RRCA Running Coach and Fitness Entrepreneur Candice Graciano Talks All Things Marathon Training
RRCA Certified Running Coach, ISSA-CPT, Schwinn Certified Cycling Instructor, and Institute for Integrative Nutrition Health Coach is a fitness hustler. Trust me, I am one too, so I can tell when I’ve met one. Graciano, an ultra marathon runner/endurance athlete, wears many hats in the health and wellness industry including managing Peloton Instructor Jessica King’s MindFULL3 business, serving a personal trainer with Nancy Fuentes’ Body 2 Body Fitness, representing yoga company Five Four Ten, and coaching her clients own clients on her own website Candicegraciano.com.
Graciano’s fitness journey started in 2008, when she turned to kickboxing to start shedding an excess 60 pounds. In 2011, Graciano moved to Pennsylvania where she had a house a bought a treadmill. Fast forward to 2017, and the determined athlete runs every single day.
“When I bought a treadmill, that’s really where it all started,” Graciano says. “ I’d get up every morning and get some miles and it built into a love of running. I lost about 35 pounds from a combination of running, spin, and strength training since 2011.”
After running 1,800 miles in 2016, Graciano conquered the 2017 Long Island Marathon and now she’s training for Ironman 70.3, followed by a 100-mile race. Graciano’s running coach, Dan Atkinson, designs a training program that calls for five running days per week, with Monday and Thursday/Friday off. Sundays are long run days, where mileage gets as high as 20 miles. For shorter runs, Graciano runs virtually everyday, even if it’s against Atkinson’s wishes, that’s how passionate she is about moving forward.
“On those days I’m not supposed to run, I’ll run a lower mileage such as three miles because mentally, I need to run,” says Graciano. “I don’t feel well when I’m not running so it’s almost like a small addiction.”
Graciano trains based on mileage, not time on foot, and the programming cycle will be three weeks of building mileage up followed by a week of less distance. There’s one tempo run of 7-8 total miles (1.5 miles of a warmup and 1.5 miles of a cool down) and one speed day which is a 2-mile warmup, 4-6 400-meter or 800-meter repeats with 60-90 seconds rest between, then another 2-mile repeat.
As for strength training, Graciano lifts weights three times a week, doing a body part split of legs/shoulders, back and biceps and chest and triceps. The swimming training, essential for the upcoming Ironman 70.3 triathlon, takes place with the Ridgewood Triathlete Club in New Jersey.
SIGN UP FOR A MARATHON!
For fitness enthusiasts that have yet to run a marathon, she says that it will take generally 12-16 weeks to train for marathon if you’re already in decent shape. Graciano’s race day timeline starts with a specific pre-marathon smoothie, drank 1.5-2 hours prior to start time.
“My ideal breakfast would be an almond milk smoothie with steel cut oats, cacao, half of a banana, and chia seeds,” Graciano says. “It’s less for your body to digest. That said, you never want to try anything new on race day so you have to learn what you can and can’t eat during training.”
On marathon course, Graciano eats a GU energy gel every 45 minutes and alternates between water and Gatorade at aid stations, stopping every two miles to drink. Her tips for runners that are nearing the proverbial “wall” where the body shuts down the mind or vice versa, are impactful ones.
“Never stop running in the middle of the race unless you’re sick or going to pass out and need help,” Graciano explains. “If you hit a wall and think, ‘I don’t think I can do anymore,’ walk for 30 or 60 seconds, then run for 30 seconds or 60 seconds. In my first marathon, I got to 20 miles, then walked for 30 seconds followed by 60 seconds of running for two miles then I was able to run the last four miles.”
On the fabled running your first marathon without any training at all, Graciano suggests it’s not a great idea.
“It’s probably not the smartest thing to run a marathon without training,” says Graciano. “You can risk injury, overuse your muscles, or just pass out. Plus, it might prevent you from ever wanting to run once again due to the side effects, such as not being able to walk for days.”
WHAT’S YOUR WHY?
Next on Graciano’s running schedule is the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 20, followed by the NYRR Mini 10K on June 10, and the NYRR Queens 10K on June 17. So, what’s Graciano’s true why? Why does she continue to hit the road or trail and travel outside of her comfort zone?
“I love the freedom of running: it’s just me, my legs and the ground and you can lose yourself in those miles or find yourself in those miles,” Graciano adds. “To me, it’s a spiritual thing. The longer distances I go, the more I find who I am.”
To get your running form checked, plus learn useful tips such as head and back straight, contact Graciano at candicegraciano.com