How much fuel is too much on a long run?

Now that my long runs are creeping up again, and I’m coaching many women training for marathons, fueling is coming up a lot.

What type? How much? How often?

A lot has been written about fueling before, during and after a run.  I’m going to assume you know the basics.

The mistake I see the most often is runners over-fueling the run.

Taking in too many gels can have a negative effect- they teach your body to be dependent on the sugar and this can cause you to feel the “crash” without the sugar “pick-me-up.”

Once you have a little distance under your belt, I’m a big fan of limiting the fuel on a long run.  A little fuel is fine- as it can help you perform better and you definitely want to practice taking in some fuel for race day to teach your stomach how to digest it and ensure that your body won’t reject it.

What kind of fuel? Whatever you prefer… gels if you you don’t mind the texture, chews if you prefer chewing something, or dried fruit if you prefer real food.

With gels, look for lower sugar options.  For example, Clifbar gels have about 13 grams as opposed to Gu that has 28 grams.

How much? You don’t need as much as you might think! Half a pack of HoneyStinger chews is enough to give you a little boost, or a small handful or raisins, or half a gel.

If I decide to use gels in a race, I’ll use them in one or two long runs but sip them over several miles so I don’t get the shot of sugar all at once.

How often? You can begin fueling 30-45 minutes into a long run and continue to fuel about every 40 minutes or so.  If you feel your body crashing before that, you are too dependent on sugar as fuel.

How do you know if you are too dependent on sugar as fuel?

Here are some additional articles I wrote on this topic:

How to determine if you are a sugar burner or a fat burner

How the balance in your every day food choices impacts your efficiency on the run

How I use fasted runs

If you are slightly underfueled, your body learns to adapt and draws more from fat stores than from sugar/carb stores.  Fasted runs will also teach your body to be less dependent on your glyogen stores.

Underfueled or fasted runs makes the run a bit harder… you may not feel as strong as you’d like to, but on race day or runs with the fuel, you’ll notice the difference and be stronger for it.

What’s your go to fuel on the long run?

At what distance do you start taking fuel with you?


I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

7 weeks until NYC Half recap + Meal Planning

The recap:

Sunday: 45 minute walk

Monday: 8.75 run with 4 x 1 mile at 10-15 seconds faster than half marathon pace (2 warm up, 6:44, 6:44, 6:44, 6:42 with 400m recovery jogs, 1 at marathon pace 7:30, cool down) + Barre

Tuesday: 5 easy (9 minute ave) on the treadmill before anyone was up

Wednesday: 8.5 moderate pace with rolling hills (9ish pace) + 3 in the afternoon with a client (+ 100 push ups/core)

Thursday: spin class

Friday: 13.2 long run with long tempo and short tempo: warm up (8:29, 7:47), 4 at long tempo (7:06, 7:29-hill!!, 7:17, 7:13), 1/2 mile easy (8:31), 2 at fast tempo (7:04, 7:01), 1 easy 9:31, 1 at short tempo (7:02), cool down (8:04, 7:52, 7:39- last 1/2)  + 100 push ups/core

Saturday: 9.5 recovery with running clients (10+ave)

I’m realizing how key these slooow runs are for me.  My breathing stays easy and I’m not tired afterward.  Since I’ve been somewhat injury prone in the past, this has been key for me to increase without any aches/pains. I also skipped boot camp as I think some of those plyo moves are putting me over the top fatigue-wise.

I topped out at 47.5 miles this week for the first time since marathon training and I feel great!  I have one more push week around 45 miles before a cutback week.

Rest day today!

Meal planning:

We stuck so well to our meal plan last week! That does not always happen… but the butternut squash chili was awesome, the girls loved the sushi, and I am in love with tuna steaks right now.  For this week:

Sunday: Friends over- making lasagna, my husband’s sourdough, and a salad of some sort

Monday: Stuffed peppers in the crock pot

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Split pea soup + cheese quesadillas

Thursday: Lentil sloppy joes + spaghetti squash (Thanks Amanda for the share!)

Friday: Pizza night

Saturday: One day church retreat


Are you paces polarized, or do you often run at the same pace?

If you make a meal plan, how well do you stick to it?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

Planning out my race calendar

Until last night, my race calendar had one race on it: NYC half marathon in March.

