It’s Race Week – Part 2 (Diet)

Our race week prep shouldn’t tremendously deviate from our training: consistency is very important for runners.  We want to perform our best and know why we’re performing the way we are.  Eat and drink as usual, even a little more!  If you think you need an extra serving of spaghetti or fruit, don’t hesitate.  It’s more glycogen for our bodies for the race!  And remember to drink plenty of water through the week!  You’re almost there, now’s not the time to go out with friends because you have more time on your hands. Carb up, but keep good practices.  If we continue to eat the same amount of food, but run less, we’re actually carbing up by virtue of burning off fewer carbs.  So, we don’t necessarily feel the need to dramatically increase the amount of food we consume.

It’s Race Week – Part 1 (Runs during race week)

“It’s Race Week” is a series of posts intended to serve as a guide for what to do during the week leading up to your next big race.

It’s race week for the big half or full marathon you’ve been training months for.  The week of the big race has finally arrived.  How we plan it?  Do we run less?  Do we run harder?  What do we do the day and morning before?  For first-timers, it’s entering the unknown; for veterans, it’s experimenting what we can do better.  It can be as much about what not to do as what to do.  Let’s take a little look at race week prep.

Part 1 – Running During Race Week

Remember this: no training will make us faster during race week. If we’re tapering properly, we should be balls of energy: ready to go on race day! It may feel like we can get another quality run or two in, but we’re supposed to feel this way. We’re tapering! If in doubt, don’t run. Unless you’re an experienced, fast runner, our race week prep should consist of only easy runs. If we can’t hold a lengthy conversation while running, we’re running too fast.

How many runs should we have? That totally depends on the runner. Some people train everyday, others train four days per week. Many people rest the three days before their marathons. That may be too extreme, but taking off days before the marathon actually increases fitness because it gives us more rest. Rest = fitness, as paradoxically as that sounds. It’s something to practice if in doubt. If this is your first marathon, run 3-4 miles (depending on how you feel) Monday through Thursday, then take Friday and Saturday off before your Sunday race. Remember, our race week prep also includes not doing too much! Run a few miles to keep your body in motion and avoid feeling “flat” during the race, but it’s not time to try to gain fitness!

Eat Smarter, Run Faster

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What do you think about before you go out for a run? The weather, your workout plan, or what you’re going to wear? One thing you might not consider is how to properly fuel your body before, during, and after a run. Proper nutrition is an essential component of improving performance, decreasing recovery time, and preventing stomach distress while pounding the pavement. While every runner is unique in what works for him or her, these general tips can give you a starting point when it comes to properly fueling your run.

Pre-Workout

Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for endurance athletes, such as runners. They provide the fuel to keep your muscles working efficiently, and they are quickly digested and used by the body. The timing of carb intake is important. Recommendations suggest consuming 100-400 calories of carbohydrate-dense foods one to three hours before your workout. Examples include:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Yogurt with fresh fruit or granola
  • Oatmeal made with milk and a banana
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Bagel, English muffin, or toast with nut butter
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Cereal and milk
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Energy bar
  • Sports drink

 Hydration is another vital part of nourishing your body before a workout. Drink water consistently throughout the day, and if you’re a morning runner, be sure to drink some water before you head out on your run. If your urine is dark yellow in color (a sign of dehydration), drink more. If it’s super hot out or you know you will sweat a lot, sports drinks containing electrolytes can help you stay hydrated.

During a Workout

After carbohydrates are eaten, they turn into glucose within our bloodstream. This glucose is then transformed into glycogen and stored as energy within our liver and muscles. As we run, glycogen stores are depleted, decreasing our energy levels as a result. The “wall” some runners may hit is often because their glycogen stores are completely used up! You can avoid hitting the “wall” by eating 30-60 grams of quick, easily-digestible carbohydrate after about an hour into a workout. Examples of such carb sources include:

  • Bananas
  • Dried fruit
  • Honey
  • Rice
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy gels
  • Chewing blocks
  • Jelly beans

Energy gels, chewing blocks, and jelly beans can often be found in specialty running stores and have been created to help runners maintain their glycogen stores.

Hydration is important during workouts too, especially in the hot summer months. Carry a water bottle with you on long runs, pay attention to your thirst level, and try to drink fluids every 15 minutes or so for workouts longer than 45 to 60 minutes. Electrolyte-containing sports drinks like Gatorade can also be helpful in maintaining hydration levels and electrolyte balance. Just take into account the amount of carbohydrate the drink contains when calculating your carb needs.

