Runner’s Strip: Racing Weight

Oh what a difference running crazy amounts of miles in training makes. Come time for that post-race break those racing shorts…errrr, ‘shoes’ may be fitting a little differently! ;)
racing weight
Sunday morning deserves some running cartoonage! That being said, we can poke fun but one needn’t get TOO would up over some post-race ‘love’ weight, giving the body a chance to recover is incredibly important and your racing will be much better off in the long-term.

On the flip side there is a difference between recovery and gluttony…haha. As with most all things in running and in life, it’s all about balance. Now, pass this runner the Pop-Tarts! ;)
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POST on fueling for races.
POST with tips on runners eating out.
POST on the importance of the 30-minute refuel window.
POST on timing your fuel to best support your running performance.

Get more Running Cartoons HERE! :)
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1) When it comes time to break after a race or season, do you eat differently?

2) What are some of the things you do to give your body some TLC to recover after hard races or between seasons?

3) Favorite thing you treat yourself to after a great race?
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Running and the Science of Nutrient Timing: WHEN to eat to best fuel your performance

Running and fueling the machine. In my recent article for Competitor: Nutrient Timing is Everything for Runners I really like the bottom line to everything my go-to sports nutritionist Krista Austin Ph.D. professes, “Food is a performance tool.” She teaches her runners to “eat to perform.”
runner eating
Runners are human, of course, but at the same time it would be naive to ignore the fact that what goes into your body has a direct correlation to what it is able to give you right back. Thankfully, I also like that quick on the heels of that Austin also says, “However, my policy is that at least once a week every athlete should have a ‘fun meal’ where they don’t think too much about what they are eating and just enjoy fun food-the key is to watch the portion sizes.”

It’s all a matter of balance. Just as runners and training, balance, consistency, and the law of averages often wins out with their nutrition. That isn’t to say there aren’t times when the PERFORMANCE style of eating trumps the LIFE side of eating.

Case in point, the night before a race or the actual day of your race. Here is where, if you’re a runner, ignoring your taste buds and eating with your HEAD is the wiser choice. Austin has explained to me that Dathan Ritzenhein’s top pre-race meal of choice is plain, white rice. Is it his favorite tasting meal? Probably not, but you know what? He knows it sits well in his stomach, it will give him the non-complex carbs he’ll want in his system right before the gun goes off, and he knows it works. His race, his PERFORMANCE, is the priority. Taste buds can wait until after the finish line.

I’ve done numerous articles on runners and nutrition, a few you can revisit:

How Runners Can Stuff Their Faces at Restaurants But Still Perform at Their Best

Runners Going Gluten-Free: Could making the switch work for you?

The Post-Run Refuel: Why 30 minutes is your winning window of opportunity

run for cake

Dreaming of cake works as motivation…just wait until after the finish line! ;)


My latest one is on nutrient TIMING and just how crucial WHEN you eat is when tied to your running performance. Read the original article, but here are some more tips I’ve got from talking to Austin:

* Think long term goals AND short term nutrition goals: With nutrient timing there are macro and micro cycles; the macro would be your BIG training goal, think an entire season or build-up for a marathon. Tailor your food choices and nutrition goals for that, but within each multi-week/month macro cycle fit in 3-10 day micro cycles. An example- A macro cycle would be if you’re training for a marathon, a micro cycle IN that would be a week where you’re focusing on building your speed with shorter intervals. For the micro cycle your eating would be different than in your longer/base phase.

* A second recovery window: We’ve all heard that within 30 minutes of finishing your workout you NEED to get protein and carbs back into your system. What I didn’t know was that there is ANOTHER window of time that is particularly important to refuel your stores: just before bed. Aim to get 20-25 grams of protein, preferably in the form of dairy (cottage cheese, milk), with some carbs. It’s been found the muscles will respond to this, and it also aids with sleeping.

* Marathoners and carbs: Yes, we need carbs as runners, but a mistake many marathoners in training can make is just over-doing the carbs. Meb Keflezighi has become more strict with his carb intake as he’s gotten older; he’s moved up in distance but switched some of those carb calories over to fats and protein and they help keep him fuller. He’s a lot more picky about the KINDS of carbs he eats, WHEN he eats them, and WHICH training phase he’s in.

For more information on how to time your eating so that it’s best fueling your running performance check out the article.

Food is fun, one of the BEST perks of being a runner is we have way more entitlement to stuff our faces. BUT there are times when we must stuff our faces with our brains…because in fueling our bodies right we can fuel them to perform at their optimum level. Read as: Run PR’s! :)

1) What is something you learned from either this post or from the article? If nothing care to share a tidbit of your own?

2) What is your go-to pre-race meal?

