Beating a personal best and heading for Boston

Eziah Syed

MEND helps runner qualify for prestigious Boston Marathon

Running a marathon is nothing new for Joel Gunderson, fresh off an impressive showing at the Twin Cities Marathon on October 1.

His time of 3:01:25 not only beat his personal best by almost 15 minutes, it also qualified him for a coveted spot in the 2019 Boston Marathon. (Slots are already filled for the 2018 race, which required a qualifying time of 3:15 in Gunderson’s age bracket.)

The Minnesota native comes from a family of runners who have made marathons a family tradition of sorts, and most of them think nothing of taking on a 26.2-mile run, no matter how many pages have turned on their own personal calendars.

Gunderson’s late grandfather had more than 80 marathons under his belt before he passed away at the age of 88, and his grandmother, now 89, has run 59 of them.

His mother and uncle also run, and although Gunderson, who will turn 43 in March, didn’t start running seriously until he was in his 30s, he has always loved the feeling of his feet hitting the pavement, his stride smooth and confident, as well as the test of his endurance, which pushes him to strive for his best, every time he laces up his shoes.

“I’ve run since I was a kid,” said Gunderson, just before heading out for a quick circle or two around Central Park, one of the Manhattan-based celebrity hairstylist’s favorite training routes thanks to a few hills that pack enough punch to supercharge his workout.

While nutrition is vital to any athlete – “Nutrition for running is super important. It’s definitely the gas of running, not only for fuel, but also for recovery,” Gunderson said – a few months before the Twin Cities Marathon he discovered MEND, a nutritional supplement devised by nutrition and medical experts to help build strength and speed recovery.

For a man who seemingly lives the Bruce Springsteen classic “Born to Run,” it was game-changing, which was apparent when he shaved almost 15 minutes off a time that was previously his personal best.

“I could tell the difference about a month into it,” said Gunderson, who added two MEND products to his nutritional regimen, MEND Regenerate, which he took two or three hours before his workouts, and MEND Repair Recover Sport, which he consumed about a half hour after a run, the window of time when replenishing nutrients lost during workouts provides the biggest benefits.

And five days after the Twin Cities Marathon, when most marathon runners are still recovering from the grueling long-distance race, Gunderson himself went for a pain-free run through his beloved Central Park, which he attributes to the regenerative power of MEND.

“I would never have been able to do that before,” he said.

Gunderson compares MEND, which is rich in iron, to the power of injera bread, a teff-based flatbread that many Ethiopian runners – who dominate the field professionally – eat both before and after endurance runs.

Iron is important because the trace element is found in hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the blood and delivers it to muscles. Low iron levels can significantly hamper performance, because without oxygen, muscles aren’t working at optimum levels.

MEND not only provides enough iron for energy, the low-fiber beverage is kinder to the digestive system than injera. It also provides a scientifically formulated mix of nutrients, electrolytes, amino acids and carbs to fuel workouts and speed recovery afterwards, helping maintain muscle mass, which is critical to a continued strong performance.

“You definitely see a change,” he said. “When you run really hard and fast, you really tear up your leg muscles. There’s a huge change with this product.”

Gunderson realized the impact MEND was having on his performance when he went for a 12-mile run, and finished “in some ridiculous amount of time,” he said. “Out of nowhere, it felt like I had endless fuel.”

With his new go-to nutritional supplement, Gunderson is looking forward to seeing how it impacts his performance in future marathons, not only the anticipated Boston Marathon, but also the New York Marathon, the largest in the world and one of Gunderson’s favorites, not only because of the hilly terrain that is part of the race, but also because it is on his home turf.

Gunderson works at a luxury Manhattan-based hair salon, caters to celebrity clients and has styled photo shoots for magazines including British Vogue, Details and Rolling Stone. He has also worked backstage on hair teams for Fashion Week shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris.

It’s a rather hectic schedule, but one he can manage thanks to the endurance he’s gained from regular runs.

And now, with MEND as part of his nutritional arsenal, there will likely be many more marathons in his future.

Whether he bests his grandfather’s family record of 80, however, remains to be seen.