9 Ways an Elite Prepares for a World Championship

Last week I mentioned in both posts that I vowed to do the little things. To make sure I give myself the absolute best chance of success in both the World Half Marathon and the London Marathon.

But don’t I already do all those little things?

My non-running friends already think I am nuts, so what more could I possibly do?

Well, here are 9 ways I have stepped up my game to take recovery to another level


This is a biiiiiiiiig one for me.

As you may know, I am actually seeing a sleep therapist right now, and although I would say we have made definite improvements, I definitely still have insomnia. A lot of nights I only sleep about 6 hours…..you know on Friday when I sent that apology blog post?

I wrote that in the morning……at 4am……so not exactly ideal, but one of the things we have agreed is that if I am NOT sleeping, I HAVE to get up…..no more associating flustered/stressed tossing and turning with my bed.

I am starting to come to terms with being one of those people who does not need 8-9 hours sleep. That I am one of the 5% who can get away with less. I know that sounds all glamorous and fun, but it is hard not to compare and be scared when I hear about how dangerous it is to get less than 8 hours sleep, and my other elite friends get 9-10 hours.

Anyway, the sleep update is for another post, BUT even if I am not sleeping a full 8 hours at night, resting throughout the day is something I am AWFUL at.

Drew challenged me to meditate more, and when I promised him I would, I did, but naps have always been something I really did not like.

However, this time around, I am committing (to you guys, right here, right now- accountability right?!) that I am going to take naps at least 5 days per week.

It does not matter if they are 20 minutes of just lying, being still, or if they are a full hour of sleep, but I am determined to make these a part of my day, not just for the race, but for my sanity!

So far, I have managed 6/6, which I am pretty proud of!

So yes, #1 is take naps 5/7 days a week.

Roll and Stretch

I have covered how important using a foam roller (or PVC) pipe are for your body and its ability to recover, but I have to admit, I was not exactly the best at this either.

I would roll as much as 4 times a week…..buuuuttt sometimes as little as once a week (sorry Steve!), but this time around, after every run, I am vowing to Stretch AND/OR Roll every day.

Tina Muir Roll Recovery

That means using a combination of my PVC pipe (going up and down each area at least 8 times) using my roll recovery, R3 roller, and stiff stick.

#2 is to roll and stretch 5/7 days a week

Eating right

I know what you are thinking….but you already do eat very healthy?

You know what, I thought I did too……until I started working with Tawnee as my consultant/life coach. She asked me for a food log for a few weeks, and after analyzing it, one of the days (which was not uncommon) was 65%(!!!!!!!) sugar!

That is having some kind of chocolate/sweets every 2 hours, and not just the traditional bad stuff, but lots of fruit with simple sugars.

I always knew my sweet intake was bad, I don’t think you guys realize just how bad it actually is was, but I had an arrogance about me that said, “well, I eat healthy as far as a normal person goes, I just have the sugar on top as the calories I burn running”


My diet was nowhere near as healthy as I thought it was.

I have a full post coming on the diet changes I am making, and I will explain this in further detail, but for now, the fact of the matter is that all those sweets, those simple sugars were taking calories away from nutritious foods, foods that will help me recover.

Don’t worry, I am not abandoning my sweets. I am NOT headed down that path I know you are currently worrying about me heading down. Be Brave. Be Strong. Be YOU is still my motto.

I am still having some kind of sweets every night, but just a few squares of chocolate, rather than a few squares every few hours (and I am not kidding, that is how bad I was).

I am still enjoying my food, I would never be able to give that up, no matter how high the stakes were, I am never going to be a juicer or a protein shake kinda girl. I am also still keeping in those fun meals, like the date night last weekend or going for ice cream.

As I am sure you were wondering, this my friends, is a wood fired pizza with nutella, marshmallows, and ice cream. Date night ended well :)
As I am sure you were wondering, this my friends, is a wood fired pizza with nutella, marshmallows, and ice cream. Date night ended well 🙂

Just not every night!

Enough of a ramble for one point, #3 is putting in the fuel to help my body recover


I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am working my way to being a coffee drinker. Not every day, but on hard days and long run days.

Listen to this podcast episode I did with the awesome Alex Hutchinson, he explains it better than I could. Runners Connect found that 2/3 of olympians have caffeine before racing, and I am giving it a try.

I have to admit, it gives you little more control over your negative thoughts when you have coffee.

I have been drinking it black with a little stevia, just because I do not know how the creamer will sit in my stomach, and it is too close to make big changes.

So yes, this part of my diet changes…..I am not enjoying, but the benefits I definitely am 🙂

#4 is caffeine on workouts and long runs


I have had a lot of comments over the last few weeks about what the heck those things in my hands are when I am running?

Well, you know since I visited the UVA speed clinic, I have been working on my running form, and my inefficiencies are just wasted energy. Drew and I have been working hard in the gym to strengthen the muscles to allow for this change (and I am a heck of a lot stronger), but there is only so much Drew can do.

