides for marathoners, cyclists and soccer players offer additional information. They are available at www.NancyClarkRD.com. For her popular online workshop, see www.NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com.

Thomas, T at el. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016; 116 (3):501-28

Training Mistakes

Top 5 Training Mistakes and How to Avoid Them:

No matter how many years we’ve been running or how many races we’ve done, there are still some mistakes we may be prone to. Check out our top 5 training mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 – Avoiding the Magic Mile

Jeff Galloway has given us a great tool to determine how fast to run our long runs, race rehearsal runs, and speed workouts. It’s called the Magic Mile (MM), and when we know our MM time, we can run with a plan. When we don’t have a recent (or any) MM, we are just running by feel, which sometimes can get us into trouble.

Solution: Run a Magic Mile every 4 to 6 weeks and check the MM calculator at Jeffgalloway.com to see your recommended paces and run/walk ratios.

Mistake #2 – Running the long ones too fast

Whether we let our friends set the pace or we “just feel good” when starting out on our long runs, it can be easy to fall into the trap of running these too fast. The long run should be at least 2 minutes per mile slower than race pace. You can’t be hurt by running the long ones too slow but running them too fast means you won’t be as recovered as necessary for the rest of your training.

Solution: Know your long run pace based on your Magic Mile prediction and don’t let anything pull you faster.

Mistake #3 – Cutting the long run too short

A marathon or half-marathon is a long way to run. Those who are best prepared for the distance will have the most fun during the race, but many runners balk at doing 14 miles in training for a half-marathon or 26 in training for a marathon. Whether they have difficulty carving out enough time for the long ones or they want to “save the real distance for race day,” they will be more likely to “hit the wall” because their bodies are not ready for the demands of the distance.

Solution: Put the long runs on your schedule months in advance and protect those days like you would an important appointment so there’s less chance you’ll be tempted to skimp on the distance.

Mistake #4 – Not listening to your body when it needs to rest

Small aches and pains come with the territory, not the territory of running, but the territory of living. Not everything calls for time off from running, but when something is affecting your gait (the way you run) or is causing you to feel lethargic, you need some extra time off. Whether the condition was caused by running or some other stress like work, continuing to push yourself when your body needs rest can lead to injury.

Solution: Turn a run day into a walk day. Get out and enjoy the fresh air without any worry about how fast you are going. Even if you have to miss a long run, walking that same distance will give you the endurance you need. If you don’t feel better in a couple of days, see your family doctor.

Mistake #5 – Ignoring nutrition

On race day you will have your socks picked out, your shoes well tested, and the rest of your outfit just right. You will have done the long runs and honed your pace if you have a time goal, but what will you have done for nutrition? If you haven’t practiced what you will have for dinner the night before, breakfast race morning, and during the race, you are ignoring an important factor that will impact your race day experience.

Solution: Use your long run weekends to practice race weekend nutrition, right down to the flavor of sports drink you intend to use. If something isn’t going to work for you, better to find out a month before race day than when it’s all out there on public display.

By Chris Twiggs, Galloway Chief Training Officer