I'm Going to Boston!

Hey there! 

Sorry for going M.I.A. for awhile there...I just completed the 8 week long Food Service Management rotation portion of my Dietetic Internship, and let's just say it was not conducive to free time for blogging (or sleeping in, or cooking, or doing laundry....you get the point). Also, I was eating lunch in the hospital cafeteria daily, and wasn't too comfortable whipping out my camera to document any kind of daily eats! 
Luckily, my super long days are now over, and I'm excited to get back to blogging!

In other exciting news, I ran my 3rd marathon on Sunday, PR'ed and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2014! It was a super great race, and I am really proud of all the work I put in!
I will be decreasing my training and mileage for a few weeks, until the beginning of July when I will begin training for the St. George Marathon. This is another race I am super pumped about! In the meantime, I am going to focus on lots of cross-training, and LOTS of strength training!
But, as for this week, I am focusing on recovery. Recovering after a race is such a crucial part of training. There is so much focus and planning that revolves around preparing for the race, but what about recovering from it? Recovery is an equally important part of your training plan! Proper recovery will help you remain healthy, and help you get back to achieving your next running goal that much quicker.

Optimizing post-race recovery through nutrition will help to reduce soreness, fight inflammation and promote faster healing. The best post-race strategy is to have a plan, and to understand what your body needs.

-Rehydrate: drink ample amounts of fluids during and after your race to replenish fluids lost during exercise.  If your race was run under particularly hot conditions, or you tend to be a “salty sweater”, sports drinks are appropriate for rehydration. Otherwise, stick to good old water.

-Replenish: Restoring your muscles post-race is a must! Consuming carbohydrates will help replenish glycogen stores, and protein will help promote muscle repair. The typical rule of thumb is to consume 0.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight (along with a bit of protein) within one hour of exercise. Examples of this include cereal with milk and fruit, oatmeal with berries and peanut butter, or a smoothie prepared with fruit and low-fat yogurt.

If you are unable to consume solid foods after a race due to nausea or stomach upset, and to get some form of nutrition, such as a sports drink.

-Moderation: That post-race “Runner’s High” is what running and competing is all about, right? You feel on top of the world knowing that yes, you are strong, athletic and all-around amazing. All the time and training you put into the race was worth it, and now, you are ready to celebrate! Go ahead, you deserve it! But, remember…don’t undo all that hard work and progress you gained through training! A special post-race celebration meal with the girls, or that sprinkled cupcake you were dreaming about during the whole race is a great reward, but remember moderation is key. Choose your post-race indulgence wisely, and don’t extend your post-race celebration to a post-race week celebration!

Non-Nutrition Related Recovery: While nutrition is a key component to recovery, remember a few other strategies to help you get through crucial post-race recovery days.

-Walk post-race to return your body to its natural resting state, and to help flush lactic acid from muscles

- Soak in cold water/ice bath for 10-15 minutes and wear compression socks during the day to decrease inflammation

-Wait at least 6 hours before foam rolling, this allows time for your muscles to be replenished

-Keep moving! Slowly being to re-incorporate low impact activities, such as swimming or biking,  into your routine a few days after your race. Exercise promotes circulation which brings nutrients and oxygen to tissues, which aids in recovery

-Get a massage after soreness is gone to help relieve tension

-Run for fun!: The hard training is over (at least for now!), so use this recovery time to get back to what running should really be all about….fun! Take time to enjoy your runs without the pressure of needing to run a certain distance and a certain speed. This will help you regain your love for running if training left you feeling a bit burnt out.

Have a great Tuesday!

Fueling for the Long Run

One of the most important (and confusing!) aspects of training runs is proper fueling. Taking in the right amount of fuel at the right time on runs will replenish your muscle glycogen stores (stored glucose), which will keep your energy levels up, and helps improve your performance, ensuring a strong finish.

            The rule of thumb is to refuel during runs lasting longer than 75 minutes. If your run is longer than this, you should take in about 25 grams (or about 100 calories) of carbohydrate every 45 minutes. Simple, right?

