Runner Legs Are Complainers: 5 important ’tissues’ to avoid a total toddler-level tantrum

“If you’ve got an issue, here’s a tissue.” Certainly that fits with the ‘runner mentality’ for many things. Intervals hurt, well, they’re going to hurt until we finish all the repeats.

Long runs are…long. Yup, that’s how it goes. Just keep telling yourself to make it one more mile, one more mile, etc…until your done!

Then the legs start having their issues. They’ll start begging for their own tissues. The way to stave off some total toddler-level tantrums from the legs are to supply them their tissues on a consistent basis BEFORE their demands are too high.

Runner Bones

Runner bones are just, well, better bones. ;)


* Tissue 1: Warming the heck up. Don’t go into a workout with ‘cold’ legs. Don’t immediately blast like a bat out of he**, your legs like a little warning. “We’re going to workout now”…gradually lower into the pace and you’ll feel better, wind up running faster, and avoid the lactic acid booty-lock shuffle home.

* Tissue 2: Stretching. Yea, stretching is NEVER as much fun as running but if you want to run better you need to be loose. You’ve got to have the flexibility to open up your stride, you want as much range of motion as possible. So suck it up, get your stretching and yoga time in, your legs will thank you with faster times AND less injuries.

* Tissue 3: Massage. Look, I’ll be honest and say I’m as not-rich as the next person, so I self-massage regularly but I’m ALSO re-learning how imperative it is to see a professional massage therapist when I can. Running is pretty abusive on the body and to un-do some of that damage you need that massage work. Look at it as an investment in YOURSELF. Namely your sanity (my sanity hinges upon my endorphin fix) because the longer you run the more important it is to get that tissue work. Well, that is if you’d like to keep running for the rest of your life. [Side-note, I'll be doing another post on this later but my massage therapist of choice is Al Kupczak in Boulder, CO...Boulder Body Therapy. He's a massage GOD. Works on Olympians and us mortal runners alike.]
keep running
* Tissue 4: Proper pacing. I guess this more fittingly could be said as separating your easy and hard days. Run your easy days EASY. Scr*w the pace and run for effort, whatever effort that allows you to recover. Then, come your hard days you’ll have the bounce to go fast. Also recognize the difference between a workout and a race. Come race day you want to elevate to that next level, that’s tough to do if you’re redlining ever.single.hard.workout. Got it? Well, race day is also boosted by the mental energy and excitement, but still, don’t race all of your workouts, People, mmmmk?

* Tissue 5: Refuel. Said it zillions of times…hit that 30 minute post-workout recovery window. Get 20-25 grams of protein and some carbs into your system to jumpstart muscle recovery, repair, and regrowth. That way your legs will come back feeling better and stronger for your next run, your next workout, your next race.

The body of a runner is constantly crying and complaining. What a pain the butt, right? ;) Thankfully we’re mentally tough BUT we’ve also got to be smart enough to give our complaining legs and muscles their pre-emptive tissues to at least limit their tantrums.

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Running ‘tough’ is a yin-yang sort of thing, my last post is all about how being ‘tough’ isn’t always about running through the pain or pushing. Being smart and all that.
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1) Do you have a tissue to add?
2) How often do you see a professional massage therapist?
GO VISIT AL! ;)
3) How good are you at hitting the 30 minute refuel window?

How dehydration can be causing your GI problems while running

Runners get thirsty: drink. Runners get hungry: eat. But, as with most things that seem idiot-proof, the most basic of basics, two of the most rudimentary bodily functions can often turn into a runner’s nightmare. I just finished an article for Competitor providing the perfect example of this: “Got Stomach Issues? You’re Probably Dehydrated”.

