2/11/12

110% Give Harder



As an active endurance athlete, I absolutely love waering my 110% recovery gear. As an ambassador, I'm proud to support a company that I believe in and helps athletes recover in an inventive "mobile" ice bath w/ compression.

If you didn't hear, 110% had a big idea...to raise $110,000 for ground-breaking breast cancer research as well as to help those who are living with breast cancer.

Here's a great article...
Runners going 110 miles to finish breast cancer for 26.2 with Donna | jacksonville.com

As of 8am this morning, several amazing athletes started their 110 mile journey to raise funds for breast cancer. Many of the donations are in honor of others and I am sure those runners will be dedicating a few miles to those who have been affected by cancer.

Tomorrow morning, I will start my 13.1 mile race, running alongside thousands of runners who, in one way or another (fundraising or race entry fee) have contributed to a worthy cause.

I want to thank those who have donated and I really appreciate it! For those who were not able to donate, I appreciate you spreading the word to others. Every bit counts.

As of now, the 110% Give Harder foundation has raised over $94,000 with a few checks, reportedly, still coming in for depositing into the account. If you'd like to still donate..there's time! What's so great aboug donating besides being part of this amazing goal...
.. It's fun and it makes you feel good.

I love to race and I love being an athlete. I love every single second of training, analyzing my data and planning my workouts. I love coaching, working with athletes on sport nutrition and motivating others to be confident in pursuing individual goals.

With every race, there is always an opportunity to reflect. Often, a fast beating heart, large crowds, cheering fans and beautiful scenery can distract one from reflecting during a race.

As a virgin to the 26.2 with Donna event, I want to really enjoy every mile out on the course, regardless if I am running on the looooong bridge or running on the beach. Knowing that with every race there will be moments that you are feeling awesome and times when you are wondering how you will be able to hang on, I want to be sure that I don't lose sight of the real reason why I am running on Sunday.

Because there is more than 1 reason for my decision to run this race tomorrow...I want to dedicate my 13.1 miles to the following:

Mile 1: To those who can not run, for whatever reason.
Mile 2: To those who weren't able to train like they wanted (for whatever reason) but are still out on the course, hoping to have a great time.
Mile 3: To those who aspire to one day run a 5K....knowing that with consistency and the ability to believe, anything is possible.
Mile 4: To everyone who donated to the 110% Give Harder Foundation.
Mile 5: To everyone who donated to the 26.2 with Donna foundation.
Mile 6: To the crowds, spectators, volunteers and family members who tell us that we are "almost there"...when typically, we really aren't. But then again, somehow they always make us feel like we are really "almost there".
Mile 7: To Campy, my furry best friend, who probably loves running more than me. But according to him, every day is a lottery winning day and every day is a great day to be alive. I'm so lucky that Campy came into my life for he really knows how to live a great life.
Mile 8: To my parents, family, close friends, blog readers and athletes. This mile is for you because just when the going gets tough and I feel like I don't have any more to give, you keep me going and find a way to pick me up.
Mile 9: To my mentors and anyone who has helped me in my educational career. I was always that student that had to find a way to balance it all. Knowing that my education and sports were two very important parts in my life, I was never told to give up one for the other. You all helped me find balance.
Mile 10: To Karel for always believing in me when, often I don't believe in myself. For challenging me to enter a new uncomfortable-comfort zone and for showing me how to train hard and recover harder. As my teammate, best friend, coach and hubby, this mile will likely hurt but I can hear you now "just keep running...pretend like you are running with Campy!"
Mile 11: To those who always remain positive no matter what is thrown their way. I love surrounding myself with people who give me energy, not take it away from me and there is nothing more life-changing than being around someone who is going through a rough time but is constantly finding ways to remain in good spirits. Positive energy and a great attitude can be contagious...and this is something that I want to catch.
Mile 12: To everyone who has come into my life and has trusted and has allowed me to make a difference in your life. For with every athlete/person that I help, I often discover something more about myself, often finding myself growing in the process. I didn't go to school for 8 years to be rich. I went to school to change lives.
Mile 13.1: To my body. For allowing me to be consistent with training in order to get to starting lines. For reminding me that with an appreciation of balanced eating and a healthy dose of exercise, I can also reach finishing lines. Body, this last final push is for you as you have never failed me. Sure, an injury here or there but thanks to you, you keep me going. Because of that, I love you and I will never let you down.

Happy Running, walking or jogging and good luck everyone!

2/9/12

Quick Sport Nutrition tip - cramping

Did that painful hamstring or calf cramp prevent you from reaching a PR in your last race?

