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Marathon Tips to Get You to the Finish Line-part 3!

 Get ready for part 3 of my tips for the marathon  training countdown  Nutrition and Fueling!  Part 1 and Part 2  in case you missed them!

Carbs on the Run

 So part 3 of the Jack Rabbit Sports Marathon Tips Session covered nutrition.  I am going to be honest and admit I left right before this session, but this was one of the sections that had a handout, so my info will be from there and from the many team in training nutrition clinics I attended—I’ll put the TNT info at the end.

So let me start by reiterating something I have heard from several marathon coaches and trainers: 95% of runners hit the wall due to nutrition.  They run out of fuel.  While Seinfeld popularized riding on “E” to see how far you can coast before dying, it’s not recommended you test this on marathon day.  Fill up your tank and live on the edge the next weekend :)

So here are tips from MS, RD, Cristina Rivera of Nutrition Energy!

Common Mistakes to Avoid leading up to the event:

  • Drastically cutting calories in an attempt to lose weight. This will not only affect your training and decrease performance, but inadequate caloric intake can lead to the breakdown of muscles as well as injury.
  • Using training as a pass to eat whatever you want. While your body needs extra calories to support your workouts, the most efficient times for this are before, during or after your event. 
  • Never eating before you train. This is like driving a car with no gas.  Fill up before you go.  (edited to add: my coaches always said you have about 1 hour of calories in you from the night before, but you want to make sure to eat at hour 1 and every 45 minutes thereafter.  However, you know your needs for morning eating, if you are hungry in the morning eat!  If you have a big nighttime snack and aren’t very hungry, you can probably eat very lightly or wait until the 1 hour mark.  On marathon day, I would definitely say eat before the race, you are standing around for a long long time before you start running!)
  • Losing too much weight during an event.  This means you are not hydrating properly, which can hinder your performance and increase your risk of muscle cramping, fainting or seizure.  For every pound lost, drink 16 oz of fluids.
  • Trying something new on race day.  Don’t do it! Bring your own fuel and don’t take anything along the course that might throw you off!

From TNT coaches:

  • Start hydrating days before any long run or race, get in the habit of upping fluids 3-4 days before.
  • Add salt to your diet a few days beforehand.
  • Increase your proportions of carbs to protein, but don’t increase your portions too much.  So instead of chicken with rice, have rice with chicken.
  • Eat your gus/gels in one shot.  This is not brunch, swallow, drink water and keep running. This way your body metabolizes and then refocuses on giving you the energy you need to keep going.

PRE-EVENT!pasta-party-artist-canvas

  •  
    • Make sure to eat a snack or small meal 1-3 hours before your event.  The size of the meal depends on how long you have to digest. 
      • This will give you energy to enhance performance as well as spare muscle glycogen, which will result in longer, stronger workouts.
    • Try have a mix of carbs and proteins to hold you over until event time.
    • To avoid GI Distress, avoid foods that are fried, creamy or high in fat.  Certain individuals tolerate liquids better than solids before an event.

During the event:

  • For events lasting over an hour, it is important to take in 30-60 grams of carbs per hour.  (a gu packet is 28-29 grams)
  • For events over 2 hours, some protein should be included to keep blood sugar levels steady.

Post event:

  • One of the most crucial time to replace muscle glycogen is within the first 30 minutes of completing the event.  Keep in mind that the first 30 minutes is a window, and like most windows, it is not always open. Don’t wait until it is too late to refuel.
  • Replenishing properly will improve performance, prevent injury and control your appetite the rest of the day.
  • Carbohydrates are absorbed quicker and more efficiently into the muscles when combines with some protein, such as a bagel and egg whites.
  • To find out how many grams  of carbohydrate you need following an event, divide your body weigh in pounds by two.