What’s interesting, and as you will learn from reading the article, it’s often not FOOD wrecking havoc on your stomach and intestines during your hard or long runs. It’s the (not) DRINKING thing that’s giving you a GI nightmare! Talk about a whodathunkit moment, right? ;)
road runner
I’ve been a runner for years and years and still, learning that dehydration is the culprit to most GI problems, both the upward and the downward, came as a bit of a surprise. But if you think about it, it really shouldn’t be; let’s look at what happens when you run:

* Muscles working: Brain and body prioritize the hard-working muscles as the top-tier function at the moment.
* Body delegates: In moving the muscles to priority number one, the stomach, intestines, and anything digestive related gets bumped down.
* Blood to muscles: All the major blood-flow gets shunted to the muscles, leaving the stomach and delicate intestinal tissues simultaneously deprived of blood-flow. This lapse in blood causes slight damage. Aww, poor, intestines. ;)
* Dehydration: Now water is INSANELY important to the body, it makes up darn near most of it, so NOT having enough water content in the blood stream exacerbates the damage caused to the already weakened stomach and intestines.
* The Backlash: Need I say more?

Runners experience those GI disasters, up and down, because the stomach and intestines are already deprived of blood-flow while you’re running and then on top of that if there isn’t enough water content in the body to begin with, they stage a major revolt.

Bottom line: It doesn’t matter what kind of food you’ve got in your stomach or intestines, if a runner isn’t hydrated, that food can’t be digested so it’s coming out…pick a direction.

Solution: Duh, Runners, stay HYDRATED! ;) I jest, I jest, kind of…but the reality is, many times runners underestimate just how much fluids they need. What’s more, when I say fluids that includes more than just water: also electrolytes.
burrito pooping beans
The tricky thing with hydration is, once you’re dehydrated and experiencing the effects of it you’re already on a sinking ship. Kind of like it’s too late at that point; that’s why it’s IMPERATIVE you stay in a constantly hydrated state and remain that way through the duration of your hard workout or long run.

Staying hydrated during long runs, and marathon geared workouts, means taking in fluids and replenishing those stores at a steady rate. Read the article for some awesome tips from Molly Pritz and Krista Austin, Ph.D., on how to come up with a personal hydration regimen.

See, you think relying on those little “I’m thirsty” cues is enough to keep you hydrated. But the truth is, especially for runners, by the time you FEEL thirsty you are already in a state of dehydration. So go chew, err sip, on that. ;)

1) Had you been aware dehydration could be the culprit of you GI problems?

2) Especially in the heat GI problems become more common, how do you make sure to stay even more conscious of fluid consumption when it’s hot or humid?

3) An upset stomach after a hard or long run can be common too, and traced back to dehydration. What are some of your go-to ‘safe’ foods for restoring and repairing those muscles AFTER your runs?
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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! ;)
——-
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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Straight Talking Iron For Runners: IV treatments, pills, doses, and runner norms

If you’re reading this and wiping steak blood juice from your lips because you’re a runner and know how important it is to get that iron into your blood, then this post is JUST perfect for you! ;) Actually, my latest article up on Competitor.com is ‘Iron Level Upkeep for Runners’.

runner eating pizza

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


I wanted to share a little more about anemia and iron levels for runners because it’s something that I’ve had to deal with myself and know just how sh*tty it feels to be running when your iron levels are sub-par. And since I’m not a certified smarty-pants and rather get my knowledge from good old fashioned experience and being able to leech all the information I can from the certified smarty-pants I’ve been lucky enough to work with and train under, here is where I can be a little more free with the advice if you know what I mean.

Let me cut to the chase and bottom line this for you off the bat: If you’re a runner you need to be taking iron supplementation in ADDITION to anything you eat. To be frank, every single world-class, competitive, and ‘runner’ runner that I know, be them man or woman, take iron pills, liquid iron, or get iron injections.

If you’re training as much as runners do, there is just no ‘realistic’ way to get the amount of iron necessary through diet alone. Some people have this thing where they don’t like pills or ‘fake’ things, I respect your beliefs, but at the same time you’re only doing yourself a disservice.

