Since this week has been all things nutrition, this podcast fits right in there. Some great stuff contained and interesting lessons.
"Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee was part of the most recent and most rigorous testing of the low-carb high-fat diet, which took him straight to the top of his sport. Just not for the reasons everyone expected."
This next recommendation isn't about nutrition at all, but it is a great listen and their description is just gold.
"This is a story about your butt. It’s a story about how you got your butt, why you have your butt, and how your butt might be one of the most important and essential things for you being you, for being human. "
Today your challenge is to think about RECOVERY FUELING. Recovery fueling is the calories you take in after a 90 minute bout of exercise, that are ideally consumed within 30 minutes of stopping exercise.
If you drive to a trail head, you likely need to have snacks in the car for afterwards. EVEN if the trailhead is in town.
The team at IRunFar and ultrarunner/PhD in Sports Nutrition Stephanie Howe teamed up to bring you the basics on run fueling.
“Nutrition in the post-exercise period is critical for recovery [after long or hard runs],” begins Magda Boulet, an Olympic marathoner turned ultrarunner who works in research at Gu Energy and who has a master’s in exercise physiology. “Your recovery meal should include quality protein to maximize protein synthesis rates, speed recovery, and promote muscle repair. As important, the consumption of carbohydrate will maximize glycogen synthesis to prepare for the next workout.”
"To elaborate, your body has an increased capacity for synthesizing carbohydrate back into your muscles and liver in the 30 to 60 minutes immediately after exercise. If you’ve gone on a run during which you’ve depleted a significant amount of your body’s glycogen stores, use this window to replenish."
Post run fueling will not only help you have more energy post run but will help you for your next run. I recommend post run fueling including 20g of protein and 60+g of carbs on any run 90 minutes or more.
One idea is to have a thermos for bringing a protein shake or smoothie to the trailhead. Your challenge is to come up with ideas for long run recovery foods (including from local coffee shops or your favorite bakery) so when you need to prep for a weekend run you have the ideas at your finger tips.
For a long time I was prescribing nutrition to athletes in calories per hour, recommending 100-150 calories every 30 minutes. This mostly worked except for some athletes fueling with real foods where carbs were too low. Now I recommend fueling in grams of carbs so I am sure fueling is accomplishing the goal, glycogen to the muscles and not too much bulk to feel overly full or cause GI issues.
Examples of carbs and calories in some ultra foods:
One serving of Rice Krispy Treats. 90 calories and 17g of carbs.
One serving of string cheese. 70 calories, 1g of carbs.
Picky Bar, Chai and Catch Me flavor. 190 calories, 24g of carbs
Peanut butter pretzels. 140 calories, 13g of carbs.
In foods that may appear the same there still may be differences in the number of carbs contained in the package. Here is an example. Spring Energy has multiple gel style offerings I put into the category of real food gels.
One flavor, Awesomesauce comes in 54g sized packets and has 180 cals and 45g of carbs.
Another flavor Canaberry is in a similar size packet, but is less dense at 46g in size. One packet of this flavor is 100 calories and 17g of carbs.
If you were a user of these gels it may be easy to interchange them, but one has way more carbs for the size. Also, for less than double the amount of calories, there is over double the amount of carbs.
Check your packages and make sure you are not just looking at size of the pack or calories but are looking at carb count.
"Guidelines 10 years ago stated that carbohydrate intake during exercise should be 30-60 grams per hour, this developed to intakes of 90 g/h in some situations, but recently a paper was published that suggested intakes of 120 g/h in mountain marathon runners."
"Runners find it hard to ingest carbohydrate during running, perhaps because they are not used to it. Studies show they could benefit from higher intakes."
I recommend that on runs longer than 2 hours, athletes fuel every 30 minutes with 25-30g of carbs at each feeding and working up from there as tolerated for events longer than 6 hours especially.
Increased carbohydrate intake during exercise not only leads to better performance but also leads to reduced muscle damage.
To prepare for your next run of over 2 hours, take a look at your running fuel and count the number of carbs you normally have, is it enough? Is it time to start adding fuel to your long runs for better performance?
Need some inspiration in the kitchen? Here is a great book for food on the go.
Here is a sample recipe from the book.
To perform at your best you need proper fueling to fuel both muscles and the mind. When athletes ask how much they should be eating I ask athletes to ensure 1)enough to have a clear mind, 2)enough to be able to perform in workouts and 3) enough to maintain weight. You need to be able to think honestly about all 3 of these points.
You can also put a number on things! You can get a sense of how many calories you should be consuming if you look at this calculator.
First you determine BMR, Basal Metabolic Rate, which is the number of calories you would burn if you were awake but not getting up from bed at all. Then you apply the amount you workout from there and finish the calculation. For endurance athletes BMR is often 1,000 calories or more below the actual amount of calories that should be ingested in a day. DO NOT use BMR as your calories guide for fueling!
Your challenge for today is to think hard about your fueling and determine, is my fueling enough to have a clear mind, great performance and a stable weight? If you are so hungry for parts of the day you can barely think, it is time to rethink your fueling strategy. If you are sluggish at workouts it is time to rethink your fueling strategy.
