Sunday, February 23, 2014

5 Questions With Michelle Lovitt

ASICS Fitness Expert
Michelle Lovitt
ASICS Fitness Expert Michelle Lovitt has designed and implemented nutrition and exercise programs for professional and Olympic athletes as well as Hollywood elite including Lauren Graham, Courteney Cox, Mary-Louise Parker, Sean "Puffy" Combs, David Duchovny and Kiefer Sutherland. She is a terrific resource for beginning marathoners and beyond. You can follow @MichelleLovitt on Twitter, and with her kind permission I am sharing her replies to my questions:

Two weeks before a marathon, what should you be focused on with strength and nutrition?

Two weeks before I run a marathon, I taper back on strength training but don't cut it out all together. I just reduce the intensity, go with functional body exercise and cut back to twice a week.

Nutrition is so important, as I learned training for the NYC Marathon two weeks before race day during your taper. Be aware of your caloric intake because with the reduced mileage you don't want to gain weight before the race.

It is important to eat some type of carbohydrate within 30 minutes of finishing your run to ensure glycogen levels stay consistent. A few days before the race you can up your carbohydrate intake to increase and/or maintain glycogen levels for race day.

One week before a marathon, is it still all about carbs and water? What should a runner be thinking?

People tend to overdo a good thing a week before a marathon. Eat small meals throughout the day with a ratio of 60/20/20 carbohydrates to protein and fat. Three days before the marathon, increase your carb intake to roughly 70 percent of your diet. Water is always key in metabolism so make sure throughout the taper and the marathon you stay adequately hydrated.

How can better nutrition increase my chances of a strong finish and a PR?

Good nutrition is essential in any performance. To both do well in the race and feel good after, you need to properly nourish your body -- getting in enough water, salt, potassium, carbohydrates, good fats like avocado and small protein. Remember, and this is critical, that during this race body fat can only be utilized as an energy source when carbohydrates are available. If your body runs out of carbohydrates or glycogen (all stores, muscle and liver) you will bonk after 2 1/2 hours. Start with strong pre-race carb intake and use energy gels, Gatorade with a mixture of water. You want to keep the carbs coming so you can finish the race. Unless, of course, you are Ryan Hall or Deena Kastor; they are usually done way before their glycogen stores can be depleted!

A nutritionist at the last NYC Marathon Expo suggested drinking Gatorade at every station that serves it, instead of water, reasoning that it is also water but offers much more. How do you handle the fluid stations and in-race nutrition?

The best advice I was ever given was to stay ahead of the glycogen loss. I however do not recommend Gatorade at every station because the sugar content of Gatorade can be upsetting to my stomach (as well as many others). I alternate water and Gatorade at every station. Yes, every station. I also walk during the hydration stations to cause a bit of muscle confusion and allow my body to use different muscles. It is super helpful when you are going 26.2 miles -- those breaks give your muscles a chance to recover a little before picking back up running.

What is one secret every marathon runner should know that you have learned over the years?

DO NOT DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT the day of the race. Believe me, that is by far the biggest mistake I ever made, changing my routine the day of the marathon. You've done your long runs, you know what works for your body. Just make sure to stay hydrated, replace lost electrolytes with Gatorade or GU and you should run a great race.

What are your top strength and nutrition tips for marathons? Please feel free to add your own in the comments below.

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