Chirine Njeim is a ski racer turned marathoner from Lebanon. She competed in the 2002, 2006, and 2010 winter games competing in Alpine Skiing. After meeting her husband and moving to Chicago, she became a runner – eventually transforming into an accomplished marathoner.
She hopped on a webinar with TheFeed as a High Performance Team member to answer questions and provide insight before the Boston Marathon.
Here is a “highlight reel” from her webinar:
Q: How do you prep for the morning of the race?
I try not to change things and keep my routine similar for race mornings. A shower, coffee, and some Maurten to kick the morning off. Breakfast will be something light so I don’t overdue it – then a Maurten gel prior to the race.
Q: Are you a heavy sweater and how do you manage it?
I never have cramping issues in my races. However, I recommend salt sticks or similar electroytes for your events.
Q: Do you take or use gels during your marathon?
I take one gel before the start, take another around 3-4mi in, and then continue that 3-4mi gel intake until the finish. Make sure to fuel at the beginning of the race, even when you don’t want it, because starting 20mi and above is where everyone says they hit the wall. If you are fueled though you may never see that wall.
Q: Do you do slow runs during training?
For sure - I’m currently training with Ryan Hall and every session is either long run, easy run, tempo run, or track workouts. Usually every weekend I have a long run but when I follow that with an easy run it’s very important to keep them light.
Q: is there anything you do to combat shin splints?
I’ve not personally had issues but have seen others utilizing the tall compression socks. I’d recommend looking into your shoes - try changing your shoes and seeing how that goes.
Q: How many days a week do you train?
- Mon: Easy or OFF
- Tues- Track workouts
- Wed- Easy runs - often a double session with one 30min in the morning and evening. I enjoy getting up and moving the legs first thing.
- Thur. - Easy runs
- Fri.- Hard day: eg. 16mi Threshold workout (start at 6:15mi and bring it down to 5:50mi)
- Sat.- Easy runs
- Sun. - Easy runs
I’ve tried high mileage (around 110-115mi a week) but to me it was not as beneficial as I was tired a lot of the time alongside my full time job. My sweet spot is around 85-90mi a week and I’ve noticed I get a lot of quality out of it.
Q: How many hours do you sleep?
I find I feel good on about 7hrs although I wish I could sleep some more. However this is where I feel refreshed.
Q: Whats the best tip you have for recovery?
I immediately try to get some protein and high calorie drink in during the 30min after a race. The days following, I get out for walks and keep the legs moving.
Q: When approaching an event and you are in a negative headspace, what are your tactics to get out of that space and ready for race day?
I always tell myself: remember why you are here. Remember why you are doing this. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to be able to lace up our shoes and just run. Another thing I do is repeat the phrase “isn’t it beautiful?” five times. It sets me in such a happy and positive mood.
Q: Is cross-training in your schedule?
I don’t do cross-training but I do some strength. I usually target the glutes, core, and main focus points for running but I don’t lift heavy weights. I’m not sure if I am lucky or not but I have a very strong physique from ski training.
Q: Anything specific for hot and humid races?
I make sure the day before a hot workout I hydrate a lot. If it’s going to be a hot day in training I try to get up early well before it gets too hot. Additionally, I would tape cold packs on my bottles and when I grab them they would help cool the palms of my hands. You can also use cool sponges on the neck and such.
Q: Any recommendations for the cold?
I’d suggest to make sure to dress warm – use gloves, a headband, and a long sleeve if needed. You can always toss that stuff off throughout the race. It’s better to be warmer than colder because your body just doesn’t function as well.
Q: How many marathons do you plan a year?
I usually do 1-2 marathons a year. I have done back-to-back marathons but I don’t suggest that. They just take a lot out of my body and a lot of preparation so I keep it to 1-2 a year.
The important things to remember for the marathon:
- Get enough rest leading into the race
- Pay attention to your nutrition and getting enough fuel
- Finish workouts feeling like you worked hard but left that little bit in the tank
- The marathon takes patience