Tuesday, October 28, 2014

So, Anxiety is Good?

It's the count down for the 
New York City Marathon!
Just the thought of running twice 
as far as I'm used to is unnerving to me!
So much so that I wake up from my sleep because I'm tossing and turning thinking about the marathon. Last week, I woke in a full sweat - and this time, it wasn't due to menopause (sorry guys!).
I had a dream!
No, I had a nightmare!
There I was - at the start of the NYC Marathon - right there on the Verranzano Bridge. I look down at my feet, and I see I'm wearing sandals. Not just any sandals, either. These sandals are way too small and they're cutting into my feet. I start to panic. I think, 'OMG! What should I do? I can't run 26.2 miles in these tight sandals. I know, I'll take them off. OMG! What am I crazy? I've never run barefoot before! How am I gonna run 26.2 miles barefoot?'
I call Side-Kick on my cell.
Where my cell came from - I have no idea. 
"Ron, you gotta come to the start (like that's even possible! LOL!). I don't have my sneakers - you gotta bring me my sneakers!" Side-Kick proceeds to tell me that I packed my sneakers in my bag, and that I just need to look in my bag. Okay, I start rummaging through my bag like a wild woman. Oh yeah - and I have no idea where the bag came from either! Rifling through my bag, I finally feel something ... could it be my sneakers? I pull out sneaker #1, then sneaker #2 ...OMG! These aren't my running sneakers ... they're my Converse.
All Star for Converse - yes, but not for 26.2!
If you were in my dream, 
you would have heard my scream 
from Staten Island to Manhattan!
My friend in town tells me (in his most relaxed voice ever): "This is good! Anxiety is good! It will increase your adrenaline levels, which will propel you through the race!"
Okay Dan, I'm trusting you on this one!
So now, I just need to repeat:
Anxiety is good!
Anxiety is good!
Anxiety is good!
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Strength and Endurance Training: Timing it Right!

I kept exchanging places with another racer. 
He looked about my age, and he seemed to be in great shape. He would pass me on the straight, flat sections (not too many of those) and I would pass him on the hills. Since there was a huge hill at the end, I made it to the finish a little before he did.
After the race, he told me,
"I tried to keep up with you on those hills. 
You really got me on the hills. 
Great job!"
I complimented him back. Then I joked ...
"I guess all those hamstring curls paid off!"
Hamstring Curls
Once a week, I strap on a 10 pound ankle weight 
and do 100 hammy curls per leg. 
My biggest problem with lower body strength training is 'when'? When do I fit it in with all the running? I mean - sometimes I do legs the day before or after a track/speed work out, or the day before or after a long run - but it's exhausting! I'm always wondering:
Am I getting anything out of it?
- Or just setting myself up for injury?
So when I came across the American College of Sports Medicine Certified News report, "Effects of Concurrent Training: Strength and Endurance Exercise" by Wayne L. Westcoff, PhD, I was ecstatic!
Finally, a report to tell me when and how to schedule 
my endurance training with my strength training!
This article revealed that endurance exercise can interfere with lower body strength development and gains  - but this is based on the frequency and duration of the aerobic training. For this reason, recovery days between high-effort endurance exercise and lower body strength training are key if you want to increase lower body muscle strength. And another study revealed that if you want to optimize your lower-body resistance work outs, you should not perform lower body aerobic activity before you strength train.
To maximize lower body muscle strength,
Wescott recommends the following:

  1. Do a non-weight bearing aerobic activity (cycling or elliptical vs running) the day before, or after your lower body strength training sessions.
  2. Don't do any more than three high-effort endurance exercise activities per week. (Makes me feel a little better about those so-called "junk miles" mid-week!).
  3. When you combine high-effort endurance exercise with lower body strength training on the same day, do the high effort endurance exercise after your strength training session.
  4. If you must combine high-effort endurance exercise with lower body strength training, do shorter bouts of various endurance exercises.
  5. Consider taking supplemental protein before and/or after those days when you combine high-effort endurance exercise with lower body strength training sessions to enhance post-exercise protein synthesis. 

My main goal when I strength train is to 
reduce injury and gain speed:
Strong Butt = Happy Runner
Now, at least I can follow some guidelines to maximize strength, 
minimize injury, and get up those hills!
Do you strength train?
What's your favorite leg work out?
Train Smart Today!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Salt

