Saturday, March 29, 2014

Seven Nutrients that Heal

I recently posted two articles for SCAN, 
the Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition Group
One of the articles was on Protein Needs in Athletes, and the other article was on Nutrition for the Injured Athlete. I was so happy to see so many people respond positively to the the article on Protein Needs, but as an athlete who has fought an injury for over a year with food and exercise, I was thrilled to post the Fact Sheet on Nutrition for Injured Athletes.
Injuries are the worst!
Note the ugly face and tape on knee 
Even though I haven't found anything to keep me from making ugly faces when I run, to get rid of my injury, I strength trained and fed my body proper nutrition. I believe exercise is medicine, so for the last 15 months I've really worked hard on strengthening my glutes, hamstrings, and core. I also made sure I ate enough quality protein and stayed hydrated. I'm glad I was on track with the protein and water, but the Fact Sheet on Nutrition for Injured Athletes named some interesting nutrients that I really wasn't thinking of. Here's the complete list of the seven nutrients for healing:
  • Protein promotes healing. Protein foods are Greek or low-fat yogurt, beans, fish, poultry, and lean meats.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation and speed recovery. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, soy foods, ground flax seeds and fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
  • Vitamin C aids in tissue repair, wound healing, and promotes positive immune function. Foods high in vitamin C include peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and melon.
  • Vitamin A helps promote cell growth and development. Foods high in vitamin A are sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and papaya.
  • Zinc also helps in wound healing and immune function. Foods high in zinc are almonds, seeds, beef, and seafood.
  • Calcium and vitamin D are both essential for bone development and repair. Foods where both can be found include dairy and fortified foods, such as orange juice, cereal, and tofu. Calcium can be found in sardines, dark leafy greens, enriched breads and grains. Vitamin D can be found in tuna, salmon, mackerel, beef liver, and egg yolks. Skin exposure to sunlight (in moderation) is an excellent source of vitamin D.

Well, call me goofy, but I am so happy to share this info.
Running can be tough on the body. Balancing training with proper nutrition, will hopefully keep us injury free! I'm curious, aside from ice cream, 'cause we all know that can help heal most anything ...
Do you have a special food that you believe 
has helped you recover from an injury? 
Train Smart Today!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rock'N Roll Half Marathon in DC

I broke 1:40!
WooHoo!
I ran my but off for that time. And this was not a flat run. The hill in mile 7 just felt like it never ended. But I was determined! Heck, I suffered hills on my treadmill all winter long!
This Hound Dod was ready!
The best part of the run - and yes this is with a runner's high, backed with all the reasons of why I am running 13.1 in all 50 states (plus DC) - was when I was chugging along, pushing for a 7:30 min/mile pace on E street NW. I looked up and there she was: Our Nation's capital building.

I screamed, "Oh my gosh!" 
I must have frightened another runner. 
He yelled back, "What's the matter. Are you okay?" 
"Yeah. But look. It's our Nation's capital building." 
He yelled back, "I know. She's beautiful, isn't she?" 
I still get teary thinking back on this crazy little exchange of words. It was so awesome sharing that moment with a fellow runner.
Before the race, I got very teary eyed, too.
That morning, I rolled, stretched a bit, had a bowl of Cheerios, and ran with Side-kick to catch a train towards the armory, where the race started. I was a little turned around. I guess I really didn't know where I was when I ran across the street to start my warm up. I did about four 100 meter strides. By the end, I was bawling my eyes out. There I was: Standing right by the Washington Monument. Whew. The monument also took my breath away.
Warming up pre-DC Half
This was a huge race. I think about 29,000 runners. There were people everywhere ...
Getting ready to line up at the start
Even Woodrow Wilson made it to the race!
Love when big races stagger the start!
We were off and running by 7:33am. The weather was great - no hat, no gloves - just an UnderArmour HeatGear Shirt, an old pair of Sugoi long pants, and a caffeine GU for mile 7+.
I didn't go out too fast - which was a first! 
I think mile 11 was a fluke - 6:09? I think I need a new Garmin! You can absolutely tell where the biggest hill was! Ouch: Mile 7 was tough!
DC splits
I really tried hard to keep up my pace and break that 1:40 time.
Last few hundred feet!
I was hoping for 1:38
...maybe next one! 
After the race, I had a great conversation with a man from NewYork - I think his name was Fred - I'm sorry, I have no brain when I'm done with races and can't remember names even though I repeat them 100 times over. Plus, with the wet clothes, and the sun hiding behind some clouds that rolled in, I started to go into freezing mode!
We stood there going over the race. 
I love hashing out the race afterward with other runners. One thing we both agreed on was that this race was unexpectedly difficult because of the changes in elevation. Fred (?) ran the race only a few weeks out from separating some ribs! I thought that was pretty incredible!
The next person I met was a young man (Darryl? Derrick?) 
He let me borrow his cell because I couldn't find Side-kick. We were laughing because I felt like I had Gu stickiness on my face, and he had some salt crystals on his face. We were both headed in the same direction:
On to get that celebratory beer!
I finally found Side-Kick. I was so grateful he showed up with my Champion fleece pullover, hat, gloves, and HotHand hand warmers. It was really starting to get cold without the sun.
 Cold, but not cold enough to stop me
from the celebratory beer!
Side-kick and I couldn't stay long, we had to get home. Mini-man's birthday party was the next day, and I had 20 or so people coming to feast on a St. Patty's Day meal of Corned Beef, Cabbage, Potatoes, and Carrots. 
Mini-man was born on St Patty's Day 
and his parties are always lots of fun!
Happy 17th birthday Mini-Man!
This picture is worth the stay up until 1am making that ice cream cake!
That was the easy part.
The hard part is handing over the car keys
now that he has his license!
Maybe he will want to run more with me, instead?
Hey, I can dream!
Next race hopefuls: Raleigh, NC or Harper's Valley, WV
Until then,
Train Smart Today!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Carb Loading

As I approach my 1st 2014 half marathon, 
I am always impressed with how many people ask me if I eat pasta or lots of bagels the week before a race. I tell them, "No. I just eat the way I always eat."
Some just shrug.
Others panic:
"What about your carbs? Don't you need to carb load?"

Carbs!
The truth is, I wish that by eating tons of pasta and bagels, I could trim 10 minutes off my half marathon time time, but that's not how it works for females.

Carb loading takes advantage of the fact that muscles store glucose for energy. This can be great for events like running more than 90-minutes. It's not that women don't store the extra glucose in their muscles after a few days of carb loading, it's just that it has not been shown to be effective in increasing endurance or performance. Past research showing positive benefits of carb loading, endurance and performance have involved males - so guys, go for the pasta, bagels, rice, and fruit!

There are a whole bunch of reasons why carb loading is just not as effective in females. One reason is because females don't break down (metabolize) glucose the same way that men do. This isn't all that bad - because our bodies will switch and use fat for energy! This is why you really want to make sure your slow long run during the week is nice, easy, and SLOW! Keep your heart rate close to your 65-70% VO2max and you will train your body to burn fat.
This is our secret weapon,
it saves the glucose in our muscles so we can endure!

Of course more research needs to be done because how females store glucose, and how they burn carbs and fat for energy during endurance exercises is also affected by the different phases of their menstrual cycle.
For now, listen to your body when you train. 
This is the best way to determine what and how much of certain foods work for you, and if there are any adjustments during the month that you need to make to help you feel energized during all your work outs!
Do you/Have you ever carb loaded?
Did you feel it helped?

Train Smart Today!