Meghann's Tokyo Marathon Recap

When I first started Featherstone Nutrition 6 years ago, one of my clients was training for the Tokyo Marathon. I distinctly remember thinking, I will never travel halfway across the world to run a marathon. The logistics, the food, the language barrier, being so far from home – all of this felt completely overwhelming and nothing I would ever be interested in tackling. Instead, running marathons close to home felt comfortable, known, controllable, and supportive. 

Well, here we are – recapping my Tokyo Marathon experience with Abbott – so clearly a lot has changed over the last 6 years. And, I am so glad that my perception of how to run a successful marathon has also changed.

Never say never.

Carb Loading in Tokyo

I always encourage runners to pack anything we cannot live without, food-wise, when traveling to a marathon. You all can guess what I cannot live without: graham crackers and bagels. I packed 2 boxes of Honeymaid graham crackers and 1 bag of bagels. I did the math and these 3 items had almost enough carbs for a 3 day carb load if I really got in a bind in Tokyo. There was an odd comfort in knowing I had this backup. But, little did I know at the time, that there are plenty of solid carb-loading options in Tokyo! <and, I didn’t end up eating any of the bagels I packed – and brought a box of graham crackers home!>

I recommend a 3-day carb load for most runners before a marathon. This meant day one was on my flight to Tokyo. From Ohio to Tokyo, we lost 14 hours – so it was not time to carb load via Ohio standards but in Tokyo, it was go time. I packed 2 PB&J sandwiches, pretzels, electrolyte drinks, and granola bars for the flight. Plus, I knew we’d be served two meals + two snacks on the flight. I kept day one of the carb load a little casual but still hit my goals. 

I shared carb load day 2 in this Instagram post. Highlight reel: it’s very easy to find enough carbs in Tokyo! I ate graham crackers before a shakeout run. Then, I joined the Abbott team for a buffet breakfast where I was able to score toast with jam, an orange bun, a slice of baguette, breakfast potatoes, and yogurt with fruit. Most hotels in Tokyo offer something similar, but I would recommend checking into this before you book a hotel, as this is a super helpful way to stay carbed up for your race. While I was visiting the expo, I ate a Maurten solid bar and drank a bottle of water. One thing to know about Tokyo is there are three options for quick, convenient foods: Lawson’s, Family Mart, and 7-eleven. Pop into any one of these and carb heaven awaits. I grabbed a sweet potato bun at Lawson’s, and it was delicious. My kids had very specific toy requests from Tokyo <thank you YouTube Kids> so I went out looking for said toys and found them all with ease. I found myself very late for lunch so just stopped at Starbucks. They had plenty of options and I went with a baguette sandwich and a red bean roll. On my trip back home, I stopped at Family Mart and found some rolls that were filled with chocolate pudding and snacked on those before dinner. I looked up a nutrition label for Japan to help me determine which foods were high in carbs and low in fat and fiber. For dinner, I went out for sushi – which was delicious – but not nearly enough carbs. So, I hopped into 7-eleven from some Hi-chew to finish out the day. Checked out all three convenience stores in one day – felt like a win.

On day 3 of carb loading, I prefer to stick with very bland, basic, familiar carbohydrates. I feel 100% of my race day nerves in my stomach so by marathon #16, I know what works best for my body. I ate graham crackers before my shakeout run with the ASICS crew and then had toast, more graham crackers, and a protein bar before heading to the teamLab Borderless museum. This was an unbelievable show of lights and artwork. Always pack snacks! I had another Maurten solid bar before heading to a bakery to stock up on carbs for the remainder of the day’s carb load. I was very surprised by the number of bakeries in Japan! They had some of the most amazing pastries. Now, remember that we need more carbs – not more carbs AND fat to carb load. <High-fat carbs include donuts, croissants, tarts, sweet breads, etc> So, I found a bakery called More Than that also had soft pretzels, buns, bagels, and homemade jam. I had them make me a hot bagel with a little avocado for lunch. Then, I took another bagel, bun, and soft pretzel home for dinner. 

I nailed 450 – 500 gm carbohydrates per day x 3 days to stock my glycogen to support optimal performance in the Tokyo Marathon. 

Meghann’s Carb Load Tips for Tokyo: Take your favorite carbs you cannot live without <graham crackers> but know you can find plenty of carbs in Tokyo. Great options are the bakeries, rice, sushi, ramen, and premade items at the local convenience stores. If you have allergies or food intolerances, you may want to pack more of your favorite food items as it can be hard to decipher the ingredients on labels if you do not speak or read Japanese.

Meghann’s Carb Loading Tips in General: Start in the morning – do not wait and try to cram all your carbs in during the afternoon & evening. Always have snacks on you – you never know how long a trip, group run, or transportation may take. Minimize fiber, protein and fat during your carb load. These items make us feel full. If you have trouble eating enough carbs, this may be why. If you are still hungry during your carb load, add these items back in. Drink an extra 30 oz of fluid per day while carb loading. Glycogen is created with carbs and water.

Learn more about carb loading + check out our carb load calculator here.

Race Morning

The time change from the United States to Japan is wild. I was 14 hours ahead of my normal time back home. I arrived Thursday night for a Sunday morning race, so I had 3 nights of sleep before the race to attempt to adjust to this time change. Luckily, I got great sleep Friday night, two nights before the race, which is what most coaches feel is the most important night’s sleep. I mention this because I was wide awake at 3:30 am on race morning and didn’t need to head out the door until 8:15 am for a 9:10 am race start. 

Why do I mention this? Waking up 6 hours before your race vs the planned 3 hours before your race needs more nutrition. I typically eat 6 graham crackers 2 hours before my marathons, but being up this early – I ate an entire sleeve, aka 9 graham crackers. I had 2 grahams at 3:30 and 5:30, and 5 grahams at 7:30 am. This is 108 gm of carbohydrates to get ready to fuel that marathon. I also drank 2 small cups of coffee and about 10 oz of Liquid IV. 

Everyone’s race morning nutrition looks different, and that’s okay. But please make sure that whatever you are eating before your race is what you have been doing in training week in and week out. Practice. Practice. Practice. And then, repeat on race morning.

Meghann’s Race Morning Nutrition Tips: If you are well carb loaded, I recommend eating ½ your body weight in grams of carbohydrates 2 hours before your marathon. If you are up 4 hours before your marathon, double this. If you are not carb loaded, you will need significantly more than this. If your race starts after 9:30 am, you will also need significantly more than this. 

Confused on your race day nutrition? Customized Race Day Nutrition plans are available.

Race Nutrition During the Tokyo Marathon

Let’s chat about the unique environment that the rules and regulations of the Tokyo marathon create for runners. First, you cannot take any open containers of liquids into the corrals. This means no handhelds, waist belts, or hydration packs are allowed. And, I can attest that no one ‘snuck’ anything through – I saw absolutely no runners carrying their own fluids. 

You also cannot throw any trash on the ground during the race. They encourage runners to retain any fuel wrappers and throw this away after the race. They ask that runners do not discard any fueling wrappers or clothing in the trash bins designated for race fluid cups. And, I did see one race volunteer sorting out runner’s personal trash from the cups, so perhaps this really is a thing for the cup disposal in Tokyo. 

