Marathon Nutrition

It’s Derby Festival in Louisville, KY now.  And that means all sorts of fun activities for the family and tourists that come to this great city over the next couple weeks.  It all starts off with Thunder Over Louisville, and before finishing with the infamous Kentucky Derby there are several of family friendly events such as parades, hot air balloon shows, concerts, the chow wagon (full of carnival food such as elephant ears and corn dogs), and several other activities.  The one that attracts one of the biggest crowds is the Derby Festival mini and full marathon.  About 17,000 athletes run in the mini and full marathon, and then add all the family and friends lined along the course and the number probably triples.  This coming weekend, I will be taking on the full marathon.  It will be my third stand-alone marathon that I’ve run.  I’m looking forward to running the streets of my hometown and feeding off the local support.  But, just with any race distance longer than 90 minutes, nutrition is key.  It can make or break the race.  The longer the race, the more important in-race nutrition become more important.  A marathon is no different.

So how does one fuel for a marathon race.  There are several schools of thought, but they all boil down to taking into consideration how much someone weighs, how fast they run, and their goal time.  Of course, one will never be able to completely replace the amount of calories they are burning at an equal rate.  The key is damage control with adequate caloric intake and pacing.  The formula that I’m going to present isn’t perfect because it can’t take into account a person’s running economy.  For example, two people weighing the same amount may not run with the same efficiency at their marathon race pace.  One of them may bound more (up and down movement) or possibly over stride causing the brakes to be put on slightly with every step.  That being said, it should give an athlete a rough idea of how many calories to consume during their marathon race.

Step 1: Determine running calorie expenditure per mile
0.63 x body weight (pounds)

Step 2: Determine goal race pace or how many miles per hour you’ll cover
Example: An eight-minute miler will cover 7.5 miles/hour

Step 3: Calculate hourly expenditure based on goal race pace
Example: An eight-minute miler would multiply 7.5 by the figure from step 1.

Step 4: Determine hourly calorie replacement needs
0.3 x the figure from step 3 (Note: Research shows runners can physically absorb about 30 percent of what they expend.)

Here’s an example:  A 175 pound athlete wants to run a 3.5 hour marathon.  To determine the amount of calories needed to complete the race this athlete would start calculating his caloric needs after 90 minutes into the run since he/she should have eaten an adquate enough breakfast to fuel his body for this portion of the race.  The athlete would take 0.63 x 175 to figure out how many calories per mile they will burn.  It comes out to about 110 cals/mile.  Since he’s wanting to run a 3:30 marathon, that comes out to an average pace of just under 7.5 miles/hour.  So multiply 110 calories by 7.5 to get your cal/hr burned.  That comes out to about 825 cal/hr.  Since we can only absorb about 30% of the calories we burn while exercising, multiply 825 by 0.3 and the hourly requirement for after 90 minutes til the end would be about 250 calories/hour.  So for the final two hours of racing, this athlete would need to consume about 500 calories in order to give their body the correct amount of calories to make it through this race.

After figuring out my goal time, weight, and pace, I will need to consume about 300 calories per hour for the final 1:10 of my race.  However, I’m planning on taking some calories in about 35 minutes in and again at the 1 hour mark.  I plan on using NAPALM by Infinit for my calorie intake during the race.  a 6 ounce flask will carry 300 calories.  So if I supplement with some one course nutrition to get some additional calories, I should be fine.

Be sure to supplement with water and electrolytes if needed if it’s going to be hot.


Occupational Kinetics run gait analysis

After a busy day of running trails and helping out at the Maverick Multisport kids practice on Wednesday, I was really looking forward to a massage and some more treatment at Occupational Kinetics.  This time, instead of focusing on my lower back (which is feeling much better after doing stretches and exercises Mike Rowles gave me to do), Erin, the massage therapist, worked on my sore legs.  My hamstrings were the worst after covering 32 miles running the day before.  Even though I felt as if I needed to jump off the table a couple times, I knew that my legs would feel a lot better after she got them to relax a little.

One thing I really like about Occupational Kinetics is how closely each person works with the rest of the team.  Erin told Dr. Bee what she found during the massage and let him continue correcting the problem.  It was another 15 minute session with Dr. Bee with some ART  and some readjusting of my thoracic and lumbar spine.  Then it was on to watching the run gait videos that Mike Rowles took last week and looking at snap shots of my stride.


We started off looking at the profile of my run gait and how my foot strikes the ground.

