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    10 “Steps” to a Successful Marathon

    by Kathleen Leninger, DPT, from NY CUSTOM PERFORMANCE

    Congratulations, you’ve registered for a marathon! Now what? Mileage is certainly an important part of training but there are other important factors to consider when running a marathon.

    Here are 10 important factors to consider when running a marathon other than just getting in the miles:

    Find the Strength: Runners love to say “I don’t need to strengthen, I run,” but this couldn’t be further from the truth. When training for a marathon, a strong core and hip muscles are vital in maintaining your form throughout your miles. Early on, find out what your weaknesses are, then create a simple and effective strengthening
    program that will improve your form and endurance.

    Quality over Quantity: When picking a training program, sit down and look at your life. You need to consider how much time you have to dedicate to training. A lot of people think more miles is better but that is not necessarily true. You are better off choosing a training program that you will stick to. There are people that train 6 days a week and people that train 3 days a week. It is inevitable that you are going to have to skip a day here or there, but you want to be able to complete the majority of your training. Throwing in a few miles when you don’t have time to stretch or you aren’t feeling good usually ends in an injury. Make your miles count.

    Do the Work: Training for a longer race (half-marathon, marathon, ultra etc.) takes more than just a few hours a week. It has to be a lifestyle change. There are many great resources that can be helpful. Books by Jay Dicharry, Jack Daniels, Hal Higdon are considered to be the traditional bibles to running. Learn the difference between a tempo run and speed workouts. You’ll hear a lot of lingo (heart rate zones, VO2 Max), and that is important to understand during training. Podcasts are a great way to learn while you are actually running. Learning about running and training will keep you motivated and pick you up when you reach a training lull (it happens to everyone).

    Running Diet: In order improve your performance you have to consider how you are fueling your body. There are plenty of runners in the world that run well and eat whatever they want, but this usually catches up with them one way or another, so take a hard look at your diet and clean it up. Cut out the junk! You may also want to consider consulting with a sports nutritionist who can help you fuel your body properly. Hydration, protein, and carbs are all important factors. If you are planning on running a marathon, you will also need to fuel during the race. You need to practice race fueling before you get to the starting line. Make sure you try variety of foods and times so that you don’t spend your whole race searching for a bathroom.

    Sleep: Sleep is the when our muscles do the most recovery and repair. Every day (whether we are running or not) we beat up on our bodies and do not give them enough time to heal. If you are not a good sleeper, work on it. While you are training a good night's sleep is vital. Make sure you put your phone away and turn off the TV before bed, and if you have the opportunity to take a nap, use it!

    Mark your calendar: Plan out your year of races. It is best if you are able to make a calendar that you can hang on the fridge or on your mirror. Make it a visual part of your daily routine. Life events and races should all be on display. It is important to incorporate smaller road races into your training for bigger races, especially if you are new to the racing world. Practicing your race day breakfast, getting to the starting line, bathroom runs, and outfits beforehand will help your race day to run more smoothly.

    Support: You’re doing something amazing, so brag about yourself! Running is something to be proud of, especially if you are going to be running a marathon. Sharing these experiences with family and friends is a great way to stay accountable and motivated, and you may even inspire people to start running. Another great way to stay motivated is to join a team. NYC is full of big teams and little teams that have great coaches. Most teams have training plans designed around the common races in NYC. Having friends that run keeps the motivation going.

    Gear up: Good gear is so important. When you look good, you feel good. Having a good watch, winter gear, and especially shoes makes running more comfortable and can keep you going longer. We recommend switching your shoes every 300-500 miles, and having at least 2 pairs for training. There is also a lot of cool recovery gear, and compression gear that can make you feel better. Having a stretching strap and a good foam roller is very important for recovery. If you are gadget type of person, there are plenty of toys to test out. Try out apps and different programs before you pick which is best for you.

    Listen to your body: Your body is your temple. There are going to be weeks when you don't feel like running at all. There are also going to be weeks when you are under the weather but mentally you want to run. When these days happen, it's important to be honest with yourself. If you feel a muscle isn't right, make sure you get it checked out sooner than later. At Custom Performance, we work with runners to get through training season healthily. Running increases the stress on your body and when your immune system is already compromised, this puts your body at risk for more injury. Do not try to "run through" an injury.

    Mindset: The power of positive thinking is real. Visualizing success is a great exercise to actually achieving it. There are some great resources in articles, podcasts, and apps to help keep you positive. Visualization is also a great way to manage the stress and anxiety of a big race. Be proud, be humble, and be prepared!

    Running is a privilege and being a part of such a historic event such as the NYC Marathon should not be taken lightly.

    For more tips, follow @nycustompt.