3) What is your go-to post-race meal or ‘fun meal’?
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The GI Issue Cursed Runner: Tackling those great, poopy disasters

This runner has had burritos on the brain. That being said, tucking into a 5lb burrito bomb and taking off on a 5 mile tempo isn’t such a hot idea. Actually, going for any run after that may be iffy…
burrito pooping beans
I’m more than open in sharing my runner stories of GI distress, gut woes, and tales from the poopy trails. HERE is a previous post and with lots of tips to tackling your own GI issues. Though I happened upon an interesting interview with Dr. Barry Schlansky, specializing in gastroenterology and hepatology, over at FloTrack.

Go read the article yourself, but here are some settling, and not-so-settling things I took away from it:

* Blood Flow Bottom Line: The root of many GI issues is how the body is delegating blood flow through the body during and after exercise. When we’re running our butts off the body’s first priority is to send blood to the muscles in order to fuel our exertion. The intestines are the low-men on the totem pole here and when they are deprived of adequate blood flow there is a bit of damage being caused. Without the adequate oxygen from the blood flow the intestines start to stage their revolt.

* Post-Run Gut Revolt: Sometimes the worst pains and episodes happen AFTER a hard or long run…talk about being chained to the lou for the rest of the day. I’m sure many runners can relate to this feeling, and Dr. Schlansky states it as much, “Right, the longer or more intense the workout is, it will increase the symptoms during and after the workout.” In short it comes back to the intestines not having adequate oxygen/blood-flow WHILE we are working out; then, once we stop working out and blood begins to get shunted back to these organs it’s almost like opening a flood-gate and the intestines aren’t prepared to handle such a quick supply of blood/oxygen. So, they then stage their revolt. “The influx of oxygen to the vulnerable ischemic (damaged from earlier lack of blood supply) tissues can result in a chemical reaction called “oxidation,” which is thought to be the basis for additional injury to tissues after exercise has stopped.”
running after burrito
* Endurance and Effort: Not surprising is that over 80% of elite marathon runners complain of some GI issues; this is both the upward and the downward. Unfortunately Dr. Schlansky is blunt, “I wish I could tell you “why,” but to be honest, at this point the associations are unknown.” (unsettling) Most likely the fact that running puts our guts through quite a POUNDING has a strong link, and “Additionally, researchers have hypothesized that friction between the organs and the lining of the abdominal wall with pounding exercise may cause irritation that causes symptoms.” As for effort, I’m no doctor but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that the fact that the harder we run, there’s got to be an extra level of ‘pounding/driving’ force shaking that sh*t up. ;)

* Females: This really stinks, Runnerchicks, but woman are more apt to GI issues than the runnerdudes. He’s not able to give us a reason, but it’s probably due to differing hormones.

* Eating and Food: Burrito bombs aren’t recommended (duh) and it’s wise to seek out ‘blander’ foods, not too high in fat, not too spicy, not too beany or cheesy, nix the dairy, and so forth. Learn your ‘tummy trigger foods’ and avoid them. Also, timing your last meal is just as important so you can revisit my post on that.

* Iron and Anemia: Any extra blood loss from diarrhea, especially if it’s on a continual basis, can lead to iron deficiency/anemia. “Yes, because it is also possible to lose small amounts of blood in the gastrointestinal tract that is invisible to the naked eye but can result in iron deficiency,” says Dr. Schlansky. If you’re having a lot of GI issues it’s important to keep tabs on your iron levels, I know that runners who later find out they have celiac disease and are gluten intolerant, that because of all of their GI problems they are then anemic.
runner eating
* Dehydration: Any kind of increased vomiting or diarrhea leads to fluid loss and dehydration, that’s why it’s so important to rehydrate yourself. (The issue there is if you’re running a marathon but aren’t able to take in any more fluids or gels…sadly, you’re kind of screwed at that point, that’s why it’s important to test out and try a bunch of different foods/supplements BEFORE your race to find one that works.) So with any kind of GI issue run make sure you’re extra mindful to replenish those fluid and electrolyte stores.

I’m a sucker for a good poop read, so you should read the full interview done by Danny Mackey. Who is actually a super cool guy in addition to being smart. He’s also married to one smoking fast runnerchick, Katie Mackey, so he gets extra cool points. ;)

1) What was your last GI disaster run? Can you link it back to one food in particular?

2) Do you have more GI issues going the up route or the down?
Down. I’ve never thrown-up actually during or after a run.

3) What foods have you learned are GI suicide for you? What is a ‘winning’ combo that’s worked?