They offer water every 2 – 3 kilometers starting at 5k throughout the race. They also provide Pocari Sweat every 5k. Then, they offer an assortment of foods from 17 to 38 kilometers, including pickled plum, chocolate, azuki-bean paste, cream filled rolls, banana, calorie mate, glucose, salty candy, and doll shaped pancakes. I’m sorry to let you all down, but I did not try any of these options and cannot report back. 

The weather on race morning was perfection. It was 42 degrees at the start and predicted to warm up to the low to mid 50s by the time most runners finished the race. Please note, race day nutrition & hydration may change dramatically when weather is not ideal. 

Never have I ever run a successful marathon without carrying a handheld with a high sodium sports drink, so this was a new experience for me. I stuck with a Maurten gel every 25 minutes. Then, I grabbed water cups on course at every stop through the half, which was 8 stations. I am absolutely terrible at drinking from these cups and waterboarded myself at half of these attempts. But, keeping track of my actual swallows vs nose intake – I was pretty sure I had actually consumed about 12 – 15 oz of water through the half which was my goal. My plan to make up for the lack of sodium in plain water was using SaltStick Chews. Each chew has 50 mg sodium and in past marathons, I have been successful taking 400 mg sodium by the half – so I took 2 chews before 4 different water stations. This seemed to work well. 

At mile 20, I got hit with diaphragm cramps on both sides which took a lot of my focus and attention to keep breathing through them. At this point, my hydration strategy fell by the wayside but gel intake stayed to plan. 

In the end, I took 6 gels + 8 salt chews + approximately 20 oz water. <The plan was 7 gels but one slipped out of my hands as I tried to open it. Also, cue panic that I was going to be disqualified for leaving trash on the course.> This worked out to be 52 gm carbs, 225 mg sodium, and 7 oz water per hour. I have to be honest, I do not think this was quite ideal. In Berlin, I took 74 gm carbs per hour. You may wonder, what happened here Meghann? Two things. One, I dropped my first gel on course – so I missed a gel. This would have taken me to 60 gm carbs per hour – and not having a sports drink in my handheld hurt me here too. Proof that even your sports dietitian looks back and finds areas for improvement!

This race solidified that I am a handheld runner through and through. I really, really missed this out there. And, will be returning to team handheld for the London Marathon! 

Common Questions:

  • Where did you carry all your fuel? I wore the same crop top that I wore in Berlin, so my fuel storage was the same. All 7 gels lined up between my sports bra & crop top. Here’s a reel with the details. 
  • How did you survive without your trusty handheld? Barely. I missed it so very much. I think the SaltStick chews saved me though. I am terrible at drinking from the cups and much prefer the comfort of a handheld. 
  • Tell me about those post-race shirt towels! What’s up with those post-race Mumu’s? Instead of a mylar blanket or poncho, Tokyo Marathon gives out these terry cloth, hooded, shirt dresses that are next level. It feels worth it to go halfway across the world and run 26.2 miles just for this swag! Hands down the coolest item I’ve acquired post-race yet. 
  • Did you take salt tabs since you used water on the course instead of your handheld with Skratch? I sure did. I used the SaltStick chews. They come in a resealable packet with 10 chews that I stuck down my crop top with my gels. I ate 2 chews before the water stations so I could wash them down. 
  • Did you eat 8 bagels this carb load too? I did not! Believe it or not, I diversified my carb options this time. I only ate 2 bagels over the entire 3-day carb load. I’m apparently maturing. Kidding, back in the US, I’m certain I will still lean on bagels for a carb load.


Younger Meghann had nothing to be afraid of traveling halfway across the world to run a marathon. With proper planning and a little experience, running the Tokyo marathon honestly felt incredibly seamless and very entertaining. The culture of Tokyo was absolutely unbelievable. Everyone was so kind, considerate, and helpful. And, the cleanliness of the entire town was second to none. It actually left me wondering why we don’t enforce similar ‘throw your own trash away’ rules in the states’ marathons. 

I feel unbelievably lucky to have the opportunity to partner with Abbott to experience all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors over an 18 month span. And, I want to give a huge thank you to Abbott for allowing us all to chase the amazing goal of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star Journey. Seeing the joy on the faces of all the runners wearing their newly earned Six Star medal is nothing short of absolutely inspiring. And, a personal thanks to them as well for teaming up to allow me to chase this goal. Along this journey, I have had the opportunity to help educate all runners a little bit more on the importance of nutrition. Next up, I will run the London Marathon to earn my Six Star medal.

If you need help with your carb load or race day plan, I can create a Customized Carb Load Plan or Race Day Fuel & Hydration Plan for you!

Carbs, Caffeine and Collagen

Carbs, Caffeine and Collagen

This post is part of a paid sponsorship with RNWY. 

As runners, it is important to nail our nutrition before, during and after the run. Doing so will provide the fuel we need for activity and recovery, so we can maximize our training to reach our goals. Pre-run nutrition is often overlooked by runners for many different reasons: overlooking the positive impact fuel can have, trying to ‘cut calories’, being worried about GI distress, running low on time, or even just an oversight. But, there are several things we can do with our pre-run nutrition to support our activity & recovery. My three non-negotiables before runs that can make a huge impact on training and beyond  are the three C’s: carbs, caffeine, and collagen (this list is not inclusive of all things beneficial before your run – just my three non-negotiables.)


Fueling our bodies with carbohydrates pre-run is recommended for ALL runs, no matter the distance or duration. Carbs provide the quick fuel our muscles need for any endurance activity. Research shows that pre-run fueling increases performance, lowers perceived exertion and lowers our stress response.

Meghann’s Tip: Aim for about 25-30 g carb 30-60 min pre-run for runs over 70 minutes. For runs greater than 70 minutes, aim for 50-60g+ carb. You can also add a little fat or protein as tolerated with your carbs.


Caffeine has been shown to improve mental clarity, decrease pain, and decrease our rate of perceived exertion while running. Drinking coffee or consuming caffeine pre-run may be extraordinarily helpful. Most people benefit from caffeine, however for some, there is no effect, and for others, it has a negative effect (increased heart rate, GI issues, anxiety). If you tolerate caffeine and feel awake from a cup of coffee, you’ll likely find benefits to your running performance from caffeine.

Meghann’s Tip: If you think you benefit from caffeine, you can drink a cup of coffee or two before your run or try caffeinated gels. Generally, those who tolerate caffeine should aim for around 3-5mg/kg over an entire race.


Collagen is our body’s most abundant structural protein. It makes up over 90% of our tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. After the age of 25, our body’s collagen synthesis decreases each year. There is promising research that collagen supplementation can help us as runners repair and rebuild cartilage, reduce joint pain, strengthen ligaments & tendons, and improve bone density. Blood flow to our tendons, ligaments, and joints is poor. So, taking collagen before a run allows it to peak in our bloodstream and maximize delivery to these areas as we exercise.