This is crazy - the CDC just came out with a report 
that children consume way too much salt! 
Of course you always read how Americans consume way too much salt and about 30% have high blood pressure (hypertension) - but kids, too?
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
And just like adults, excess sodium can increase 
their risk of high blood pressure and heart disease!
For endurance athletes, especially runners, it may sound crazy associating salt and blood pressure. I know with all the running and sweating, I'm always afraid of hyponatremia. Plus there's tons of research showing that during endurance exercise, consuming salt along with carbohydrate can help maintain cardiovascular function, enhance carbohydrate oxidation (yeay, more energy!), reduce potential for low blood pressure, and improve performance! 
The suggested sport nutrition guidelines are: 
(Sports Medicine 2007, Vol. 37 Issue 4/5, p358 3p.)
1g carbohydrate per kg (about 2g per pound) per hour of
prolonged exercise,
and
about 450mg sodium per hour to enhance performance.
This is easy to achieve with a sports drink. The amount consumed should be based on how much a person sweats, which could be anywhere from drinking 440ml (~13oz) to drinking 1.5 L (~ 6 cups)!
But back to the kids ....
Where are they getting all this sodium from?
Top ten sources of sodium in kid's diets today: 
Pizza, 
Bread and Rolls, 
Cold Cuts/Deli Meat, 
Savory Snacks (Chips, Pretzels, Trail Mix, and Salted Nuts), 
Sandwiches, 
Cheese (esp. Cottage Cheese), 
Chicken Patties/Nuggets, 
Mixed Pasta Dishes, 
Mexican dishes, 
and Soups.
I'm sorry, but parents need to set some good examples. Simply put: Their job is to buy healthy food, and the kids job is to eat the healthy food!
Some tips to lower salt intake:

  • Make lunch. Instead of having kids buy a school lunch, make their lunch! Better yet, get involved to help schools provide lower sodium food choices.
  • Add carrot sticks, celery, or apple chunks to their lunches, in place of chips, crackers, or pretzels.
  • Give them water - not a sports drink or soda! Save the sports drinks for exercise lasting 1 hour or more.
  • Get kids involved with making meals - something as simple as peeling carrots, cucumbers, or zucchini. Kids take pride in their meals when you involve them in some way - and studies show they are more likely to eat their veggies when they get to choose which ones to buy, and when they help in preparing them too! 
  • If you go out to eat, teach the kids how to ask for the sauce and/or the salad dressing on the side. 
  • Teach kids how to read food labels. They can act like detectives, hunting down the best options. So if they like two cereals, but they see one has 235 mg sodium, and the other has 70 mg sodium, they can be proud that they eye spied the difference and will (hopefully) choose the one lower in sodium.
  • Teach kids how to use the Percent Daily Value on the Food Labels. The %DV is a quick way to compare products. If a food has 5% DV (120mg sodium) it is a low sodium food. If a food has 20% DV (480mg sodium) it is a high sodium food.

    http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm#twoparts
Doesn't get any saltier than this:
Salt Free --> 5mg sodium per serving
Very Low Sodium --> 35mg of sodium or less per serving
Low Sodium --> 140mg per of sodium per serving
Reduced Sodium --> has 25% less than the original product
Lightly Salted --> At least 50% less than the original product
No Salt Added --> no salt added during processing, but not sodium free. Check Nutrition Facts Label

Do you limit your sodium intake?
Have any helpful hints? Share them here!

Train Smart Today!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Freedom's Run Half Marathon

State #22: Sheperdtown, West Virginia
Woohoo!
If you are looking for a challenging, hilly half marathon - then look no further:
The first three miles weren't so bad. 
Starting out, I heard my Coach in my head: Now, don't go out too fast. But this time I thought if I don't go out fast, how will I ever make up for the time I'm going to be losing on those upcoming hills?
I was a little torn.
What do you do?
I didn't totally go out fast - I couldn't. It rained all night the night before the race and the first few miles were on trail that was pretty muddy. And if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times - I'm a city girl. I like to run on pavement. I don't like mud on my legs, my socks, or my shorts. So, about mile two, I yelled out,
"I HATE trail running!." 
Everyone around me started laughing. One girl schooled me, "This isn't really trail running." I know, I know - this wasn't really trail running, but for me, "Blacktop Girl" - it was!
The first big hill, after mile 3
looks worse than it was. 
I was prepared to climb. A few years ago this would have killed my time because of my proximal hamstring strain. That's pretty much healed (took two years!) and I actually passed lots of runners on the hills. I credit Underground Strength Coach, Zach Evan-Esh for this - he reviewed my leg strength-training routine and told me to add hamstring curls with ankle weights.
I think it was the fact that there were so many
hills - one after the other -
that left me dogging it by mile 11. 
Challenging, but very beautiful
Top 25 Half-Marathons in Runner's World Magazine
Even though the course was beautiful - it still wasn't like a spoonful of sugar - the hills were hard on the legs. It was the first time in years that my legs trembled after a race - like they weren't conditioned at all - and I've been running 18 milers to get into shape for the NYC Marathon!
I'm sure my bronchitis added to my exhaustion.
This awful cough and congestion has been
 lingering since late August.
Anyway, the after party was held at the Bavarian Inn.
The Bavarian Inn
And if you went  to the Bavarian Inn, you received a pint glass and a free beer - which of course I took advantage of! There was a live band, too. It was a great after party!

Love the pint glass!
Even though there's an H is missing!
Overall Freedom's Run was a great half to end 
my 40-49 year old age group!
I placed second with a 1:43 finish.
And, let's talk medals ...
The finisher's medal was hand made by a local potter. All the straps were leather - and they were tied on by the Local Girl Scout Troop! I've never seen so much community involvement for one race! 
I love this medal!
Hand made! So quaint!
Gotta love it!
I will definitely always cherish 
my Freedom's Run Medal.
What's your favorite race medal?

Train Smart Today!