I Don’t Know About You, but Friedman’s Feeling 26.2: Tips from Two Jumbos on Preparing for the Boston Marathon 

By Darcy McDonough

April in Boston means warmer weather, the return of the Red Sox, and of course, the Boston Marathon.  The iconic 26.2-mile race from Hopkinton to the Boylston Street finish line is the oldest annual marathon in the world.  On Monday, April 16th, 30,000 runners will take on the 122nd running of the marathon, while 500,000 spectators cheer them on.  Last year, second-year Friedman student Megan Maisano completed this grueling endurance challenge for the third time, and this year, one of those runners will be second-year student, Sara Scinto.  We caught up with both of them to find out how they train, fuel, and fundraise for the big day!      

Sara has been an avid runner since high school and completed her first marathon last fall in Mentor, Ohio.  In 2010, she got to watch her dad finish the Boston Marathon and has dreamed of completing the race herself ever since.  She was inspired by the positive energy of the crowd, the running community, and the way the race is, in her words, “woven into Boston’s culture in many ways.” For Megan, running the Boston Marathon runs in the family as well—her brother crossed the finish line in 2014.  When her Prague Marathon time qualified her for the 2015 Boston Marathon, she knew she had to take the opportunity to run the historic race.  Megan has since run the Boston Marathon three times (with a 3 hour and 24-minute personal record!) and describes the experience and atmosphere as “simply magical,” referencing the cheering crowd equipped with cow bells, posters, music, and “Boston Strong” vibes.  For both Megan and Sara, there is something indescribable about the Boston Marathon that makes it a special accomplishment.

This year, Sara will be one of 49 Tufts students, faculty, alumni and friends running the marathon as part of the Tufts Marathon Team.  Each year, the Tufts Marathon Team offers a limited number of race bibs and helps interested individuals train and fundraise.  Last year, the team raised a collective $382,219, and since its start in 2003, the team has raised more than $5,639,358.  This money supports the research efforts of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy to end childhood obesity.  As a runner and a Friedman student, it was an easy decision for Sara to apply to join the Tufts Marathon Team.  She has enjoyed the opportunity to support and contribute to a meaningful cause and encourages her classmates up for a challenge to consider applying next year. To learn more about Sara’s fundraising efforts and support the Tufts Marathon Team click here.

To prepare for race day, Sara and Megan both stressed the importance of training plans.  Megan has had success following the Runner’s World 16-week program.  Last year, she used their “Veteran Plan,” which culminated with one 22-mile long run before the race.  She has used the less intensive “Rookie Plan” in the past, which trains up to one 20-miler.  She recommends training on hills to prepare for the infamous Heartbreak Hill at mile 20 of the Boston course.

On the other hand, Sara is focusing on injury prevention and is following a lower mileage plan that her father, Boston marathon veteran, created.  She supplements her three weekly runs with yoga, strength training, and physical therapy.  “If it’s your first time running the marathon, I would encourage an extended training cycle to gradually get used to the longer distances,” she advised.  For reference, many beginner training plans suggest 18-20 week running schedules.  As a busy graduate student, Sara tries to keep her training plan flexible, adjusting to her schedule, energy levels, and soreness.  “It’s definitely not easy, and sometimes it’s just plain exhausting.  But I know that crossing that finish line in a city I’ve grown to love, while raising money for a cause that I am passionate about, is going to feel amazing.  And so worth it,” Sara said.

To endure grueling training sessions and the final 26.2-mile challenge, proper nutrition is crucial.  Megan and Sara both caution that everyone is different, and it may take some trial and error to find what works for you and your body.  “I certainly learned what not to eat from personal experience,” Megan said.  They shared their go-to pre-run fuel and post-run recovery eats with us.  Both runners stick to a light breakfast of crackers or rice cakes with nut butter and banana before heading out.  Megan recommends avoiding too much fiber and greens before runs to avoid digestive discomfort.  On longer runs, they carry additional fuel in the form of Honey Stingers Gold Gel for Sara and Honey Stingers Pink Lemonade Gummies for Megan.  “Fueling my body adequately is extremely important for long-term injury prevention, recovery, and performance,” Sara emphasized.