Looking at these two pictures, you can see where my foot makes contact with the ground initially and then where I the point in my stride is where I bear weight on the leg.  The right picture is the one with my body weight on the leg.  If you look at the forefoot, knee, and chest, there is a straight line right through the three points.  It should be this way just having the chest slightly in front of the knee.

In this snap shot, Mike Rowles added a grid to the picture to give us a sense of where my leg is just before swinging it forward.  My ankle is just slightly higher than the knee, which suggest I have a good ankle kick when pushing off the ground.  It also uses less energy (and takes less time) to pull the leg through for the next step having the leg higher than having the ankle below the knee.  Think of a pendulum.  The longer it is, the more distance it has to cover before it reaches the same degree on the other side of vertical.

This is another shot of my stride from a side profile.  This time Mike Rowles was looking at my forward lean and head tilt.  Elite runners tend to run with a 10-12 degree forward lean. I’m on the low end of “normal” with my forward lean.  But, that being said, when I had a run gait analysis done by my coach in September of 2011, my forward lean was about 6 or 7 degrees.  This is very important for increasing running efficiency because when running more upright, energy goes into over coming gravity and pushing the runner up into the air more instead of forward motion.  When leaning forward the running gains more ground per step.  For example, if you gain one extra inch per step, the end result is astronomical.  At 180 steps per minute that comes out to 15 feet further per minute.  At an hour, you’ve now covered about .20 miles more than previously.  Not to mention, the fatigue rate will be less because of less pounding on the legs and running mechanics being more efficient.  My coach told me a little over a year ago, by changing my forward lean, with all other things being equal, I should be able to run a marathon about 10-15 minutes faster.

Now we’ll move onto the posterior views.  But before we do that, watch the video again at the top and cover my lower body with your hand.  Now do it again, but this time cover the upper half of my body with your hand.  Did you notice anything?  If you were looking closely, you should notice my upper body stays very straight, with no swing from side to side.  But, my lower body zig zags.  This would explain, at least partially, why my lower back gets tired and sore.

Now for some measuring of angles:

Notice in this picture how each leg crosses the midline.  This is due to tight groin muscles.  Mike gave me some stretches to do to fix this.


Take note of the right picture.  Notice how when my left leg hits the ground, my right hip drops.  However, when the right foot hits the ground, the left hip stays level.  This is consistent with the hip weakness they found when having me do one legged squats a week or so ago.  Mike Rowles stressed the importance of doing the exercises he gave me last week, but wants me to do them and a new one once a day with three sets for each exercise. 

Hopefully after doing these exercises after a few weeks, the angles will be corrected or improved when we video tape them again.


Adventure trail and swiftwick sock review

Yesterday I took an adventure across the Ohio River with an ultramarathoner, and good friend, Troy Shellhamer to check out a new trail that neither of us had ran on.  With the weather the way it was the night before with rain turning to snow we decided to wait until mid morning to head out just in case the roads were bad.

As usual, Troy did his homework on researching the trail.  He said that it was approximately 24 miles long with only 1800 feet of elevation gain during it.  He did preface it with he wasn’t sure how accurate the GPS file was he was looking at was.  I figured we would be out there for about 3.5 hours and packed food and mixed up enough Infinit Go Far formula to accommodate such a run.  I also decided to take out my new pair of Swiftwick Socks that I just bought a few days ago.  It was a different style than I had run in before.  This time I was using the Aspire version of their sock line.

With all the rain and snow during the last few days, the trails were not only hillier than expected, but also very slippery.  We crossed several small creeks and streams.  Just during the first few miles.  We eventually arrived at the Junction where the loop of the Adventure Trail starts.  The trail was in need of some maintance at the beginning, but as we got deeper and deeper into the woods, the trail actually became better.  We ran beside Indian Creek, the Blue River and even the Ohio River.  Little did I know, until Troy enlightened me, that we were also running through the most cavernous place on earth per square mile.  Who would have thought that in the middle of no where in Southern Indiana that there would be more caves than any other place in the world?  The park also made improvements on the trail and added some camping shelters along the way.  I took a quick catnap while Troy explored the camp:



We went up and down several ridge lines… and because of that, I’m positive we went over the estimated 1800 feet of elevation gain during the first 10 miles!  We continued crossing more and more creek beds.  If there is one thing I hate while running, it’s wet feet.  But even with all that water, my feet managed to dry out quickly thanks to the moisture wicking quality of Swiftwick socks.