Ben Greenfield talked about these as his favorite running product when i talked to him on the Run to the Top podcast, and I emailed the company to let them know, to which they sent me some to try.

I was skeptical, but damn, they work.

Steve said he could see a difference, and I have to say, I actually prefer running with them than without them now. They are moulded to your hands (different sizes) and they just make your arm swing move in the right direction……and of course they give you something to grip when you are struggling, without causing tension.

I absolutely love these, and if it wasnt for the need to take fuel during a marathon, I honestly would consider racing in them!

As the buzz around these has been so big, the founder was kind enough to create a coupon code for my friends. If you use “RUNTOTHETOPE3” you can get 15% off 🙂

#5 is E3Grips to help my running form

Breathing exercises

Max and Todd. I apologize.

EEEEEEKK this makes me mad at myself, but those DNS exercises I talked about after my second visit to UVA, the ones I promised them I would focus on. The ones that Max said would shave many minutes off my time, I have not  been doing.

I was doing really well at the beginning of the year, doing them every morning, but somewhere along the line I fell off……again.

I have started them back up, and have 3 alarms going off on my phone every day to make sure I get them done.

know these will make a difference, and they will help to control my biggest weakness as a runner. My breathing…..or hyperventilating as it usually ends up!

#6 is breathing exercises 7/7 days a week

NormaTec Boots

I have talked about these before. I have used these before, and it is time to bring them back.

Dr Mike is not only a kick ass chiropractor, one of my closest friends here, and a great person, but he lets me use his boots for extended periods of time.

I am sure a lot of you are skeptical, and last year, I wondered if I was just positive thinking them into working, but I can honestly say I have noticed a HUGE difference since I started using these every evening.

If you use them as often as I have, you will pay them off in a matter of no time, when you think about how much it costs to have a massage or go have treatment. These boots are fantastic, and it is going to be very hard to give them up when I go to London (as they are Dr. Mike’s I have to give them back!).

I have absolutely love using these NormaTec Recovery Boots every night to help flush out the junk in between massages and seeing Dr Mike himself since I found out I was running in the World Half Marathon Champs, and I wish I could use them all the way up to London! It is time to get myself a pair!

Tina Muir Recovery Boots

#7 is recovery boots 7/7 days a week

Recovery Products

You know I love my EnduroPacks. I truly believe in the company, and that the products work, but sometimes I slack off and forget to put the patches on, or take the L-Glutamine at night.

This time around, I am on top of my game with these. Every damn day, I am getting all 4 of their products into my system, including taking the electrolyte spray during my workouts and in the race (I tuck it into my Saucony Bullet shorts).

Body Health have also been fantastic, sending me 6 bottles of their PerfectAmino to help with recovery. The essential amino acids in PerfectAmino are in the exact proportions needed for maximum utilization by the body, and I need all the help I can get!

I have not taken these long enough to really keep you posted, but I am very excited to see what they do, and were one of the main things Tawnee wanted me to try. If you want to give them a go, PerfectAmino you can too using my affiliate link and use my code TINA10 for 10% off.

Tina Muir Perfect Aminos

I am also finishing a run and immediately drinking a combination of Generation UCAN and BeetBoost (while I stretch and roll) to get the recovery process started.

#8 is taking my recovery products like a champ 7/7 days a week


This one is almost comical as it seems so simple, but it is something I struggle with so much. I am a busy body, and I like having things to do, but over the next 6 weeks, I want to make sure there is plenty of time to just chill, to do nothing and just watch tv, or put my feet up.

When I am home, this is when I will be tested as I like to go all over the place visiting people, but I want to make sure I limit the traveling.

BUT this is what is going to keep me sane. This is the balance. This is the keeping other things in my life that are NOT running related. I am so happy that most of my friends from home are not runners, so I can be reminded that I am not defined by running.

My friends and family will remind me to slow down, and remind me that I am a person first and runner second. I need to be in a good place in my life, and relaxing with my loved ones is the best way to do it!

Therefore, last but not least as #9 is to keep the balance and mental sanity!

[bctt tweet=”9 ways elite runner @tinamuir prepares for a world championship while #marathontraining” via=”no”]

Which of these do you struggle with the most?

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  • It’s so great to know that even you have to tweak things to be better. I am good at napping on a dreary day if I slow down enough to let myself sit down on the sofa. 😉

  • The compression boot things have really become all the rage with many runners that I know! We have lounges here in Chicago where you can go and do recovery in those things. And do your ice baths etc. But I know a few people who have their own ones!

  • This is fantastic. Thank you for sharing Tina! I don’t have a sweet tooth but when I had my diet looked at I had almost no carbs until late afternoon. I was shocked! I’m a true believer in having your diet looked at because, like you, I thought I was eating healthy and balanced. Good luck!

