Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s face it: runners ask a lot of questions. Whether you’re new to the sport, or a veteran of the roads or track, we’re all looking for answers.

Since I started writing this blog, some of the same questions come up time after time. Here’s where I tackle them based on my experiences on the road, reading and learning from other runners.

If you have a suggestion for a topic or question, feel free to send me an email. My goal is to answer commonly asked questions here in a timely manner as the list grows.

What’s the best way to taper before a marathon?
A marathon taper can be anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks before race day. After several running several using a 2-week taper, my preferred plan is now a 3-week taper. It generally takes 8 to 10 days to realize benefits from a workout, but a good taper – even one that is 3 weeks – will help a runner peak for a goal race. My recent training cycles call for my longest runs (23 miles) coming 5 and 3 weeks before race day. My long runs then are 16 miles with 2 weeks to go, and anywhere from 8 to 12 miles on the weekend before the marathon. It’s important to note that daily runs during the last 2 weeks begin to shorten, meaning fewer miles, but the intensity of the runs don’t change. Fast running is important during the taper to keep the legs fresh and accustomed to a quick pace.

What is the best way to carbohydrate load before a race?
There are several different theories for consuming carbohydrates prior to a distance race. Some science supports the idea that most runners don’t need to eat a large pasta dinner the night before shorter distances like a 5K or 10K, let alone spend 3 days consuming carbs for a race. For a half marathon, I prefer a carb-based meal the night before a race. Marathoners, however, need more fuel. Personally, I prefer to eat normal all the way up to the day before the race, and then follow this plan.

What’s the best in-race fueling strategy?
This comes down to personal preference. In a short race, like a 5K or 10K, I usually don’t use gels. For a half marathon, my goal is to consume one gel with water about 15 minutes before the start time, and another around miles 5 and 9. The same holds true for the marathon, with additional gels every 4 miles after mile 5. In short, my fueling strategy looks like this: one gel 15 minutes before the race, then a gel at miles 5, 9, 13, 17 and 21. In addition, I’ll carry an extra gel – as an emergency backup or, if I’m feeling well, to give to another runner struggling late in the marathon.

How do I dress to run in the winter?
There are several strategies to keep in mind: layering your clothes, dress for temperatures 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the actual air temperature, always start your run by heading into the wind and wear spikes designed to stretch over your shoes. Click here for more details about being an ice road runner.

1 Response

  1. Marlene

    First, your dedication to training and accomplishements are amazing! I am just wondering if you have a wife or kids? Several of my friends that are addicted to running(or married to someone that is) have found that all the training and event time seriously impacted their family life. There are so many events one can train and participate in, there really isn’t an end point in site. Any advice on balancing running, biking and swimming with work and family life?

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