Post-Workout

After a workout is over, try to refuel your body within 15-20 minutes. During this time the muscles are most receptive to nutrients, meaning they recover faster. This recovery “window” stays open for about 2 hours; so try to eat a snack within this time frame. Post-workout snacks should consist of three to four parts carbohydrate to one part protein. The carbs restore glycogen levels (= energy!) while the protein helps build and repair muscles. Examples of ideal recovery snacks include:

  • Chocolate milk
  • Smoothie made with yogurt and berries
  • Pita bread and hummus
  • Bagel and peanut butter
  • Fruit (bananas, apples, grapes) and almond butter
  • Homemade trail mix (dried fruit, popcorn, cereal, nuts)
  • Milk and cereal
  • Energy bar and fresh fruit
  • Graham crackers and peanut butter
  • Whole-grain crackers and string cheese
  • Pancakes and milk
  • Bagel, egg, and cheese
  • Pudding, berries, and animal crackers

The one piece of advice that holds true for all runners: figure out your nutrition plan well before race day! Never try anything new on the day of the race, or you run the risk of experiencing unpleasant symptoms and an unsatisfactory performance.

Proper nutrition is one facet of exercise that can help all runners improve their performance. Consider creating a smart nutrition plan to run faster and feel better no matter what the weather conditions may be!

Ashley Moyna, Dietetic Intern at The Ohio State University

Avid Runner, Peanut Butter Connoisseur, Enthusiastic Traveler

Epic Run Streak 500 Days

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On January 3rd 2015, I had a date. My plan for the day was to grab a quick dinner, and then go log a few miles in the dark before bed. Alas, a freak ice storm struck during dinner, and by the time I got home, the roads were too treacherous to risk a run. I instead settled into the couch and accepted the day off. Rest days are a critical part of training, right?

Well, maybe not. Since getting iced out, I’ve spurned rest days entirely, and now have logged over 500 days in a row going out for a run. Like a mailman, neither rain nor snow (nor runner’s trots, food poisoning or extreme laziness) has stopped me from lacing up and pounding out at least a mile.

Run streaking is increasingly popular among obsessive, moronic runners like me — there’s even an official national run streak association. Contrary to popular belief, run streaking doesn’t require traveling in your birthday suit (though presumably one could, and thus patent the streaking run streak). As best I can remember, I’ve stayed clothed for all 500+ runs. What constitutes a run streak for me (and some people’s ideas vary) is running at least one mile every day, with the day starting at midnight local time and ending the following midnight. It’s simple: once a day, I need to find some time when I can put one foot in front of the other, and traverse 5280 feet.

But life is complicated, and though a quick mile takes only a handful of minutes, a lot happens in 500 days to result in some daunting, and often self-inflicted, challenges. Some of the lowlights from my streak include:

  • Running through food poisoning. I woke up to toss my cookies, and my stomach continued red-alert evacuation of all its contents throughout the day. At around 10 PM, weak, miserable and stinky, I begrudgingly put on my running shoes and ran exactly 1.000 miles. Not calling Ralph until I got home remains a crowning achievement.
  • Running through the snow in jeans. Thanks to poor planning, I found myself at a friend’s house at 11 PM during a snowstorm, post-happy hour, in jeans and a button-up, not having run. I was sure the streak was dead, until my friends practically threw me out the door to make me traipse through the snow in my work clothes.
  • Running after the longest day ever. After a 12-hour drive, I came home to find that my lock was jammed. It took a locksmith several hours to get me inside, whereupon I had to quickly change and get out the door before midnight came and my streak turned into a pumpkin.

Lots of people tell me that streaking is a terrible idea; rest days are critical, they insist, and I’m not engaging optimal training. And they’re likely right. But there’s something to be said for pigheaded determination to never miss a daily dash. And although I’ve faced my share of aches, pains and injuries, I’ve gained a lot from this streak. I’ve taken 25 minutes off my marathon PR, lost over 20 pounds, and feel stronger than ever before. I’ve gotten to explore amazing places; I’ve run in 10 states and 3 countries, on roads and trails, in every imaginable setting. On days when I easily could’ve stayed on the couch and watched TV, I forced myself to head out the door, and I almost never regretted it. My run streak is a silly personal achievement, and totally meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but it’s kept me running no matter what life throws at me.