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Super Secret, Amazing, Scientific Answer To Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain: RUN

Every year around this time I admit to getting up a little on my runner’s high horse and thinking, “Gosh dang, you people, shut up about all those ‘Avoid Holiday Weight Gain’ articles the answer is simple: RUN!”
no fat in running
I’m not shy and fully own up to being a neurotic runner who does run every day, the holidays are no exception. And you want to know a little secret? One of the BEST perks of being a runner = eating like a runner = looking like a runner and not a sumo wrestler.

There is a little thing called balance, moderation, and then license to grub hard. That last one also applies to special circumstances (ie: holidays) where you eat foods and amounts (ie: foods in trough-sized plates) you wouldn’t normally…but that also circles back to the law of averages and your nutrition for the entire year.

runner eating pizza

Eating steak pizza isn’t going to be enough iron, in addition to diet you should be supplementing.


So, Runners, I believe if we are then the kinds of runners who brave the weather, who don’t miss a day just because the gyms are closed (uhh, it’s called outside…hehe) or what the calendar says, let us all sit atop our little high horses and cringe at all those stupid article. Because the truth is we’ve solved the holiday weight gain conundrum…

Run. :P
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My article on dining out for runners also touches on the topic of nutrition, balance, and license to indulge: How Runners Can Stuff Their Faces at Restaurants and Still Perform at Their Best
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1) Do you do the eye-roll and head-laugh every time you read one of those ‘avoid holiday weight gain’ type articles or stories? Do you also realize that it’s usually rehashing the same obvious tips over and over again? :P

2) Do you adjust your running or dietary habits around the holidays? How do you keep balance?

3) What is your favorite type of holiday indulgence?

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Downing Donuts and Crunching Carrots: Runners balancing their nutrition

In case you needed an excuse to hit up Krispy Kreme, today is National Buy a Donut Day; please runners, by all means indulge, let’s just make sure it’s of the 100% whole wheat vareity. ;)
runner eating donuts
Let’s talk runner eats. I’m the first person to shout from the rooftops, “I run so I can eat like a Sumo-(wo)man and not look like one!” As runners we do carry license to do some damage when it comes to the grinding; but, at the same time we recognize that we are fueling those miles. If we want quality miles, then we should do our body the justice of giving it QUALITY fuel, right?

It all comes back to balance and moderation, isn’t it the truth with everything? Enter easy days and hard workout days. So while we can wolf down a pizza the size of our head, polish off the Entemenn’s coffee cake, that’s not ALL we eat, and we most of us don’t do that every day. Though no judgement if you do, trust me I’ve got runner friends who eat cleaner than a pro-body builder competing for a show and then I’ve got friends who eat their weight in Big Macs.

I’ve done a couple article on various nutrition topics for runners:
Going Gluten Free
Setting a Pre-Race Eating Plan
When to Eat High and Low on the Glycemic Index
Running and GI Issues
Post-Run 30 Minute Refuel Window

That last one is probably the one I’d force down all of your throats…it’s SUPER important for your muscle recovery to get that food into you system and start the refuel RIGHT after you run.
runner eating pizza
Today let’s talk about balance here. Food should be enjoyed, it should be loved, you can spoon with your Pop-Tarts at night if you need to. BUT I like this quote from one of my favorite sports nutritionists, Krista Austin, Ph.D., “Eating for performance.” Used in context she was referencing how Dathan Ritzenhein’s go-to pre-race meal is plain, white rice. It’s bland, but he knows it sits well in his stomach and because it is a non-complex carb it gets broken down quickly and is energy readily on tap for when he goes out to race.

Is it his favorite, most taste-bud tantalizing meal? Probably not, but he’s eating for PERFORMANCE. There are times and places when taste isn’t the prime objective; it CAN be the second you cross the finish line and take yourself out to a celebratory dinner, right?

The point is this, every runner is different and how much ‘junk’ they can get away with really varies. Krista Austin notes, “We can hope that going back to the old adage of ‘what you put in the fuel tank of the car is what you put out’, comes into play and if we put a higher quality of food in the body we should be supporting training better and enhancing the ability to create training adaptations…[but], I know many an Olympic athlete etc, in the sport of running that eat horribly and still get the job done (although yet to medal so maybe this is why?)-in fact they are the guys on top!”
fresh carrot
As a personal observation I would say that the people on top are the ones who know WHEN to indulge and when to ratchet down and be a little more strict in what goes in. The periods when they are in really heavy training they make sure to get in the QUALITY foods first (fruits, veggies, whole grains, adequate protein) but then if they need to make up for all their expenditure they will dig into the higher calorie ‘fun’ foods because, let’s be honest, if you run 20+ miles you freaking earned the right to! Conversely, when they are tapering and getting close to race day, they make a conscious effort to make sure they aren’t eating like they are running 3-times more miles per week.