Exercise-induced muscle contractions are a heavily discussed topic among athletes. Despite the topic being researched intensely over the past few decades, there remains to be no one factor solely contributing to these painful contractions. Of discussion, however, is that muscle cramps may likely occur secondary to a decreased concentration or serum imbalance of electrolytes (ex. sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride and magnesium), pushing the body (and poorly conditioned muscles) beyond current fitness level, expecting the non-acclimated body to perform at extreme environmental conditions (ex. heat and high humidity) and dehydration affecting blood and plasma volume.
In recent years, it is well understood that athletic individuals require more than just sodium to maintain a stable electrolyte status before, during and after activity. For even the slightest loss in fluid may cause a disruption in the functioning of the nerves, heart and muscles. Due to the great increase of precisely formulated, well-marketed, man-made electrolyte drinks, it’s far too easy to find a suitable sport drink to fit your needs. The key, however, is that you drink it consistently throughout training and racing.
Because electrolytes are present in sweat, blood, plasma and urine, it’s important to note than an overabundance or deficiency in any one nutrient may cause an imbalance in your electrolyte status.

I work with a lot of athletes who experience cramping during racing. I believe the diet has a big component on why athletes cramp and when I say "diet" this is far beyond "sport nutrition" and what you consume during training. In my racing career, I have never experienced cramping. Most of my injuries are soft-tissue/muscular as oppose to involving those painful cramps when the body completely seizes up. Now, Karel, on the other hand, often has painful cramping in his inner thighs every so often throughout his cycling season.....primarily in the first race in the season or when he is sprinting at the end of a 70+ mile road race in the summer. Having said this, I realize that diet is only one component. My pain threshold is minimal compared to Karel and he has the ability to push his body more than I would care to do so in racing. Thus, having said this, we must keep in mind that racing is simply putting your training to the test. With a balanced diet, a proper pacing strategy and consistent liquid calorie-intake, you should find yourself excelling on race day and feeling strong throughout the entire race.

Contact me if you need help with your daily diet or fueling strategy....triathlon season is approaching. Why wait to perfect your race day fueling plan?

2/8/12

Quick one "pot" meals

I had a few requests via email for some "simple" recipes. So here are three of my favorites. While all of these require a little time to "cook", they don't need much prep work or attention while cooking. While the stew is really filling and satisfying, the stir fried peppers and potatoes are great choices to compliment any balanced meal. Enjoy!

Stove-top "stew"
Butter beans
Yellow peppers
Garlic
Marinara sauce (enough to coat the ingredients)
Onions
Peas
Tomatoes
Boca Crumbles
Seasonings to your taste/liking
Olive oil

Orzo

1. Cook garlic and onions in olive oil on large pot or pan, medium heat. Prepare Orzo according to package in seperate pot.
2. Add the rest of the ingrediets to garlic and onions and stir occasionally. Add a little water every 4-5 minutes to help with stirring. Keep an eye on orzo in seperate pot.
3. Add 1/2 - 1 serving of orzo (depending on your needs) into bowl and add in stew. Stir until combined. Top with sharp cheddar cheese.


Stir-fried peppers
Red peppers
Onions
Yellow peppers
Orange peppers
Balsamic
Olive oil
Sea salt , cumin and pepper

1. In large skillet, medium heat, drizzle 2 tbsp oil and add in veggies.
2. Toss well and cook until golden brown.
3. Add 1-2 tbsp balsamic and toss. Season with a pinch of sea salt and pepper


Baked potato fries
1 large potato (per 2 people)
Sunflower or grapeseed oil
Sea salt, chili powder, and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Slice potatoes long ways or sliced..or both.
3. Toss in 1-2 tbsp oil and sprinkle of sea salt and a few shakes of chili powder.
4. Bake for 12-20 minutes, or until crispy golden brown.

2/7/12

Run intervals, heart rate and walking

As a coach and athlete, I am not afraid to fail. I love trying new things and discovering "new" ways to enhance "old" techniques. With Karel as my coach, however, I always have someone to blame if things go wrong....only kidding :)

In all honesty, my training has yet to fail me. I am still finding myself progressing consistently with training, always welcoming the early morning hours for a refreshing sweat, constantly learning something about myself as an athlete and enjoying ways to keep my body healthy, well and alive.

Ever since training with power in 2008, I have seen my cycling improve significantly. Since then, I have yet to train for miles or for speed and rarely to do I look at my heart rate.

In terms of running, however, I enjoy keeping an eye on my heart rate. However, ever since purchasing a Garmin running wach in 2010, I have learned (through research and applications on myself) that running for pace and perceived exertion is a more valuable tool than soley relying on heart rate.