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More tips from my Team in Training coaches:

Q:   What’s a well-balanced diet for long-distance runners?
While training for your half or full marathon, you’ll want to make sure carbs make up about 60 – 65% of your total calorie intake. Without a doubt, carbs are the best source of energy for athletes. Research has shown that for both quick and long-lasting energy, our bodies work more efficiently with carbs than they do with proteins or fats. Protein should make up about 15% of your daily intake and no more than 25 – 30% should come from fats.
Q:  What should I eat before a run?
When you begin a run, you should feel neither starved nor stuffed. Try to eat a light snack or meal about 1 1/2 to 2 hours before. Choose something high in carbohydrates and lower in fat, fiber, and protein.  Some examples of good pre-workout fuel include: a bagel with peanut butter; a banana and an energy bar; or a bowl of cold cereal with a cup of milk.  Stay away from rich and high-fiber foods, as they may cause gastrointestinal distress (more on that later in the season, but if you are having problems, please let us know).
Q: How much should I drink?
Staying hydrated is critical, especially when running in the heat and humidity. Hopefully you all read the tips on staying safe in the heat, but here are some quick reminders:
> Try to drink 16 to 24 ounces of water or other non-caffeinated fluid about 1 hour before your workout (Stopping fluid intake an hour before your workout will give you a chance to expel any excess fluids before you start running, so you won’t have to stop to use the bathroom during your run).  You can drink another 4 to 8 ounces about 10 minutes before you start, so you start out your run hydrated.
> Here’s a general rule of thumb for fluid consumption during your runs: You should take in 6 to 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during your runs. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), some of your fluid intake should include a sports drink (like Gatorade) to replace lost sodium and other minerals (electrolytes). 
> Don’t forget to rehydrate after your run.  If your urine is dark yellow after your run, you need to keep rehydrating. It should be a light lemonade color. 
Q: Should I eat anything after a run?
After a workout, especially a long run, you want to replenish energy as quickly as possible.  Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen (stored glucose) stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise. If you eat soon after your workout, you can minimize muscle stiffness and soreness.  Again, you’ll want to consume primarily carbs, but don’t ignore protein.  A good rule of thumb for post-workout food is a ratio of 1 gram of protein to 3 grams of carbs. Nutrition bars, such as Clif bars or Power bars, are great because they’re easy to carry in your bag. Other examples would be a bagel with peanut butter or a smoothie made with fruit and yogurt.

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My two cents on  natural alternatives:

So that is a lot of info, clearly if you follow a specific diet, such as raw or vegan, you will probably have issues with the conventional use of sports beans, gus, blocks and gels—at least there are a few options that are organic and fairly natural thanks to Clif!  But simple things such as coconut water, dates, dried fruits, honey packets, and hemp based protein powders, give you easy sources of natural energy.  I have tried these options, and find they work as well as the commercial products, but I do tend toward Clif Shots since the ingredient list is short enough for me and they are easy to carry.  As long as you watch the fiber before and during the run.  Maple syrup, agave and honey can be substituted for clif energy gels and gus, etc.  For more tips on being a “natural” athlete check out books and articles  by Tim Van Orden (the raw runner)  or the Thrive Diet by Brendon Brazier.

No matter what you decide, make sure you test it several times before the race.  It took me ages to find the right something that didn’t bother my stomach and to figure just how much I needed to stay fueled.  Take the time to listen to your tummy, gain a grasp on your running metabolism, and find products that you can tolerate and work for you.  For example, I found sportz beans to be yummy, but far less effective than gus in providing almost instant and sustained energy.  While I don’t love the taste of gus, they do their job well, and never leave me craving for more.

For more info check out these runner’s world articles:

Snack Smart

Carbs on the Run

What to eat Post Run

Five Pre-race Nutrition Mistakes

Also, check out the Spa at Chelsea Piers for Marathon Mondays, 15% (non-members) to 25% (members) discount on massage treatments every Monday from 4-9PM through Nov. 2nd

Running Thoughts, Tips and FAQs

REMINDER: Today is the last day for the Physique 57 DVD Giveaway! Enter now!

