Interview – Endurance Maniac Michelle Adams, CISSN

downloadSNI: So you’re training for a 40 mile run; are you crazy!?  Seriously, what motivates you to take up a challenge that 99.9% of the population would say is borderline insane?

Michelle Adams: I seem to remember a saying we had back in high school- ‘distance runners are a bit off in the head’ but I think my definition of a distance runner was a little different back then.  My husband thinks I’m crazy, although he probably thought I was crazy when I told him I wanted to run a marathon as well!

Honestly I didn’t grow up with a desire to run 40 miles, it just kind of snuck up on me.  Ok, I can hear you snickering, but really, it did.  I wanted to do a half marathon and from there I was goaded into doing a full marathon (that was in 2009), and haven’t looked back since.  Last December I ran a 50k- that is a little over 31 miles for those of us still not versed in the metric system.  Pretty cool.  When one of my running friends said she was running a trail marathon and told me that they also had a 40 mile race, I thought ‘what the heck?!’  I remembered something I had wanted to do to celebrate my birthday last year—run 37 miles. Well, made the 31 and guess I forgot what I had planned so it stopped there.  This is my way of scoring for this year and making up for last year as well! An added bonus–the race is on my birthday weekend!!! J

SNI: Obviously, you need to do some long distance running, what nutrition/supplement strategies do you have pre, during, and after a long training run?


Michelle Adams: Yes, a training plan is a MUST. However a solid nutrition and supplementation plan is PARAMOUNT! If I can’t get through one session, recover and get to the next it doesn’t matter how great my training plan is I will not succeed.

Living in Florida and training during the summer means that my runs happen first thing in the morning.  Generally speaking for a run of less than 10 miles, I am good with 30-35g whey isolate protein before I head out the door.  Mixed with water and taken 35-40 minutes before the run gives those amino acids time to get where they need to go.  Two hundred milligrams of caffeine grab my bottle filled with Gatorade and I’m good to go.  Runs longer than 10 miles requires a bit more lead-time as I generally need a full breakfast and time to digest.

Full breakfast generally includes old fashioned oats, mixed berries, walnuts/almonds and milk concentrate protein.  When it is time to hit the road I’ll grab the Gatorade (mixed with BCAAs) and also some GU chomps for my fuel during the run. Running an Ultra event also means that I must be able to literally eat and run. Running for hours on end with nothing but liquid (and GU) calories is less than optimal, as well as nauseating. With mileages in the upper teens and 20’s adding in salty, solid foods like pretzels will be necessary.  Simulating the race in training runs is the best way to gauge tolerance as well as optimal timing.

As soon as I am finished I have my post run shake waiting for me—whey isolate protein and Vitargo- the fastest digesting/absorbing carbohydrate you will find. As I said, the goal of any training run is to recover and make it to the next one…missing out on the post-training window would put me behind the proverbial eight ball for sure.  Weighing myself before and after my run helps to guide my rehydration. Taking in 20 oz of fluid (electrolyte containing, not just water) for every pound lost.  Recovery is NOT just about the protein and carbohydrates we take in but also the fluid.  Miss this point and you’ll find yourself dragging in your next session.

SNI:  What is your typical meal like?  Lay out the perfect meal for the SNI audience


Michelle Adams: Ha. That’s an easy one Joey—bagels, pasta and bread. Sheesh, I’m a runner after all! Actually that is probably one of the questions I am asked the most, and NO, that is not my final answer. Highly processed, high Glycemic index/Glycemic load carbohydrates like bagels, breads and some pastas don’t do as great a job of ‘carb loading’ the muscles as people think as they are usually timed improperly.

A typical meal for me consists of protein and low GI carbs.  You will usually find me eating either chicken or ground turkey breast and black beans.  Love me some black beans! In fact, I think I probably eat them in every meal-ok, minus my breakfast and post workout shake!

Protein and carbs in all of my meals helps to ensure that I am adequately fueled for my day.

SNI:  What are some supplements you need to take to train for an ultraendurance event?


Michelle Adams: First and foremost- whey isolate protein powder.  Without a doubt the best for post run (or pre-run for that matter!).  I like to mix mine in water with Vitargo.

Of course, I do have a few other supplements in my pantry. The key players are: branched chain amino acids, Beta Alanine, caffeine, GNC’s Amplified Maxertion, GNC’s Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60, Vitargo , GNC’s Women’s Ultra Mega Active and Triple Strength fish oil.

SNI:  What is the hardest athletic endeavor you’ve ever completed?

Michelle Adams: Hmmm, that is a tough question. I guess I would have to say running the Sunrise to Sunset Relay. It is a 200 mile race across the state of Florida done relay style.  Most teams run with 12 people, our team had 9 girls.  Yes only 9 and yes all girls J  This meant we did not get the ‘rest time’ that some other teams did.  You are basically running 3 or 4 legs anywhere from 4-9 miles each leg at pretty much max effort, with maybe a few hours rest.  Although challenging to do while crammed in a van and not sleeping for over 30 hours, it IS actually a lot of fun!

SNI:  Bonus question:  If you could be a superhero, who would it be and why?


Michelle Adams: Hmmm..maybe Jean Grey she was strong, intelligent, physically fit AND got to hang out with Wolverine! Love him!

Michelle Adams BS, MPH, CISSN, CSCS. Originally hailing from western Massachusetts, Michelle Adams received both her Bachelor’s degree and Master of Public Health degree from the University of South Carolina.  With over 13 years’ experience in personal training, Michelle is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA CSCS), certified Sports Nutritionist with the International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN), certified sports performance coach with USA weightlifting as well as a kettlebell instructor.  Michelle is a competitive athlete herself having competed as a professional figure athlete in the IFBB with career highlights including a first place finish at the 2006 IFBB Toronto Figure Championships.  More recent endeavors have included marathon and ultra-marathon running.  Michelle currently lives in Florida but may also be seen throughout the United States serving as a spokesperson for General Nutrition Centers.