Many athletes complain of trying to do high-intensity intervals with heart rate zones and struggling to reach recommended zones for the "hard" efforts as well as struggling to lower the heart rate during "easy" recovery efforts. Knowing that the heart rate is affected by many variables, I encourage athletes and fitness enthusiasts to continually monitor the heart rate, specifically after downloading data onto a performance software program like WKO+, Golden Chetah or Training Peaks. The most valuable use of using a heart rate monitor is to ensure that you are recovering properly during workouts as well as monitoring your heart rate before and after workouts.

So while the heart rate can tell a lot about your fitness and progress as an athlete, I find that pace is a much more valuable tool for run training. However, being the "quality" trained athlete that you aspire to be, I highly encourage adding in walking breaks into your workouts in order to allow for consistent progress with training, to reduce risk for injury, to allow for quicker gains in increasing lactate threshold as well as building cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance, to better tolerate nutrition during training and to allow for easier recovery (due to less fatigue and less constant wear and tear) and to keep you excited to cover "more miles" in less time.
Worried that you won't be able to cover a specific distance at your upcoming running race or triathlon?

Perhaps one should consider that a race day performance is built on continual gains in performance. While the first few weeks of any training plan may appear effortless (with a few aches due to the body getting use to new training loads) and you may find yourself progressing quickly with increasing distances, it is far too common that athletes often get bit by the "training bug" and forget that training for an event is way beyond just covering x-miles for x-amount of time at x-zone. Sometimes you just have to trust yourself that if you stick to a well-designed training plan that allows you to train hard but recover harder, your body is going to be ready for race day because you will be executing a race day plan that is within your capability..because you are simply putting your training to the test.

Here are a few of recent runs to show you how the heart rate varies with pacing but with walk breaks, you can still be consistent with "intervals" without risking the type of fatigue that takes several days (alongside exceptional nutrition) to recover from.

*In case you are new to my blog, I run 4 days a week (Tu, Th, Sa, Sun) and my weekly run mileage is typically around 20-28 miles, depending on my "long" run. I never run for "miles" but rather for my "main set" (I warm-up until I feel good and cool-down with Campy until he gets tired) or for time. I have also mentioned in the past that since May 2011 all of my runs occur off the bike. Once or twice a week I may do a 30-90 min spin before I do a run but generally most of my bike workouts include some type of power interval (generally in my specific zones of Z3-Z4) and if the workout is "bike specific" I am riding for around 90 minutes to 2 hours during the week and up to 3.5 hours on my "long" ride on the weekend. I love the water and could swim every day if I wasn't a three-sport athlete. I typically swim Wed and Friday but will often thrown in another day if I am feeling like Nemo.

2/7/11- Brick Workout
1:40 bike on Cyclops power fluid trainer (20 min warm-up, main set: 2 x 15 min Z4 w/ 4 min recovery. 1 x 20 min Z3 upper w/ 5 min recovery. 10 min Z3 low, cool down).
40 min run - straight off the bike, into the "main set"
4 x 6 min (7 min/mile pace descending to 6:45 min/mile pace) w/ 2 min walk

#1) 6 min: 7:05 min/mile pace, 138 bpm average heart rate
2 min walk: 106 bpm heart rate
#2) 6 min: 6:54 min/mile pace, 146 bpm
2 min walk: 102 bpm
#3) 6 min: 6:49 min/mile pace, 146 bpm
2 min walk: 107 bpm
#4) 6 min: 6:42 min/mile pace, 149 bpm
2 min walk: 111 bpm
Total: 40:36 min, 4.89 mile, 8:18 min/mile pace, average HR 133 bpm



2/5/12: "long run"
1:20 easy spin on trainer
1:12 run - 5 mile "warm-up" (2 miles with campy, then 3 miles solo). Main set: 5 x 4 min @ around 7 min/mile pace w/ 1 min walk recovery. Cool down as needed (with Campy)

Mile 1: 7:36 min/mile, 116 bpm average HR (Campy was really flying!)
Mile 2: 9:05 min/mile, 117 bpm (potty stops for the campster)
Mile 3: 7:29 min/mile, 141 bpm
Mile 4: 7:34 min/mile, 142 bpm
Mile 5: 7:37 min/mile, 146 bpm (2 min walk break until I was ready for main set)
#1: 4 min, 6:58 min/mile pace, 149 bpm
1 min walk, 123 bpm
#2: 4 min, 7:10 min/mile pace, 146 bpm
1 min walk, 126 bpm
#3: 4 min, 6:54 min/mile, 151 bpm
1 min walk, 121 bpm
#4: 4 min, 6:57 min/mile, 150 bpm
1 min walk, 127 bpm
#5: 4 min, 6:55 min/mile, 151 bpm
1 min walk, 124 bpm
Warm-down w/ campy
Total: 1:12 total time, 9.03 miles, 8:01 min/mile pace (with walks included - no stopping watch during my workout), average HR 136 bpm.