I wanted to find a second half for later in the spring, as I haven’t had great success with the half the last 3-4 times! I want that back up race, as the pr in the half is one of my main goals for the year.

Beyond the half, I wanted to add in some shorter races as well.  I haven’t raced a 10k in years!  So here’s how it’s coming together:

March 19, NYC Half

April 1, possibly a 5k

April 9, Cherry Blossom 10k

April 30, NJ Half

May 13, Jersey City 5k

May 20, Toss up between 4 miler race and Mayapple Trail 10 miler

May 29, Ridgewood 10k or 5k + kids run

Sat, June 3, Towpath trail run 11.8 or the College Ave Mile

Obviously, I still have a few decisions to make but I’m excited about the way it’s coming together.  It’s a bit more racing than I normally do, but with the shorter races and some trail thrown in there, I’m really excited about the variety- and not having the pressure for a pr every time.

I’m also looking into a coach as even coaches need coaches! I want to continue to improve and I think I’m at the point where I’d like someone else calling the shots.  So I’ll share more on that soon!

Is your spring race calendar all mapped out, or do you jump into races at the last minute?

Do you prefer lots of races or do you choose 1-2 per season?

I’m usually a 1-2 per season kind of girl but decided to mix it up this year and see how it goes!


Use low-monotony weeks to improve your fitness

Last week, I talked about the importance of cut back weeks.  A related key training factor is incorporating recovery days and alternating hard and easy efforts.  I try to be careful to do this.

However, as I was re-reading some of Douglas and Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning, I came across this awesome tool for determining whether your easy-hard balanced days are setting you up for over-training OR for steady fitness improvements.

If your efforts day to day are fairly similar (even with a variety of mileage) your training strain can lead to over-training or injury…. or less training improvements than you would expect for high mileage.

Key: Training strain is the combination of training load and training monotony.

But here’s the thing… if you are taking an easy running day but adding in a strength circuit or spin class, your training load may be more monotonous than you realize.

So here is the cool tool: write out your workouts and you can find training load by multiplying effort (on a scale of 1-10) by duration in minutes.

This is a low monotony plan because training load is as high as 520 and 750 on the hard days and as low as 100-180 on the easy days.  This is what you want to see!

A very similar mileage schedule can have much higher monotony:

In this plan, on the easy running day, there are weights added so that the training load never actually dips below 330 for a day! And it only peaks at 500.

So even though the two weeks have the exact same total training strain (2875 vs 2850), one is set up for fitness improvements with low monotony and the other is much more likely to improve more slowly and/or get injured or burnt out.

Because I like to incorporate a lot of cross training, I discovered that I’ve been guilty of a more monotonous schedule than I realized in the past.  Often my “easy” days become a spin and strength day and isn’t actually easy.

This cycle, I’m switching things up and adding strength after my hard runs so my hard days are extra hard and I’m keeping the easy days extra easy.

Just for fun, here’s the training strain from last week’s workouts:

Sunday: 10 easy (Effort 5 x 90 minutes) = 450

Monday: off   = 0

Tuesday: 8.5 with tempo (Effort 7 x 64 minutes) = 512 (plus another 275 for boot camp, total strain = 787)

Wednesday: 5 am, 3 pm easy (Effort 4 x 70 minutes) = 280

Thursday: 30 minute spin (Effort 4 x 30 minutes) = 120

Friday: 12 with hills and fast finish (Effort 7 x 98 minutes) = 686

Saturday: 6 easy (Effort 5 x 60 minutes) = 300

Cool, isn’t it?!

As you can see from the charts, it’s fine to have moderate work out days as well – it shouldn’t always be all-out hard or easy peasy.

But the variety is where the greatest training improvements in your fitness can take place.

If you write our your week’s workouts and calculate training load per day, what do you think you would find?

Do you incorporate weights and cross training on hard days or easy days?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

8 weeks until NYC Half workouts + Meal Planning

Hey, hey! Happy weekend!

Today we’re celebrating the day 7 years ago that I gave birth in a tub in a dark room, with our music playing and the midwife in the rocking chair.  I think over the years my memory has improved the actual events of the day- but that’s kind of the cool thing about birth, isn’t it? You forget the less glamorous parts.