It’s been a while since I have done a post reflecting on some of the common questions and comments I get about running.  While this is not going to be something dramatically more insightful than anything I have written in the past—so I have included a round up of all my related posts that are a bit more specific and research-based at the end of this post. The marathon frenzy is going to pick up considerably this fall, so I hope this post may be useful to some of you that might be running-curious, but are reluctant to actually call yourself a “runner.”  

It took me a long time to gain the confidence to call myself a runner.  I was never a track star in high school. In fact, I could barely run a mile consecutively until sophomore year of college despite being in great aerobic shape.  So I understand when readers say the just can’t get through a few miles or they hit the wall by mile four.  We all have challenges and we can all over come them, I AM PROOF THAT ANYONE CAN RUN A MARATHON, if they want to.  Like I always say, you don’t have to be a runner.  It is not the holy grail of exercise.  However, it is nice for a few reasons:

  1. It’s fairly low cost and you can do it on almost a moments notice, pretty much anywhere
  2. There are established goals, such as races and marathons that can motivate you and keep you inspired…or at least begrudgingly committed.
  3. While there is definitely an established culture of runners to network with, it is also nice that you don’t necessarily need to deal with the logistics of a team sport.  It can be as social or as anti-social as you want it to be.

So back to challenges.  Running is challenging.  I am by no means an excellent runner.  In fact, my only true running skill is being able to do it for fairly long periods of time, which was a cultivated skill.  I still get frustrated that I struggle to gain speed, and push myself to get out of my pace comfort zone.  I definitely look up to countless blogging runners, like Meghann,who PR on every race, for motivation to train a wee bit harder or at least keep at it!

So back to a common questions I get.

Why can’t I run? and How do you build distance?

First off, you can be a runner if you want to, but it may not happen over night.  Some people build up with the run a minute, walk a minute method, but when I started out, I found that frustrating and it seemed to be that once, I stopped, I was done.  So I think becoming a “runner” and building distance takes time.  You can build one minute at a time or 5 minutes at a time, don’t try to add a mile at a time.  If you can run for 5 minutes, run for 6 minutes the next time out.  Then next week, run 7 minutes.  I recommend a watch, and not trying to run too often.  Keep your other favorite exercises in your routine and run maybe two times a week.  Don’t burn yourself out! In the beginning it should be fun, not frustrating!

Like I always, say sign up for a 5K, so you have a goal to work toward, this is key.

Why can’t I run more than 3 miles?

If you are past the 5K mark and looking to move toward 10Ks or halfs but are struggling after 4-5 miles.  You are most likely running too fast.  You are definitely physically able to run 6 miles, but you are burning your body out by starting out too fast.  It can be hard to slow yourself down and feel like you are slogging along, but try it just once.  Or better yet, run with a friend who runs at a slower pace than  you.  Getting used to spending the extra time on your feet, even if you don’t reach your mileage goal, will prepare your body for longer distances.

One you are past the  5K point, you can add 1/4 or 1/2 miles rather than focusing on minutes, if you want to.  Typically once you are at 5-6 miles, if you are looking to train for longer distances, it is fine to start adding a mile a week to your weekly long run.  Check out Runner’s World for novice and intermediate training plans.

Here is something I found surprising.  One of the reasons I wanted to run a marathon was because I thought, once I have run 26 miles, I will never have trouble running 5 or 6 again.  It will be an easy daily workout length.  Shocker, sometimes, even now, 3 miles is torturous, and other days 12 miles glide by almost unnoticed. 

I HATE RUNNING! What do I do?

Don’t worry I did (and sometimes still do) too!  It was exactly that frustration that made me determined to runa marathon when I had never run farther than 3.1 miles, except maybe 1 crazy-long 5 miler on the treadmill.

Here is a little secret, and I don’t mean to be a downer, but running is rarely “fun” or  “easy.” I think there has to be a teensy weensy bit of masoconist in every runner.  Even amazing runners, like Dean Karnanzes, will say, running is not fun.  It can be exhilarating, challenging, rewarding, fulfilling, maybe even refreshing or energizing, but the pure spirit of the sport is not fun.  Other runners will say 9 out of 10 runs are miserable, but that 10th one makes up for all the wretchedness that came before it.

