Product Geek vs. Marathon

Blood, Sweat & Trello: How to Hack Your 1st Marathon

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The Roadmap (Training Plan)

I wanted a training plan for my runs that steadily built up mileage over the months ahead. A bit of research, a couple YouTube videos and a cross-reference with an endurance athlete friend led me to the Hal Higdon’s website.

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My original training plan based on Novice 2 by Hal Higdon (+ upper body weight training)

The Coach

I had a hunch that I needed to improve my running form if I was going to be pounding out hundreds of miles in the months ahead. I searched on Yelp for running coaches in West Los Angeles and after a little back and forth I had an appointment with Coach Gareth.

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Revised training plan, calibrated w/ blood-lactate results & including speed training. I modified it a bit, opting for more rest on the weekends vs. the recommended 40 minute runs.

(Re)Learning How to Run at 44

As I had suspected, Coach Gareth had some not-so-happy feedback on my running form.

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I spent a lot of time at the track (usually Drake Stadium at UCLA early in the AM) both working on my running mechanics and giving my body a break from the unforgiving street surface.

Pre-Emptive Physical Therapy

I’ve had 3 knee surgeries, 2 shoulder surgeries, a broken wrist, a broken femur, a dislocated elbow and then some. Through all of this, I’ve built deep and abiding belief in the power of physical therapy (PT).

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Improving glute & inner thigh strength became a new priority… even for a guy who never skipped leg day.

Keeping Your Mind from Eating Itself

There are people who consider running a deep meditation. They claim they reach a trance-like state while the miles pass effortlessly by. For the rest of us, there’s audiobooks. I can’t imagine what I would have done without them.

Fitting in Weight Training

I love lifting weights and I did not want to stop while running, so I came up with a schedule that still allowed me a little gym time. I simply had to train differently since I wasn’t going to have the time and energy to focus on a couple body parts a day. Much like a product launch, there’s always other activities to juggle and fit into your schedule — marathon prep wasn’t going to be any different.

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(Not) Losing Weight

I expected the pounds to fall off easily.

  • Increase veggies, especially broccoli and cauliflower
  • Swap out beer for Kombucha — it has a lot less calories and usually .5–1% alcohol.
  • Snack better — I returned to snacks that maybe don’t taste awesome but are filling: raw almonds, protein shakes and green apples.
  • High protein, low calorie ice cream (e.g., Halo Top) for dessert. It’s not real ice cream, but it’s not half bad. Especially the Cookie Dough flavor.
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My virtual ice baths at the CryoZone to speed recovery

Cryotherapy

I bought a 10 pack of cryotherapy treatments for grins at the start of my training. Think of it as an ice bath concentrated into a 3-minute session where you stand in an increasingly freezing cylinder in your underwear with boots and gloves on.

The Part Where Things Blow Up

There’s no product launch I’ve ever seen where something doesn’t go seriously wrong at an inopportune moment. Marathon training was to be no different.

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I used off the shelf orthotics for race day, but the measurement for custom inserts was revealing — the biggest points of pressure were exactly where it hurt the most (the red parts).

Launch: Race Day

I had picked out my race day early morning carbs the day before with an aim of taking in 100 grams of quality carbs I could harness during the race. A chocolate protein shake, a banana and an RX bar made the grade with a bottle of water to wash it all down. At Dr. Brian’s recommendation, I also took 600mg of Ibuprofen as well so that it was in my body by the time my feet were ready to stage a full revolt later in the race.

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Recovery

It took about 3 days to feel reasonably recovered. I went into PT first thing the next day after the race for massage, icing and ultrasound on my feet. I was active during the day but little more — everything hurt. The next day I went into the gym and did a slow 20 minutes on the elliptical machine followed by stretching and foam rolling. After an Epsom salt bath, I felt much improved. Wednesday morning, I met with my trainer and did a relatively light workout starting with dynamic leg stretches and finishing with upper body weight training. I was spent, but nearly felt normal.

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The day after — massage and ice bags on my legs at PT

Retrospective

No launch is complete without the lessons learned, so here’s the results of my post-marathon retro:

  • Do physical therapy along the way — or at least regular massage — to prevent injury and tune in to what’s happening in your body
  • Cryotherapy is fast (<15 mins in total per visit) and made me feel/sleep better when I did it — worth the investment
  • Refine your diet earlier so that weight comes off more quickly, reducing impact on feet (and the body in general)
  • Wear shoes with extra support & impact absorption during long distance training and use lighter shoes for shorter runs on softer surfaces — then use the lighter shoes for race day to optimize for speed
  • Community is awesome — I’ve never felt so supported by my friends or even the city around me. Especially those who unexpectedly showed up to cheer me on (Thanks Matthew! Thanks Mark!)

Entrepreneur. Gardener. Dad. Gym Rat. Occasional Author.

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