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Long-distance advice from marathoner Nico Montanez

Up-and-coming marathoner Nico Montanez runs 26.2 miles in under 2:15. Here he shares his nutrition and rest-day tips for long-distance runners.

Nico Montanez was a cross-country All-American and top-10 national championship finisher at Brigham Young University. Now embarking on a career as a professional runner with the Mammoth Track Club, the 25-year-old is aiming for the Olympic A standard (2:11:30), having already clocked a 2:14:27 in 2018, finishing fourth at Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota, U.S.


The 25-year-old has been training full-time since March 2018, and in that time has gained a whole new perspective on how marathoners should eat, rest and pace themselves with their goals.


We spoke with Nico to find out some of the insight he’d like to pass along to other up-and-coming long-distance runners.


You’ve competed in a range of distances. What’s your go-to distance?

I’m still testing out all the distances, but I’d definitely say that I’m strongest in the marathon. After running the Olympic B standard [below 2 hours 19 minutes] and then joining Mammoth Truck Club, I’ve improved my time by two minutes, and I’ve hit the Olympic A standard now. That’s definitely what I’m gearing up for in time for 2020.


How does everyone at the Mammoth Track Club practice together when you’re all training for different distances?

Tuesdays we all have speed sessions, and Fridays we all have tempo and endurance sessions. We pretty much all fit into some kind of category. For example, since I’m a marathoner, I’ll do 12 to 15K, whereas maybe [5k specialist] Sandie Raines would do something a little bit shorter in distance, with more repetitions. We just adjust the volume to the athlete depending on his or her distance.


How can having a teammate benefit you in an individual sport like running?

My teammate Reid Buchanan has helped me keep my eyes open to the big picture of being a professional athlete. There are many athletes who run exceptionally for a year, maybe two, and then really never do anything again. Keeping the big picture in mind helps me to focus on being relevant on the roads or the track for my entire career, and staying healthy, rather than going up and down with my running consistency.

As a long-distance runner, do you have any nutrition tips for others?

I was terrible with nutrition prior to being with Mammoth Track Club. I had the mentality of ‘whatever you put in your body, you’re just going to burn off later’. Which is a terrible mentality. As soon as I came here – we have some pretty good cooks on the team – they got me into eating healthy and I saw a big difference in my running and energy levels. I know it’s important for me to get some sort of grain, vegetables and protein. That’s what I base all my meals on now. I would emphasize meeting those three criteria.


On the days runners aren’t running, is it more important to cross train or fully take the day off?

Both are ok, but I’m more of a proponent of taking a day off completely. Runners are emotional. We get in a weird state where we think we have to bike for two hours to get our heart rate up. Sometimes, it’s just good to reload and relax, and not even read a book about running. Just take off everything mentally and physically from running.


How has On’s partnership supported Mammoth Track Club?

It really uplifted Mammoth Track Club. Recently, we hadn’t been getting a lot of limelight. But now, with On, I feel like we’re back being talked about as one of the better groups, especially for marathoning. We can go around and rock our On gear and feel like we’re at the next level and compete with guys and girls who are sponsored by other big players. I love putting on the On Tank-T, because it makes me feel like I’m in race mode all the time.

The Cloudrush
The racing flat with additional cushioning. Nico’s shoe for crushing rivals in complete comfort