About 4 hours into the run, I took my last gel and was getting a little worried since my Infinit was about to run out.  We had no sign of the junction.  Thankfully, Troy’s wife, Kara, made him pack more food than normal for this trail run since we weren’t sure how well it was marked or how accurate the GPS files were.  I began to get a little worried as we reached the 5 hour mark and still hadn’t made it back to the junction… and crossed the 24 mile mark about a mile ago.  I started having visions of finding shelter in a shelter and camping out for the night.  I began to get a little light headed and dizzy.  I told Troy that I was zapped and needed some food, badly.  He helped me out and it was just enough to stomp through the mud a little further.  Long story short, we made it out of the woods after about 5.5 hours.  We stopped at a gas station and bought some snacks and drove back to Louisville, where I was about to meet the Maverick Multisport’s Kid team for practice at Mary T. Meagher for a run workout.

I arrived at Mary T. and switched shoes.  I went outside to wring out my socks, and was shocked that I couldn’t get any water out of them at all.  The Swiftwick socks were nearly dry enough after all that water we ran through and being in wet shoes during the car drive back to Louisville.  We did a warm up and then did something that my coach calls K-pump workout:  30 seconds at mile race pace, 30 seconds recovery in a series of 5.  We did that 4 times while watching the sun set.

By the end of the day, I covered about 32 miles running.  I’ve used a lot of different moisture wicking socks in the past with a 8 year history of racing triathlons, but swiftwick is far superior to any other that I’ve used.  They dry out faster, keep my feet from getting blisters.


Sweaty Sheep Merry Christmas 5K

This post is a bit late in coming, but last weekend on the 22nd of December, Sweaty Sheep put on a 5K.  The race was organized by my friend, Ryan Althaus and the timing done by Headfirst Performance.  The race went from a brain baby to an actual event only a little over a month before the race date.  With a little bit of marketing and telling people about the event by word of mouth, Sweaty Sheep pulled of an amazing event.

For the brave-hearted, there was an option to drink a 4 ounce glass of eggnog at the start line and then at every mile marker.  I decided to take part in the challenge and have some fun while wearing my ugly Christmas attire.  The eggnog tasted so good as it hit the lips, but as soon as it got to my stomach, I felt my stomach starting to turn.  If only I were able to stomach this stuff in a real race… talk about the calorie replacement!  As for now, I’ll stick with Infinit!

The purpose behind the event was to help raise awareness of the homeless shelters in the area.  Ryan worked with several of them, including Wayside Mission, Exit Zero, and Jefferson Street Shelter just to name a few.  After the race, Little Ceasars and Chic-fil-a donated a bunch of food for the athletes.  But there weren’t just athletes at the dinner.  The homeless people were invited too.  We all gathered in the Presbyterian Center downtown and had a little Christmas service.  During this whole time, the homeless people gathered up supplies they needed, such as toiletries  coats, clothes, shoes, non-perishable goods, etc. in sling bags that many of us athletes donated from our overwhelming supply we have from getting one from each race.

It was a truly a blessed time for athletes and the homeless to come together and share a meal together.  And in case you missed it, be sure you’re there next year as this will become an annual tradition in Louisville!

Merry Christmas!


Otter Creek Trail Marathon Race Report

Every time I trail run, I have a blast.  It’s much more fun than running the roads.  A for a fleeting moment, I think to myself about possibly taking up this sport and replacing triathlons.  But, it’s a very fleeting moment.  For now, it’s a good way to put in training time on my feet, build a good base and strength while hopefully not injuring myself.

Otter Creek is a park located southwest of Louisville, in Meade County.  Even though it’s outside of Jefferson County, Louisville Metro Parks owns the property.  Located just off of Dixie Highway, it’s very easy to get to and offers several things to do at the park from repelling, hiking, fishing, and camping.  However, this time I came to trail run.  There were options for 8, 16, and 26.2 miles (actual distances were more like 9, 18, and 27).  Each distance beyond 8 miles, meant you had to run an extra lap.  I signed up for the full marathon giving myself the option to cut it short if I didn’t feel like running 3 laps since I had only trail run once in the last 3 or 4 weeks.