            The trickiest thing about fueling on long runs can be figuring out what to refuel with! Sure, there are millions of different GUs, blocks, shots and chews out there, but those are not your only options (especially if they leave you running to the bathroom, instead of the finish line)! 
            Sports supplements are composed purely of carbohydrates, meaning they are a super concentrated form of sugar. When you ingest sugar in such a concentrated form, it can cause the intestines to pull in water, leading to stomach upset, and the dreaded “runners’ trots”. All sports supplement packages say “consume with plenty of water” to prevent GI distress, but it still does not prevent it in from happening in every runner. Additionally, if you are not used to taking in such supplements, getting your body used to them can be a long, difficult process.

            During training, it is very important to establish a proper fueling regimen that works for you. Race day is not the day to see what works, and what doesn’t! So, what are your options? 

            Energy Gels, Chews, Chomps and Blocks are favored by many athletes due to there their ease and convenience. They all contain about 25 grams of carbohydrate and 100 calories per serving. But again, these products are not your only options, especially if you are looking for something a little more natural and less pricey! Plus, they will likely be better options for runners prone to stomach upset. 
            So, what does 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrate look like for some alternate fuel sources?

            25 Jelly Beans
            5 hard pretzel twists
1 dried Medjool date
            ¼ c. raisins
            1 Red Vine licorice twist
            2 Fig Newtons
            4 ounces of a sports drink
            4 large marshmallows
17 gummy bears
 When completing a long run or race, fuel early and often. Use training runs not only as running practice, but as fueling practice! Once you figure out what works for you, your body will be ready to push long and hard on the way to achieving your next PR!
What is your fueling method during a workout? What is your favorite form of long run fuel?

Caffeine and Your Health

Hello and happy weekend! I couldn't be happier for a few days off!

It was so nice to be able to not be woken up by a blaring alarm this morning. I went on a short, easy run, then came back and have an awesome breakfast.
Vitatops are my latest breakfast obsession. Ever tried them? They feel like such a treat, but at just 100 calories a piece, they are actually a healthy indulgence! They are preservative-free, a pack a powerful nutrition-filled punch!
Vitatops contain all-natural ingredients, including whole grains, and are fortified with 15 vitamins and minerals. They are also an excellent source of fiber, protein, and are very low in fat. The best part?? They taste amazing!
 I have been topping my cottage cheese, fruit and nut butter bowls with them, and it gets my morning off to a delicious start!

And, of course, this morning (like every morning) I enjoyed a few cups of coffee. Did you know coffee is a superfood? Your daily cup not only helps you get thought the morning, but it can also help you through your run! 

There are many misconceptions that coffee can have negative effects on everything from hydration to bone health, but don’t let those myths stop you from enjoying your morning brew. Extensive evidence has shown that moderate caffeine consumption (about 300 mg/d, or 3-4 cups per day) is safe, and in many ways, it can even be beneficial!

Caffeine and Bone Health
Many studies have shown that when dietary calcium consumption is adequate, caffeine does not have a significant impact on bone health, the risk of fractures or osteoporosis. Make sure to include a variety of calcium rich foods, such as broccoli, tofu, soy milk, low-fat /fat-free dairy products, dark leafy greens, almonds and salmon, in your diet.
Caffeine and Dehydration
Recent research has shown that if you consume caffeine regularly (such as a cup or two of coffee every morning), it does not have a dehydrating effect on your body.  Caffeine only has a diuretic effect if you are drinking large amounts of it on a daily basis. Remember, drinking a variety of caffeine-free fluids throughout the day is important for every athlete.

Caffeine and Disease
Drinking coffee in moderation has shown an inverse relationship to the risk of many diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, dementia and type II diabetes. This is due to the fact that it contains many beneficial nutrients, including antioxidants and other anti-inflammatories.
Sports Performance
As a component of the diets of many athletes, whether it be in the form of coffee, sports drinks or other sports supplements, caffeine has been shown to have benefits on athletic performance. Taking in a form of caffeine before or during a run lowers the “rate of perceived exertion” (or RPE), meaning it can make your workout feel less intense, allowing you to run longer and harder.  
Caffeine, in whatever form you prefer, has both mental and physical benefits, so go ahead, drink to your health!