Meghann’s Tip: Take 10-15 grams of collagen + 50 mg Vitamin C 30-45 minutes before exercise. A great option to make this easy is RNWY, a lemon-lime flavored collagen + vitamin C drink with electrolytes and other vitamins, minerals to keep us healthy for the long haul. 

Try RNWY for yourself and save 15% with code Feather15

PMID: 21660838, 33388079, 27852613, 21251991, 18416885, 30609761, 29337906

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.

Fueling: Before, During and After the Run

This post is part of a paid sponsorship with Hydrapak. 

As runners, giving our bodies what they need when they need it is key. Nutrition & hydration for runners include our daily nutrition choices & specific performance nutrition habits. Performance nutrition is not always intuitive for runners and encompasses three areas: before, during, and after our runs. If we give our bodies what they need in each of these stages, it optimizes our performance and improves our recovery so we can be healthier, stronger, happier, and more successful runners for the long haul.

HydraPak, a global leader in high-performance hydration solutions, recently launched its Tempo squeeze bottles, a durable, ergonomic product collection designed to help runners build effective hydration strategies. Influenced by the fueling habits and product preferences of top marathoners, HydraPak created the Tempo as a sleek, lightweight training and race day bottle that is coded for key phases of fueling – hydrating, energizing, and recovering.

Try out the 3-pack of Tempo bottles to remind yourself of the importance of fueling before, during, and after runs with code FEATHERSTONE10 at checkout. 

Before the Run

Fueling our bodies before all runs is imperative to performance & recovery. Eating carbohydrates (with or without a little protein and/or fat) before every run or workout gives us the fast energy we need to support that run. If we do not eat before exercise, it can lead to slower paces, fatigue, increased rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and can negatively affect hormones.

Another piece of pre-run fueling is hydration. If we are dehydrated, we have reduced blood volume, increased heart rate, decreased skin & GI blood flow, increased core temperature, and increased rate of muscle glycogen usage. Generally, we need 8-16oz of fluid before going out for a run, but this amount can vary based on individual needs. Fill your Tempo Bottle with your fluid of choice to prepare for your run!

If you have trouble eating before your runs, fill your bottle with a carbohydrate-rich electrolyte drink and hit your carbs and hydration in one bottle.

During the Run

Fueling during the run is recommended for any run >60 minutes to maintain glucose levels and improve athletic performance. A general rule is to consume 25-30 grams of carbohydrate every 30 minutes on runs >60 minutes.

Hydration during the run is also extremely important. Most of us have probably experienced symptoms of dehydration on a run: decreased performance, inability to hold paces, fatigue, GI distress <stomach sloshing, cramps, diarrhea, nausea>, increased perceived exertion, and muscle cramps. To avoid these undesirable & performance-tanking symptoms, we need to drink throughout our runs & understand our own hydration needs through sweat rate & sweat composition testing. This allows us to alter our fluid intake during runs depending on the weather and our sweat losses.

Most runners need 10-24 oz of fluid per hour while running to avoid dehydration levels that negatively impact performance. Why the big range? How much fluid we need while running is dependent on the weather and our sweat rates. Grab a Tempo Bottle and fill it up with water or an electrolyte drink to stay hydrated on our run.

After the Run

The goals of recovery nutrition are to restock glycogen stores, stop muscle breakdown & repair our muscles. If we delay recovery nutrition, it can lead to fatigue, increased injury risk, decreased muscle mass, impaired immunity, and a crummy mood. Our bodies are primed to refuel & repair immediately after exercise, and we can do this if we eat adequate protein & carbohydrates within 30-60 minutes post-workout. We also know that we can refuel, repair, and recover all day long after activity. Runners should aim for 20 – 40 gm of protein post-run to stimulate our muscles to repair & rebuild + 50 – 90 gm of carbohydrates to begin to restock glycogen stores.

Don’t forget to include hydration in your recovery nutrition strategy. Dehydration increases muscle soreness & delays recovery. Let’s make replenishing our fluid losses a priority after the run. Aim for 16 – 20 oz fluid per pound of body weight lost in sweat + electrolytes after your run – some people may need more than this! To make it easy, fill up your Tempo Bottle with a protein shake, water, or a sports drink and drink within 1 hour.

Tips for Successful Performance Nutrition Habits

Plan ahead of time. Pick what you will eat & drink pre-run and have it ready.

Meghann’s Pick: 4 graham crackers + Tempo with 1 serving higher sodium electrolyte drink.

Practice during-run nutrition & hydration.

Meghann’s Pick: 1 gel every 25 minutes + Tempo with 1 serving of sports drink.

Have recovery nutrition ready to consume as soon as your run is finished.

Meghann’s Pick: 1 serving whey protein powder + 1 serving sports recovery drink in the Tempo bottle. 

Having the 3 pack of HydraPak Tempo bottles is a clear & discrete reminder of the 3 stages of performance nutrition: before, during, and after. Nail your nutrition & hydration at all three stages and watch your running improve!

PMID: 26891166, 9694422, 19225360

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.

Does new protein research change recommendations?

A recently published study tested muscle protein synthesis in healthy males after strength training with a much larger dose of protein at once. They consumed 0g, 25g or 100 grams of protein at one time. What was the outcome? Does this change our recommendations?

Current Protein Recommendations

The consensus on protein consumption and utilization has been: we can absorb high amounts of protein but can only utilize a certain amount of protein at a time for muscle protein synthesis.

Because of this knowledge, recommendations generally are to distribute protein fairly evenly between 3 meals per day, with a few hours in between each sitting. This typically amounts to consuming 25-40 grams of protein per meal, depending on weight, age, body composition, activity level, etc.

New Research

A new study of 36 males (ages 18-40, BMI 18.5-30) were given 0g, 25g or 100g of protein following resistance training. The results were interesting, in that ingesting 100g of protein showed greater post-prandial (following the meal) muscle protein synthesis and for a longer duration.

Does this change recommendations?

Not really, yet. Here’s why:

The groups were randomized to 0g, 25g, and 100g. Current protein recommendations take weight, age, activity, etc. into consideration. Many people may fall in 25-40g per meal recommendation, so it would be interesting to see the results when the amount of protein consumed is specific to that individual’s needs and not cut off at 25g which could very likely not have been enough for those individuals.

This study showed that after resistance training + ingestion of 100g of protein, post-prandial (after the meal) muscle protein synthesis (MPS) was greater and lasted for a longer duration afterward (up to 12 hours). However, the duration of MPS is likely due to the amount of time it takes to digest & absorb that quantity of protein aka the body continues to break down protein & absorb protein for a longer period of time. Would there be this difference when comparing 100g at one meal vs. 35g at 3 meals per day?

We also need to be realistic in that consuming 100g of protein in one sitting is A LOT! Many of us struggle to get 25-40g per meal, so getting 100g would be pretty tough for most people.

Lastly, this study was conducted in healthy, young, male participants after resistance training. We can’t generalize and assume these results will be the same for the general population, endurance athletes, masters athletes or other groups at this time.


