Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire..."

Well looky here-I'm posting twice in one week. Lucky reader! Ok totally kidding on that one...

Today's post was spearheaded by this article on a touchy subject that really shouldn't be so; what we put in our bodies and getting enough matters. A lot. It was also prompted by some curiosity into my routine by the folks at upstart stands for Eat the Bear~hard core and fairly creative name, right?

It's been quite some time since I last posted about fueling and much has changed in my routine since then across the board, and changing sponsors is just the beginning of it. I find for that timing, consistency, mindset, and quality and per the article from NPR how much need to be implemented and trusted by the athlete in question.  Disclaimer: information stated here is purely my (mostly) educated opinion, and that I am not a nutritional expert or dietician, and neither do I assert that what I believe works for me will work for you~so basically-take this info, modify it or ask a professional about it....or simply leave it. :) And last time I checked to this day I've never eaten a bear, sadly. 

Still curious? Okay, lets begin. 

Petro at ETB was kind enough to ask some questions so I can just address on the fly instead of making up bullet points myself, but before I get into the what type of fuel goes in, it would help to know what type of car I'm driving and what it's used for-

For those who have not met me in person or whatnot, I debunk the "runner build" stereotype. This used to make me self conscious, now I'm almost a fan of it. I've read some pretty lame books thinking they were great because of their covers.... but  I digress. I consider myself muscular and fairly powerful and am seemingly on the upswing in my training. I am not made physiologically (or mentally) just like anyone else, so therefore my nutrition and workout regime is highly personalized and changes along with where I am in the season and health-wise (or at least I feel like it is!). I fortunately work for myself and have a fair amount of recovery and training time (notice the order of those two terms).

Training as of today took a bit of a shift. For the past few months, I have worked on base mostly with some fartlek and averaging 40 to just over 50 miles per week. Most of it aerobic, but August brought in a little oval action. Today, I started to work on speed after signs were apparent my body was ready. Races this Fall will consist of several cross country races (who say's its just for kids!) and maybe a shorter road race or two. In order to race well, I have to train consistently, and to train consistently, I need to focus on fueling for my workload and overall need and recover like it's more important than the workout. Yessir.

Now to address some of the aforementioned questions:

1. What is my typical fitness routine? The meat of it is daily runs of 5-14 miles 6 days per week with a rest day, either taken right before or right after long run day, which is Saturday or Sunday. Tuesday is track workout day, where I work on specific pacing and becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. The next two days are easy to moderate, so the energy system worked the day before (LT, anaerobic, etc) gets to regenerate. Friday is often a run paced a certain percentage of my race working on focus and strength. I lift weights twice per week, targeting all the major muscle groups but core is the main focus. This session usually only lasts 30-45 mins and seems to get the job done. I also do PT exercises and at least 5-10 mins of core every day, foam rolling is done in the evenings and the lacrosse ball makes an appearance usually after harder workouts. Almost no exceptions unless my muscles tell me they just need a break. Before a key workout or race, I like to do some mental training beforehand: visualizing, choreographed breathing, and set process goals. Most days per week I write in a training journal for perspective. Lastly, sleep is part of training. I may not be Ms. Excitement nowadays, but I am happier and perform better in running and at work, etc. when this takes precedence.

A sample week looks like this:

M: Easy 5-6 miles, core/drills, weights, mileage often done on soft surface
T: AM: Track or Fartlek workout, ex. today's 3 sets of 2 x 200/1 min recovery + 1 x 400 1 lap recovery. Look easy? It's not! Paces range from 5:20-6:30 depending on relative distance. PM: 3-4 miles easy on Alter-G treadmill at Sterling Ridge Sports Medicine or soft surface.
W: 5-mile recovery run at 8:30-9:30 pace, soft surface
TH: 5-6 miles at 7:30-8:30 pace & weights
F: 6 miles at 7:30 out, 7:15 back.
S: Long run of 10-14 miles
Sun: REST! :)

Along with the workouts I typically take an epsom salt bath the evening of and keep my feet up as much as I can in addition to foam rolling and mobility exercises. As for stretching I find dynamic is the way to go for my respective sport if done correctly.

2. What fuels my workouts? 

A few things. I am loyal to Honey Stinger products for most baseline fueling, not just because I am sponsored by them but their stuff contains mostly organic ingredients and tastes awesome! I will also note that while you'll see gluten-free products throughout, I switched to mostly GF as a personal choice after an experiment and ended up liking how I feel. This may not be necessary or for everyone.

Sample pre-workout fueling looks something like this:

Pre track workout (usually 6-7 miles total but intense effort): Honey Stinger Blueberry Buzz energy bar, Coffee with cream, 20 oz bottle of water (usually slammed right when I wake up and while making the coffee), 30 mins before I hit the track I consume one serving of Electolyte Fuel System EFS by First Endurance. I sweat a lot, A lot a lot and EFS has the highest electrolyte concentration I can find. Given that I live in the Houston area, hydrating is always on my mind. During the workout I like to alternate 1-2 servings of EFS with plain water to change it up.

Pre long run: More fuel is needed so I make it a point to increase my carb intake some the day before. I find lunch makes as big an impact as dinner if not more because it's had more time to digest and assimilate. Examples include sandwiches on gluten free-bagels (or any type of sandwich), anything with rice (sushi is a favorite), and an extra piece of fruit is helpful. Dinner I like some gluten-free pasta and sauce or pesto with chicken or salmon and a bottle of a sports drink if going 14 or more. I drink water almost constantly during the day and like to alternate it with a low-sugar electrolyte beverage, such as NUUN.

