Saucony 26 Strong: Training without Meat

Cathy Shaw of Annapolis, Md., is a busy working mother of three. But while finding the time to train for her first marathon can be difficult, her biggest concern was avoiding the injuries that she’d experienced when increasing her training mileage in the past.

“I struggled with multiple injuries prior to training, and I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be able to handle the longer miles,” she says. “Granted I’m only up to 11 at this point, but so far my knees and low back are hanging in there!”

Cathy and her veteran partner, Lauren Colvin, are part of the Saucony 26 Strong project, a collaboration between Competitor and Saucony that pairs experienced marathon vets with first-timers (“cadets”) as they both train to achieve their marathon goals. Cathy’s training for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27, and she’s had success so far this year with shorter races as she builds up that base mileage.

“I ran a 10K in June and finished with a PR and 2nd in my age group,” she says.  “Last weekend, I raced a 5 miler and placed 2nd in my AG again. I’m running a 10 miler this weekend— but I have no expectations for placing in that race!”

One surprise for Cathy has been adapting her diet to the increase in mileage and training. “I had no idea how challenging hydration and nutrition would be for me,” she says. As a vegetarian, she’s had to find new sources of sustenance that meet the new needs she’s putting on her body.

“I’m challenged to find protein sources that will sustain me as my staple greens, nuts/seeds, fruit/vegetables have simply not been enough,” she says. “I’m a very clean eater, so I’ve shied away from simple carbs/sugars, but I realize that a certain amount of those will fuel me on my long runs.

“I’m trying to come to terms with gels, and I am experimenting with some natural/organic versions to find out what works best without compromising my clean ways,” she says. “On the hydration end, I learned the hard way that 12 ounces of water doesn’t cut it for a long run on a hot summer afternoon. I’m still trying to come up with a hydration system that will allow me to carry both water and an electrolyte drink so that I can avoid the pitfalls of dehydration. I’m not a big fan of  hydration belts—I’m still experimenting there, too.”

The summer home with three girls has presented some challenges in finding time to train, but there’s a tradeoff once school starts. 

“Once the kids are back to school it will be easier during the week,” she says. “But soccer season has already begun, so weekend runs will now be quite challenging since all three of my girls play for different teams with games on the weekends.”

But this soccer mom is happy to juggle it all to find the time for marathon training.”It’s all going better than I expected,” she says.

Read more about Cathy, Lauren and the rest of the Saucony 26 Strong team at 26strong.com.

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