This new research is certainly interesting and may change the previous thought that there was a “cap” on how much protein our bodies can utilize at one time. Due to the limitations above, current recommendations stand for individuals to consume generally 25-40g of protein per meal x 3 meals per day (based on weight, sex, age, activity, etc). However, if an individual has not met recommended protein needs at certain meals during the day, it may be beneficial to make up that difference in one sitting.

PMID: 38118410, 9252485,9252488, 27643743

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.

Are fasted long runs beneficial for performance?

As runners, we all probably know someone who runs fasted – no food before or during the run. Some may even complete a 20 miler with no fuel. Many who run fasted swear it is the way to go – so is it beneficial? Let’s dive into what the research says.

Claims that fasted running is beneficial & the truth

Increased fat burning Running with low carb availability forces our bodies to oxidize more fat for energy. But, fat is a slow fuel source. We cannot run as fast when running primarily off fat. A review of 46 studies found carbs during long runs enhances performance.

Recruit more muscle fibers – When running in a no-fuel state, we attempt to recruit more muscle fibers because our muscles are starved of energy + exhausted. Exhaustion of muscle fibers directly coincides with glycogen depletion, aka no fuel long runs. Starting a long run with exhausted muscle fibers can increase injury risk.

Improve aerobic fitness –  In the lab, we do see improved markers of aerobic fitness from fasted training, however, these markers are not translating into improved race performance. Why? We’re not entirely sure but may be related to down downregulation of carb metabolism on race day.

Mental toughness – We don’t need to add nutritional suffering to our training to gain mental toughness. We teach ourselves to hang on when it hurts, and stay tough when our mind tells us to stop and keep running on tired legs – but we don’t need to starve our muscles + minds on long runs to get tough. 

More glycogen storage post run ALL exercise opens the window for increased glycogen storage post-exercise. If the well is dry, it’s going to hold more water. 

Concerns for fasted long runs

Not only are the beneficial claims questionable, but the research has shown that we should be cautious when it comes to running while fasted. Concerns include:

  • Decreased immunity 
  • Altered hormones 
  • Muscle breakdown 
  • Delayed recovery
  • Will this suffering actually improve performance? 

Benefits of fueled long runs (>90 min)

Improved performance – 2014 review of all studies on runners and carb intake during endurance events found 82% of studies showed significant performance improvements from carbohydrate fueling during endurance running. 

Decreased perceived exertion –  One study of cyclists riding for 90 minutes at moderate to high intensity found that taking carbs halfway through this ride significantly increased carb oxidation and lowered the rate of perceived exertion which resulted in faster sprint performances at the end of their trials. 

Extended time to fatigue – Well-fueled runners can store enough carbs in the form of glycogen to sustain 90 minutes of activity. At this point, without fuel, we have to rely predominantly on fat for fuel. Fat is a slow fuel source. We cannot turn fat into energy as quickly and paces suffer, fatigue sets in, efforts feel harder, and we ‘hit the wall.’


A fueled body is a strong body. A strong body can get the work done that you’ve been training for. Give your body the fuel it needs!

PMID: 30747558, 9813876, 23846824, 29315892, 7380688, 2920551, 23112908, 29473893, 28012184, 6913477

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.

The Latest in Sports Nutrition Products at The Running Event 2023

Every year, run specialty retailers, media, and brands come together at The Running Event (TRE) in Austin, Texas to show off their current & new products for the upcoming year. At it’s inception, this was the place for run shop owners to come and place orders for products to sell at their stores in the upcoming year. 

I clearly don’t own a running store so what was a sports dietitian doing at TRE? Over the years, this event has evolved to include ‘media,’ which to the best of my understanding means running influencers. This is the category I landed in. My podcast counterparts, Believe in the Run, have been attending for years to cover current & future running shoes from all the brands. When I looked at the vendor list last year, I noticed it wasn’t just run shoes & apparel – there were also a ton of sports nutrition brands. So I made a mental note to add this to the calendar in 2023. 

So here I was – feeling a lot like a goldfish in a shark tank for a hot second. But, as I walked through those doors into what can only be described as the largest race expo ever, on steriods, times a milion, I was a giddy little school girl bouncing around from sports nutrition booth to sports nutrition booth. It’s possible I consumed more sports nutrition in this 8 hour day than in any marathon yet.

Before TRE, I reached out to all of the nutrition brands on social media, made notes on who I wanted to stop and see, made those a priority, then bopped around to anything else that looked interesting. There were many sports nutrition companies who did not attend TRE, so this review is certainly not inclusive of all products. But, of the available brands, I can bucket my excitement into a few categories: different & new products, new flavors of our old favorites, and protein or energy bar options.

Note: I may have gotten free samples from these companies at TRE, but I am not receiving any financial kickback from this post. And the product information & reviews below are all my own thoughts and opinions. 

Different or New Sports Nutrition Products

The first thing on my radar was finding new, or new to me, sports nutrition brands and products that fill a need or gap for runners nutrition.

First up, RNWY. A very new company that is creating a wellness drink to help keep runners healthy in the long haul. 

What is it: A powdered drink mix that contains collagen + Vitamin C for joint & soft tissue health, B vitamins to support energy production, & electrolytes for hydration.

What Meghann likes about it: An easy, tasty way to consume your 10 gm collagen + Vitamin C pre-run. This product is the most palatable way to consume collagen yet.

Who may need it: If you are looking to prevent or help heal tendon, ligament, or joint damage – you may benefit from a collagen supplement. Collagen is best taken 45 – 60 minutes pre-run. This product makes it super easy to slug back your collagen in this time frame no matter when you are running. 

Bonus: They will be getting their product third party tested in the new year.

Then, I found Up2U, a native whey protein isolate powder and ready-made protein drinks. Native whey protein isolate is created through cold filtration, and their products add lactase so they are suitable for runners with lactose intolerance. Their drinks & powders contain 15 – 17 gm protein, which is lower than I recommend. When asked, they stated their product is higher in leucine therefore we don’t need as much total protein. I found research that supports the claim of higher leucine levels, but I still believe we need to adjust protein needs for age, body size, & training goals. Many runners will need more than one serving to meet their needs – or add another protein source. 

What is it: A clear whey protein drink – blood orange & mango peach or an unflavored protein powder 

What Meghann likes about it: It’s an option for getting protein in post run that is not a creamy, milky base. The ready-to-drink option is nice for someone who is looking for that clear liquid, fruity protein drink vs creamy. The protein powder is unflavored and a great option to mix into baked goods, oatmeal, and other foods to increase protein intake. I still prefer a vanilla, creamy whey protein isolate – but this is by far the best tasting clear protein drink on the market.

Who may need it: Anyone who is looking for a whey protein recovery drink that is a clear, fruit flavor instead of a creamy, milky drink. The powder is good for anyone looking for a high quality protein powder without added artificial sweeteners. 

As I viewed and tasted products, I was trying to share them in real time via my instagram stories at TRE – you all were the most engaged in the Xact Energy fruit bars. These were new to me but not to a lot of you. This is a company based in Canada so flavor options vary for us in the US. 

