The Mankato Marathon is coming up on October 21st, which means that a lot of local and national racers are in the final stages of training. Most marathon training programs are 12-20 weeks long (REI), so the time and dedication that these athletes put into race day is extreme, and can really cut into their social life and commitments at home. Having a strong support system in place can make-or-break a training program. To get some insight into what it take to support a marathon athlete, we spoke with the husband of Olympian Gwen Jorgensen, Patrick Lemieux.
For those not familiar with Gwen Jorgensen, she is an Olympic Champion who won gold in triathlon at the 2016 Rio Olympics. After this incredible victory, and birth of their adorable son Stanley, Gwen decided to make a shift from triathlon to marathon, because… why not?! Gwen is very open with the fact that she would not be able to be such an elite athlete if it were not for the care and support provided by her husband.
In our interview with Patrick, we discussed what a typical day is like when taking care of a marathon runner, tips for nutrition, and overall advice for the family and support system of people training for a marathon. Now let’s dive in!
What is a typical day like in the Lemieux/Jorgensen household?
“The goal of my day is to take care of Gwen and Stanley. My day revolves around shopping for and preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner. In between these meal times, Gwen does a run and goes to the gym in the a.m., comes home to relax, and runs again around 5pm for 40 minutes.” Self-care and recovery are an important part of every day for an athlete. “Gwen gets an evening massage or chiropractic care in the home.”
What type of nutrition guidelines do you follow to make sure Gwen is properly fueled for such intense training?
“Gwen LOVES veggies, but she also needs carbs and protein in every meal… Proteins she likes are fish, chicken, steak, or a burger. Carbs are usually rice or a potato. I follow the basic rule of three equal segments on a plate: veggies, carbs, and protein.
Marathon is a discipline/exercise that is very carbohydrate needy – you need a lot of carbs in your system. For example, if your race is 8-7 weeks ahead, practice what you will eat the night before to make sure it will keep you fueled for the race (make it carb heavy!) – you don’t want to try anything new on race day.
What does Gwen eat for breakfast on race days?
In running, you’re using the same muscle source (legs) the entire time. Your legs need to be loaded up with enough glycogen (the substance that stores carbohydrates) before you start running. You almost want to feel a little bloated at the start of your race. So, three hours before race time, Gwen has a giant bowl of oatmeal and drinks a lot of liquids… She wants to feel as full as possible.”
What advise do you have for a spouse/family member who wants to support their loved one who is training for a marathon?
“Help them with this rule: Don’t do anything new on race day, rehearse as much as you possibly can, i.e. wear the exact same thing you would wear in the race, use the same water bottle, etc. Make it more natural so you can gain confidence. Also, find acceptance on race day. You know you have done everything you can do to train for this day, and this will help to eliminate jitters on race day.
Remember that your loved one will always have nervous energy on the day of their event. It’s a 4-6 month endeavor that ends in a handful of hours. They put a lot of work into this and really hope to see the best of themselves come out on that day. Remind your loved one that there are a lot of things that are out of your control: weather & competitors are the main two. If it is going to be hot, be prepared. If it’s cold, be prepared. If you have zero control over it, don’t worry about it.”
We want to thank Patrick Lemieux for his insights into caring for a marathon runner. The truth is, a marathon is an incredible event, and the training leading up to it is very time intensive and emotionally trying. A solid support system can really make a difference for someone going through this training, and it can be really rewarding to see the one you love succeed after training so hard!
Good luck to all the Mankato Marathon runners!
Patrick Lemieux is husband to Olympic Gold Medalist, Gwen Jorgensen. He is a professional caretaker and loving father and husband. He is based out of Portland, OR, and a Fargo, ND native. He is a former competitive cyclist, and an incredible chef.
Follow Patrick on Instagram
Follow Gwen on Instagram
Photos courtesy of: @TALBOTCOX