collection of balanced meals post-run marathon training

A collection of Sara’s colorful post-run eats.
(Image source: Sara Scinto)

After the run is when the food fun starts.  Megan relies on Greek yogurt parfaits layered with cottage cheese, fruit, nuts, and seeds to aid recovery.  “After a long run, don’t wait too long to fuel with carbs and protein,” Megan advises.  A review of nutrient timing by Kerksick et al. in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition supports this advice, affirming that consuming carbohydrates and protein immediately following endurance exercise can promote muscle healing and decrease muscle soreness.  Sara enjoys getting creative with her recovery fuel creating colorful egg dishes full of carbohydrate-rich fruits and vegetables.  As for her race day plans, Sara says that she hasn’t decided exactly how she’ll refuel, but she knows ice cream will be involved!

Megan’s Boston Marathon race day advice: “Have fun! Take it all in, thank the volunteers, and high-five the spectators.”  On April 16th, you will find me waiting to high-five Sara, the Tufts Marathon Team, and all of the runners on their way to the historic finish line.

 

Darcy McDonough is a first year NICBIC student.  She has run two half-marathons and enjoys refueling with Amy’s Bean Burritos.

Fueling your Performance with Fall Flavors

by Megan Maisano

Gearing up for this year’s Turkey Trot? This month Megan Maisano shares seasonal foods and recipes that will fuel your best performance.

Photo: Megan Maisano

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, it’s not the winter holiday yet, but the season runners have patiently waited for over the last ten months: Fall.

After the heat and humidity of its summer, New England graces us with a pocket of blissful conditions before winter forces us back into the gym. Running just feels more effortless with crisp air, stunning foliage, crunchy leaves to step on, and trendy tights to rock.

The fall is also prime harvest season. So, when you swap your Mango Peach Salsa Yankee Candle with Apple Spice, be sure to do the same with your grocery list. Your palate and your legs will thank you.

Below are a few fall favorites you can count on to fuel your workouts, recover quickly, and perform your best.

Photo: Pixabay

Beets

Nitrates, baby. There is growing evidence on their performance-enhancing effects. While nitrates are found in nearly all vegetables, beetroots take the lead with more than 250 milligrams per 100-gram portion.1 Dietary nitrate is converted into nitric oxide, where it functions in blood flow regulation, muscle contraction, glucose and calcium homeostasis, and mitochondrial respiration. By increasing blood flow and decreasing oxygen needs during exercise, beets may improve your speed and stamina.1-4

This simple, yet hearty, Food Network salad balances the earthy taste of beets with creamy goat cheese and crunchy nuts. Add chicken or quinoa to make it a well-rounded meal.

Photo; Pixabay

Winter Squash

Pumpkins, butternut squash, and acorn squash are all in the same family of winter squash. Compared to their summer squash cousins, they have thick skins which means longer storage life and obligatory decoration on your kitchen counter.

Their bright orange color is a clear indicator that they’re packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that will keep our immune system in check and support our vision. But they’re also an excellent source of carbohydrates, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Eat before workouts to keep you energized and hydrated, or eat afterwards to replenish glycogen stores and repair muscle tissue.5-9

Don’t toss those pumpkin seeds either! They offer a tasty source of protein, iron, and magnesium – nutrients that must be replenished after strenuous exercise. Bonus — pumpkin seeds are also rich in tryptophan, an amino acid involved in the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin.10-12 Toss seeds on salads, roasted squash, or soup to reap benefits on mood and sleep.

Pumpkin or butternut? Can’t decide? Have both. Try this Food & Wine soup as an appetizer for your post-Turkey Trot meal.

 

Photo: Pixabay

Cabbage

A stomach can be a runner’s worst enemy, but cabbage is a stomach’s best friend. High in fiber, cabbage will keep you feeling full longer and keep your digestion system, ahem, on track. There’s also emerging research on the benefits of probiotics, like cabbage kimchi, on athletic performance via enhanced recovery from fatigue, immune function, and GI function maintenance.13

Still on that Oktoberfest kick? Try this German-inspired Eating Well dish that pairs pork chops with a sweet-and-sour cabbage side. Hefeweizen optional. Prost!