    Music and Running: To Run or Not to Run with Music?

    by Wendy Winn, PT, OCS from NY CUSTOM PERFORMANCE

    Research indicates that running to motivational music can improve performance and running efficiency by increasing both heart rate and cadence. Running with just a metronome beat increased cadence, while the motivational quality of the music increased volitional effort of the runner!

    Some of our more competitive runners at Custom Performance often forego the tunes. “I must admit, 99% of the time, I don't run with music. I like to listen to my natural rhythms and get used to running/pushing without it,” says Mary Cain (@runmarycain), sponsored athlete of Custom Performance.

    For those of us who may need the motivation, using music measured in beats per minute can be a good tool when measuring cadence. Increasing cadence has been shown to decrease ground contact time and thereby decrease injury risk (because most injuries in running are on impact). A recent study demonstrated that even small incremental changes in music cadence made measurable difference in a runner’s step rate! The “gold standard” for cadence is 180 beats per minute, but every runner is different. Cadence goals should be set based on each individual’s goals and increased incrementally. Keeping in mind that step length, core control, and power are also needed to increase speed.

    The bottom line: Downloading a metronome app or a motivational playlist to help achieve your desired cadence.

    Custom Performance NYC provides physical therapy, performance, and recovery services for all humans empowered by running. @nycustompt

    Joe & Performance - The do's and don'ts of coffee & exercise

    by Wendy Winn, PT, OCS, NY Custom Performance 

    Joe and Performance

    The most humbling running experience of my life occurred because of too much caffeine during a half marathon in my great home state of Massachusetts. I showed up from New York City the morning of the race, sleekly sporting a full outfit of compression gear, (overly) bold and ready to take on my small hometown race. There were only a few elite runners in the group, and I was feeling very confident in my abilities. I chugged a large coffee (Dunkin' Donuts!) and and hit the pavement.  


    Feeling energized, I turned the corner, and before me was the steepest hill I had ever seen! I only train on flat roads at home, and I had, of course, forgotten to check the elevation map. As I struggled up a hill at the 6th mile, I spied a group of volunteers handing out gels. I gratefully grabbed two and gobbled them up, hoping to restore the glycogen stores that were zapped from the many (many!) hills. A few minutes later my heart started racing, my stomach began to churn, and I was shaking like a leaf! I looked down and discovered that my trusty vanilla gels now contained caffeine. As if the hills weren't enough, I struggled through the last seven miles, barely able to cross the finish line. Caffeine has always been my friend, but that day I learned that it had to be used in moderation!

    What’s to love?

    Long touted as the legal drug for sports performance, the positive effects of caffeine on running performance are well-documented. Caffeine has been proven to:

    • Decrease the perceived effort for endurance running. Coffee can literally make running seem easier!
    • Increase the desire to run more often. Studies have shown that mice voluntarily  run more often on a treadmill…errr wheel when given caffeine versus sports drinks or a placebo!
    • Heighten neurological readiness for sport. Your brain and body will be prepped to go!
    • Increase heart and respiratory rate, increasing blood flow to muscles. No brainer!
    • Mobilization of fat stores. After glycogen (blood sugar) is used up, caffeine helps mobilize fat stores for use as energy!

    What’s not to love?

    When dealing with caffeine, the following side effects must be considered: indigestion, headaches, anxiety, agitation, restlessness, insomnia, nausea, frequent urination and increased heart and respiratory rate.

    How much should be used?

    In studies examining performance, anywhere from 200- 1000 mg have proven to positively affect running performance for endurance running. The jury is still out for sprinters.

    Beware: while caffeine seems like a leading edge, be cautious when competing at the national level! The IOC limit is approximately 1,000 mg (or 12-15 mcg caffeine per liter of urine.)

    See how your coffee brands rank! For every 16 oz:

    Dunkin Donuts: 250 mg

    Peets: 267 mg

    Caribou: 305 mg

    Starbucks: 330 mg

    Seattles Best: 330 mg

    Killer Coffee: 500+ mg (whoa!)

    What about energy drinks or soda?

    I think it goes without saying that we cannot in our good conscience recommend supplements with chemical basis. But, if you’re dying to know:

    Red Bull (12 oz): 111 mg

    Coca-Cola (12 oz): 34 mg 5 hour energy (2 oz): 200 mg


    We love the concept and the product(!), but it contains sugar alcohols, which for some people increases flatulence, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. 50 mg per piece (2 pieces in a pack)

    Looking for more? offers a search tool!

    Racing With The Elites in Boston

    An interview with Bronson Venable

    During the Boston Marathon this year (2017), Zensah Ambassador Bronson Venable decided he wanted to run with the likes of Meb, Galen, Ward and the other elites; and run he did:

    How long have you been running?

    I started running in 1998 when I was only 8 years old.  So 18/19 years cause I'm 26 now, so it's been a long time!  

