Managing your nutrition with macro counting, when implemented with performance results in mind, can be an incredibly effective tool for marathon training.
Today, we have the privilege of interviewing Stay Fit Mom Ninja Sandra, who sought out macro coaching specifically for the purpose of reaching her goal to race in the Boston Marathon! She not only competed in that race, but has lost around 18 pounds and set a 5 minute personal record. Let’s check out what she has to say about the process.
Tell us a little bit about your story. Work? Married? Kids? What does a typical day in your life look like?
Sandra: My name is Sandra. I am married with two active teenage boys and work full time. My days are generally very busy with managing teenagers and their sporting activities, going to work, getting my run or workout in as well as making sure there is dinner on the table in the evenings.
What made you decide to sign up for SFM macro coaching and how long did you follow along before taking the plunge?
Sandra: I have always been very athletic. I have completed many half marathons, triathlons, Half Ironmans and even three Ironman races. My recent goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon, so I began training and working hard and was able to meet this goal this summer! My qualification did not come super easy and my run was not very easy either. Since I qualified for Boston, I decided I wanted to do everything possible to make this the best experience ever. I have always been very concerned about diet and constantly ate small amounts to try and stay on the smaller side so that training would be easier. In the last year or so, (turning 50 didn’t help) I found it impossible to lose weight or maintain my weight with just calorie restriction. I know I was not overly heavy and some would say there was no issue, I was in shape but not at my best weight even for as much as I was training and for what I wanted to accomplish. Since I had this big goal, I decided to look for help in my nutrition. I came across SFM in my research and was intrigued by their process. I have heard over and over that macros and reverse dieting would help your metabolism restart, but never bought into it. The coaches seemed “normal” and the meal prep information seemed on point, I liked the vibe they gave that they could help anyone reach their goals but there didn’t seem to be pressure involved. SFM looked like a group of people that really wanted to see everyone succeed and they were just not in it for the money. Joining a 6 week challenge seemed like an easy way to “test the waters”. I had about 5 months to train and prepare for the race, so I didn’t waste any time, I reached out to SFM and started the 6 weeks challenge they had in November. I ended up liking it so much I continued working with Kristi and haven’t looked back!
You’ve just completed the Boston Marathon! Congratulations- such an incredible honor!! Tell us about your experience and how Macro Counting has impacted your training and race.
Sandra: As I started the Macro counting, I was very hesitant!!! I must admit I did not believe this program would work for me or that Kristi would be able to work with the amount of training I was putting in. My peak weeks were 55-60 miles of running. How was she going to adjust for my increased training and how was my body going to react? Kristi was truly a pro. She was kind, helpful and most of all patient with me – I had so many questions, I would email her as she would make changes and really in my head knew that her system wasn’t going to work for me! However, I was determined to give it my best to see if it would work and as I checked off green days, I saw the weight drop, but more importantly my running was excelling! I finally found that fueling properly can help you lose or maintain weight and your workouts will feel great! We got to a point where I had lost approximately 18 pounds and in the last month or so of training, when I was training the hardest she was able to maintain my weight at a specific point that we had both agreed would be the best weight to stay at for the race. My training literally never felt so good, and I was able to run Boston and beat my best time by 5 minutes!
What would you say to women that are hesitant to start macro counting?
Sandra: I know many people are like me and question counting macros, or eating more food – especially the carbs. Believe me when I tell you, it works. Stay Fit Mom listens to each of us and treats us as individuals and knows how to create a plan for us each to succeed. So many of us have been taught that calorie restriction is the only way to go, or no carbs etc. Give yourself the chance to learn the program, go all in for 6 weeks – you won’t regret it! If you take one piece of advice, it would be, give yourself a full month (or the entire 6 weeks) of macro Tetris before giving up! It seems so time consuming and overwhelming at first, but don’t give up! Lean on your coach and ask questions in the Facebook group and keep trying – it gets easier! Stay Fit Mom listens to each of us and treats us as individuals and knows how to create a plan for us each to succeed. Starting this program was the best thing I could have done for myself.
How do you make macro counting work with your everyday life?
Sandra: With the cookbooks and recipes offered by SFM it is so much easier to stay on track and workout your Macro numbers each day. Of course, there is a learning curve at first. But once you have started counting macros for about a month it becomes much easier. The biggest thing I learned for myself is I have to be prepared for the week, our schedules are so busy and with the training on top of it I have to have meals prepared and ready. I meal prep on Sundays and prepare all of our food for the week. My entire family truly enjoys these recipes too! We have always eaten at the dinner table as a family, I have always cooked meals for them and had a variation of what they eat but never the full meal. One of the great things about these meals is I am eating my meals with my family and we are all eating the same thing, of course different proportions but it doesn’t feel like I am restricting myself from food anymore! Having the meals on hand surely makes it easier to stay on track as things are always coming up during the week that can knock you off course, however the food is there and waiting so you can grab and not think about it. I freeze any leftovers in individual servings so that on weeks we are busy we can grab and go as well. The way to make this work is to be prepared.
Tell us about your experience working with Coach Kristi.
Sandra: My coach, Kristi has been amazing! I was full of doubt and questions as we first started. She always took the time to explain to me why we were doing things and kept me on track. She was also always available as my training increased. She helped come up with plans that would help on really hard days and was always willing to make adjustments when needed. She even helped talk me through how I was going to carb load before my race and help me practice this. Kristi really wanted me to succeed, and she showed it with all of the help she provided me, my goal did not scare her…she was willing to help me make it happen!! Finding this group has really helped me in so many ways: in my training, in my eating habits, in my energy levels and my confidence! Thank you, Kristi and Stay Fit Mom, for all of your help! I look forward to continuing to work ya’ll and conquering more goals!!
What Coach Kristi has to say about working with Sandra:
Kristi: What a blessing it has been to be a part of Sandra’s journey! She came to SFM in November of 2022 averaging 1560 calories a day. Her sample day averages were: Protein: 121, Carbs: 149, Fat: 53. As evidenced by her tremendous success, Sandra is incredibly disciplined and was very consistent from the start! She works SO hard and is committed to giving the program her all. Like many clients in the beginning, she had a lot of questions because I was asking her to trust the process as we increased calories to fuel her body better. She took every shred of information that I shared with her and took quick ownership of her nutrition. We reversed up over about 12 weeks and landed at Protein: 130, Carbs: 225, Fat: 70 around 2051 calories. She was eating over 500 more calories a day, had lost around 18 pounds and was feeling great! We have never cut or reduced her calories since she joined SFM. This is all the result of consistency and reverse dieting!
As her training runs began to get longer, we started working in refeeds of 45-50 extra carbs that she could use a few days a week to keep energy up and aid in recovery. Six weeks out from her race, we began to discuss what carb loading might look like before her race. She shared some insight from an elite running resource, we discussed a strategy and decided to utilize it in the 3 weeks before the race, so that we could adjust if needed. We opted to carb load on Friday and Saturday before her longest runs on Sunday. Because she would be eating more carbs, we added a little flexibility to her Protein and Fat numbers. She ended up targeting 300-400 carbs both on Friday and Saturday prior to her long Sunday run. After giving her body a chance to try the carb loading and discussing how she felt, we moved forward with the same plan for the race. Her planning, hard work, and diligence paid off incredibly with an AWESOME Personal Record at the Boston Marathon.
I am so in awe and impressed with the tremendous work that Sandra has done. She is a shining example of how hard work, dedication and consistency can get you to your goal. She trusted the process and is now able to fuel her body for whatever challenge she decides to take on next! I am so grateful that I have a front row seat on her journey!