Welcome Madelynne From Pretty and Whole!

October 15, 2013

I am excited to welcome Madelynne to my blog today! This is my first guest post and I couldn't think of a better person than her. She posts over at Pretty and Whole. We first got to know each other through Instagram and then connected through our blogs. She is so sweet and encouraging. I asked Madelynne to share a few things on my blog today about running, recovery, and nutrition. 

Guest post from Pretty and Whole
I was pretty sedentary growing up, but for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a runner. When I was 19, I couldn’t run 1 mile without taking several breaks. To say I’ve now run 3 marathons and have no intention of stopping honestly bewilders me. The moment I crossed the finish line of my first marathon in 2010, the sport grabbed a hold of my heart and never let go. There’s something awe-inspiring about the marathon that constantly pushes you to redefine your impossible. Since 2010, I’ve brought my marathon time down from 5:17 to 4:51 to 4:06.

2010 was the year I learned running 26.2 miles wasn’t impossible.
2011 was the year a chronic ITB injury fueled my intense passion for sport. As devastating as it was, the injury was the best thing that ever happened to my running. I wanted to learn to run strong.
2012 was the year of learning how to properly train, massive PRs, and discovering I could start dreaming bigger than I ever had before.

With my sister after the 2012 Chicago Marathon

I dubbed 2013 as the year of DREAMING BIG. I registered for my 2nd Chicago Marathon and set my sights on greatly surpassing the 4-hour barrier. My coach believed I could do it. But, instead, 2013 turned into a big reality check. I fell deep into the rabbit hole of under-recovery and overtraining. My dreams had to be postponed. I withdrew from the 2013 Chicago Marathon 7 weeks from the race. My body was struggling to keep up with the intensity of training despite my coach’s continuous attempts to water down my training plan. I was tired all the time, my muscles were always sore, my brain was in a constant fog, I was having trouble sleeping, I lost endurance, my paces slowed, and I was an emotional train wreck. After several doctor’s appointments, I found out I was struggling with low ferritin levels and Overtraining Syndrome.

Low ferritin is common in runners because we squash red blood cells in our feet every time we hit the ground running so the solution was easy--I was instructed to start taking 325 mg of ferrous sulfate (65 mg elemental iron) daily for several weeks to restore my iron levels. Overtraining, on the other hand, is a more difficult beast to conquer. Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their ability to recover. It’s difficult for nonprofessional athletes to be truly overtrained. The root cause of overtraining for recreational runners like myself is insufficient recovery and rest. I worked hard with my doctor and coach to outline the areas in my life that needed improvement to simultaneously support marathon training and improve recovery.
  • Nutrition- We discovered I was eating enough, but wasn’t eating enough carbohydrates to fuel and recover from my workouts. I am gluten intolerant and tend to stay away from processed foods. Sometimes I would run 8-9 miles before work, fill my stomach up with a large smoothie of mixed greens, water, and some protein and feel like my brain had turned into mush by the time I was at work. I wasn’t refueling with any carbs! Now I make sure my post-workout meals are composed of at least 0.4 g per kg body weight of carbohydrates and 0.1 g of protein. I also make sure all of my other meals contain a combination of all the essential macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats) and are as nutrient dense as possible.
  • Sleep- I spent my whole life getting 5-6 hours of sleep per night. While this was manageable for the sedentary version of myself, it was likely not enough to help me recover from 45-50 miles per week of training. I now make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Stress and relaxation- I’m a big ball of stress by nature. I’m learning relaxation techniques, doing more yoga, taking epsom salt baths, etc.
In addition to making the above changes, for the last 7 weeks, I’ve drastically reduced my running volume (50-60%). As difficult as the physical symptoms of overtraining were, the behavioral/emotional symptoms brought me to a sad, dark place I’m happy to say I’ve now climbed out of.

Am I disappointed I couldn’t run the Chicago Marathon this year? Absolutely. But just like my 2011 injury sparked a personal running revolution in me, I’m positive this overtraining experience will only make me a stronger runner. And that’s part of the beauty of running—no matter who you are, no matter how fast or slow you run, training for a marathon will bring its ups and downs and will single-handedly push you to become a better version of yourself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I’m looking forward to brighter running days : )

Celebrating a great 8-mile training run

Get to know her here and read my favorite post here. Also don't miss her recent post for the five things on Friday. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Madelynne!


  1. Love this! Madelynne, you've always impressed me with your positivity and this just confirms my opinions. There's no way you're not going to be back out there soon with your mental strength!

  2. I just discovered Madelynne's blog and was excited to see it featured on yours! Love it!

  3. I loved (and was super flattered to be) writing a guest post for you, Sara. Thank you for your kind words and I'm so glad we connected!

    1. Thanks for writing, Madelynne! I had a few people text/call me saying they loved the guest post! It was fun having you. Me too!


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