Athletes train for months, monitoring their miles, calories and sleep. Yet, no matter how hard they prepare, there are many unexpected events that can change the course on race day. With the San Francisco Marathon just days away, we asked Larry Chow, coach of Run365 in California, to share his three-part training staples, advice for staying calm for the marathon, the value of willpower, and how to use HOTSHOT to prevent cramps.
- What are some of the most surprising things you’ve seen during the marathon? Every race has its surprises! If it isn’t the weather, it’s something on the course itself. Of the 10 marathons I’ve run, the most memorable was my second full in Honolulu. We raced in high heat and high humidity. No matter how hard you train, nothing prepares you for how hard it is to finish a marathon in those conditions. It’s pure willpower.
- What are some of your coveted marathon training guidelines? I follow three main principles: train, diet, rest. The training part may be obvious, but it’s much more than just running miles. Training incorporates research and strategy, such as knowing and training as close as possible to match the race course, knowing your pace zones, when to schedule your long run, and when to add in speed work. Knowing when to hydrate and when and how to take supplements is just as important during training as it is for race day. As for diet, people think it’s just “carbo-loading” to get you through the miles, but it’s so much more than that. For optimum performance, you need a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and whole grains especially during those training peaks. Keep away from processed foods as much as possible. In fact, people have gained weight and slowed their running progress by eating the wrong foods. The most important of all, though, is REST. This is the only time your body can recover and adapt to the training stresses you put on it. Over-training causes breakdown leading to injury. You can’t cross the finish line if you aren’t able to make it to the starting line.
- You recently said that HOTSHOT has been a significant game-changer for both yourself and the athletes you train. Can you talk about your experience with muscle cramps? YES! It happens each time going back to my very first marathon. I’ve struggled with cramps more than anything else during each marathon. It usually happens around mile 15 where my calves start tightening and becoming so painful to the point that I would then have to stop and stretch and slow down. As a strategy in the past, I’d purposely start slower in order to try and delay the cramping and tried eating a high-sodium diet the day before.
- How do you incorporate HOTSHOT into your regimen? During my last marathon at M2B in May, I used HOTSHOT in both training and in the race and found it provided complete relief of the cramping a few minutes after taking it. It worked so well that I was able to hold pace and finish strong at the end with even a lot more to give if I had to. I’m very proud to have achieved a PR knowing that HOTSHOT was the “game-changer” for my cramps. I regularly use it now for all my long runs and upcoming races.
- One of your athletes recently finished stronger than ever after incorporating HOTSHOT. What happened? YES! I had given HOTSHOT to one of our pacers who has had similar issues with pain and cramping during long runs. It was during our last 20-mile training run when he had slowed down because of leg cramping and soreness. Within a few minutes of taking HOTSHOT, it was AMAZING to see him regain his strength and actually lead the rest of us for six miles to the end. He then crushed that last 100 meters with a record-breaking sprint and walked it out afterward without feeling any of the harsh soreness he typically felt after a long run of that nature. I truly never had seen him stronger in any other run!
- What advice would you give someone hesitant to try HOTSHOT? It really works! Try it and you’ll see!
- Can you share some tips for running and recovering quickly (and safely) after the longer training runs? It’s all about TIMING! Increase your mileage by no more than two miles a week for your long run. Eat well the night before and be sure to eat something an hour before you start. Hydrate every 15 minutes and take supplements every 30 minutes (minimum). Depending on when cramping happens, take a HOTSHOT when you just start feeling the tightness. For recovery, I always recommend stretching and foam-rolling thoroughly and eating a healthy meal immediately afterward. Take the next day or two off from running and add in yoga, cycling, or swimming as an active path to recovery.
- What is your running mantra? “The body achieves what the mind believes.” You can do anything if you put your mind to it!
- What one thing do you think every runner needs to do/know about running a marathon? It changes your life. Just the spirit of training and running a marathon is such a life achievement – a goal that less than 1% of the people in the entire world will ever do.
- The best song to cross the finish line of a marathon is…. Begin Again – Knife Party (Abandon Ship), HandClap – Fitz and the Tantrums (HandClap), Mighty Wings – Cheap Trick (Top Gun Soundtrack).
- Why is the San Francisco Marathon so special?The SF Marathon is my first marathon and will also be my tenth marathon. It’s the marquee race event each year for San Francisco! It’s rated as one of the toughest, and running it along with runners from all over the world each and every year always inspires me as both a runner and as a coach.
MORE ON THE HOTSHOT BLOG
6 Warmups for Runners: Don’t skimp out on stretching.
Carbs and Protein: 7 tips for proper intake for optimal fuel.
Running Tips: How to taper for race day.
Shalane Flanagan’s Marathon Training Tips: How Shalane prepares for the 26.2.
Train Like Olympic Marathoner Amy Cragg: Lacing up for a marathon soon? Read this.