Friday, August 29, 2014

Snacks and Superfoods

I definitely have some post-worthy snacks 
to keep the hunger pangs at bay.
Training for the NYC Marathon, my mileage has been steadily increasing every week. I find I'm more hungry between meals - could also be I'm just bored of studying for my Registered Dietitian exam and snacking is a welcomed distraction.
My three favorite go to snacks:
Frozen grapes: They're simple, refreshing, have a high water content (GTK for running in the summer), packed with protein, vitamins A & C, some potassium and iron.
Plus they're always fresh!
Yogurt: This is my #1 post workout/recovery/snack food. Mix in a couple of blueberries for anti-oxidant power, some gluten free granola - a prebiotic for the yogurt's probiotic, and some hemp hearts and walnuts for the anti-inflammatory Omega-3's. Yogurt is such a great food. Besides the goodness of the probiotic - a must for tummies post run, yogurt is also a great source of calcium for healthy bones - especially for those who do not (maybe cannot) drink milk.
Do you think they'll sponsor me?
Veggies and Hummus: Cold, fresh summertime veggies are perfect alone, but adding a bit of hummus adds fiber, protein, healthy fats, and a powerful vitamins/mineral combo - folate and iron, which are great for making healthy red blood cells -  a must have to carry oxygen efficiently when running!
Love hummus with carrots!
As for Superfoods - I think they're all super! Don't get caught up in the superfood hype. Eating a variety of whole foods, mostly plants, should get you all the super you need ...

So, what are some of your go to snacks?
Train Smart Today!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Circuit Training and Aerobic Benefits

Do you circuit train?
Technically, a circuit is 10-15 exercises that address the major muscle groups. In strength training, the ACSM recommends 2-4 exercises per major muscle group with 2-3 minute recovery in between. Circuit training does this in a unique way - exercises are arranged to address different muscle groups, so they can be done successively, working some muscles while other muscles recover. 
I haven't trained using a circuit since Bally's was called Jack LaLanne 
and I taught aerobics better than Jane Fonda!
I love Jane! She's still amazing!
Even at my NY Sports Club, I've seen the circuit training section get smaller and smaller over the last few years. It's now shoved into a small corner of the gym:
NY Sports Club Circuit:
Only one person training on the circuit!
 I thought maybe it was a sign of the times that circuit training was no longer relevant ...until today!
Today I read a fascinating article by 
Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, 
"Circuit Strength Training"
in the ACSM's Certified Newsletter
I was so surprised and excited to see research showing that circuit training not only increases muscle strength (17-22.5%) and decreases body fat (3-3.6%), but it can improve aerobic capacity/ VO2Max (12-17%). This particular example had participants doing three sets of a circuit with 10 exercises - each exercise taking 30 seconds. The latter percentages shown are a bit higher because participants added 30 seconds of running between each circuit set. 
Based on the research presented,
it appears that aerobic conditioning improves when there's more exercises in a circuit, and they are done in a short amount of time. In other words, aerobic capacity will more likely increase if your doing a circuit with 12 versus 9 exercises, and spend about 30 seconds per exercise versus 45 seconds per exercise.
Wescott also reported research that compared 
a running program of 30 minutes, 3 days per week 
to a circuit training program of 20 minutes, 3 days per week. 
Both programs showed significant impacts on increasing aerobic capacity, and improved VO2 Max. The running program only outdid the circuit training program by a mere 0.9% (11.7% for the runners versus 10.8% for circuit trainers).
The best part of this is that you don't need 
to even go to a gym to get a circuit work out. 
Just train using exercises that work upper body and lower body and keep switching. For example do 30 seconds each of the following: Push ups, crunches, jump squats, leg ups or iron crosses, burpees, tricep pushup using a chair, mountain climbers, lunges (try side lunges for a change), jack knife push ups using a chair,  bridges (work those buns!), frog leg crunches, finish up with some planks and repeat two more times.
Want to add in some added aerobics for 30 seconds between sets? 
Add in high knees, jumping jacks, or simply jump rope.
So how can runners use this?
It's a great way to maintain aerobic capacity when we can't get a run in - like when your away on a business trip, during a summer vacation, or on rainy or snowy days. You can throw in a circuit workout to build strength and aerobic capacity on your off days, or when your maybe feeling tired and a run would be pushing it, but a quick 20 minute circuit workout would work. Or if you just only have time for a 20 minute workout.
Not a runner?
That's okay because according to Westcott, 3 to 4 months of circuit training has not only been linked to an increase in muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness, but also a reduction in blood pressure, total cholesterol, improved body composition, and psychological benefits (that's a no brainer  --> Look better + Feel better = Happier Me!)
So, next time you pass those machines shoved into the corner of your gym, 
or just feel like an alternate work out try Circuit Training and 
Train Smart Today!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Breeze Half Marathon in San Leandro, California

Taking the kids to California to run in the San Leandro Summer Breeze Half Marathon was a blast!
We toured the San Francisco Bay
Yeah kids - be good or it's Alcatraz for you!
Took a ride under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge
Love the Golden Gate Bridge!
Drove down Lombard Street
Heck no we didn't walk up!
Ate mucho grande
Now, this is how you eat bon bons in Monterey!

Visited Google
Sidekick was in Nerd Heaven!
Saw the most interesting Running Store: 
Espresso & Sneakers - Now that's my kinda running store!
Go Zombie Runner in Palo Alto!
Visited with my beautiful, adorable, intelligent niece
who lives in San Fran
Thanks for the flowers, Rae!
Drove out to wine country: Napa and Sonoma

And ran my ass of in my California 13.1! 
It was such an honor to hang with this gentleman throughout the race:
Sir, it was a pleasure running with you!
I asked him his age (61)! Wow! I hope I can still boogie like that when I am 61! At the end he started to slow down a bit - I yelled to him - c'mon, we can't give up - we hafta catch the boy. See right at the turn around, simple as pie, this young boy passed me as if I were standing still and for the next 6.5 miles - I had my eye on that young whipper snapper's back. He had to feel my eyes burning a whole in his white shirt. C'mon, I yelled to my new running partner, let's catch the boy ....

Still trying - even to the end!
Yes, I am passing the boy!
Poor kid - he had no idea he made the end of the race so exciting for me because at 49, my goal for that day was to beat a 16 year old boy.
Yeah - running promotes the pathetic in me!
Pushing out those last few strides - leaving nothing to chance!

Now this is "Runner's High!" 

Woo-hoo, I passed the boy!

I think he's texting his friends that some old lady
just beat him at the finish! LOL!
AND
I took second in my age group running a (meh)
1:43:50
Woohooo,  13th time out of 21 states
I placed 1, 2, or 3 in my age group
Not bad since I couldn't go down the stairs last Tuesday without my knee giving way. Kudos to Dr. Mike - he used the Gralston technique to loosen up my IT Band. Soooo painful - but soooo worth it!
Overall, San Leandro was a blast! My fave for the year!

Do you have a favorite race so far this year?

Train Smart Today!