  • Julie Wunder
    March 14, 2016 8:39 am

    What a great list! When you are trying to do what you are trying to do, you have to pull out all the stops! Very excited to see how it all turns out. We all love you no matter what happens though!!!

  • Great list of stuff! It sounds like you have a really good plan going forwards.
    I was shocked to find out that Paula Radcliffe would sleep like 10-12 hours a day AND have naps. Liz Yelling as well slept ridiculous amounts when she was training hard. It’s such an important part of recovery. Fingers crossed the naps work for you.

  • I am intrigued by the E3 grips I need to check those out! Thanks for the tips

  • Laura Anderson
    March 14, 2016 10:21 am

    It’s great how you really pared it down to each category, what works for you and WHY it helps you. Paying attention to all of those things, are why you are successful and will continue to improve!

  • Carly Pizzani
    March 14, 2016 10:52 am

    This is so fascinating, Tina! It’s amazing how when you make several small tweaks to your recovery, it all adds up and I’m sure you will start seeing the effects in your workouts as well. I want to try those boots I bet they feel AMAZING. 🙂

  • Did you get the nutella pizza in Philadelphia? I know they have a good place there.

    I am envious that you don’t need as much sleep…I’m someone who does. I don’t function at all on less than 8 hours sleep. It’s funny, I recently got my diet evaluated by a professional and you think you’re eating so healthy when in reality there is so much to tune up. I have a huge sweet tooth as well and it was certainly an eye opener.

  • Yes, not everyone needs the 8 hours. I routinely wake up 1-3X per night. What matters is if I go back to sleep in 5-10minutes, or stay awake for hours!
    Yet, when I take my pm pulse in bed, and it is 50-58, I know that if I’m at 40-44 in the am, I’m rested. Many times it has happened that even waking at 4am, I’m already at 42. I may or may not be able to return to sleep at this point. I take that to mean I’m rested, so why would I expect my body to want to sleep more?
    I take my HR at the source, between the 3rd and 4th rib, and count the beats for a full minute. I have my daily HR since my 1st day of training, June 30th 1980, so I know precisely when (and when not) I am rested.
    Lowest recorded am rate=38 (totally rested). If I have a sleepless night, am rate may be as high or a few beats lower than pm rate (I feel like crap and the day is shot!).

  • Yay to naps! And I’ll be supporting you with every cup of coffee 😉 You’re doing great, and it sounds like you have some really good things in place! Those boots….love them 🙂

  • I used to be so against tracking food but I now use it personally and with all my clients for the same reasons you listed- we all “think” we’re balanced until we look at the actual stats and it can be pretty shocking!

    I’m good at sleep, but the rolling, stretching, compression pieces get skipped over way too often. Love that these are your goals- they’ll benefit you so much!

  • I love that you have taken the time to really think about this and commit to it! I think the napping is a terrific idea to combat your restless nights and I’m a big believer in coffee 🙂 Looking forward to seeing how these changes make an impact!

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine
    March 14, 2016 6:19 pm

    Looks like you have a great plan! I am really intrigued by those E3 grips. And I always drink coffee before I run, but gave it up for Lent,and I notice a HUGE difference without it. Even after a month without it, I still feel like I am struggling on my runs.

  • Sandra Laflamme
    March 14, 2016 9:54 pm

    Oh how I love reading about this. So very cool to read about how you recover during your training. Those E3 Grips sound interesting!

  • I am super intrigued by the coffee. I will have to listen to your podcast on it. I am not a coffee drinker at all. But I have heard that coffee can benefit runners. Hummm, I may have to look into trying it for long runs and workouts. Loved reading this! I took a nap today and it was pure heaven. Like, life changing….

  • Would love to hear more about the breathing exercises! I listened to the run to the top podcast about it, and realized that breathing is horrible and I am nowhere near capable of taking a breath as infrequently as was recommended–interested to hear if you’ve seen improvement!

  • Martina Di Marco
    March 15, 2016 10:25 am

    It is the third time I write this, but… I don’t know were I would be without Enduropacks right now! I was thinking about it yesterday after speed work… I’ve never been running so much in my life as in this training cycle. Every night, I go to sleep thinking there’s no way I can run 15 miles/do a tempo run the day after because I feel so sore. And yet, when I wake up, I suddenly feel much better and I have to thanks those patches and the L-Glutamine for that (no, I’m not sponsored by Enduropacks… I wished!!!).
    The thing I struggle the most is relaxing. I’d love to, but I really cannot find the time… Between working, running all the miles and doing “all the little things” (yoga/cross-training/stretching/foam rolling/core…) I have to use all my free time to cook and take care of the house. I wouldn’t change this for the world, since I know this is the only way to go if I want to do well in Boston. However, I’m REALLY looking forward to having some down-time after the marathon and just RELAX!

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