The ‘junk’ food, and that’s not the best term but the foods that we logically know aren’t the ‘best’ options, are hard-earned and one of (I think) the perks of being a distance runner. The thing is though, those foods are not to be eating INSTEAD of the good stuff. Think of a house, set the foundation as the QUALITY eats and then if you’ve got room for an attic, by all means fill it with pizza, Pop-Tarts, and yes, donuts. ;)

1) What are some of the ways you ensure you get in enough QUALITY into your runner diet?

2) What are some of the foods that you fill your ‘attic’ with? Do you probably fill more than just the attic, maybe the second story too?? ;)

3) In ‘eating for performance’, what are some pre-race day foods that work for you?
I’ve done oatmeal, Powerbars, but will admit to some Pop-Tarts too. :P

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Is It Really That Bad? We’re runners but we’re humans too…are some of those ‘human bad habits’ really doing any harm to our running?

I’m a runner…not a nutritionist, I’m not a super scientific sports physiologist, I admit that the vast majority of what I know is through experience, what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned from others who are experts. I’m not ashamed to admit that, and I think one of the best ways to learn something is to admit your own brainiac limitations and seek out answers from credit-worthy sources.
running in forest
Now we are all runners here, but we’re also human; that human thing can offer up some battles of internal wills when it comes to our training. Being human means we have that brain of ours to wage the mental battle when the going gets tough. It also means that we have lives and other things that we do, indulge in, and want outside of miles, core work and sweating.

Balance is awesome and some of the ‘being human’ things actually help our running; focusing too much on a single thing leaves us much too one dimensional and over-thinking your training is another way to send it down the drain. On the other hand the human part of us can sometimes want things that may not exactly be the best for our training…we are human, we have weaknesses, but how bad are some of those ‘weaknesses’ really? Here are my thoughts on a few things…

* Soda. I don’t drink soda, I used to guzzle tons of diet but I had a really bad experience once where I think I must have downed darn near a gallon in a meal and I was gassy and bloated for so long after I kicked it cold turkey. Now there are tons of people saying soda is the devil, others that don’t care, and some that still think it’s totally fine. As for regular soda, I think it’s not doing any favors to the overweight masses, for runners though I still think it’s probably best to avoid because it dehydrates you and you could be drinking something far better for you. Diet, yea, the calories aren’t there but it’s still not an awesome beverage of choice. But I don’t think it’s the devil either.

* Coffee. If you’re totally frapa-macho-machiado’ed to the point where your drink is more like a sundae I think it’s like a dessert. But I’m pro-caffiene if done right, I’ve seen/know too many exceptional runners who swear by coffee not to be. I think that if you want the benefits it comes down to how much and when you drink it; if you build your caffeine tolerance to such a high level that you need an absurd amount to get any ‘perk’ then that’s not so good…caffeine may give you a little extra kick for your workouts but you don’t want to have to guzzle coffee to get in enough caffeine to get your ‘fix.’ So try to keep the intake moderate the rest of the day (if at all) so that when you do have that cup of coffee an hour or so before your workout you get the little boost.
pop tarts
* Junk food. This is opening up a whole can of worms, and I could argue back and forth for ages so I’ll try to keep it short. We’ve all read the Frank Shorter pizza and mayo combo, on the far other end we’ve got the vegans who only eat what they grow in their backyards. We all know cases of runners winning title on either ends of the spectrum, and elites too. The thing with distance running is that it takes up a lot of energy, and that takes calories; if you need some ‘empty’ junk calories to keep pace with your energy levels than I don’t see the harm in indulging with whatever. I’ve eaten through boxes of Pop-Tarts and know plenty runners who dig through the ice cream by the pints. The thing though is that for most of them they ALSO take in the good stuff (veggies, protein, etc) too…it’s all a balance kind of thing. Then there is the mental and sanity thing. That said, not every runner ‘can’ eat as many calories as others thanks to that little metabolism thing…it can be an unfair card but it’s the truth too and to not say it would be lying by omission.

* Sloth. I actually love this word and try to use it whenever I get a chance, so I did…hey, it’s my blog. Now you may think, “Me, lazy, never!” ;) For some that’s true, but there are some lazy runner habits that are running rampant. The warm-up skimper: HORRIBLE for your body and your performance, I’m not going to spend wordage arguing, do a real warm-up people. The cool-down avoider: HORRIBLE again, a bit less only because at least the race/workout isn’t sacrificed on that day but your next runs will be. Letting pools of lactic acid sit in your muscles is only going to make you feel worse and hinder your recovery process…move it no matter how tired you are. Standing during your recovery before the next interval: JOGGING is better in my opinion and I wrote on that HERE. Some may not share my opinion but the majority of top runners I know keep moving during their recovery.