Ready to add some walking into your routine? Try short "running" or fast walking intervals enough to make you breath a bit heavier than normal and allow double or triple recovery walk time to expire CO2 and to breath in fresh oxygen. Always consult your doctor when changing your exercise routine, especially when adding in high intensity intervals. All intervals can be done non-weight bearing on cardio equipment, water jogging, cycling or swimming. Enjoy!

2/6/12

Weight loss by cutting calorie density

Or, feeling satisfied by increasing nutrient density.

Whichever way you look at it, the obvious key to weight loss is eating less calories. Oh, if it was only that simple.

It's more and more common to see ads on TV of foods with "less" calories.
"Now...with only x-calories compared to before with x-calories."

When it comes to processed food (manufactured food in a box), often something is added when something is removed to make that food "less". Check the label and you will often see more fat, sugar, sodium or ingredients...often artificial or sweetened ingredients.

As an athlete, my focus is on my health but also on my performance. Therefore, as I am eating to LIVE a long and healthful lifestyle, I am also prioritizing my food choices to fuel my workouts. Thus, the balance is achieved when I feel satisfied with my food intake and thus, my workouts do not suffer because of my eating habits. This is something that is achieved over time and varies from person to person so be mindful that as your training changes, so does your diet. Additionally, what works for one person, may not (and probably won't) work for you.

However, the underlying "foundation" should remain the same.

According to the 2009 October issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter, pg 6 "If you trim the calorie density-that is, the calories per bite-people leave the table feeling full but with fewer calories in their belly (and, eventually, with less belly)." According to the Omni-heart higher-carb diet, "People who lowered their calorie density ended up eating fewer calories and losing more weight," explains Barbara Rolls of Pennsylvania State University. " The change in calorie density was the biggest predictor of six-month weight loss. And those people ate a pound more food a day."

I believe that this idea is easy to understand so for active individuals who feel like you are constantly eating or feeling hungry, the idea isn't always to just add more veggies and fruit.

The key is balance. Such an over-used word but very few seem to understand it when it comes to the diet. The idea is not to keep adding more and more food to satisfy cravings but to work with what you are doing and to find that right balance to keep you fueled, recovering quickly and to leave you satisfied.

Building a plate of nutrient-dense foods is the first place to start. This way you have the key nutrients to support metabolic processes, to reduce risk for disease, to fight illness and disease and to keep your body happy with fiber, water, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Once you have this foundation, find your balance with a selection of whole grains, protein and fat. Natural ingredients always win over artificial or manufactured.

Immersing myself in research lately has me really opening my eyes to a lot of new (yet previously discussed and overlooked) topics. To sum things up, do not believe everything you read on Facebook (especially those who are more focused on body composition than overall health) and my suggestion is to not overload the body with animal protein. Perhaps we should be paying a bit more attention to the types of fat in the diet (for flavor, for brain and body health, satisfaction and to slow down gastric emptying) and we should not be over-emphasizing dairy as much as once was believed. However, the key is balance and I still believe that 2 servings of non fat dairy (for those who choose dairy) is beneficial in a "plant-based" diet.
So, what else should you do? Bulk up the diet in plant-based protein and if you need a little help in reducing risk for disease or trying to find that right balance with your training routine, send me an email. I promise, a few dietary "life-changers" in terms of performance and health are not as complicated as you may think. Understanding that the importance is on what you CAN have and not what you CAN'T have, I don't believe in placing any of my athletes on prescribed diets. I read research with an open-mind and I believe in applying practices to "real-world" settings.

Thus...I leave you with my nutrient-dense salad filled with yumminess and a satisfied belly.

Nutrient dense salad
Spinach
Arugula
Romaine
Oranges
Cranberries
Sunflower seeds
1/2 avocado
Tomatoes
Onions
Green peppers






A few easy dressings:
(Nutrition Action Healthletter, Oct 2009 pg 7)

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh thyme (optional)
1 tbs dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Creamy citrus
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup mayo (recommend light)
1/3 cup (pure) canola oil (or your choice of heart healthy oil)

Sesame ginger
1 tbs sesame seeds
2 tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbs rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tbs minced ginger
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tbs toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup (pure) canola oil (or your choice of heart healthy oil)