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Training for the Distance From a Distance

client:Kelly | personal trainer: Aimee Gallo, founder, VIBRANCE Nutrition and Fitness | location: Seattle

Hoping for a half. Aimee Gallo, certified holistic health coach, licensed sports nutritionist and founder of VIBRANCE Nutrition and Fitness, first met Kelly at a holiday party.

“I was just in the process of trying to get into an exercise and nutritional rhythm again after having a second child,” recalls Kelly. “I was really struggling and having a very hard time with ups and downs in energy.”

Kelly was interested in completing a half marathon—a goal that seemed all but hopeless. With her erratic energy fluctuations and hectic schedule, she simply wasn’t logging the necessary training mileage. After hearing Kelly’s story, Gallo offered to help.

Retraining form. Gallo and Kelly don’t live near each other, so most of the training was done remotely. They did meet toward the beginning of the program for a few running assessments. “I ran with her and checked her form on flat and hilly terrain,” Gallo says. “I cued her to improve running efficiency by coming up on her toes when running uphill, using her arms for momentum, and incorporating a gallop or skip method on the downhills to optimize speed while minimizing the load on her joints.”

Gallo also offered guidance on running-specific stretches like the pigeon pose and stretches focused on the hip flexor, calf, quadriceps and hamstring.

Transitioning from the treadmill. Kelly’s preferred method of running involved a treadmill; Gallo advocated transitiong outdoors to get her adapted to the half-marathon terrain. “Because she was running only 2–3 miles at a time, I had her add an extra day of running 1 mile outside to get her body adjusted to the impact of pavement,” Gallo says. Eventually, Kelly was able to leave the treadmill behind. “Once her workouts increased beyond 45 minutes, I went with her to a local running store to discuss different gels, hydration packs and tools she would need to stay strong as her mileage continued to increase.”

Eating for energy. Next, they tackled Kelly’s energy fluctuations, which Gallo believed were rooted in inadequate nutrient intake. Before she could amp up her mileage, Kelly needed to improve her diet because her energy levels were too inconsistent to support her training; they would not improve until she could find ways to easily increase her food intake during the day.

Gallo first kelped Kelly integrate quality primary meals into her plan to ensure a sound nutritional foundation. “We then addressed properly fueling her workouts so that she could hold onto muscle mass and recover significantly enough to begin to build muscle,” recalls Gallo.

Taking a step back. A few months into training, Kelly took time off to undergo surgery. In preparation, Gallo encouraged consumption of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods (garlic, berries, fish oil and seaweed) to help with recovery. After Kelly’s surgery, Gallo created a special injury-recovery protocol for her.

“[Kelly’s] healing was quick and complete and contributed significantly to the power with which she was able to return to her training. I remained conservative in her mileage plan for the first 3 weeks, but she was effortlessly back up to long runs of 6 miles and has been consistently surprised at how ‘easy’ it is to run 9+ miles and maintain 20–25 miles per week.”

Despite the surgical hiccup, Kelly successfully completed the Seattle half marathon in November. Like many before her, she has “caught the running bug” and plans to tackle a full marathon this spring.

Igniting a passion.“I love the energy I feel during and after my runs, balanced with the yoga I’m doing,” Kelly says. “I feel more connected to my body than ever before.”

She credits Gallo’s knowledge and guidance with her success. “I always hear [Gallo’s] voice in my head saying, ‘What can you do to make this work?’ and ‘When you say you can’t, you close doors on yourself.’ Nobody has resonated like this for me before.”

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