There you have it…just a few things, and again my opinion. I’d like to hear from you guys, do you agree, disagree?

1) What are your thoughts on any of these?

2) What are some of your ‘bad habits’ that make you human; how ‘bad’ do you really think they are for your running?

3) Favorite not-so-’healthy’ food?

4) Own up, do you ever fall victim to the ‘sloth’ runner temptations?? ;)

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Smoothies Aren’t the ONLY Way to Go: Eating those fruits and veggies rather than sipping

I don’t like smoothies. Now, before all you smoothie loving masses stop reading here and immediately black-ball me, at least let me explain my case. I don’t get a lot of trendy things, I don’t even drink coffee, for shame! But I’m hyper enough as myself, caffeine would probably end up effecting me like cocaine.

fresh food sprouts

I prefer to eat my food fresh, or at least not blended. (Just some design inspiration I tossed to Sprouts, they just opened a store near me.)


The running realm and the healthy living world are interconnected and whenever people find out I’m a runner and the conversation drifts to food and nutrition, the topic of smoothies seems to inevitably come up. They rave about their protein powders, their spinach combos leaving their glass looking like the Swamp Thing, they start spouting off their must-try recipes and I nod and smile. But in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “I still have teeth and I plan on doing as much chewing as I can until I lose them and then I’ll turn to your smoothies along with Jell-O and applesauce.”

Smoothies work great for TONS of folks and power to you, I can see the benefits:
* Quick and easy to make sure you hit the 30 minute recovery window
* Convenient to eat on the go and tote around
* Wonderful for people who don’t like fruits and veggies and thus need to sneak them in
* Adding protein to them is easy and great for people who are lacking in that department

tomato

Again, more fun I thought Sprouts may enjoy. :P


I get it, and keep on blending if that’s what you need and it works for you. But I’m one of those crazies who really do enjoy eating fruits and veggies as they are and don’t have a problem eating the real versions throughout the course of my day. I also love eggs, cottage cheese and shrimp and have no problem getting that protein amount in real food either. The ocean called and they were running out of shrimp because of me, actually. ;) You know it if you got that last one.

So an ode to fruits and veggies today, they are great in oh so many ways, even if they are blended. With summer coming up plenty folks find them more appealing and could see using their teeth as a more plausible option.
* Water content: A portion of the water you get each day does, in fact, come from a few of the foods you eat, fruits and veggies are some of those. Obviously not enough to slack on the real liquids but watermelons, melons, pineapple, celery, lettuce and ‘juicy’ fruits/veggies supply more of that H2O good stuff.
* Fiber: Yes, running can help keep you regular, but fiber does that too! Fruits and veggies can be a great source of fiber; again celery and lettuce fall into that category, as do broccoli, cauliflower, and apples. But be warned, because of this they may be better eaten AFTER your run, not before, if you are sensitive to GI issues.
* Antioxidants: Berries are our besties for this one, those colorful blueberries and raspberries may stain your fingers but they are rockstars in the nutrient department. Pair these babies with cottage cheese or greek yogurt and you’ve got an award winning protein, carb, and antioxidant combo!
* Iron: Those dark, leafy spinach greens contain iron which is essential for runners…trust me, low iron is NO energy and it’s important to ensure you get enough of this element.
* Potassium: Bananas, because they also have more carbohydrates than many other fruits, are often thought of as the ‘perfect runner food’. The reason that their high potassium count also swings in their favor (like a chimp on a vine…sorry, lame-sauce, I am!) is because this is an important electrolytes; it’s one of the ones, that when their levels are too low in the body (along with sodium), that people have gotten over-hydrated by drinking too much water.

Eating for running fuel and health: We all know fruits and veggies are things our body need to run at its best and if you’re asking your body to run to perform it’s even more important. Sometimes people find it hard to swallow certain things even if they know they ‘should’…I can’t argue cookie dough ice cream may be more appealing than an apple, but sometimes we need to eat to fuel!

shrimp

The ocean called for me...


Other quick ideas to bulk up your fruits/veggie intake:
* Toss bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. into your omelets. Not only do you get the veggies but the protein in the eggs is even better.
* Stack those sandwiches higher with more veggies; toss in more veggies to your tacos and burritos too.
* Portabella burgers, have you ever tried these, they are in fact awesome.
* Kabob parties! Grill up those pineapple slices along with your skewered shrimp and chicken; also, have you ever skewered mangos and papayas?? Yum! For veggies, squash and zucchini kabobs rock too.