“”The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy…It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed.” Jacqueline Gareau

While there is fun to be had, chatty long runs with friensd, the post-race celebrations, the happy dance after a new PR, on a daily basis, I don’t really consider running to be fun.  I am happy if it is quasi-enjoyable.

Why do I keep running then?  I like the goal-oriented spirit of running.  Have a race to train for keeps me motivated and inspired, even if every run isn’t great.  I like overcoming the mental battle.  I like having a network that shares my love/and ocassionally hate relationship with running.

There are periods where I really do enjoy running and most of my daily runs are even borderline fun, or at least personally fulfilling.  I do love the challenge of a long run, I love the creativity of mapping out a route I can get excited about and then completing that mission.  Right now, I am in a kind of semi-obsessed phase, where i can’t wait until my next run.   These periods are sometimes rare, but when I am in the running/race mode they seem to become more frequent.

All of this is to say, that I don’t think it is fair to tell people they should expect to fall in love with running, and for it to become fun and easy.  I don’t think it does for everyone.   I think the challenge is one of the things that keeps me going.  Running doesn’t become comfortable, it keeps me on my toes.  There is always something greater to strive toward. And the magic of finishing a marathon is, in its own way, life changing.

So if you do decide that you want to add running to your routine, even though you absolutely love spinning or you are addicted to pilates, take it slow and know that even if it is not the same instantaneous I can’t wait to do this again feeling, you can find a satisfying and rewarding relationship with running or you can decide its not for you and settle back into the joys of downward dog.

For more info, here is a round up of posts related to running tips, training and common running questions:

So you want to be a runner? Part 1

So you want to be a runner Part 2

Answers to Running Questions

Running Questions part 2

HMC:FAQ

Tips for finding the perfect shoes

How to prepare for long runs

Rock Your Body Chellenge: Increase Your Max Vo2,

Great tips, great day, lots of recaps

First off thanks so much to all those who gave me great tips for staying healthy during times of crazy busyness. I will speak to how I am planning on incorporating your tips in my life over the next weeks at the end of the post.

Oh, I have gotten some amazing emails and questions this week, and I will definitely respond with thoughtful, researched emails soon.  Thanks so much, they make my day.

Okay lots of recaps to do!

First, CROSSFIT LIC!

Compared to my first experience, this was at least three times as hard.  I mean, I made it and I could actually walk and use my arms today, but WOW like night and day.  Is it addicting in the same way Physique 57 was? Not in the same instantaneous, obsession type of way, but definitely in the is fun, challenging, yet enjoyable kind of way.  Crossfit definitely pushes me harder than I could push myself.

So here was the workout.

Warm Up:

a few minutes of jumping rope

3 sets of 10-15 reps

  • squats holding pbc bar overhead—way harder than normal squats because of the intense arm work
  • samuri lunges
  • sit ups on this crazy machine in the arm
  • back extensions on the crazy machine in the air
  • pull ups—I use this cool green band to help me—5 was plenty
  • dips on rings or push ups

I only made it through two sets before it was time to move on.  It took a while to learn how to use the equipment. I think I am forgetting one exercise also.

Skill

Handstands.  We did a bunch of handstand drills.  Starting with a crazy boat sit up and moving on to forward rolls than body rolls with arms and legs off the ground.  I was actually totally cool with this part of the class, reminded me of my long gone gymnastic days.  But rolling down the mat after sweat drenched people took a little bit of inner strength to muster the courage. I definitely rolled through the sweat of strangers.

The we moved on to hand stands and hand stand roll outs, easy peasy.

Workout

5 sets of

  1. walking lunges holding a weight over head.  (weights ranged from 10-45 lbs.  I used 10)
  2. 12-21 burpees.  squat, jump feet out, do one full push up, jump feet in, jump into the air and clap overhead.  ( i did 12)
  3. A picture of our class below

PICT0053

It was pretty crazy, everytime I got halfway across the room, my legs want to scream at me.  And let’s not even talk about the burpees, although they actually got easier by the later sets…no idea why.