And despite the fact that ALL ten 6 and 7 year old girls were able to come to the party yesterday, we survived! There is something about this age and high pitch, loud voices… whew! But they had a blast.

On to workouts… the NYC half training is picking up with 8 weeks to go!

The recap:

Sunday: 10 miles with my Yaktrax (9:30 ave)

Monday: off

Tuesday: Nailed my tempo! These paces intimidated me but I felt strong… 8.5 run with 3 at 6:59 ave, 1/2 mile easy and 2 at 6:58 ave, cool down ,,, + boot camp

Wednesday: easy 5 (9:30 ave) + 3 more with a client (11-12 ave)

Thursday: 30 easy spin

Friday: 12 long run (8:10 ave) with 1st half easy (8:40 ave) then 3 hill repeats and final 3 miles at 7:08, 7:27, 7:12

Saturday: 6.2 run with friends (easy, probably 9:30s) + 100 push ups in 4-5 sets

I want to get out and run again today with this gorgeous running weather (40s are my favorite!) but will probably spin or do a strength circuit before my mile repeats tomorrow.

Meal planning:

Sunday: Party leftovers (pizza, mac and cheese, veggies and hummus, ice cream cake!)

Monday: Grill tuna steaks + eggplant, squash and basil stacks with fresh mozzerella

Tuesday: Butternut squash turkey chili

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Inside out sushi salad


Friday: Homemade pizza

Saturday: One pan roasted salmon and veggies (from this list of 53 healthy one pot meals)


Moms, do you tend to remember the best parts of labor, or do you remember it all?

What’s your ideal running temperature?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

A fun running survey

I’m going to have fun with a little acronym survey for today.  Feel free to play along, and let me know if you do!

DNS- Did Not Start: I had two 5ks over the summer that I never actually ran because it was too hot and I know how poorly my body does in the heat.  Before that, I can’t think of any!

DNF- Did Not Finish: Thankfully, no.  I’ve never had a DNF although I’ve wanted to quit a few times!

DFL- Dead Freaking Last: Nope but I have so much admiration for those in the back of the pack.

FFF- Finished Freaking First: Once! In a small 10k race in Houston that was all women… that was a pretty fun surprise!

I used to hate this picture but I was working for it and it shows! I can appreciate that!

BQ- Boston Qualified: I’ve run 5 marathons… the 2nd and 4th were BQs (Houston and Steamtown).

WMD- Wore a Medal to Dinner: I’m not usually all about the bling but after the Boston marathon I’m pretty sure I was wearing it at dinner… mostly because the whole city seemed to celebrate with us!

BTW- Bemoaned The Weather: Ugh, yes.  I probably overthink the weather but I’ve had several bad experiences in the heat, including Liberty Newport this fall and the Rutgers half last spring, and many 5ks.  I can deal with the cold, and ran in the rain at both the Houston marathon and the Boston marathon and it was annoying, but manageable.

SSP- Shared Shoe Photos: Definitely guilty!

One of only a handful of times that I wore my Hokas… I need to get those out again!

TUBT- Threw Up By Track: That would be interesting! No, I’m usually running first thing either with some banana/pb or on an empty stomach, and I’ve never pushed myself hard enough to come close to feeling like I was going to throw up!

PR- Personal Record: 2017 was a good year! My prs came in the ten mile (at Broad Street) and at the Steamtown marathon.

PB- Personal Bartie: Ha! I don’t think I have a personal one, but I did get a picture with him when I was part of the Runner’s World Festival weekend.

CRAPOP- Certifiably Ruined A Port O Potty: Um…? Not that I’m aware of!

LOL- Leaked On Leg: Since having kids, yes.  Usually after a 5k when I’m giving my all in that final stretch.  #motherrunners, I’m not alone here, am I?

OMG- Ordered Many Gels: I’m actually not a big gel user but I do remember one time ordering a bulk order of HUMA chia gels.  Otherwise, I fuel minimally in training and pick up a few gels for race day.

BFF- Blessed with Fast Feet: Fast is all relative, isn’t it? I’d love to be faster but am happy with what my legs can do!

BRB- Blisters Rubbed Bloody: Only once! Either poor sock or poor shoe choice or the combo on a humid day.Quality socks have helped!  