In the article I stress how if you don’t have a doctor experienced in working with competitive runners, they could be telling you that your iron levels are in the ‘normal’ range when, in fact, they are anemic compared to runner standards. The ‘average joe’ levels are not going to cut it, and if you get your blood tested and your ferritin is hovering around 20 ng/ml there is then a reason why you’re feeling like crap on your runs.

When I got my levels tested way back when, I was at a 9 and at that point was rejoiced to finally be able to have an answer as to why my running was feeling so dang hard. Weird right, that I was happy to be anemic, but the good news about low iron is that it’s one of the ‘easier’ things to fix once diagnosed.
blurry runner
Again, the article explains a lot about that, but what I’d like to share here is a little about my iron infusions and then some tips that since I’m not a doctor can’t just toss into other articles I write:

Iron Infusions:

*Process: Sounds scary, and to a needle-phobe it wasn’t a trip to the Pop-Tarts store, but honestly, they weren’t that bad. I went in for three sessions on three successive days, each visit lasted for 3-4 hours hooked up to the IV bag and outside of the prick it didn’t hurt. It felt a little cool where the iron was going in, but that’s all.
*Nausea: What I WILL warn you about is that iron can make you feel a little nauseous and with a headache if you take a lot at once. A few hours after my first IV treatment I felt pretty sick; I went to bed and was fine the next day. The other two days of treatment I felt fine afterwards though. Everyone is different, some people may not even feel bad the first day, but I think because my levels were quite low to begin with and I hadn’t been taking any iron pills, it was a bit of a shock to my system.
*Blood Levels: I went from single digits and up into the 20′s pretty much within days. It was awesome, and as I took pills after that, my levels kept rising rather quickly.

Iron Pills:

*Commonality: The vast majority of runners I know go the pill route, they are super easy. All you really need to be aware of is you need to take them with food (or you’ll probably feel sick) and take them with Vitamin C to help aid absorbtion. Try to not take them with calcium because that will block absorption a bit.
*Doses: I’d suggest aiming for around 60-70 mg per dose if you’re maintaining and just running a moderate amount. If you’re in high training and competing I’d say you should at least double that; when I was doing hard training I’d safely be having four 65 mg pills a day spread into two doses. People worry about iron overdosing, but unless you’re a kid or weigh 70 pounds you’re not going to die, probably just feel sick. That said it is IMPORTANT to note that I didn’t just go pound four pills off the bat, you need to gradually increase your iron intake, start with one pill a day for a week, add a second pill the next week but spread it out at least 6 hours and go from there. And you could stick to that amount, get your blood tested regularly and adjust your iron intake accordingly.

running in storm

Running with anemia feels like you’re trying to run through tornado, those splits are off but they feel four times the effort.


Iron Blood Levels:
*Runner Norm:
Because of iron toxicity phobia people tend to be a little shy of sharing just how high they’d like their levels to be. I’d say that runners should aim to be at least around 70 ng/ml, and to be totally honest I’d say even try to stick around 100 if you can. Some people just can’t get that high, but going with the better safe than sorry logic, shoot for that.

If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them as a comment and I could do another post if there is enough interest. Low iron, known as anemia, is quite common in both men and women and it is incredibly crushing and frustrating to deal with as runners. Or, more correctly, it is brutal to deal with before you find out that is what you’re dealing with. From there, getting supplementation and into an iron maintenance routine is an easy way to get your running back on track!

1) Have you ever dealt with anemia? What was your experience like?

2) Do you take any kind of iron supplementation?

3) What ways do you then try to still get iron into your diet?

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Steph’s Miles Recipe: Healthy Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Today this runnerchick has a special treat for you! I’m so excited to share with you this blog’s very first guest blogger, Stephanie from Steph’s Miles! Check out this girl’s awesome blog; I instantly loved her because she’s not only miles obsessed like me but a bona-fide Disney freak too! Even better she’s got me completely beat in the cooking department…for once this blog will actually give you a recipe you’ll WANT to devour after you get your run on. So without further adieu…here’s Steph!

