You can see it here. Amazingly, this little post has continued to generate high numbers of visitors every month.
Well ladies and gentleman, I have broken the 4:00 barrier again! (spontaneous cheering ignites all over the world wide web).
I ran 3:56:35 in Myrtle Beach.
I’m not setting any speed records to be sure. I’m just a middle of the pack runner. At my age I would need to clock a 3:05 to qualify for Boston! Ha, ha, ha . . .
Nevertheless, breaking 4 hours for the second time feels really good. Especially after running a miserable 4:53:23 at the Rocket City Marathon in December. (Let’s not talk about that race).
The cool part about running sub-four this time is that I did not carry a boat load of fuel. What did I carry? Nothing but my fat baby! (sort of).
Here are my tips for breaking 4 hours in the marathon fat adapted style:
Use Your Fat as Fuel
“Fat adapted” simply means burning your fat as fuel. Your body learns to power your running on less calories per hour. In fact, some people find that they can get by on half the calories once they become fat adapted.
In the past I would take about 180 calories an hour using gels and other fueling products. But since I started cutting sugars and grains from my diet, I have trended away from sugar based fueling products. For the record, I’m not stating that you shouldn’t use these products. I did well on them when I was eating a diet higher in carbohydrates.
My goal in changing my fueling strategy was to be consistent with the overall dietary changes I have made by adopting a low carbohydrate lifestyle.
So let’s get down to the nuts and bolts. Here’s how I fueled for the Myrtle Beach Marathon:
- I took 1 ½ servings of Generation Ucan super starch before the race. The Ucan company makes a slow release carb that gives you energy without an insulin spike. It’s like a carb that doesn’t act like a carb.
- I drank 2 cups of coffee before the race. This is not a fueling strategy, I just love coffee.
- I drank water at the aid stations. No energy drinks, just water -drinking to thirst not guzzling.
- I brought a gluten-free, sugar-free energy bar. I carried this as a backup but only ate half of it at the 16 mile mark; mainly because I wanted to reward myself.
- Electrolyte tabs. I took about 4 every hour to prevent cramping.
That’s it folks. As you can see, most of my fueling took place before the marathon started. I was very pleased with my energy levels throughout the race. I ran a negative split with a nice little kick during the last 3 miles.Angie prefers to take one serving of Ucan before the race and then carry one serving in a small hydration bottle and sip it as she goes. I tried to do this at the Rocket City Marathon but my stomach rebelled. What works best for me is to take about 2 servings before the marathon starts.
My final advice about becoming a fat adapted runner is to give it time. After you cut out sugars and grains you will probably have very little energy while running for the first 4-5 weeks. When it comes to fueling remember to test everything before race day. Use your long runs to see how your system handles Ucan.
If you want to run a sub-four hour marathon as a high carb runner then refer to this post.
Get a Solid Marathon Training Plan
I have the good fortune of being married to a running coach. Angie made me a training plan for Myrtle Beach based on 4 running days a week with cross-training in between. For cross-training I did yoga and upper body stuff.
The plan also prescribed a speedwork session once a week; tempo runs, mile repeats, and Yasso 800s. I promptly neglected all speedwork sessions. (I’m a lazy runner).
If you need a good training plan you can either (1) marry a running coach (2) or buy one of Angie’s Smart Training Plans.
Whatever plan you get, resolve to stick to it no matter what. Tape it to your forehead if necessary.
Do Some Killer Hill Training
Though the Myrtle Beach Marathon course is very flat, I put in a fair amount of hill training leading up to the race. (Maybe I’m not that lazy).
Running hills is a great way to condition your body and really learn how to push yourself when you want to quit. Go find a lung busting hill and see if you can make it to the top without walking. If anyone wonders what you’re doing just tell them I sent you.
Pace Yourself Wisely
Like I said, I was able to run a negative split at the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I crossed the 13.1 marker at 2:03:11. To run a negative split you have to be very patient in the beginning. I found myself continually easing back my speed.
After I crossed the half way point I turned up the tempo. My legs felt pretty fresh. In fact, I’ve never felt so good at the end of a marathon. My feet were tired but I was having fun.
You should make it a goal to have strong legs in the second half of your marathon. You also need to keep a strong mind. Dr. Tim Noakes says that fatigue is only in your brain (the central governor) not a real physical state in the body.
So when you feel tired, just remember the brain is trying to trick you into slowing down. Dismiss those thoughts immediately.
Listen to our interview with Dr. Noakes to see how this works.
Run with Music
Music helped me run faster and keep my mind filled with positive thoughts. The two times I’ve run a sub-four hour marathon I’ve had music to keep me company. My running playlist might be my secret weapon. Seriously.
Check out this song by TobyMac, I played it during the last mile.
We wanna rise,
We wanna touch the other side
(It starts tonight!)
We wanna soar
We wanna reach right out for more!
I hope you have ultimate success in reaching for a sub-four marathon. You have what it takes! Have a question? Leave it in the comment section below and I’ll reply to it.