What is it: A 100 calorie, 25 gm carbohydrate gummy fruit bar meant to be taken during exercise like a gel or chews. 

What Meghann likes about it: The texture was amazing – much softer than our typical sports chews. It reminded me of Chuckles Jelly candy but less sticky inside. It’s also very easy to underfuel with chews. For a runner looking for a chew vs a gel, this product could be quite magical. The texture & flavor of this product make it incredibly unique.

Who may need it: Runners who like chews vs gels but want to make sure they are consuming enough total fuel. 

Another product that caught my attention was by Seattle Gummy Company. They make many different gummies but the high sodium, HydraFuel chews were the most intriguing. 

What is it: A pack of 4 gummies that contain 37 gm carbohydrates & 270 mg sodium. The gummies themselves were a little sticky, but the Sour Patch Margarita flavor was good. As expected, they tasted slightly salty.

What Meghann likes about it: You’ve all made it very clear that you are looking for higher sodium fuel options, so this fits that bill. 

Who may need it: Runners looking for a higher sodium option. I also think a pack of these could have a place in addition to your normal fueling to give you that extra sodium and carbs throughout your training runs & races. 

While not a new product, newish packaging put this Cheribundi back on the map for me. 

What is it: A tart cherry juice concentrate available in single serving 2.5 oz pouches. They also make a sleep product that adds melatonin & magnesium.

What Meghann likes about it: We have plenty of research to support the anti-inflammatory, improved recovery, better sleep properties of tart cherry juice. These supplements make it easy & portable to add in tart cherry to your routine. 

Who may need it: Runners looking for help speeding up recovery, decreasing muscle soreness, and improved sleep may want to give tart cherry a try. I particularly support this because it is considered a food product so there is minimal risk involved. 

New Flavors of our Old Favorites

Nearly every brand was highlighting a new flavor of an existing product. If there’s one thing we know, runners are particular about their nutrition flavors. Our favorite sports nutrition companies clearly caught onto this and are tossing us some new options.

Clif Bloks added 2 sour flavors to their existing line, sour green apple & sour strawberry lemonade. Each pack has 2 servings. One serving contains 21 gm carbohydrates & 107 mg sodium. These were not available to try yet, but I can see these being particularly attractive for people who get ‘sweet fatigue’ during races. That sour punch would be a nice change up.

Spring Energy added an orange flavor option to their 100 calorie gel – Power Snack. And, there are 2 more flavors coming soon – tbd on what those flavors will be.

Honeystinger added a flavor Stingerita Lime Chews to their robost flavor options. It contains 50 mg caffeine, 130 mg sodium & 40 gm carbohydrates per package. My first sub-3 hour marathon was fueled by Honeystinger chews, so they do have a special place in my heart and this new flavor did not disappoint. 

UnTapped has 3 new liquid drink mix flavors coming out in 2024. These include Mapleaid, Grape Mapleaid, and Lime Mapleaid. Each of these contains 250 – 300 mg sodium. To me, these tasted exactly like you’d expect – like watered down maple syrup. 

Pickle Juice added a chili lime flavor for all the dill haters out there. It tasted just like Trader Joe’s chili lime seasoning in liquid form. I’m still not sold, personally, on drinking pickle juice during runs – but if this is your thing, you may enjoy this. 

Different Protein and Energy Bar Options

We certainly don’t have a shortage of protein and energy bar options at our finger tips. But for some reason, I am constantly on the look out for new options that are delicious & make sense nutritionally. If you have followed along, you know that I don’t like added fibers, sugar alcohols, or anything funky in my nutrition bars. These bars below fit the bill and tasted quite lovely. 

Eat Jam Bar was a new brand to me, and I was surprised to learn that their founder was the former cofounder of Powerbar. The Malt Nut Melody flavor was hands down my favorite. I put this bar in the same category as Picky Bars. But, to be honestly, they were tastier! I would use this as a snack, as it has a nice balance of carbs & protein. And, they are available in plant based & whey protein options. The Malt Nut Melody bar has 240 calories, 7 gm fat, 34 gm carbs, and 10 gm protein. 

Bonk Breaker has been on my radar, but this was my first experience with them. Not only were the employees particularly rad humans, these bars were so delicious. Nutritionally, this is very similar to the Jam Bar – but all of these bars are plant based. The peanut butter & jelly was my favorite flavor & it had a layer of ‘jelly’ through the center. No worries, it was the same consistency as the rest of the bar so it’s not messy but did add to the whole flavor ambiance. I will absolutely be adding these into my snack repertoire. The PB&J bar has 260 calories, 11 gm fat, 33 gm carbs, and 11 gm protein. 

Naak is a Canadian company that makes many sports nutrition products, but I was particularly intrigued by their Ultra Energy bar with cricket protein. They also have plant based protein bars as well. Their bars contain 200 calories, 7 gm fat, 27 gm carbs, & 7 gm protein. These are marketed to use during ultra endurance activities, which I totally support, but I also love the idea of these for a snack for all runners. 

Honeystinger gave me a small sample of their new protein bar that they said tasted like a PayDay, the Peanut Sunflower Seed protein bar. Swap the peanuts for sunflower seeds and they aren’t wrong – very PayDay-esque. It was good enough that I went back and they gave me a full size bar to take home. It would also be considered a good snack with 260 calories, 15 gm fat, 21 gm carbs & 14 gm protein. 

Skratch energy bars are not new to me, but they deserve their own shoutout here for being delicious as well. I love the Raspberry + Lemon option, but you can never go wrong with the Peanut Butter + Chocolate either. I love these for a snack or a long, slow bike ride. They have 270 calories, 14 gm fat, 30 gm carbs, and 5 gm protein. 

One thing is true – we will never be at a loss for products to try. Let us know in the comments what you are enjoying!

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.

Why you couldn't hold your goal pace during your last race...

We train hard. We dial in our nutrition & hydration. And then something happens on race day, and we can’t hold the pace that we should be able to hold. It’s completely understandable to want to point the finger at one thing, so we know what to fix. But, sometimes, there are several factors at play, and many are out of our control.

If you have been in this situation, let’s talk through some of the variables & causes.

Nutrition & Hydration

First, let’s double-check our nutrition & hydration. We know that we need to consume the right fuel & hydration, at the right time, in the right amount, leading up to race day & during the race. Inadequate nutrition & hydration can lead to increased heart rate, slower paces, increased core body temperature, GI distress, and “hitting the wall”. Did you check these boxes for your race?

  • Adjusting nutrition with mileage throughout training
  • Practicing recovery nutrition throughout training
  • Carb loading before your race (& doing it the right way!)
  • Hydrating adequately during your carb load
  • Eating enough carbs pre-race
  • Fueling early & often during your race
  • Hydrating with the correct amount of fluid & sodium before & during your race


If Mother Nature throws any of these conditions – warmth, humidity, direct sun, rain, snow or windy conditions –  at you, your pace may be affected. Weather changes can cause our Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to increase, making our pace feel harder than it should. Most people need to adjust their pace. Some people are more tolerant than others of running in different conditions.