Steph’s Miles Recipe: Healthy Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Hi there! My name is Stephanie and I blog over at Steph’s Miles. Thanks to Cait for sharing her blog. I just started my blog recently out of my interest in the fitness world and in other bloggers out there sharing their stories. I thought it was time to share mine too!

Now I’m not meeting any professional standards like Cait. I run for fun, for the endorphins and to create physical goals for myself. I ran two half marathons this year – the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February and the Rock n Roll Latin Music Miami Beach Half this past Sunday! My feet are still yelling at me as I type this.

 

But I’m not over here to talk about running. I’m here to share an amazing recipe with you guys! This meal gets rave reviews from friends and family members alike and is a constant repeat at my table. It’s also super easy to make, so you can come back from a work out and make them stat. Oh, and did I mention there is a ton of protein in these babies?

Adapted from Once Upon a Cutting Board (via Pinterest)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (1 container) of extra lean ground chicken breast
    (I use Purdue)
  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce

(I use Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Wing Sauce & Marinade)

  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    1/4 breadcrumbs
  • 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or cooking spray
  • 4 whole wheat burger buns

 

Optional for toppings:

Extra buffalo marinade
Light ranch dressing
Lettuce

Tomato

Instructions:

  • Open package of ground chicken and place in bowl.
  • Mix buffalo sauce, Parmesan and breadcrumbs and other seasonings into the ground chicken in the bowl. Mix with your hands or a fork to ensure all ingredients are distributed evenly. Mix in cheese last into the patties with the cheese evenly spread among the patties.
  • Form four evenly sized patties and place on a plate.
  • Heat olive oil in skillet on stovetop or spray with cooking spray.
  • Place all patties on skillet and let sizzle and cook six to seven minutes on one side.
  • Flip patties and cook remaining side for five minutes.
  • Once the burgers are fully cooked, place on buns to serve and top with desired condiments.

 

I like to mix all the ingredients with my hands, just to make sure everything is distributed evenly. The ground chicken is so cold when it comes right out of the fridge! I make sure to wash my hands thoroughly each time I’m touching the raw chicken.

 

Make sure to be patient when your burgers cook. I am a very impatient person and if I flip the burgers too early they have a potential to break apart a little bit or may be cooked unevenly. You may also cook on the grill too if you are a pro griller.

chicken burgers

I can’t describe how good the burgers taste and I’m not even a fan of buffalo wings or the sauce itself! The sauce makes the chicken so moist and flavorful. They also have a little kick, too! I leave dinner full and satisfied each time I eat them. The amount of protein it provides is perfect after a long run on the weekend. Serve them with fries, coleslaw or a roasted vegetable on the side.

chicken burger

Thank you again Cait for hosting me on your blog!

What’s your favorite go-to meal to make in the kitchen?

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Thank you so very much for hopping by my blog, Steph. And I appreciate you also letting me hog up some space over at your own blog today. ;)

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How Runners Can Stuff Their Face At Restaurants But Still Perform At Their Best

We run so we can eat, right? ;) Okay, okay, I do toss that around here quite frequently because, yes, being a runner entitles us to be a little more gluttonous than our slothy counterparts. BUT at the same time it would be a lie if I said that I only eat crap. And despite all of food gorging stories you share with a rightful amount of pride, wolfing down a whole pizza and ice cream by the pints is pretty cool when ‘earned’, I’m pretty sure 90% of you do too.
runner eating pizza
It’s a balance thing but it’s also that as runners I feel we fall into the healthier living category, no? In my most recent Competitor.com article: ‘The Runner’s Guide to Eating Out’ I’ve got the line, “Competitive athletes are wise enough to acknowledge that what goes into their mouths has a direct correlation to what their legs can put out.”