I came into the race with a mindset of just running a nice even pace.  Obviously, I wanted to win, but if I didn’t win, I wasn’t going to be upset since I was coming into this race unprepared.  I had a nutritional strategy figured out based on other trail running I’ve done.  Infinit Bike formula and some gels to help replace calories.  I used gels because I knew with the cooler temperatures I would be drinking too much sports drink to get adequate calories and would have to find a tree off the trail too often.  I carried two gels with me, and planned on using a couple from the course to get me through the marathon, if I ended up running that far.

The race started on time, with looming clouds overhead promising that this race wouldn’t stay dry for long.  Just a couple miles into the race, it started sprinkling.  At that point, was the steepest decent of the race.  Just the small amount of rain made it a bit slick, but not too bad for the shoes I was wearing.  I managed to make it down in one piece with 1st place about 30 seconds ahead of me.  My friend Ryan Althaus ran about half of the first lap with me.  It was nice to have someone to talk to for the first 5 miles.  Unfortunately, he has been struggling with some pain issues in his hip for a few months now, and had to back off after the first aid station.

The aid station marked the bottom of the trail, and to get back up to the where we started involved climbing.  There was two sections of sustained climbing, and with the rain picking up, it made it tough to climb.  My stride lengths were cut in half from sliding down the hill while climbing.  I came to the second aid station, starting my second lap, in second place with third just behind.  First lap was completed in about 1:05

I approached the steep decent again, only this time the trail had turned to mud.  I had to walk a good portion of this part because I was wearing road racing shoes and didn’t want to plummet to my death onto some sharp rocks.  I let 3rd place pace me, but caught back up to him at the 3rd aid station.  When I arrived there, he told me first place was 2 or 3 minutes ahead of me.  I kind of figured he would continue to build a gap and would go on to win.  I didn’t really care too much… I was just having fun.  I downed a gel and began running back up to start of the 3rd lap.  Second lap was completed in about 1:08

At this point, I was contemplating cutting it short and doing the 16 mile option.  However, about a mile before reaching the 3rd lap, I got a second wind and started feeling really good again.  I refilled my bottle with more Infinit Bike formula and took off on the third lap.

Just as I started the 3rd lap, it started pouring.  I began dreading the down hill.  Between feeling good and wanting to distance between me and 3rd place, I started picking up my speed.  I actually made it down the hill a little faster this time than the last despite the even muddier conditions.  Maybe it was confidence from the first two laps, or maybe it was stupidity, but what I did seemed to work.  I came to the bottom of the trail and ran along Otter Creek for the third time.  I saw someone ahead of me wearing bright green.  For a moment, I thought to myself, “I wonder if that is first place?”  I quickly threw that option out thinking that he was probably beyond the aid station by now.  As I got closer and came around the corner, I realized it was first place.  I though to myself, “Okay… maybe I can win this thing.”  I didn’t want to pick up my pace yet as I still had all the climbing left to do for this lap and knew that it was going to be a muddy mess climbing those hills again.

I entered the short out-and-back section that lead us to the aid station.  I didn’t waste any time.  I grabbed a gel and ate it on the run instead of savoring it while standing still at the aid station.  I saw second place about a minute behind me after passing him about a 1/2 mile ago.

I did my best to maintain a steady pace, but as I neared the end of the third lap, I began to feel hungry and lacking energy.  I drank what was left in my bottle of Infinit and felt a little pick me up.  Finally, I saw the final aid station.  Once I got there, I only had about 1/4 mile run to the finish.  I looked over my shoulder and didn’t see 2nd place behind.  I jogged it in and crossed the finish line just after the clock clicked to 3:28.

I am very happy with my results.  I am even more happy with the even pacing I did for the three laps.  I think it would have been even closer to even pacing if the trails weren’t so wet and slippery.

I’m just glad that Troy “the Kentucky Hammer” Shellhamer didn’t show up for the race, giving me a chance to win one last race before 2012 ends!

Thanks to Infinit Nutrition for the amazing product to fuel my body during this race.  I also think that the boot camps I’ve started doing at Pure Fit played a huge role in helping me race so well.  My legs felt strong the whole time and the day after the race I wasn’t really sore, which typically happens when I run trails.


Louisville Sports Commission Half-Marathon Race Report

This weekend (11/3/2012) I ran the Louisville Sports Commission mini-marathon.  I had signed up for it with the mindset to use it as a training day to get  some good numbers to work with to help guide my training through the winter as I prepare for 70.3 Panama the beginning of February.  I had no intentions of tapering for the race.