 

Photo: Pixabay

Clementines

When the days get shorter and darker, a fresh clementine can brighten up your day. Get your “Christmas-orange” while it’s in season from late October to early February. The citrus smell that the peel leaves on your hands will keep you feeling rejuvenated through afternoon class. Rich in vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, these easy-to-peel snacks can help reduce exercise-related oxidative stress, support a healthy immune system, and keep you hydrated.14-17 Vitamin C also plays a role in the production of collagen, which is important for joint and tissue recovery after a workout.14,15

Combine citrus with cinnamon spice after your workout with this One Green Planet breakfast bowl. Bonus—cinnamon has anti-inflammatory effects that may decrease muscle soreness in response to cell damage.19 

Resources:

  1. Murphy, M et al. Whole Beetroot Consumption Acutely Improves Running Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012;112(4):548-552.
  2. Coleman, Ellen. Reap the Benefits of Beetroot Juice — Evidence Suggests It Improves Heart Health and Athletic Performance. Today’s Dietitian. 2012;14(2):48.
  3. Shannon, Oliver et al. “Beet-ing” the Mountain: A Review of the Physiological and Performance Effects of Dietary Nitrate Supplementation at Simulated and Terrestrial Altitude. Sports Medicine. 2017;47(11):2155-2169.
  4. Peeling P, Cox GR, Bullock N, Burke LM. Beetroot Juice Improves On-Water 500 M Time-Trial Performance, and Laboratory-Based Paddling Economy in National and International-Level Kayak Athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015;25(3):278-84.
  5. Krustrup et al. Sodium bicarbonate intake improves high-intensity intermittent exercise performance in trained young men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2015;12(25).
  6. Feldman, Donna. Why Sodium-Potassium Balance Is Critical for Better Hydration. com. <https://www.active.com/nutrition/articles/why-sodium-potassium-balance-is-critical-for-better-hydration&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  7. Mansfield, Beth. Fall Nutrition means Winter Squash! Peak Performance. <http://peakperformance-ca.blogspot.com/2010/10/fall-nutrition-means-winter-squash.html&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  8. Peternelj, T, Coombs, J. Antioxidant Supplementation during Exercise. Beneficial or Detrimental? Sports Medicine. 2011; 41(12): 10342-1069.
  9. LeBlanc K, Nelson, A. Beta-Carotene and Exercise Performance.: Effects on Race Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1999; 31(5):118.
  10. Brown, Mary. Top 11 Science-Based Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds. Authority Nutrition. June 2016. < https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds#section1&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  11. Ristić-Medić et al. Alpha-linolenic acid and cardiovascular diseases. Med Pregl.2003; 56(1):19-25.
  12. Chollet et al. Magnesium involvement in sleep: genetic and nutritional models. Behav Genet. 2001;31(5):413-25.
  13. Pyne et al. Probiotics supplementation for athletes – Clinical and physiological effects. European Journal of Sport Science. 2014; 15(1):63-72.
  14. Economos C, Clay W.D. Nutritional and health benefits of citrus fruits. FAO Corporate Document Repository. 1998. <http://www.fao.org/docrep/x2650T/x2650t03.htm#TopOfPage&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  15. Shaw et al. Vitamin C–enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. American Society for Nutrition. 2017;105(1):136-143.
  16. Organic Facts.9 Best Benefits of Clementines. <https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/clementines.html&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  17. Adams AK, Best TM. The role of antioxidants in exercise and disease prevention. Phys Sportsmed. 2002;30(5):37-44.
  18. Baur, J. What fall produce should I eat? Runner’s World. 2017;10:p 36.
  19. Mashhadi et al. Influence of Ginger and Cinnamon Intake on Inflammation and Muscle Soreness Endued by Exercise in Iranian Female Athletes. Int J Prev Med. 2013; 4(1): S11–S15.

Megan Maisano, referred to as Megatron by family, is a second-year NICBC student and an RD-to-be. As a marathoner, triathlete, and military veteran, she’s interested in how nutritious food can best fuel endurance performance. She loves to plan and has a special place in her heart for mixed nuts and her pup, Nala.