Despite those hamburgers larger than our heads and boxes of Pop-Tarts the majority of our diets are made up of ‘better’ choices or at least making sure we DO get in the necessary nutrients to fuel our body right. To fuel us for performance. We are running ‘machines’ not just pretty, cool bodies to look at. Yea, runner bodies are way cooler to look at too, but that’s beside the point. ;)
runner eating donuts
I’ve talked about my little filling the foundation of your house with the ‘good’ stuff and do what you will with the attic before and that applies here. In tying in with the dining out at restaurants article I wanted to share a little more on what Krista Austin, Ph.D had to say.

* Athletes Aim for Intuitive Eating: Austin stresses that the aim is to listen to your body when gauging how much is enough, “Athletes should always remember to gauge their hunger to help control the volume of food that they eat-if you’re hungry eat and as you get full-stop!” In being a runner part of our JOB is being better attuned to reading the signals from our body, right, we do that all the time in training. For many, listening to those hunger/full cues from your brain is tricky because growing up and our environments/society has skewed our perceptions of hunger, satiety, appetite, cravings, boredom eating, and all of that jazz.

* Runner Entitlement: Here’s what I was talking about in filling that attic and being ‘entitled’ to eating more freely than most. “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,” says Austin. Win goes to the runners here, bring on the food trough. ;) Juuuust kidding.

* Calories CAN Get Sneaky: Okay, here is where I will admit to being downright floored at some of the nutritional stats of restaurants. Krista and I both agree on that one, are they injecting straight lard into some of those dishes to get stats that high?! Sure, now and then eating totally blasé on stats is fine, but if you do make it a habit of going out to eat you might want to school up on the nutritional stats of some of those restaurants. You don’t need to obsess, but just have a little awareness.
runner legs
* Gluten Intolerant Folks: “Gluten intolerance athletes can go to restaurants like PF Changs or Red Robin that highlight their GF options but if you don’t know whether the food is GF or not, first start by asking if the restaurant knows and then if you must really eat without knowledge just try to ask for food items that we know are GF such as fajitas with corn tortillas or salads with meat on top etc.,” explains Austin. Amy Yoder Begley is a big fan of PF Chang’s especially when traveling for races; she also warns that if you don’t know of something is GF you REALLY need to be careful of cross-contamination in the kitchen. [I did a whole post on more GF living advice.]

* Race Travel: Revisit the article I wrote because it addresses this more in detail, but basically DO NOT try something new the day before or the day of a race, People. We know better…nothing worse than a burrito induced port-a-potty disaster mid-race, no??

* What Can Your Plate Do For YOU and you the RUNNER?: It’s the yin and yang of being a PERSON but also a RUNNER. You want both parts to feel fulfilled and satisfied, “Ask yourself when choosing menu items, 1)what will the food do for me? Is it going to refill my glycogen stores, help me recover from training, help me obtain the body composition I desire? and then 2) does it contain foods that will make me fill satisfied so I don’t then go for other foods later when I’m not even hungry just because I didn’t like what I ate,” explains Austin.

Runners and nutrition is an interesting topic to put it bluntly. It shouldn’t be as ridiculous as it is sometimes, but such is the nature of the beast. Keep things from erring on the side of driving yourself insane; the best runners I know are adept at finding the balance of person and runner.

Enjoy the entitlement that being a calorie-furnace runner but still be mindful of the times when you’re eating to perform. :)

1) Do you go out to eat very often? If so, what are some of your favorite spots?

2) When you do go out to eat, what kinds of things do you seek out? How do you balance the person and the runner?

3) What is your stance on having nutritional information available on more and more restaurant menus either online or on site?
I think having them available online or if you ask for them at the place is good; I don’t think necessarily on the full menu only because at the same time if you don’t want to feel guilty on something you shouldn’t feel forced into that guilt. Lol.

4) If you’re gluten intolerant, what are some of your favorite restaurants?

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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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