Join tonight at office hours and we can talk all things fueling, snacking, recovery!
This week we talk all things running nutrition and challenge your assumptions and current habits around fueling your runs.
TODAY we ask the question, should I eat before my morning run? Spoiler: YES if you are a woman. If you are male, not necessarily.
For all things women's sports I turn to Stacy Sims, author of the book, Roar. In that book she covers this topic of to eat or not to eat and says, "Most women I see who want to try this approach [to fasted training] are doing it because they believe it will help them get lean more quickly. It nearly always backfires." She goes on to describe how exercise in a fasted states puts your body under extra stress which in the morning comes on top of the time when the stress hormone Cortisol is already elevated. Extra stress means extra Cortisol and hormone disruption which stimulates fat storage. Men can do aerobic efforts up to 90 minutes in a fasted state and do not have the same hormonal effects.
In a Q and A on this same question she goes on, "Regardless of gender, the final consideration when thinking about fueling before a workout is your energy availability: You want to avoid being in a low energy availability state. As athletes, you may have limited recovery time between sessions and fasted training is known to decrease appetite hormones and daily energy intake, so it is critical to really think about fueling for each session and recovering well. Every now and then it’s OK to do a short, low intensity session in a fasted state, but for long-term health and performance, it is best to eat something small beforehand to reduce the overall negative stress on hormone balance and avoid running yourself down."
Your challenge for today is to step back from your normal habit and look at how your are fueling before your runs. Are you getting enough fuel to run well and recover? If you aren't fueling pre-run, try it this week and see how it feels.
Here is a good pre-run muffin I love and another version here.
We have talked about strides but there are other drills out there you can do. You don't need to do drills every day you run but they are a great idea before doing runs with any tempo or speed work OR if you are just getting back into running. They are also great for newer runners to ensure that strong habits are formed while mileage builds.
Drills are designed to imitate efficient running form, which means getting proper head position, checking arm movement, working on hip extension, landing with a great foot strike and developing full body coordination.
Here is a great video of some running drills you can do on your run after warming up for 5-15 minutes or at home after running barefoot around your living room for 2 minutes.
Today, take 5 minutes to add in drills to the beginning of your run to help build great form and then continue on your way with whatever your workout is for the day.
AND HAPPY WEEKEND!
Already adding in strides to your workout OR want a way to make strides part of workouts that prepare you for harder workouts a few weeks into the future? Another run drill is hill strides.
This is a great workout for anyone in any phase of training. For newer runners or runners new to any kind of speed work, do just 4-5 reps and work up from there over the period of weeks.
Warm up nice and easy running 15 minutes to 30 minutes. If you know it takes longer to warm up, run closer to 30 and shorter if you warm up faster.
Main set: 4-8 X 20 sec hill strides with 1 minute 40 sec back to your aerobic pace, keeping good posture.
HOW TO HILL STRIDE? Focus on power per stride! So instead of sprinting up for 20 sec, think with every step, is this the most powerful step I can do? Push off the toes, strong arms, looking ahead. You want to increase the the neuromuscular connections here so this faster running is recruiting more muscle fibers.
A good hill for hill strides isn't super steep but it is obvious that it is a hill. Too steep and it is hard to run up with great form and keep up your pace. Super flat and you will be running faster than desired. By running uphill the hill is slowing you down which is good, top speeds can lead to injury when we aren't practicing it.
It is time to bring on the running drills. Think about most sports you know, during warm up and practice for these sports there are drills to help develop skills and sport specific strength or timing for the sport. Running is no different. Watch a track meet and athletes are doing all kinds of drills to prepare. As distance runners we have gotten away from this habit even though these drills benefit all runners, even those of us going long.
The challenge for today is to perform some strides on your next run to help you dial in your form as running faster generally results in a more efficient gait. AND THEY ARE FUN!
Strides also help improve running economy, said another way, they help reduce the amount of energy it takes to run at speed.
"Strides are 15-to-30-second bursts of speed up to the fastest pace you can go while staying totally smooth and comfortable (it’s not a sprint)." Article here.
Perform strides in the last quarter of your run.
Do 20 seconds of faster running with a fast cadence and really feeling your legs kicking back behind you, then easy jog until you are fresh enough to go again. (or if you want numbers, take 1 minute and 40 seconds before starting the next) Do this for 5-8 reps and you are done.
If you want to dig in deeper to the how and why of strides read the article referenced above and watch the video below.
And keeping the tough days tough!
In training you want to keep hard days hard and aerobic/easy days aerobic and easy. If you have strength training on your plan for the day, that is hard. Keep the day hard by adding in a second workout, like a tough hill hike if you are not running or do a run with hill strides or short intervals. Then the next day can be an easy day which means recovery and coming back feeling better than before the workout. An easy day can be a 45 minute aerobic run, an hour easy spin on the bike trainer or a row with some corrective exercises with body weight only.
"Slow, easy running helps to flush oxygen-rich blood through the legs and also heals micro-tears and other damage that a workout creates. As soon as you begin to push the pace, you are creating more damage to your legs rather than helping them heal."
Think back on your last few runs. Were those runs easy or hard? If you are unsure, it is time to go out with purpose and know the goal of the run and the effort it will require.