WTF- Waddled Through Finish: I’ve felt like it, but no- I don’t think I have!

IDK- Injured Darn Knee: Yep! My very first injury when I wanted to train for my first marathon.

ET- Eulogized a Toenail: Never!

Have you lost a toenail? Peed on a run or in a race?

Or choose another question and let me know your answer!

How to use cut back weeks to get stronger

Hi friends! After sharing a bit about my cut back week recently, I had several questions and wanted to address them here.  I’m a big fan of the cut back week!

There are phases in our training when we can push through without consequence, and then there are lines we cross where we can end up injured.  The problem is we can’t see how close we are to that injury line.

Having crossed those lines and learned the hard way in the past, I am now very careful to be proactive with my recovery.

I heard recently that there is no such thing as over-training, only under recovering.  Isn’t that an interesting perspective? It puts the responsibility on me.

As long as I give my body the proper recovery time, I can continue to improve and stay injury free.  When I don’t, aches or pains can crop up and turn into more serious issues.

How can you use cut backs in your training?

You should implement cut back days, cut back weeks and cut back months/seasons or training.

Cut back days are simply adding in those easy days to offset the hard days.  Most coaches believe in a pattern of hard-easy-hard-easy-hard.  Or possibly easy-moderate-hard-easy-hard-easy-moderate… etc.

For cut back weeks, you want to build both intensity and mileage for 2-3 weeks and plan a cut back week on the 3rd or 4th week during which your mileage is slashed by 25-30% and the intensity takes a step back as well.

I will sometimes run all easy for the week.  Other times, I will keep a harder workout but cut back the intensity.  Instead of 5-6 miles at tempo, I might run 2-3.  Or instead of 12 400m repeats, I might do 4-6.

Typically, a cut back month will come after a big goal race, such as a half marathon or marathon.  The first few weeks will focus on recovery and the last week or two would begin slowly building the mileage back again.

Your body is getting stronger in the recovery phase.  It’s where you best absorb all the work you’ve done and heal the microtears and stress to the body so that you can come back stronger.

Do you plan cut back weeks into your training, or do you wait until your body gives you signs of over training?

Do you break your running into seasons over the course of the year?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.


Training recap + Meal planning

This has been such an odd week… 60 degrees on Thursday and snowing yesterday! Our plans were cancelled so we did the indoor play area at the mall and then stayed home the rest of the day, making indoor forts, playing in the snow and watching a movie.

I finished my cut back week feeling refreshed.  I slept a LOT this week! I think my body was fighting off the germs that are all around me but thankfully I never got sick.

The recap:

Monday: 1 mile run before teaching spin + I stayed for Barre class

Tuesday: 4.5 easy run and 30 minutes easy spinning

Wednesday: tempo run fail… the loop I wanted to run was so icy! I made it one loop around for 2.5 miles and then finished at home with 20 more minutes on the bike + a 30 minute strength circuit

Thursday: 40 minutes of intervals on the bike + walk with stroller

Friday: 6.2 run with 2 easy, 2 at fast tempo (7:05, 7:01), 2 cool down

Saturday: 45 minute spin, broken up with Cathe Supersets

Hoping to get in a double digit run today and get back on my half training schedule this week!

Meal planning:

Last week I did try two of the recipes from the RW cookbook, and really liked the salmon cups with avocado cream sauce.  For this week:

Sunday: Whole roast chicken + roast potatoes (one of my husband’s recipes so I’m going to put this on the calendar more often!)

Monday: Salmon, roast acorn squash and broccoli

Tuesday: Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach (from cookbook- never made this last week)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Squash and chickpea curry

Friday: Pasta night

Saturday: My daughter’s 7th birthday party with 10 little girls here… wish us luck!


Do you have a temperature cut off for outdoor running?

What’s one thing you hope to make this week?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

What I bought at Costco + day in life

Happy Friday!

It’s day 5 of the sugar detox, and there are over 100 (mostly) ladies rising to the challenge! I always get slightly terrified at the idea of giving up sugar but each time it’s a little bit easier… and I love how sweet fresh fruit and even veggies are tasting this week.

