Archive for the ‘Performance’ Category

ING NYC Marathon

Reposted from: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/running-marathon-training-tips/

In high school, I could barely run the timed mile test, walking most of it.

Three years ago, I ran my first marathon after losing 50 pounds. I finished in 4:59, and I was happy just to have finished. But I knew I had more in me.

A few weeks ago, I ran my fourth marathon in 3:56. I took more than an hour off my time in three years, without devoting my entire life to running. I work a full-time job, volunteer and have an active social life, but I never felt like I was giving anything up for running. If anything, it added to the quality of my life.

I trained hard to get there, but there are also a few important tweaks I made that helped. Of course, the marathon is a special beast, and anything can happen on race day. But most coaches agree that training smarter physically and mentally can get you to the starting line stronger and ready to tackle 26.2. Here are five strategies that can be effective across the board, along with insights from Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World.

1. Add Speedwork

When I started training for my first marathon, I was still pretty new to running. I’d been at it for about a year, and the thought of intentionally running faster sounded terrifying. I just wanted to finish. During subsequent training cycles, I learned that speedwork (pushing harder in the middle of a workout at a specific speed for a specific amount of time) would change everything. That’s right, running faster… helps you get faster. Crazy, right? Speedwork works best when you’re running hard at a distance relative to your race distance, so tempo runs or mile repeats are best for marathoners. “I always felt like I was getting a little bit of speed but lots of endurance from mile repeats,” says Yasso.

2. Log Race Pace Miles

How are you going to run your goal pace for hours on end if you don’t know what it feels like to run at that pace? Speedwork paces and goal race paces should be fairly different. Your speedwork pace is typically your pace for a 10K or a half-marathon, or, a pace you can hold for roughly one to two hours. Your race pace is something that you’re trying to hold for 3-plus hours, unless you’re an elite athlete.

I practiced at my goal pace for mid-distance runs and at the end of long runs, so that I knew what it felt like to hold it for a sustained amount of time, and what it felt like to hold it on tired legs. On race day, while I checked my watch obsessively, I easily could have told you if I were running faster or slower than my goal pace by how I felt the cadence in my legs. By running race pace miles, says Yasso, “I always felt that innate sense of rhythm that I can carry this pace on race day.”

3. Up Your Days and Your Mileage

The first time around, I ran between two and three times per week, supplementing that with other forms of cardio at the gym and lifting with a trainer. I finished that marathon at an 11:25 pace, hitting the wall colossally at mile 18. I knew if I wanted to get faster, though, that I would need to run more. I used to be terrified of running two days in a row, but this year I typically ran five days per week, and I maxed out my mileage at 47 miles one week. I got to run on tired legs quite often, which was a huge mental boost at mile 22 of the marathon, when my legs felt like someone had strapped massive sandbags to them.

Though there are many variables to determining weekly mileage, says Yasso, the key is to listen to your body and not overtrain. Experts generally recommend not increasing your weekly mileage more than 10 percent each week.

4. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Running is hard. Running fast(er) is even harder. Miles 21 to 24 of the New York City Marathon were incredibly uncomfortable. Of course they were. I’d just run 20 miles! I reminded myself it was supposed to be uncomfortable and not to walk.

“The only way to advance in our sport,” says Yasso, “is to go to the uncomfortable zone. Embrace the pain, and you will be rewarded at the finish line.”

5. Never Set Limits

I took off 40 minutes between marathons 1 and 2. If I had believed that was impossible, I wouldn’t have had the guts to go for that time and make gutsier goals from there. But I thought about what I could do and shot high. I missed the mark last year, but if I hadn’t set such an audacious goal, it wouldn’t have lit the fire in my belly to chase the 3:56 this year.

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Food Mistakes

By Cynthia Sass

Whether you earn your living working up a sweat, or squeeze in workouts when you can, it’s easy to fall prey to eating errors that unintentionally hold you back from getting the most out of your workouts. Here are five common missteps I see, and how to correct them to reap the rewards of your hard work.

Eating Too Little Fat Despite my recommendations to include good fats at every meal, like avocado, nuts, seeds and coconut oil, some of my clients remain fat phobic, and will scale back, fearing that fat is “fattening.” But the truth is, getting enough fat is a smart strategy for both sports nutrition and weight control, because fat: delays stomach emptying, so you feel fuller longer; increases satiety, to shut off hunger hormones; boosts antioxidant absorption, which in emerging research is related to leanness; and ups metabolic rate, to help you burn more calories. In fact, fat is one of the most vital nutrients in your diet, because it’s a structural part of your cells, which means you can’t heal a cell or construct a new one without enough fat to perform these important jobs. Cutting back too much can result in fatigue, chronic hunger, or a lack of satiety, irritability, depression, a weaker immune system and an increased injury risk. So even if you’re trying to reduce your body fat percentage, don’t be afraid to add almond butter to a smoothie, top your salad with avocado, and sauté your veggies in extra virgin olive oil. Filling the fat gap can be the key to finally seeing results.