Morning of the run (and it is early) I have all my stuff already set up and it doesn't change too much, except I increase the amount sometimes. Go-to's are just like track (coffee, water upon waking) a Honey Stinger energy bar, and a piece of fruit. If I have been feeling more tired lately, I'll throw in a HS energy gel into the mix as well. I fix another serving of EFS and sip on the way to the route/meeting spot.

During the run hydration makes or breaks a run, especially in a fairly extreme environment like The Woodlands, TX. I hydrate early and often, taking 3-4 big sips from a bottle I have on hand every 5-10 mins (that works for me, some like longer intervals between drinking) and an energy gel with water (not sports drink to avoid the "lava lamp" effect) every 30-45 mins. If runs are longer and more fuel is needed (I aim for about 200-300 calories per hour while I'm out) I will take gels either in tandem or more frequently. One thing that I have heard nutritionists say and I am beginning to believe myself is that American amateur athletes (in such a weight-obsessed culture-another subject for another day) chronically underfuel. I believe fueling properly for you and your fitness level, type of workout, helps with the recovery process. If you don't have such a big deficeit then you feel better at your next workout may just be less "rungry" and make poor choices after the run.

3. What supplements constitute the regimen?

I try to keep it simple yet I end up being the butt of all my friends jokes on trips with how many things I pack!

Daily-multivitamin for active women, probiotic AM and PM, antioxidant complex, iron in the midday, 1200mg of calcium at night with 2000-400 IU vitamin D. *some may not need as much calcium as yours truly. Get enough stress fractures, you never skip it! 2000+mg of Omega 3's from fish oil.


Preworkout: I take an adaptogen after breakfast made by Gaia naturals 'Adrenal Health'. Running mileage and intense workouts coupled with daily stress can compound and make it hard for the body to respond. When I don't take this 2 times per day, I can tell. I take another dose in the afternoon. I take Beta Alanine to help with lactic acid buffering when training really kicks up. Like I need to go buy more, like now!

Recovery! In my opinion, the most important of them all, and guess what? It doesn't have to be made so complicated! There are several on the market, but the rule of thumb is a good 200-300 calories of 3:1  or 4:1 carb to protein (what I like as a distance runner) within 30 mins of activity Sports drinks or mixes, such as GenElite or UCAN recovery (another recent experiment I am still undecided about) contain amino acids that are easier to process and absorb right away to start the repair process of the metabolic and muscular systems(or something like that, anyhow).

 Right after getting fluids back in (Priority #1!), have a mix or bar available containing protein and I like to look for about 30 or more grams of carbs (and 8-10 or more grams of protien). A high quality protein powder that agrees with any dietary restrictions is a good start. When available, I will also go for some powdered greens to mix in water-that or order an omelette with extra spinach and such right after.

Timing of supplementation and refueling is the most important according to those who know more than me and the protocol I follow is 1. Start re hydrating. Like right when you hit "stop' on your watch. Then don't quit until about an hour before bedtime. 2. Get protein in within 30 mins. Powder, chocolate milk, yogurt, smoothies, etc. Within 45-1 hour I then like to get a good-sized breakfast in. Go-to's for me are GF pancakes with vanilla protein powder and an egg or two, omelet with toast and jam, Oatmeal with chocolate milk or eggs on the side. BIG smoothie with greens, berries, protein, and some sort of juice. Yeah.

Oh, and if I'm not around a restaurant or near home, I stash a bagel with peanut or almond butter with me or have some sort of powder available. A little extra EFS in the summer never seems to hurt either!

4. Drills and stretching routines to prep for workouts

This is where probably the biggest changes have been made for good.

Before most runs and I make it mandatory before workouts and races to do dynamic and muscle activation. According to my coach and I now believe him, doing these drills AFTER runs seems to have some magic to them as well because I am leaving an imprint on my brain and body (aka the neuromuscular system for nerds like me) that this is the correct way we move, not the tired and hot shuffle or poor posture that can result from fatigue.

Since June, almost every day I have gone through this routine at least once per workout from Running Times (as opposed to jogger's world).

But what about including_____? Have you ever tried________? Maybe, but my best piece of advice in a world full of wonderful routines, exercised, and viewpoints is to form your own by selecting exercises that A. you like, B. fit your schedule and are actually willing to do them and C. are relevant to your goals. In my case it's increased stability, which creates better durability, and then faster turnover. And seriously, am I not the only one who appreciates but gets annoyed by rapid fire suggestions of what to do and what's the next hottest thing in fitness and running? Sigh. Ok rant over.

Besides the drills, I get on the ground and hit parts of Jay Johnson's pedestal routine and mix in some stability ball work-hamstring curls, "stir the pot" exercise, basic crunches, and planks. My physio routine includes hip hiking on a step, single leg bridging, leg raises at an angle, clams, and bird dog/hydrant exercises. Short on time? What I do is set a timer to cook my breakfast in the microwave or toaster and hit some reps during idle time.

Our legs basically hang from our core, so picture your body as a two-seated swing set-you want to just swing naturally from a structure you trust. I like to pair an image to really drive home what I'm doing.

Speaking of images, I always seem to train and race best when I visualize what I am about to do, doing it well, AND navigating adversity and challenges. Fuel the mind like you fuel the body, and you've got one well-running and efficient machine.

Summing up, hope this long post has some bits of info one can use, but make it your own. Find products you trust, time your meals, find a small group of individuals and sources of which you trust info from and get to work. What may look and seem like a lot at first can become just like clockwork. They say, after all that the best athletes have learned to "live like a clock".

What fuels you?

Stay the course.

1 comment:

MJ said...

I love the swing set image! I can use that. (I so need form improvement)

So many similarities to what I do and how I approach it....though I can't eat beforehand except for gel.