Streaking isn’t for everyone; most folks are able to run like rational beings, and take regular rest days without feeling existential angst. But for me, the streak has helped keep me motivated and given me an easy way to focus on my running goals. Eventually the streak will have to come to an end, but for now, after nearly 2,400 miles, no ice storm is going to stop me. If you’re lacking motivation or looking for an interesting new running challenge, a streak might be worth a try – just please, keep your shorts on.

LEARN MORE & REGISTER

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We are really excited to be hosting this awesome event!

Watchers will receive the following:

  • Boston clam chowder
  • Sam Adams & Harpoon beer
  • Columbus Race Calendar beer glass
  • Marathon viewing on the big screen
  • Entry into the 2.62 mile “Grandview Running Club style” timed fun run (not a closed course participants must obey all pedestrian laws)

LEARN MORE & REGISTER

Yes, Yoga is for Runners

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I can’t do yoga. I am inflexible. I can’t even touch my toes. It looks too slow. I need to burn calories. I can’t sit still that long. It looks silly. I don’t want to chant. Do I have to wear funny clothes?

Folks had told me for years to do yoga and I was guilty of thinking it looked silly and wasn’t a real workout. After all, time is precious and I needed to use every available minute to burn calories and build muscle. With six full marathons, 49 half marathons, 10 duathlons and a variety of other distance races under my belt, the thought of taking a precious hour out of my schedule to “stretch” seemed like a waste. I needed to train. I needed to run.

When I finally found yoga at age 38, it was something I was willing to try because I simply couldn’t get the same mental release I once did with running. And, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, my body simply wasn’t bouncing back from those long runs, or the speed-work, like it used to. When I began to learn more about yoga and saw how it made a difference not only for my body, but my mind, I was immediately hooked. I am still a runner today — a much happier, less sore, non-injured runner — because I became a yogi. And I believe so much in yoga as a good complement to running that I became a yoga teacher to spread the word.

How Running and Yoga Really Work Together

The word yoga comes from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language. It is a derivation of the word yuj, which means yoking. In contemporary practice, this is often interpreted as meaning union. Yoga is said to be for the purpose of uniting of the mind, body and breath. As a runner, you can probably appreciate the importance of uniting the mind, body and breath. These three elements comprise your running ability and performance. When one of them is out of whack, it’s hard to have a good run.

One of the key reasons many runners try yoga is to work on flexibility and soothe those tight areas. It is important to note that stiffness in some areas, such as the hips and core, is critical for the transfer of energy to the ground as we pound on the pavement or trail. However, too much stiffness in your hips, for example, may shorten your stride. Tightness in a certain muscle, such as your calf, may alter your stride and result in a chain reaction of compensating motion with your hips, knees, foot or back. Finding the right balance of flexibility and tightness is key to keeping runners injury-free and yoga can help achieve this goal.

In addition to developing greater flexibility, there are many other benefits runners will recognize with a dedicated yoga practice. For example, science proves that yoga can counteract the deterioration of the discs that lie between the vertebrae. Interestingly enough, the disks of adults have no blood supply of their own. Rather, they rely on nearby vessels to nourish them. As we age, the already limited supply of blood diminishes still further and the disks gradually dry out and become thinner (that is why we shrink). However, flexing the spine results in more nutrients to diffuse into the disks. Runners can appreciate the importance of a healthy spine.

And what about releasing all those toxins? Yoga teachers are constantly talking about rinsing out our toxins! Don’t you do that on your run? Yes, but not in the manner you may think. Seventy percent of toxins are released through breath, while only 2 percent are released through sweat. Yoga also increases gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), the neurotransmitter that is key to feeling happy.

Another key benefit of yoga is improving our balance and creating greater body awareness. I have been able to identify the root cause of many old injuries as well as understand current areas of imbalance in my body through yoga. For example, by paying attention to how my body responded and what form it took in certain poses, I was able to identity that one hip was higher than the other, which explained a list of past injuries and ailments. Further, my running form has improved. Through yoga I learned that my hamstring and quad strength were not symmetrical, probably because of my tendency to push forward a bit in all those long runs, resulting in over-developed quads and weaker hamstrings. Targeted poses now have resulted in more symmetry in my body, and better running form!  Yoga can be a very effective modality for strengthening one muscle, while stretching the opposing one.

What to expect?