Using A Sports Drink When You Really Don’t Need One If you sweat heavily, work out for more than 90 minutes, or exercise in hot, humid conditions, reaching for a sports drink rather than plain water is a smart way to keep hydrated, stay fueled and replace the electrolytes lost in sweat. But if you’re exercising for less than an hour and a half, in a climate-controlled gym, plain water should be fine. The carbs in sports drinks are designed to keep you going when you can’t stop to eat, but if your muscles don’t need the fuel, just one 20 ounce bottle means consuming a surplus 35 grams of sugar, the amount in about 20 gummy bears. And while unsweetened coconut water is a little lower, an 11-ounce jug still contains 15 grams of potentially unneeded carbs.

Not Eating After A Workout Because You’re Afraid To “Eat Back” What You’ve Burned While it’s true that overcompensating for a workout by eating too much can prevent you from shrinking your fat cells, striking the right balance is key. Working out takes a toll on your body, and having the right raw materials to heal and repair the wear and tear is important for seeing results. In other words, it’s not just the training itself, but the healing from the training, that mends muscles, boosts metabolism and makes you more toned and fit. So while a good hard workout isn’t a license to sit down to a big plate of pasta, or eat dessert every night, you should be eating something afterwards, with a goal of delivering the nutrients your body needs to properly recover.

Only Eating Protein Post Workout While protein is a key recovery nutrient, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. In addition to a lean protein source, like a smart phone-sized portion of fish or chicken or a scoop of lentils, you should aim for plenty of produce (to replenish nutrients and supply antioxidants), a healthy fat source (which also helps muscles heal and optimizes circulation), a small serving of a whole grain, like wild rice or quinoa (to replete glycogen, the carbohydrate stored in muscle tissue, which serves as a primary fuel source during exercise) and of course fluid, preferably good old H2O (to rehydrate). If you exercise after work, a great post-workout recovery dinner would be a stir-fry made with chicken, shrimp or organic tofu, along with a variety of colorful veggies, over a small portion of whole grain rice, topped with sliced almonds or black sesame seeds. For a simple aromatic stir-fry sauce, that’s not loaded with sugar, whisk together a few tablespoons of brown rice vinegar, with a splash of fresh squeezed citrus juice (like tangerine or blood orange), and a dash each of fresh grated ginger, minced garlic and crushed red pepper.

 

Doubling Up On Recovery Meals For my pro athlete clients, I highly recommend eating something like an all natural bar or shake within 30 minutes of the end of a game or a tough training session whenever possible, because starting the recovery process within a half hour has been shown to help maximize healing. But employing this strategy if you’re not a pro can wind up working against you. For example, if you munch on a bar or grab a smoothie on the way out of the gym, then go home and eat dinner, you may be in recovery overkill. While it might not register as a meal, a bar with 30 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fat, and 10 grams of protein is like eating a small turkey sandwich with mayo. And a smoothie can be the equivalent of three to four handfuls of fruit, plus a container of yogurt. Downing these “snacks” just an hour or so before eating a regular dinner, can mean giving your body far more than it needs for recovery, which results in feeding your fat cells, rather than shrinking them. If you’re going to be eating a meal with an hour of leaving the gym, skip the bar and shake. And if it’s going to be a little longer, munch on something like almonds, which supply some protein, good fat and nutrients, to tie you over.

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by Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

      Image      Recently, there has been debate in triathlon circles about the benefit of brick runs. A new school of thought has swept in claiming that running off the bike in training serves no purpose and is of little use. After years of thought on this topic as a coach, and much personal experimentation as an athlete and movement specialist here in our gait analysis lab, here is my perspective on the debate.

In brief, I believe brick runs have great value, but not necessarily for the reasons most people think. In my opinion, the issue of running off the bike should not be presented as a training dilemma or time-saving problem to be solved. Brick runs, in fact, present the opportunity to solve a very important physical MOVEMENT issue for triathletes.

What I know from my work in our gait analysis lab, and confirmed from my own experience, is that it is VERY challenging to get the posterior chain-the glutes, in particular-working properly to be able to run well after cycling. I have personally spent a lot of time practicing and experimenting with ways to trigger better glute activation and involvement before a brick run. I have worked on correct hip flexor stretching, and various dynamic stretching of the entire anterior hip region in order to better activate the posterior chain. I can tell you with certainty that it is very difficult to get the back side of our body going after being on a bike for any length of time. And, to be clear, to run to your potential your posterior chain-including the glutes-has to not only be firing, but must be strong.