I wanted to give you a peek into my day, as it’s been awhile since I shared.  Yesterday my husband’s alarm went off and I opted to go back to sleep.  My daughter came in at 7am and woke me up. It felt amazing- for some reason, I’ve needed extra sleep this week.

She has 30 minutes on her tablet and wanted to use it first thing so I hopped on the spin bike in the basement for a 40 minute interval workout (pausing to start oatmeal, stir oatmeal and scoop oatmeal).  By 8, we were all eating breakfast and I packed a quick lunch for my daughter, got my 2 year old from her crib where she was still playing, changed her, packed a homemade bar for her breakfast and we were out the door.

Oats for the girls, smoothie for me.

We dropped L off at school and then baby J and I continued our walk for another 30-40 minutes since the weather was a gorgeous 50 degrees!

Back at home, I showered and ate a second breakfast while she had her oatmeal and then we got groceries and hit the post office.

She is semi-potty training herself (I am not ready for this yet) and insisted on no diaper today, so I was armed with back up clothes.  But thankfully we made it, with a potty stop at Trader Joes and a lollipop prize.

I like to stay well stocked for easy throw together meals.  Here’s some of my go-to Costco items:

Organic extra virgin olive oil, organic salsa, organic frozen berries, turkey burgers, organic ground turkey, giant mozzerella cheese (that I freeze in 1-2 cup portions), and organic whole chickens.

Canned black beans, Amy’s organic soups, organic applesauce cups, organic diced tomatoes and organic eggs.


Oranges, canned wild salmon, pumpkin, apples, organic raisins, almond flour, and popcorn.

We came home and ate lunch, and I put J down for her nap.

A running/nutrition client came at 12:30 so we could map out a tentative plan for her spring half marathon.  When she left, I did a live video in the sugar detox group sharing the main reasons we crave sugar, and finished some emails until 3, snacking on veggies and hummus and apples with cinnamon (this sugar detox does good things for my snacking habits!)

I woke up J, tossed her in the stroller, and headed down to pick up big sis.  The next two hours were a whirlwind of chores: homework, laundry, emptying and reloading the dish washer and meal prep for dinner.

I ate early with the girls (leftover salmon cakes and roasted veggies for me) and dashed out to a nutrition workshop last night for the evening, getting home just in time for bed!

Where do you get most of your groceries? What bulk items do you like to have on hand?

Sugar detoxers, how are you doing?



How gaining weight made me faster

Hi friends!

As we kick off this new year, it’s normal to be thinking about health goals: exercising more, eating better, losing a few pounds, and whatever else “getting back on track” might mean for you.

And in the running world, we’re always slammed with this idea that losing weight will make you faster.  Yes?

That concept has truth to an extent but it also drives me crazy.  Because when healthy women lose weight, they risk losing their cycle, losing bone density, more injuries and less energy for strong performances.

So I wanted to share the reminder that (in my experience) sometimes gaining weight is what your body needs to get stronger.


I was 10 pounds lighter for the first 5-7 years that I considered myself a runner.  On the left, I was 18 weeks pregnant with my first daughter and running a ten mile race.

While the number on the scale was more “runners body appropriate” than it is now, I was constantly injured.  I dealt with knee pain every time I tried to build mileage to do a marathon.  I had a stress fracture and a stress reaction in my left shin.  And I assumed I was destined to be a low mileage, injury prone runner.

Fast forward to now… although ten pounds heavier, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.  I ran two big prs this past year (ten mile and in the marathon), I’ve had no injuries since pre-pregnancy over 3 years ago, and I feel more confident in my own skin.

Obviously, it’s the type of weight gain that matters: I spent the last 3 years emphasizing strength workouts to get stronger, and repairing and building my body with quality protein, fat and good carbohydrates.

I increased my bone density, increased my mileage, nailed paces I’ve never seen and didn’t worry about tracking weight.  It’s amazingly freeing to ignore the scale!

Interestingly, my clothing size did not change because I was changing body composition- more muscle gained, a little less fat.

So if you’re caught in a cycle of feeling like you should lose weight to look like those skinny elite runners and to get faster, but deal with injuries or simply love to eat, relax! Switch your goal to strong, not skinny and ditch the scale for good.

Have you felt the pressure to lose a few pounds to be a better runner?

Do you check in with the scale, or have you ditched it?