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San Diego Marathon Training, Gear, and Race Nutrition

This Sunday is the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and the first marathon I’ve ran since 2005. Even though my training hasn’t been on point with a few disaster weeks thrown into the mix, I’m excited! This is my first “A” race of the year and my first endurance performance test in a long time. The following is an overview of my training, gear, and race nutrition plan:

Training:

I’ve been following the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Method training philosophy.  I gravitated towards the MAF Method because it is a holistic approach in which performance, health, and lifestyle are all intertwined. Fitness and health are NOT the same thing. Ryan Hall is a recent example of an elite endurance runner that announced a surprising early retirement this year due to health concerns. I have no interest in sacrificing health for athletic performance.

The basic theory behind MAF training is most workouts should be done at, or below, the maximum aerobic heart rate, which is estimated to be 180 minus your age (in my case that is 147). As soon as my heart rate exceeds my aerobic max, I need to slow down/walk until it falls back below. With training, the body should get faster and more efficient at an aerobic heart rate. There are athletes that can run 6-ish min miles at a comfortable aerobic heart rate.

The magic of improving the aerobic system is that the body primarily burns fat for energy in an aerobic state. Fat burning is metabolically healthier and provides many other health benefits (more on that another time) than relying on glucose (i.e., carbs and sugar). This also means I don’t need to ingest as many carbs in a race to maintain performance. Besides…nobody really likes gels anyway.

The biggest drawbacks to the MAF method is that it requires patience and is very individualistic. You won’t be able to find a 16 week MAF training plan template online. Additionally, lifestyle factors (e.g., stress and diet) can inhibit training improvements. Therefore, if you aren’t seeing improvements in your pace at maximum aerobic heart rate, it may be caused by other health factors outside of training. There are a lot of nuances with this approach (e.g., when is OK to exceed maximum aerobic heart rate) and is the main reason why I’ve been consulting with Coach Tawnee (she is a MAF Method expert). So…if you are looking for quick performance results or just want a standard 16 week training plan..this method won’t be for you. However, if you want to be a lifelong athlete with good health…this approach is the way to go!

My typical PLANNED weekly training schedule over the last 6-8 weeks is below. Now…PLANNED is much different than ACTUAL. With our home renovation, move and work schedule…a perfect week of training was rare:

Run frequency of 4-5x per week:

  • 2 x 45-75 minutes runs at MAF heart rate in a fasted state (no eating beforehand)
  • 1 x intense run session with intervals ranging from 20 seconds to ½ mile or a moderate tempo session
  • 1 x long run at MAF heart rate with a goal of three 20 milers before the marathon. These can include fast finishes and should be used to practice race nutrition

Additionally, for some cross training, recovery, and to ease into triathlon training, 2-3 bike sessions and a few weekly swim sessions should be thrown into the mix as well. Mobility work should also continue to be a daily practice.

Check out my last training post if you want to see my build-up to the above.

Gear:

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Shoes: I’m a believer in minimalist footwear and allowing the foot to work as designed without interfering with too much support or cushion. I love Skora shoes and I’m currently using their Tempo model.

Socks: Nearly as important as shoes for long distance running in my mind. For the marathon and long runs I wear Wrightsocks. I use the Running II model which are double layered and are basically blister proof. They aren’t ideal on hot days because of the thickness but otherwise they are amazing.

Shirt & Shorts: I’m not too particular about either. I’m fine with a basic light weight tech t-shirt that wicks and I prefer running shorts that have a built in lining. I seem to mostly have C9 and Lululemon apparel though.

Sunglasses: I had enough eye problems as a kid that I don’t want to muck with contacts and putting stuff in my eye. Therefore, I need prescription sunglasses that allow for a fairly strong prescription. Rudy Project sunglasses have prescription inserts that do just that. The outer, non-prescription lens on the pair I have changes based on the brightness so I can also use them like straight-up glasses in low light.

Water Bottle: I like to carry some of my own hydration and I prefer a handheld water bottle to a belt. Running with a belt that is bouncing (no matter how well it fits) drives me crazy. I use this 16oz model from Amphipod. It is really comfortable, doesn’t leak, and has a pocket to carry additional nutrition (or cellphone, keys, ID, etc.) Speaking of nutrition….

Race Nutrition:

I try to avoid the franken-sugary gels and sports drinks that are on the course. Since I’ve been training my body to run more efficiently on stored body fat, I’m not planning to take in a ton of exogenous calories.

Sports Drink: I’m going to use a homemade sports drink consisting of coconut water, chia seeds, honey, and some sea salt. I’ll use about 1 to 1.5 Tbsp of chia seeds per 16oz of water and about a 3:1 ratio of chia seeds to honey. The chia seeds turn into little gummy balls and it looks gross….but is actually delicious!

Gel Alternative: Instead of gels, I’ll take in one pouch of Vespa immediately before the race and then one per hour during the race. Vespa has a peptide that supposedly helps the body use fat for fuel. Sounds a bit hokey and woo-woo but I actually noticed a difference on my training runs. Since each pouch is only 18 calories, the boost definitely wasn’t coming from the calories.

The weather forecast for Sunday is looking perfect so it should be a good time! If anyone has any interest in tracking me you can do so HERE. Wish me luck!

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