But why do the glutes stubbornly refuse to activate off the bike? It is due to a real physiologic phenomenon known as reciprocal inhibition. Reciprocal inhibition causes the muscles on one side of a joint to relax to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. The posture of cycling involves sustained hip flexion, making the hip flexors short and tight. Reciprocal inhibition then causes the hip extensors, especially the gluteus maximus, to shut down markedly. As we discuss further, you will see how brick runs work effectively to counter this phenomenon.

The discoveries I have made in my own training, as well as what I see in the athletes I coach, prove to me that the following elements are absolutely crucial to one’s ability to optimize the run portion of a triathlon:

– You must first understand how important the glutes are in running. And its NOT enough that your glutes are strong (although they MUST be STRONG), they must also be able to act as the PRIMARY extendor of the hip, which is their role. Sometimes the hamstring or low back, due to compensation, tries to over take the role of the glute. First order of business for you is to eliminate compensation wherever possible so that the glutes are doing their job, and then via a platform of functional strength training, get them strong.

– You must understand that the glutes work to create hip extension when running to power you down the road. When coming off the bike, the glutes are not doing that job well at all due to reciprocal inhibition. The longer the ride, the greater the inhibition. Therefore…

– It is imperative to PRACTICE running off the bike frequently to develop a precise, in-tune FEEL of what it takes to get the glutes working effectively. How can you do that?

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I found this article and recipe by Marni Sumbal and I thought I would share it on my site.  As an endurance athlete I find it very hard to keep from eating everything in site after long workouts.  These habits and this recipe will help not over indulge from the post workout cravings.  Like any recipe you can make modifications to better suit your taste or for what is in your cabinet.  I replaced the tofu with grilled chicken, the wild rice with plain brown rice, and I left out the nutty dip.   Other than that I kept everything the same.  I hope you guys enjoy the tips and feel free to add a comment on how you modified the recipe or if you liked it.

Two strategies that I find very effective for a healthy balance in athletes and fitness enthusiasts are:

  1. Rearrange your plate with similar foods, emphasizing nutrient-dense options
  2. Assess before you act

For the first point — you will see my recipe below which could be titled either “rice bowl with veggies” or, for more nutritional value and nutrient density, “veggie bowl with rice.” I find this very effective for individuals who struggle with portions, have trouble making healthy changes in the diet (to be long-lasting) or struggle with giving up (or eliminating) favorite foods. This makes it much easier to make slow, gradual changes by introducing more healthful items (like veggies) but not completely give-up some of your favorites.

As we all know, habits can be changed. Learning new behaviors doesn’t happen quickly so by making a few swaps you may find yourself gravitating to a new style of eating. I also find this a fantastic tip for all those who have considered an off-limit food list to change body composition. When working with athletes I coach, we say no food is off-limits but we always address how that food makes us feel and how it helps us reach our goals, which leads me to my second point.

This is for those who struggle with second portions, deciding what to have for a meal or snack or struggling with cravings for that after-meal/mid-day sugary treat. This one is simple to suggest but often a struggle at first to implement. Before every meal or snack, ask yourself how that food will make you feel when you eat. You should strive to feel better after you eat than before you started. I find this very useful for individuals who eat a meal but always need that extra something after a meal. I certainly find nothing wrong with a nice small piece of dark chocolate but for those who always have ice cream after dinner or can’t stop after one bowl of cereal or 2 pieces of bread, just ask yourself: “How will this food make me feel when I am done?”

Like I said it sounds very simple but this can make the difference of eating 1/2 cookie and feeling very satisfied with your small portion of a treat after dinner versus having 2 cups of ice cream with chocolate syrup, granola and a few berries on top.

I hope you enjoy my latest creation. It is inspired by the rice bowl at Moe’s Southwest Grill. If these vegetables are not your favorite, feel free to swap in veggies that you enjoy most.

Veggie Bowl with Rice

 

  • Broccoli
  • Corn
  • Green peas
  • Leeks
  • Fresh basil
  • Red bell pepper
  • Green bell pepper
  • Tofu
  • Olive oil
  • Curry powder
  • Nutty dip
  • Wild Rice — cook according to package/box/bag (if seasoning is in separate bag, I recommend using 1/4 of the seasoning rather than the entire package)
  1. In large skillet on low-medium heat, cover bottom of pan with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil.
  2. Add veggies (recommend to steam corn, peas and broccoli for 1:30 in microwave) and tofu and stir occasionally.
  3. When tofu begins to turn golden brown, add sliced leeks (you can use chives or onion) and basil (chopped).
  4. Turn off heat when mixture is soft (around 12-18 minutes depending on heat) and add 1-2 Tbsp nutty dip and stir gently.
  5. Cover and let sit for 1-2 minutes.
  6. In large bowl, add 1 serving of rice (recommend 1/3 – 1/2 cup wild rice to start) to your veggie mixture. Mix and enjoy!