Course Terrain

There’s a big difference between a flat course & a hilly course on race day. Some of us are more affected by hills than others. Hills will increase our heart rate and may make it more difficult to take in fuel. Adjust your pace as needed and try taking those gels on the downhill next race.


There are both good & bad stressors – but too much of their stressor is not a good thing. We may experience stress from our jobs, family life, running, sleep, travel, etc. Managing stress during training and before race day is important! Anxiety at the start line will burn through our precious glycogen stores.

Where to go from here...

If you are pretty sure that you nailed your nutrition & hydration plan, as well as your training you may have had to slow your pace due to one of the above external factors, and sometimes, we just have a bad day and don’t know why. Or, maybe we woke up sick a couple of days post-race and were fighting a cold on race day. So what now? While it isn’t always easy, we take all of the knowledge we’ve learned and move on to the next race! Because if there is one thing we know about runners, we are persistent little devils!

PMID: 19225360, 30849085, 31696453, 22649525, 23846824

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.

Meghann's Nutrition Tips for the 2023 NYC Marathon

1. Carb. Load.

One of the best things you can do for yourself in the days leading up to NYC is CARB LOAD. Carb loading will help so you don’t hit the dreaded “wall”, will help your muscles work their best till the finish, will help you hold onto more fluid for race day and can make you feel better overall so you can enjoy the race and finish with a smile on your face!

If you need more info on carb loading, check out my Carb Loading resource page with lots of info, including the carb load calculator and a link to my FREE carb load guide.

2. Eat 2X Pre-Race

With a late start race (Wave 1 starting at 9:10 am through Wave 5 starting at 11:30 am), you should eat twice before your race. Whatever your start time is, subtract 4 hours – and that should be your 1st eating time. Aim to eat half your body weight in carbs. (For example, 150# runner needs 75 gm carbs.) Your 2nd eating time should be 2 hours after that. For this one, aim for the same amount of carbs again.


Start time: 10:20 am

Runner’s weight: 150 lb

6:20 am: 1 bagel with 2 Tbsp peanut butter + 1 serving Skratch (75 g carb)

8:20 am: 6 full graham sheets (72 g carb)

3. Plan Your Hydration

Let’s not just wing it when it comes to hydration. The weather forecast, as of now, looks like a low of 49 and high of 61 degrees Fahrenheit. For those with a later start, or those running longer, the temp might start to feel a bit warm but totally manageable. (Ideal marathon temperatures are 45 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Know your race day plan! Make sure you are drinking enough fluid & getting enough electrolytes during the race – whether that is from a handheld or on-course fluids. We have lots of info on hydrating for races here and in this blog post How to Hydrate on Race Day.

Carb loading properly will help your body hold on to fluid for race day, but if you are a heavy/salty sweater, you may want to hyperhydrate the night before the race.

4. Fuel Early & Often

Your first serving of fuel should be at 10 minutes PRE-RACE! And roughly every 30 minutes or so throughout the race (hopefully, you will have had lots of practice fueling during your long runs to know what works best for you.) If you find that you can no longer stomach a gel towards the end of the race, you can swish & spit, as we have carb receptors in our mouths to signal the brain about fuel!

5. Celebrate! ... but also, get in your recovery nutrition

Getting through any race warrants a celebration! Have fun with your family or friends. Eat that celebratory meal. Drink that celebratory cocktail (alcoholic vs non-alcoholic is up to you).

Try to get in a source of protein & carbs within 30-60 minutes post race. Chocolate milk or a protein bar are easy to have a friend bring to you, have in your race bag or find after the finish line. Then, when you can, get a full meal in. Keep hydrating the rest of the day, so you don’t feel crummy and your muscles recover better.

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.

What does Kipchoge eat for breakfast on race day?

Meeting the GOAT: Eliud Kipchoge

I had the privilege to run the Berlin Marathon with Abbott Global. The week was an absolute blast! I loved the city, the crowd, and the race. I came away with a PR <right after turning 40> of 2:49:55 just 15 years after my first marathon of 3:58. What a journey!

After the marathon, I received a text and was told that I could come meet Eliud Kipchoge if interested. Of course I was interested, and I hightailed it to meet the GOAT.  It was an absolute dream. He was the nicest human, and I am so grateful to have met him and for his kind words <did Kipchoge just tell me that I’m fast?! yes he did.>

What does Eliud Kipchoge eat for breakfast on race day?

Eliud and I chatted about the race for a bit. Then, I just had to ask him:  “What do you eat for breakfast on race day?” and “What is your favorite food?” Check out the video below to find out!

Meghann's Berlin PR Race Recap

I flew across the world to run my 14th marathon, collect my 4th Abbott World Marathon Major’s star and attempt to PR and to break 2:50 in the marathon. Here I am telling you all about it & answering all your questions about my experience.

The Carb Load

Traveling while carb loading takes some preparation. We want to make sure we have the carbs & fluid easily at hand to stay on top of our carb loading plan. Using the Carb Load Calculator my goal was 450 gm carbs per day x 3 days. My carb load started the day I landed in Berlin so I packed 2 bagel sandwiches <one with PB + Sriracha and the other with PB&J> so that I didn’t have to worry about finding food as soon as I landed or get behind on the carb load. Let’s be honest – getting behind on the carb load is NOT ideal. 

I completely underestimated how much the time change would impact my appetite. I had zero appetite from jetlag + the time change and really felt like I was forcing myself to eat that first day. To make this a little easier, I stopped by a local bakery and bought 2 fresh sourdough loaves + a burrata sandwich and enjoyed this significantly more than the stale bagels from Ohio. When we carb load, we also need an additional 30 oz fluid per day. The bottles of water in Berlin were all 8 oz glass bottles so I quickly confiscated as many as I could from the hotel lobby and made a mental note to go to a store & find a larger bottle. 

All-in-all the carb load was a success. However, it was a very different experience for me without a real appetite the whole time. I can totally see how someone could really screw this up when traveling to another country! <don’t be the someone – have a plan!>

I like to keep things very simple & bland the day before the race to keep my stomach happy on race day. Cue grahams + soft pretzels and I was a very happy human. When in Berlin, be sure to carb load on soft pretzels! 

Day One Carb Load: 2 bagels, burrata sandwich, 2 sourdough rolls, chicken sandwich, Skratch crispy rice bar, graham crackers = 440 gm carbs

Day Two Carb Load: Graham crackers, Rise protein bar, Maurten solid bars, burrata pizza, sourdough rolls = 448 gm carbs

Day Three Carb Load: 4 soft pretzels, graham crackers, Maurten solid bar = 480 gm carbs + 2 Liquid IV in 24 oz water before bed to Hyper Hydrate

Race Morning

The Berlin Marathon starts at 9:15am which is a little later than I’d like, if anyone is asking for feedback. So, I woke up at 6am – ate 4 graham crackers + drank 2 espresso’s from my room’s coffee machine + drank a tiny, 8 oz glass bottle of water. Got ready & was out the door by 7am. I chose to drop 2 bottles at the ‘Personal Refreshment’ truck – which had to happen by 7:45am and I had a 1.2 mile walk to this area from my hotel. 