Smoothies aren’t the only way to go and I may be a bit of an anti-smoothie-ite, please at least read my case before hating me. And if smoothies are your slurp of choice, that’s okay too. :)

1) Are you a smoothie lover or hater? If so, what’s your favorite kind of smoothie?

2) Are you pretty good about getting your fruits and veggies in? What’s your favorite kinds and how do you eat them?

3) Do you use any kinds of protein powders in your recipes, smoothies included? If not what’s your top protein choices?
I’m not a huge powder person, I eat a ton of protein foods and know I’m covered.

4) Have you run into a person who refuses to acknowledge or accept you’re not a huge smoothie person?
Yes, I swear some people who try to sell Homer on the idea of the liquid donut.

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The Post-Run Refuel: Why 30 minutes is your winning window of opportunity

Dairy overload comes to mind in watching the Cal Fenton’s Creamery 5k video. Yesterday was Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s so I hope you all got your ice cream on…too bad it was only one scoop for free and not a bucket or we could have all gone out and seen how fast we could truck a 5k after devouring it all. ;) Half Baked flavor for me!! Hehe.
ice cream
Dairy is NOT my prime choice for pre-race fuel, and I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s not an advised choice for any runner, you want something that will sit easy in the stomach. Think bland, plain, and boring too perhaps, but for pre-race and pre-run you’re eating for energy and sometimes that isn’t tantalizing on the taste buds. I’ve got an article featured in Running Times HERE all about pre-run fueling and how to best time your eats, but today will be about the post-run refuel.

30 minutes. Grind that into your brain because that is the golden ticket to recovery…that’s your window of opportunity to replenish those depleted glycogen stores and repair your muscles. You wait just 31 minutes or longer and recovery rates drop by at least 60%. What will that lost recovery look like later:

* More sluggish on your next runs
* More soreness in the muscles
* Lost chance to repair the muscle fiber tears incurred from your run
* Missed chance of coming back stronger, faster, and fitter for your next runs and workouts

runner

Hey, cake with a side of protein totally works! ;)

Over time that could mean potential PR’s and precious seconds gone out the window. Nobody wants that, you work your butt off running the miles, don’t let something as ‘easy’ as just raising food to mouth quickly after a run hold you back in training and racing.

While pre-run foods may have to be bland, the rules of the post-run noshes are loosened up a lot…you don’t have to worry about any GI problems or stomach aches to run with! Still, for those first 30 minutes you do want to be conscious of two important things:

* Protein
* Carbs -
preferably some that are digested quickly and absorbed into your system fast, like high GI foods for example

You want the protein because those amino acids are imperative for repairing those broken down muscle tissues and building them back up stronger. You want carbs to replace the lost glycogen used during your workout and for the immediate restock of energy. Here is a time when you can loosen the reins on opting for only the whole grain type of carbs, that white bread is your friend here because it is digested quicker and will get into your system within those precious 30 minutes.

Fruit is an excellent choice, and a banana is prime example post-run fuel if you combine it with some cottage cheese, greek yogurt, or peanut butter and you’re good to go. Convenience can be an issue, and here is where sports bars or even drinks can help in a pinch; if you’re out on a trail it may not be feasible to whip out a pan and make some pancakes and eggs!

cinnamon rolls

Eggs and cinnamon buns, baby! :)

The thing with the 30 minute window is that it doesn’t have to be a full meal or ice cream gluttony. At least enough to tide you over until you have a full meal…it can be half a turkey sandwich, fruit and protein source, or a bar. But if you go with a bar make it one that is at least around 200 calories and with upwards of 10 grams of protein…not one of those measly 100 calorie bars, that’s not enough.

From there feel free to take a shower (or maybe not, hey, if you stink that’s your issue not mine) and head on out to get your real meal grub on. If you’re in training, there is more than just putting in the workouts if you want to maximize your full potential, there are the ‘little’ things that while they may seem ‘little’ in theory, when added up over time they make a huge impact. Not just in performance but with reducing your chance of injury and allowing your training to be consistent. Among the ‘little things are stretching, self-massage, warming up, and nutrition.

30 minutes. Time those post-run eats right so you can come back and demolish that next workout…or that next ice cream glutton fueled 5k. ;)

1) Do you pay attention to getting in those protein and carb sources within 30 minutes prior to your workout?

2) What is your favorite protein/carb post-workout combo?

3) Have you ever run a food/race kind of challenge? If so, what and how did you do?
I’ve done the soda mile a few times back in high school, I will say I’m a little proud to say I hold the record AND I never got DQ’ed for barfing…hehe. :)

4) What ‘little’ things do you do to prevent your risk of injury or improve your running and workouts?

