Marathon Training: Is Supplementation Taking The Easy Road?

“Not wanting to ask for help comes from a place of fear; fear of not being strong enough, good enough, able to do it on your own...but asking for help is a sign of how much you CARE about doing and being the best possible.”
~Pam Gold, author, spiritual guide and friend

I realize I quoted my good friend, Aimee Barr, in last week’s newsletter.  And here she is again;

“Laura, you and I are alike,” she told me a few years ago.  “We both like to do things the hard way.”

I do?

If I look back to the year 2017, everything I did felt just a little harder than it had to be.  And, it is because I made decisions which- in turn- made it that way.  I do not believe it was conscious.  And it was a fantastic year.  It was just- unnecessarily challenging.  

If I learned anything from the chaos of last year, it was to make things “just a little easier” this year.  This has meant I have reassessed my schedule, my priorities both personally and professionally.  Just because I can say yes, does not mean I should.  

So far, training for this years marathon has been a bit “easier”.  The weather has certainly not helped, and of course that is completely out of my control.  But my legs feel stronger; my runs are faster; and I am doing my best to say no to things that may make it hard to keep the running consistent, which is extremely important.  I am finding I am still “fighting” some mental blocks, particularly during my long runs, but since I remember this from last year, I am conscious of it and am working through them.  

In my blog post “Transform Your Life in 2018: What Does NFL’s Drew Brees Have In Common With Me”,  I discussed the timing Advocare played in my life.  It was during the marathon expo last year, when I met my mentor, Melissa Martin.  Just three days out, I was not about to introduce new product into my body such as their spark, their rehydrate, or their gels.  Instead, I was going to continue to use the electrolyte and “gu’s” I had used in my previous four marathons.  

I cannot specifically say why, but the 2017 marathon left me severely dehydrated and depleted in a way that I had never previously experienced.  Was it that the old products didn’t work for me anymore?   Was it that I needed something more?  Or was I just not trained as well as I needed to be in order to fight what was an unusually humid and warm day in November, where I ran in spitting rain from mile 7-26.2 straight.  

Supplementation: Does it work?

Whether it be AdvoCare or another product line, once you run a certain length of time, it is recommended to replenish your body with glycogen, electrolytes, and of course water.  As someone who sweats a lot, I am particularly cautious of losing electrolytes, as I have enough experience to know that, when I do, I start to feel dizzy, nauseous, crampy in my legs, and fatigued even though cardiovascularly I am fine.  

I am NOT a nutritionist; a lot of my knowledge is from my own experience and asking questions.  I know that to run this upcoming marathon, I need gels and electrolyte replacements because I have first hand experienced what happens when I do not have enough.  Currently, I have been using AdvoCare’s rehydrate and gels because I find that the carb/sugar/electrolyte ratio works extremely well for my body.  

But would anything else help? 

If Something Can Help; Why Not Use It?

In a recent conversation with Melissa, she asked me just that.

“Running a marathon is hard enough, Laura,” she said.  “If you have access to things that could make you potentially recover quicker, help your muscles feel stronger, why not?  After all, there is a reason why Olympic athletes use supplements.”

Aside from my ego, I do not really have a great answer.  The answers I am coming up with are, I can do it myself and have done it before; just because I am “older” now does not mean I should think I need more help.  And, how do I know that they really work?

My Own Experience So Far

Four weeks into this years marathon training, I have added some supplementation, in addition to the rehydrate and the gels.  I have used AdvoCare’s O2 Gold, their Nighttime Recovery, and their Arginine Extreme.  

The O2 Gold enhances the body’s use of oxygen during my longer runs and the nighttime recovery helps the muscles recover after extended activity.  Whether it is mental or not, I am finding my runs feel better and my body feels less depleted.

When it comes to the Arginine Extreme, a powder that you drink with 8 fluid ounces of water up to 30 minutes before a workout, I am less of a fan.  I find that while it certainly works, it causes my heart to race a bit too fast when I am running.  Perhaps I could cut down my dosage, or omit it altogether.  

Does Not Replace Hard Work and Basic Nutrition

At the risk of stating the obvious, I still have to say it.  Supplementation does not replace consistent training and nutrition.  Hence the word “supplementation” not “replacement.”  

This is a somewhat new journey for me; accepting some extra help.  And even now, when someone offers to help me with my bags into the elevator in my lobby, even though I can usually bring them all in, as I am accustomed to (trying) to be an octopus, I am saying yes as a way to practice.

For More Information:

Here are links to the product I am using; if you are curious, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Rehydrate: excellent source of electrolyte replacement.  Delicious, low in sugar, safe for kids. 

Rehydrate gels: for runs longer than 5 miles, or cardiovascular work that goes longer than 60 minutes 

O2 Gold: enhances the body’s use of oxygen

Nighttime Recovery: repairs muscles

Laura Kovall