Race morning was a bit brisk with temperatures in the mid to upper 30’s.  If you know anything about me, you know I hate the cold and thrive in the heat.  I got down to the race early so I wouldn’t have to fight for parking and killed some time before the race chatting with some friends that were also doing the 13.1 mile run through downtown Louisville and Cherokee Park.  Everyone seemed to be excited for the day.  As the sun rose over the horizon, the temperature seemed to rise as well.  I made some last minute apparel changes to what I was planning to run in and worked my way to the front of the start line for a few last minute stride outs.

Mike Hermanson’s bib number for 2012 LSC mini-marathon


The count down for the race started and the gun went off.  I found myself leading the pack for about the first mile or so, but I knew there were faster runners here.  I quickly surrendered the lead to two guys that were wearing matching uniforms.  By the second mile, I found myself in 5th place, but the other 4 guys were less than 10 yards in front of me.  I wasn’t concerned about it, because I had a feeling that at least two of them were going out too fast.

We hit Lexington Road for the long gradual up hill climb for about 2 miles to Cherokee Park.  As I was running up that 2 mile stretch I passed 4th and 5th place.  The  guy in 4th place was pacing off of me, running either beside me or just behind.  I took notice of his breathing and could tell that he was running above threshold and wouldn’t be able to hold this pace for longer than a couple miles at best.  I looked at my HR monitor.  My HR was about 170-171… right at or just under threshold by a couple BPM.  I figured I would just let this guy wear himself out on the hardest part of the course as we entered Cherokee Park for miles 4 through 7.

About half way through the park, it started hailing/sleeting/freezing rain for just a few minutes.  I thought to myself that it would have been nice to have those extra clothes I ditched before the race… but it stopped after a couple minutes, leaving the road a bit slick.  Me and the other guy started running up the back side of hill leading up to Hogan’s Fountain.  If I remember right, he was a few meters in front of me at the base of the hill.  I pushed the hill to just above threshold to catch him and put distance on him during the hill.  I love running hills.  Once I got to the top, instead of relaxing a bit to recover, I wanted to put the nail in coffin on this guy and mentally beat him by keeping the pace on the flats and use the down hill section to put more distance on him.  By the time I got to the bottom of the hill about a half mile later, he was several meters behind.  I thought to myself… I shouldn’t see him again if I can hold it together.

However, the other guy I passed first on my way up Lexington Road wasn’t about to give up so easily.  He made his presence known as he picked up the pace to catch me on the long climb on Grinstead.  By the time we reached Cherokee Road, we were running stride for stride and continued to do so for about a mile.  I checked my HR.  Still about 170 BPM… just under threshold.

When we reached the down hill section leading to Liberty Street, I picked up my cadence and leaned forward even more to use gravity to carry me down the hill.  Once I hit Liberty, he dropped back several meters.  I knew that the rest of the race was basically flat and would have to maintain good form if I wanted to keep him from catching me.  I focused on the forward lean, landing on my forefoot, kissing the ground with my heel to let my calf muscle relax briefly, and running with my arms high but with relaxed shoulders.

Over the last 5 miles of the race, I would occasionally look over my shoulder to see if he was making any ground on me.  Best I could tell, he was slowly fading.  We ran all the way down to 25th street (I think) took a right hand turn and another on Main and had about 1.5 miles of straight road until the finish line.  I started picking up the pace a little bit.

With about 1/2 to 3/4 mile left to go, my friend Ryan Althaus escorted me on his bike.  He encouraged me to pick up the pace, get on my toes and kick it in.  My legs and chest were hurting as I kicked it in.  I gave on last glance over my shoulder to see where 4th place was and figured he was about 30 seconds behind.  I was on my way to a 3rd place finish, and crossed the finish line in 1:15:28.

My goal for the race was to finish between 1:15 and 1:16.  Place didn’t really matter to me so much.  I was racing the clock and trying to get some good data to train with over the winter months.  So, it was a successful day.

After reviewing my Garmin, my average HR was 169, and my first and second half of the race were almost equal in time.  This tells me that my endurance is good, but still have need to work on speed.  Realistically, I need to get my stand-alone half marathons down to about 1:10 so that my 13.1 mile run at the end of a 70.3 is about 1:15.

Thanks to my coach, Justin Trolle, for helping make such huge gains in the last 15 months of working together.  Thanks to my friends that cheered for me along the race and my sponsors that help make my dreams a reality.

My medal is now hangs from my rear view mirror… a nice alternative to fuzzy dice!