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Childhood Obesity and Getting Active: The answer is not in blaming pollution

Oh, Runner’s World you’ve done it again. I got a really good laugh when I read their online headline screaming, ‘Is Pollution Making Us Fat?’ Seriously, could it have nothing to do with inhaling mass quantities of McDonald’s and constituting raising the spork as your daily exertion? Just saying.

fat runner

At least he's moving!


Obesity is a glaring problem, the saddest part comes from childhood obesity in my humble opinion. Skinny Runner just did a great post highlighting some recent controversy regarding children and weight. Should parents be putting their overweight children on diets and making the child aware that they are, in fact obese?

I’d say that’s a much more practical approach than blaming pollution and not changing any of your lifestyle habits, I don’t care how old you are. If you want something to change you have to, well, change something.

* Input versus output. Yes metabolism and diet isn’t as black and white as plain math, there are admittedly some other things to take into consideration, but for the most part it is not rocket science. If you go out and run 20 miles you obviously need to refuel and ingest a heck of a lot more calories than a child who does nothing more than channel surf all day.

* Move it. Exercise is healthy and hardly for weight loss/maintenance purposes alone. (Yes, being entitled to scarf my weight in Pop-tarts is a perk, but hardly the only one!) Exercise releases endorphins, improves your mood and has been found to help people suffering from mild bouts of depression or ‘the blues.’ Further, taking part in sports is linked to higher self-esteem, instilling a harder work-ethic, teaching the value that comes from accomplishing goals, and a myriad of other pluses. Even for adults holed away in a cubicle, taking exercise breaks has been shown to increase productivity in the office; you come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle that mountain of work.

eating cotton candy

Hey, she put in her sweat session and eared that cotton candy! :)


* Shut the trap. Being a long distance runner brings to mind willowy silhouettes and lean athletes…that comes from running lots of miles and burning tons of fuel in the process. Without getting into a totally different tangent regarding the weight/food issues; for the most part distance runners do eat much more than the average person. That said, there are plenty of instances and people who DO need to shed a few and should curb back their intake. I hate the word ‘diet’ though because that is synonymous with deprivation…just make a few modifications to your portion sizes and opt for healthier alternatives. You can still have treats but just with moderation…it’s insane how misguided the masses are when it comes to general nutrition and for the most part just wising up and learning how to avoid stepping into obvious food blunders would help. (the salad swimming with dressing, nuts, etc. could be loaded with more fat and calories than the small burger.) Here, information is key.

Rather than telling people that they shouldn’t blame themselves for putting on the pounds because of increased global carbon dioxide, Runner’s World, perhaps look to your name and remind them they could run a little more! For the children, I think helping them get back to a healthy weight is a necessity…not that parents should go all Toddlers and Tiaras on them, but just be smart.

* Small changes and substitutions. As with anything, start small and gradually build up. If you’re increasing your weekly mileage only go up 10% each week to avoid getting hurt. As for that sandwich, double up on the veggies and maybe opt out of the cheese for awhile; pick mustard instead of mayo…easy stuff.

* Take the focus of exercise off of burning calories. Working out, whatever form it comes in, should be fun and something you look forward to. If you are only running because you want to look like a skinny Ethiopian you’re probably not going to last very long. Find what you love to do that makes you move.

* Half and half. I also think the people who only look at losing weight from the diet perspective are stupid; you could lose weight by only cutting calories but you won’t be increasing your muscle tone and could still wind up jiggly and with a heart lacking the benefits of some cardio. Workout in addition to making dietary changes; and know that in doing so, more muscle mass may mean that the scale isn’t the most reliable gauge…look at how your clothes fit and how you actually look. Do you still jiggle? ;)

crocodile

Tell the kids, "All the cool crocodiles eat tofu dogs!" ;)


* Parents and kids. I don’t think you always have to tell the kids WHY they aren’t eating as many french fries, if you’re afraid of damaging their self-esteem. You’re the parents, just make the changes in the household, you’ll all benefit. Take family runs or soccer games at the park…if they ask why, just say, “Because I said so.”

Weight shouldn’t be the insane focus and issue that it is; sometimes over-thinking things just make it worse. Run because you love to run…refuel your body adequately…eat wisely but for 20 mile days that includes wolfing tons of calories…be smart and just do it. ;)

1) What’s your take on the whole obesity issue in general?
For adults I think it’s more a lack of motivation to do the changes necessary.

2) What about childhood obesity? If you’re a parent, if your child was obese what would you do, if anything?
This is something I feel really strongly about, it’s so sad to see 7 year olds that are obese…I think it’s crucial to make changes before they carry that into adulthood.

3) If you’re in the position of having to lose some weight what do you do to go about it sanely?