If you are interested in giving yoga a try, consider taking a yin or deep stretch class. Such formats focus on repairing connective tissues and elongating muscles. Although flow and power classes also are a fun offering and should be added to the mix if your schedule allows, if your goal is to get help your body recover from your runs and continue to build better balance, body symmetry and flexibility, the deeper stretch classes will likely help you best reach your goals in a quicker timeframe. But, even though these practices are slower, don’t let that fool you into thinking that they are easy! If your goal is to find that deep stretch and repair, poses should be held for longer durations of time. Poses held for longer than 30 seconds, and even as long as three to five minutes in some yin classes, allow you to stretch the muscles as well as the fascia that surrounds and shoots through the muscles. These tissues doesn’t respond to stresses in a short time-span. Find your first edge and then settle in, don’t go deeper. Allow your muscles to relax and feel them melt around your bones, remain still and hold the pose. This connective tissue can be elastic, but it can also stick to itself like a wad of plastic wrap.

One of phrases I repeat over and over again when I teach is “to use a pose to get into your body, not your body to get into a pose.” Keep that in mind as you begin to practice. Your body may look totally different than the person next to you and the teacher based on so many factors. Every yoga pose is good for somebody, and bad for somebody. Your anatomy and history are unique.

Chances are your mind is going to give up on a pose before your body will. If you are used to motion, sitting in a pose and being left with your thoughts can be tough. But, with practice, your body and mind will grow and find a balance. Your body and your mind should move together, not combat each other. Bring awareness to your breath, which many include sending breath to a particular part of the body. Be careful not to dive too deeply into a pose, holding it with desperate resolve. Instead, use preparatory movements as a way to explore it, and then hold a version that is challenging, yet safe. Also check in with your emotions and notice what is rising but don’t judge or criticize yourself for those feelings. Remember that the goal is to create ease in the body, not greater tension. Change the posture for the breath, not the other way around.

As a final thought, consider an old yogi saying: If you listen to the body whisper, you don’t have to hear it scream. Yoga can help you create greater body awareness, alleviate imbalance, and maybe even improve your running performance or at least make it more enjoyable.

Kimberly Kayler, RYT200, is a runner turned yogi. She applies her background in marathon running to a unique athlete-focused deep stretch class at Mat Happy Yoga (www.mathappy.com). Join her Monday nights at 6 pm. She is also Crossfit Mobility certified and specializes on yoga for Chronic Pain. She can be reached at kimberly@findyouredgeyoga.com.

Stop The Pain – 3 ways to get your stretch on

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What many runners report as “overuse injuries” are often mis-diagnosed. If you are suffering from a persistent painful injury we suggest giving a thought to the possibility that your injury is actually a result of a lack of flexibility and tightness in a certain muscle group. Frequently, pain is the result of a tendon snapping over a joint instead of gliding smoothly as it should and would if not so tight.

The solution for this type of pain is deep stretching over an extended period of time. If you are like many other runners, you do not stretch properly and with good reason. Frankly after running a 20 mile long run, nothing sounds less appealing than spending 45 minutes stressing your leg muscles further. Below are a few examples of how you can get the stretching you need and have a little fun at the same time.

  1. Yoga such as the class that I recently attended at Mat Happy Yoga in Hilliard. Kimberly is an instructor there and teaches deep stretch classes specifically for runners on Monday nights.
  2. Stretch at your desk (you look funny but hey, you are a runner and everyone already thinks you’re weird).
  3. Hit the sauna after a workout. A few minutes in the heat combined with some slow stretching maneuvers can really help.

Here is a stretching guide we really like.

We also cannot over state the value of skilled physical therapy. Fit For Life is a physical therapy office inside of Fleet Feet shoe stores. They are good at what they do.

The Brunch Run – How To

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Recently my girlfriend and I committed to brunch at least once every weekend. While this was an excellent idea for our relationship it didn’t quite fit within the training schedule I had laid out for my next marathon in June (HFM Maritime Marathon).

The problems:

  1. The dog needs exercise and loves to run.
  2. My girlfriend and I love to run together but I am in training and therefore need to run further than she would like.
  3. Neither of us care to run on full stomachs
  4. What is brunch without booze?

WHAT TO DO!?

The solution:

  1. Drive to the scrumptious Knotty Pine Brewing  with Oliver (62 lb. Goldendoodle).
  2. Run the 3 – 4 miles home
  3. Trade the dog for Girlfriend
  4. Run back to the restaurant
  5. Eat a delicious bloody mary infused brunch
  6. Drive home (I know what you are thinking… The bloody marys were for her)

6-8 miles, happy dog, happy girlfriend, happy stomach, happy life.

Don’t let running get in the way of the things you love. Sometimes a little extra effort is required but it is worth it to find balance, even in the face of significant training goals.