Personal Refreshments: any runner in the Berlin Marathon can drop their own hydration bottles at a truck before the race – label them with their name, bib number, and drop point. You have the option of dropping a bottle at all or none of these points: KM 5, 9, 15, 20, 25, 30, 36, 40. 

With 47,912 runners registered I figured there was a slim chance I would actually find one of my bottles but decided to take one for the team here & see how it worked. I bought two very obnoxious bottles & rubber banded a bright pink ruler to the bottles to make them taller & stand out more. I dropped them at 25k & 30k hoping maybe I’d find one of these two bottles. As I got to the truck drop, I realized that my ridiculous bottles were the least ridiculous of the crew. Peacock feathers, foil hats, pencils, all the tape, other rulers – all added to bottles to make mine the shortest in the truck. I laughed as I dropped them off and was glad I wasn’t banking on finding any of them in my race nutrition plan. 

I met up with a friend from Cleveland, Christopher, before the race and it was wonderful to have another human to hang with during the 90 minute wait. We ate more grahams, sipped Skratch hydration, and sat next to the start line waiting for the corrals to open. 

Race Morning Nutrition: 8 graham crackers + 1 serving Skratch + 2 shots espresso = 100 gm carbs + 16 oz fluid

In true crazy Berlin fashion, the corrals opened at 9:05 am after the wheelchair start for a 9:15 am start. It was chaos. I looked at Christopher and told him we were jumping the fence to get to the front of our corral stat! It worked and we were able to get very close to the front of corral B just in time to see Eliud Kipchoge introduced & the start gun go off. 

The Race

If you have ever seen the start line video of the Berlin Marathon and have not felt overwhelmed, you are some sort of super human runner. I have never seen so many people, so close together, in my life – let alone a marathon. I’ve run Chicago, NYC, and Boston and nothing compares to the vast sea of runners like Berlin. 

But, it was go time – and with some slight bobbing and weaving – I found my pace in the first 2 – 3 miles. Cue thanking myself for insisting we jump the corral fences to get to the front of our corral. I felt smooth. I felt good. I felt confident in the plan. The plan was to start in the 6:25 – 6:30 pace range, settle in a little faster, and come through the half anywhere between 1:23 – 1:26. 

The weather forecast for the marathon was 55 degrees at the start & 67 degrees by the time I would, hopefully, finish. Weather over 60 degrees is not ideal marathon weather, in my humble opinion. So, I knew I would need to be smart about hydration + get willing to hurt a little more than usual in the second half as it warmed up. 

My Fuel Plan: Start with a 20 oz handheld of Skratch + 1 Maurten gel every 30 minutes <caffeine at the start & 60 minutes, the rest regular> and switching to water <or a Personal Refreshment bottle, if found> once my handheld was gone = 55 gm carbs/hour average

My fuel plan execution ended up a little different and I’m very happy with how it went. I took a caffeine Maurten 10 minutes before the race – as this caffeine will fully kick-in by 1 hour. As the race started, I was quite sweaty by mile 2. Shoooot. This is not good. I quickly decided I was going to drink my bottle of Skratch hydration early, not nurse it throughout the first half as planned. So, I started drinking decently large sips every mile starting at mile 2. At 22 minutes in, I felt great and decided to take my 1st gel a little early. Then, 50 minutes rolled around and I took the 2nd caffeine gel. My handheld was almost gone so I decided to save the last couple swigs for my 3rd gel, which I took at 1 hour 15 minutes & finished my Skratch handheld with it. I rolled through the half at 1:24:47. Still on sub 2:50 pace, just the plan. 

At this point, I’m really hoping I find one of my bottles on course. So, I hung onto my handheld with the hopes of refilling it from my collapsable – ruler bottle contraption. I took my 4th gel a little before the 25k and glued my eyes to the Personal Refreshment tables. Chaos. So. Many. Bottles. As my eyes darted from one end of the table to the next, I never spotted my bottle. Shoot – alright, regroup. I threw my handheld bottle at this point & grabbed some water from the next aid station as I knew I was far too sweaty to stop drinking now. I took another gel as we approached the 30k table and again my eyes darted around for my second bottle. Success. My eyes locked onto my bottle & I grabbed onto that bright pink ruler and felt a huge sense of relief. I chucked the ruler & opened the bottle and started chugging it. Then, my rational brain kicked in and was like, staaaahpit, you can’t chug too much fluid at the 30k of a marathon or you’re going to hurl. I drank about 10 oz and handed off the rest to a friend next to me to finish. 

I have been wearing a biosensor during my training that shows my blood glucose on long runs. I have been able to equate certain feelings, both mental & physical, on my long runs with needing to take more fuel. As this point in the race, my body felt strong – but my mind was faltering & heading places that were not conducive to holding my paces. <you know the thoughts – you can’t do this, slow down, this hurts, you can quit, who cares, how can you hang onto these paces for another ‘x’ miles, etc> So I took my 6th gel early – 20 minutes early at 2 hours 10 minutes – and those thoughts disappeared. Luckily, I had grabbed an extra gel at the 17 mile Maurten gel depot on course – so I now had an extra gel to take. When those negative thoughts returned, I took that 7th gel at 2 hours 30 minutes and got my head back into the game.

As I approached the Brandenburg Gate, I checked my elapsed time – did some math – and realized I was going to have to really pick up the pace to meet my goal of sub 2:50. I pictured myself doing those 1k repeats in training at a much faster 5:55/mile pace, did the math, and realized I was going to have to pull of two of those 1k repeats at a sub 6 minute pace to pull this off. So, naturally, I went for it. I ran my freaking heart out through the Brandenburg Gate and through the finish line. Stopped my watch and looked down… 2:49:55. I freaking did it. 

My Actual Fuel Execution on Race Day: 7 gels + 30 oz Skratch + 4 oz water = 210 gm carbs or 74 g carbs/hour average + 12 oz fluid/hour 

As I stopped my watch, I quickly looked around and realized I was one of the only ones smiling. Everyone around me was throwing up <so much barf – everywhere at the finish line>, on the ground, leaning against a railing, or bent down with hands on knees. And, I truly credit my nutrition & hydration plan out there for keeping me strong & allowing that final stretch to be my fastest of the day.

The Race Day Fit

The most common question I get is ‘where do you carry all your gels?’ Followed by, ‘but do you refill your water bottle and what do you do with it when it’s empty?’ Let’s chat clothing. 

From bottom to top: Nike AlphaFly’s – the originals – still my favorite race day shoe. CEP compression socks because I have the crankiest calves in the world. Bandit split shorts, which are my new favorite. But, if you check out my race photos it’s pretty much like wearing briefs so make sure you’re cozy with that concept. A Lululemon crop with a rabbit pocket sports bra under it. Ciele Berlin hat. Goodr Mach G shades. And, an Amphipod 20 oz handheld filled with Skratch Labs Sport Hydration

Now for the logistics. I do not like gels in my shorts. I typically put them in my bra’s cell phone pocket but running in a foreign country alone necessitated carrying said cell phone – so that pocket was in use. Given that I do not fill out any crop top or sports bra, I have room to stuff 6 gels in this area and I did. I lined up 6 gels between my sports bra & the lining of my crop top and this worked magically. That, folks, is where I carried all my gels. I started the race with 20 oz of Skratch in my handheld – and once this was gone, I chucked it. From there, I used water on course and then my ‘personal refreshment’ bottle I grabbed on course. 