4) On the flip side, plenty of endurance athletes have trouble keeping the weight on, if that’s you what do you do?
Pop-tarts and Ben & Jerry’s! ;) I’m half-kidding, I look at is as first get in all the healthy staples and requirements and then add the fun foods on top of that.

5) The best reason to exercise totally non-weight related?
Endorphins baby, and trust me it keeps me sane! ;)

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Mental Games for Getting Through Tedious Cross-Training Workouts: The Chocolate Edition

Tuesday morning and I, admittedly a bit begrudgingly, took to the elliptical machine. (I swear I AM a runner, even if the last time I had an awesome, pain-free run seems like a far-off, distant memory…haha) Let’s be honest, when you’re wrought with an injury the mental part of getting in the cross-training can be as much of a challenge as the physical.
workout girl
All about the mind games. Distraction is key for me, so today I loaded up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Johnny Depp edition, in the hopes that waterfalls of chocolate, gum-drops the size of my head, and Oompa Loompas would help make the time with my cross-training ‘pal’ pass a little quicker.

Mission complete, thank you Johnny D; even as a whacked-out chocolate peddler you are still a hottie in my eyes. ;) When the beast of cross-training feels almost unbearable and you’d rather torch the machine than get on it and sweat, here’s some mental games you can play, Chocolate Edition:

girl eating ice cream

Come dive into some sweet treats with me, mmmk! :)

* Break it down. I was going for 70 minutes, but I told myself I’m really only going to do 7×10 minute segments. Even further, I break the 10 minutes up into four chunks of 2.5 minutes; I sort of imagine that each quarter is just like doing a lap around the track…easy peasy. For this one though, maybe it’d be four laps around the perimeter of the Chocolate Factory…each time you pass the front gates you get a nice whiff of chocolatey goodness…the catch if you have to do all your laps before you are allowed inside! ;)

* Chocolate endorphins. Mr. Wonka himself clearly states, “Eating chocolate releases endorphins that make you feel happy!” Hmm…not unlike exercise itself! Ironically even if you’re in the worst possible mood and dreading starting the workout…once you get started those endorphins have a weird way of lightening the mood! Then you can certainly bathe yourself in chocolate afterwards…just don’t get the whole chocolate river sweaty and spoil it for the rest of us!

* Don’t peek! Mr. Wonka didn’t want anyone spying on the super secrets going down in his factory…I play this game with myself where I test how long I can go without peeking down at the little screen with the timer. That way I can be ‘surprised’ when I look down and “Gee-golly, look, it’s already been 10 minutes!” Stupid, maybe, but it works.

* Touch my dials, will you?! Charlie gets in a bit of trouble touching things he shouldn’t in the factory, but when it comes to workout machines, messing around with the variables can help pass the time. Adjust the tension level or incline every couple of minutes…actually if you do an interval session it’s crazy how time can fly during those! However those recovery minutes seem to pass by much faster than the harder bouts, am I right?! ;)

* Drool and daydream.Don’t underestimate the power of baiting yourself…promise yourself some kind of pick-me-up or reward for putting in the time. If it takes daydreaming about chocolate bars to keep you on the machine and finishing your workout…by all means. Mr. Wonka would be proud to know he is fueling your sweat session!

girls eating gumdrops

Art: Cait Chock Designs

* Stay the course. Eventually you WILL get back to running (unless you get sucked up that giant tube because you got caught swimming in the chocolate river!) and remind yourself that the time spent cross-training will make getting back into running form so much easier…trust me, you’ll be thankful you did it! Also, every injury and time off from running makes me all the more grateful upon returning to it…you don’t take those miles for granted!

Thank you, Mr. Wonka for your tour through your Oompa Loompa riddled factory…you helped take the sting of cross-training down a notch!

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Who doesn’t like just plain silliness? Umm, anyone who doesn’t is not my friend! ;) If you haven’t caught two of the funniest and also Nation’s top harriers take part in a Eugene snow-ball fight, then you’re missing out. Check out Andrew Wheating and Russell Brown…I guess that’s how you spend your free time when you’re not training for the Olympics.

AND…if you haven’t yet, go enter yourself in my Road ID giveaway…running safety is Oompa Loompa important!
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1) What was your last workout? If you got to run, I’m warning you I’m going to have a bit of runner envy! ;)

2) How do you play mental games to get through a ‘meh’ feeling when it comes to your workout or cross-training in particular?

3) Favorite type of candy? If you were in Mr. Wonka’s factory would you take a dive in the chocolate river?
Yes on the river…I’m a chocolate sweets kind of person, the hard candies and chews don’t do anything for me. Junior Mints are ranked mighty high on my list! :)

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