    How did you get so fast?

    As a kid I joined North Kingstown Rec in Rhode Island and ran 3 days a week.  It turned competitive and we tried running Junior Olympics and that's when I made it to nationals in both cross-country and track.  From there I realized between Junior Olympics and Hershey track nationals it required natural talent and a bit of hard work.  The running increased to 5 days a week but the mileage wasn't that high at the time.

    Once I got to high school the competition was next level. I went to a private Catholic school (Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, R.I.).  Once in high school my 2 coaches Jim Doyle and Danny Brennan were a big influence on my training.  Between the mileage of around 70 a week, to the various workouts, it all began to align the stars.  My senior year I ended up winning R.I. XC states with a 40 second PR, along with coming in 4th at outdoor New England's in 9:16 for 3200 meters.  Once I got to college a boatload of injuries and me going from being 5ft 5in, to 6ft 2in in about a year & a half slowed my running down a lot.  It wasn't until I was done with college that I could fully recover and get another running game plan together. 

    Since then, the knowledge my 2 high school coaches passed on to me and the training plans and workouts are what I've been used to base my training off of ever since I finished college running.  Just last year I PRd in 4 events. The 5k (14:49) 5miles (24:54), half marathon (1:11:20) and marathon (2:39:19).  With that all just happening I know I have plenty of room to improve and time to get even faster and that's the goal!

    Was this your first Boston?

    My first Boston was actually last year where I ran 2:39:19 and actually proposed at mile 26.  Knowing I was going to propose was definitely motivation and definitely helped me on race day. 

    What made you decide to go all out and run with the Elite Men?

    Coming into this year I really wanted to go sub 2:30 at Boston, however due to a hip injury and some time off my time goal went out the window.  Even after a month off and only a month and a half of training I still planned on running Boston but wasn't sure my plan until I was joking around with some friends at work.  They jokingly said go out as hard as you can and take down Meb, then it hit me!  Between Zensah, I have 2 other company's 1.) rabbit, and 2.) SOS Rehydrate that supply me with a few things to keep me running fast.  I figured the least I can do since they always support me is to give them some TV coverage and put them in the spotlight.  So it was decided then I was going to go out with the leaders and stay with them for a mile or 2 then see how long it would take me to get to the finish.

    Did any of them say anything to you or look surprised/pissed off?

    To be honest they weren't talking at all to each other for the mile and a half I was there.  Almost like they weren't even breathing either.  They were so smooth, and efficient it was almost amazing to see and run with.  As I began to look at my watch I took the leaders through the mile in 4:48-4:50 and I knew it was going to be a rough day.  I decided then I would get to the mile and a half with them and drop back.  When I got to a mile and a half I realized I was next to Meb and right before I slowed down I told him "Get after it today Meb, this is your last Boston, go out in style!"  He responded with "Thanks, I appreciate it brother!"  Then they were gone lol.

    How hard was it to run after the initial all-out mile?


    Like I said, since the injury in January my running before Boston was minimal.  I did 1 workout and it was a 6mile tempo at 5:52 pace and the longest I had run was 13miles 3 weeks prior to Boston.  My biggest fear when I got to the line is I told my friends and family I was going for the lead but I wasn't 100% confident I could a.) Get to the lead and b.) Hang on for long. Surprisingly, the first mile was pretty smooth and relaxed thanks to the downhill.  It was cool because I've seen these guys race on tv, and now I'm side by side with Olympians and it's incredible.  The mile wasn't bad to be honest, but I started getting worried about how I would feel later in the marathon with that fast mile so I figured I would shut it down at a mile and a half.


    Has this been your most memorable running moment? If not, what has??


    Honestly it's pretty high up there to one of my most memorable moments.  The crazy thing is 2 out of my top 3 highlights happened at the Boston Marathon. Me proposing to my wife and the love of my life last year at Boston is definitely the best moment I've had. #2 was winning the R.I. XC State championship cause I wasn't the favorite. Then #3 would definitely being running next to a bunch of Olympians and USA team members!

    Deaf Athlete Finds Motivation Instead of Excuses

    Here at Zensah, our motto is to design and manufacture gear to help athletes Perform Without Limits. So when David Tolstyka reached out to us, we knew we had to help.

    David is an athlete whose activities include snowboarding and obstacle course racing, both of which require one to be aware of their surroundings, especially with other athletes around. David reached out to us because he needed a way to let the other participants know he was deaf.

    Our design team was able to customize some of our compression tops to fit his needs. We are so proud to have been able to help an athlete with such a positive attitude, who finds reasons instead of excuses.



    Follow David’s journey:

    Do you think we can help you or someone you know Perform Without Limits? Reach out to us, we’d love to try and help! Contact us.