Post Race

The shock and awe of finishing a marathon and hitting your goal is pretty strong – and the blacking out of any discomfort while running said marathon is also very strong. As I was walking through the finish area to get my medal, I realized two things: I had a HUGE blister under my pinky toe & I was so unbelievably thirsty. I stopped at the first recovery table and drank 4 cups of water and started to feel significantly better. 

The cruelest part of the Berlin Marathon may just be that we have stop, bend over, sit down, and remove the timing chip from the laces of your shoe. The timing chip is not in the bib, but a plastic clip you lace into your shoe. 

After I gave back my chip, I took off for the Tracksmith pop-up to get my poster and see if I could be the first female to arrive and get the coveted trophy. <I apparently was not the first female as I did not get a trophy.>

Shortly after returning to my hotel, I got a text asking if I’d like to come meet Eliud Kipchoge in an hour. Unclear whether this moment increased my heart rate more than that final 2k sprint at the end of the race. I just finished the freaking Berlin Marathon with a PR under 2:50 and now I get to meet Eliud. What a day. 

Meeting Eliud was nothing short of everything I could imagine. Humble. Kind. Compassionate. Confident. When the group told him my finish time, he was genuinely excited for me and impressed at this marathon time amidst all the other commitments in my life. He is definitely everything people say and more. 

From here, we headed out for a celebration dinner and then to the Berlin Marathon afterparty. I was told this was a do not miss – and I have to extend this to anyone who plans to run Berlin. You do not want to miss this afterparty. It was quite possibly the most epic afterparty in the history of afterparties. <and I haven’t shied away from many parties in my life>

The End

If you’re still with me, you deserve a medal here. But to sum this all up, the entire Berlin Marathon weekend was one of the top weekends on my life. And, I am unbelievably grateful to Abbott for sponsoring me in my quest to earn my Abbott World Major Marathons 6 stars. And for taking care of me when I am by myself in a foreign country <my mom very much thanks you as well.> 

Next up is spectating the Chicago Marathon, fun running the New York City Marathon, and then onto Toyko and London in the Spring. 

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being a part of this journey. Practicing my nutrition and hydration strategies on myself is cool and all, but helping you all nail your own personal nutrition plans for life and training is where I really feel the most joy in life. So, stay curious – keep fueling like the boss you are – and hang around here for all the new tips, tricks and fun. 

If you need help with your carb load or race day plan, I can create a Customized Carb Load Plan or Race Day Fuel & Hydration Plan for you!

Can the type of food you eat "turn off" your aerobic system?

What is the aerobic system?

The definition of the aerobic system is the “combustion of carbohydrates and fats in the presence of oxygen”. The aerobic system is how we produce energy from fuel for endurance efforts, which is necessary for all runners, no matter the pace. If we continually fuel, this system can keep functioning.

What fuels the aerobic system?

The aerobic system can be fueled by carbohydrates and/or fat. It is possible to utilize protein; however, the body spares protein breakdown at all costs. We know that when both carbohydrates and fat are available, turning carbohydrates into energy is more efficient and carbs are utilized more during high intensity exercise. If carbohydrates are not present, fat will be utilized as the fuel source.

If I don't eat enough carbohydrates, can't I just use fat as fuel?

Fat is utilized more at low-moderate intensities, but in the absence of carbohydrates, your body will indeed utilize more fat for energy. However, we also know that when glycogen is depleted, our bodies start to break down protein – and as endurance athletes, we want to build and support lean muscle, not break it down. Also, we mentioned above that the process of turning carbohydrates into energy is more efficient than fat <you will be able to give your body energy faster with carbs as the fuel source>, and carbohydrates are important for contractile function in the muscle.

If I eat junk food, will it turn off my aerobic system?

Absolutely not. If you have fuel to use <aka carbs, fat, protein> and you are working at a higher intensity <aka high aerobic activity>, your aerobic system will produce energy from said fuel, no matter where they came from. Your energy systems do not know the difference between fuel from oatmeal, pop tarts, graham crackers, gels, or a banana.

So, how do I fuel my aerobic system for performance?

A balanced diet with adequate protein at all meals, healthy fats, and matching carb intake for your current activity level is the best way to fuel your aerobic system. In our daily lives, for the most part, meals and snacks can consist of complex carbohydrates <giving you carbohydrates, fiber, and other nutrients>, lean protein, healthy fat, and color.

Being more strategic before and during your exercise with quick fuel sources that are easy to digest will help you get the energy you need the fastest, without upsetting your GI tract. Easily digestible carb sources: bagel, English muffin, toast, grahams, banana, etc.

PMID: 11547894, 14964437, 14641041, 24149296

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.

Carbohydrate Needs & Low HR Training

Do I need carbohydrates when I train at a low heart rate?

The short answer is, yes, you do need carbohydrates, even when you are training at a low heart rate.

Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source for our muscles. We can ingest carbohydrates for quick energy & use glycogen <carbohydrate stores> to fuel our runs. Of note, our bodies can turn glycogen into fuel faster than turning fat stores into fuel.

We have lots of research to show that during an aerobic activity <like running> our bodies are burning a combination of fat & carbohydrates. At a lower heart rate, our bodies utilize less carbohydrates than at a high heart rate. But even at a lower heart rate <around 65% VO2 max>, our bodies will use about 50% fat and 50% carbohydrates. (See the graph below)

As mileage and duration of an endurance activity increase, we know that our carbohydrate needs also increase. This means fueling with carbs on a daily basis, pre-run, intra-run and post run. Any endurance activity requires carbohydrates to perform our best.

So, while we use less carbohydrates at a lower HR, we are still using a decent amount of carbs as fuel. For an easy, low HR run over 1 hour, maybe we can stretch our fuel a little bit more <think taking a gel every 30-40 min instead of every 25-30 min>, but when you are in a longer endurance feat and want to feel your best, it is still recommended to fuel early and often so we don’t hit the wall.

What we know about the positive effects that carbohydrates have on running:

Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source for our muscles.

Pre-run carbohydrate intake improves endurance performance.

Carbohydrate availability is essential for muscle contractile function.

Carbohydrate consumption post-exercise aids in muscle recovery.

Carbohydrate storage in our muscles <glycogen> improves endurance performance.



While it is possible to run without consuming many carbs, we have listed many reasons why it is beneficial to support your training with adequate carbohydrates, even if you are training at a low HR. The total amount of daily and intra-run carbs might be a little lower than someone working at a higher intensity, but it will depend. It is very dependent on your training volume, duration, body size, etc. If you need help figuring it out, reach out for a consult.

PMID: 33198277, 8214047

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.