Tatyana McFadden is not your ordinary marathoner.
She's not only the first woman to sweep four of the world's major marathons and an 11-time Paralympic medalist, she spent her early years learning to live with a paralyzing disorder without the aid of a wheelchair.
McFadden was born in St. Petersburg, Russia with spina bifida, a congenital disorder that paralyzed her from the waist down. Abandoned by her birth mother, she was placed in an orphanage and was too poor to afford a wheelchair. So she learned how to walk on her hands.
At age six, her conditioned worsened. But as fate would have it, Deborah McFadden, a commissioner of disabilities for the U.S. Health Department, came to visit the orphanage. Deborah McFadden made an instant connection with young girl. She adopted Tatyana and took her home to Boston.
McFadden dabbled in various sports (basketball, archery, hockey, tennis, ice hockey and downhill skiing to name a few) through her local sports club, but once she tried wheelchair racing, she found her passion.
"The first time I got into the chair, I just absolutely loved it. It was very different for me than all the other sports I had tried. I felt the need for speed," McFadden says.
McFadden began her racing career at the age of 8. She's been making strides ever since.
In 2013, she became the first woman to sweep four of the world's major marathons—Boston, London, New York and Chicago. She returned to Boston in 2014 and took the marathon wheelchair-division title for the second straight year. She's also an 11-time Paralympic medalist (3 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze in Summer, 1 silver in Winter) in wheelchair track & field and cross-country skiing.
She continues to train hard and fuel her body with the right nutrients. As Tatyana preps for the rest of her racing season, she shares her training regimen, fueling tactics and more.
Q: What is your training routine like for a marathon?
Training is really tough. I train twice a day. In the morning, I'll do a shorter interval workout and then in the afternoon I'll do a longer-distance push. So, in one week I can average about 100 miles.
I also lift once or twice a week, which is really important for the power for the sport.
Q: What do you do for recovery?
Recovery is very important. It's about hydrating and eating good nutrition—and lots of resting. You need to get lots of sleep to fully recover.