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 Do You Want to Lose Weight?

Break away from bad eating habits and find new ways to shed pounds for good. By Nicole Falcone Image by Ann E. Cutting Published 11/29/2010

Q: How can I benefit from a session with a regular dietitian, and how do I find a good one? A: A registered dietitian (R.D.) can help you whether you need a few nutritional pointers or you want a complete diet overhaul. To be an R.D. one must have a college degree in dietetics, as well as clinical experience, and must be certified by the American Dietetic Association. Many R.D.s are well versed in sports nutrition, but they often also specialize in such areas as diabetes, weight loss, or heart health.
In one or more sessions with an R.D., you should be provided with eating plans and specific food guidelines tailored to your dietary needs. Some dietitians may even join you in the grocery store to teach you how to shop for optimal health.
To find a dietitian in your area, go to eatright.org. Call a few dietitians and discuss their rates (which can range from $75 to $250 per hour), as well as their views on eating, foods, and supplements. I suggest you avoid dietitians who push supplements over food. Also be wary of “food cops” who exclude food groups or pit good foods against bad foods.

Q: Neither my weight nor my diet nor my running habits have changed for 20 years—but my waist measurement has steadily grown. What gives? A: Even runners who stay in top shape as they age may see their waistlines expand due to declining levels of “youth” hormones, such as growth hormone, which alter where body fat is stored as well as declining muscle mass. While your diet may not have changed much, certain foods can have a bigger impact on weight gain as you age. Keep your belt buckle in the same hole with these strategies:
Pack in produce. Studies show that people who eat ample fruits and vegetables have smaller waists than those who skimp on produce. Researchers theorize a diet rich in fruits and veggies helps curb blood-sugar swings, which can influence the hormones that make fat.
Keep it whole. Eating whole-grain over refined-grain products keeps waistlines trim. Research reveals refined-grain eaters have larger waists, which may be related to a lower fiber intake and its impact on controlling body fat.
Easy on the alcohol. Studies show heavy alcohol consumption leads to fat accumulation around the middle. Women should drink no more than one drink daily, and men should limit themselves to two drinks per day.
Stay fit. Studies show people lose specifically from their waist when exercise is part of their weight-loss program. Upping your mileage or occasionally adding other cross-training workouts may help shave off inches.

Q: What’s the best race distance to train for to lose weight? A: Many runners assume marathon training is the fastest way to lose weight, because all those extra miles add up to lots of burned calories. But the additional miles will also increase appetite, leading some runners to eat too many calories to lose weight.
So rather than running longer, I suggest concentrating on pace. Specifically, try speeding up on one to three of your runs per week (alternating your faster days with easy days). Running faster burns more calories and helps you lose weight in three ways.
(1) You burn about 100 calories for every mile you run. But as intensity increases, so does calorie burning—up to 10 calories per minute per mile. That may sound like a small difference, but it adds up. (2) After a run, you burn additional calories as your body recovers. The harder you run, the more energy you’ll expend post-exercise. One study showed that a high-effort exercise session boosted the “afterburn” by more than double compared with a low-effort session. (3) High-intensity running puts a damper on your appetite. After a longer, slower jog you may well be hungry, while after a hard run, you usually don’t feel like eating. Researchers theorize that a high-intensity effort heats up the body more, which affects temperature-sensitive appetite controls in the central nervous system.
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This piece first appeared in the September issue of Competitor Magazine.

If you’re only focused on race-day nutrition, you’re missing the big picture, says Littleton, Colo.-based Bob Seebohar, the personal sport dietitian for the 2008 Olympic Triathlon Team and author of “Nutrition Periodization for Athletes: Taking Traditional Sports Nutrition to the Next Level.”

“You have specific physiological goals associated with each training cycle, such as increasing endurance, speed, strength and power, and improving technique, tactics and economy,” Seebohar said. “You should have specific nutrition goals as well.”

Those goals might include losing or gaining weight, losing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass, reducing inflammation and improving overall health. To achieve your goals, Seebohar recommends periodizing your nutrition plan just as you would your training.

“Look at your nutrition as a function of your energy expenditure and physical goals associated with each training cycle to guide your nutritional choices,” Seebohar said.

Seebohar shares five tips for fueling during your competitive season, when you have the highest energy expenditure needs.

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