Cool down stretches.

I definitely want to go again while i still have my comp week!

Beam Green

Basically all I want to say about Beam Green is that I got to chat with a bunch of fab bloggers! Gena, Dori, Diana, Missy, Leslie, Sarah, Vani, Danielle and Olga

As always, I got some great swag.

blog, beam green 002

While I am not much into diet books, Naturally Thin being a curiosity exception, I am looking forward to settling down with the China Study, since it is pretty classic.  I also received a copy of Thrive in the mail on Wednesday, which I am excited to read because Brendan Brazier is really fing cool. We also got copies of the Kabbalah on Green-I can not believe I own this book–lol. Plus the typical awesome info packed newsletter.  While I am sad that it is the last Beam Green, I am glad Mary inspired us to create our own monthly social.  I love the prospect of fun city events and trying great new health restaurants or having our own potlucks—there are endless possibilities.

I also treated myself to a cute new dress on a total whim. I passed Variazioni on the last 8 minutes of my lunch hour, stopped in, saw this dress, tried it on, bought it and was out the door. I am excited that it will work from summer to fall.

blog, beam green 005

First day on the new job!  While I try not to talk to much about work for many reasons, seeing as it is a very exciting part of my life right now and 90% of my waking hours. I will just share a bit of my new gig and then do my best to keep my professional life off the WWW lol.

So I am not working in Student Affairs, and it is so my style.  I love it already.  My job is basically team building, community development and student support.  I love interacting with enthusiastic, energetic people and having so much room for creativity, and the ability to lead fun programs and trainings. Plus, my office has craft supplies, every office should have craft supplies.  Today was my first of 14 or so 13+ hour days, and I have to say it wasn’t as tiring as I expected.  Although I can not consume as much caffeine as I did today going forward!

While the next few weeks will be long, I can hardly wait for some of the excited activities we have planned.  I thought I would share since they would be fun for any New Yorker, visitor and NYC curious.  On the schedule: film at the classic Angelica Theater, trip to the US OPEN, visit to the HIGHLINE, dumpling making class, walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and Grimaldis Pizza, ice cream social at Yogurtland, chinatown dim sum brunch! There are actually quite a few more, and I obviously have work that it is a bit more substantive as well!

Thanks again for all the great tips—if you haven’t let one yet, please do!  I definitely need to drink way more water :), which is actually more energizing than all my caffeine crack.  :( Many of you mentioned just taking 10-15 minutes to decompress and relax, I think I will do that on the subway.  I don’t really have free time for meals, since we always eat together, but I will sneak those moments of zen in where I can.  Also thanks for all the great healthy snack suggestions! I am going to try to always have some cut up veggies, fresh fruit and healthy snack bars in my bag, so I have a back up plan/supplemental eats when there are no healthy options or no veggies available at meals.  Like ya’’ll said, be prepared.

Since every lunch, dinner and most breakfasts will be provided over the next few weeks, I won’t be doing much cooking.  I must admit, I do find making the best choice when there are lots of tempting options to be a  bit of a challenge!  But typically I find that there is at least one healthy choice available that looks yummy! Although, I actually laughed when I put my green juice in the fridge this morning, and the only other items were cake and girl scout cookies.  Oh, and a counter full on candy, rice krispie treats, twizzlers, chips and freeze pops lol! But hey, to each his own, I don’t want to be judged for my carrot sticks and I am not ashamed to admit I love me a rice krispie treat!

Overall I am not worried, as you all said, and I agree, I just have to keep in mind that making healthy choices is the best way to keep my energy levels up and feel my best.  Of course, occasional treats are fine too, as long as the bulk is pretty healthy.

In hindsight, tonight balanced a healthy main course with indulgent dessert!

I order the papaya salad and summer rolls from Baoguette.  Really really good. And then we ended tonight with some staff bonding at Momofuku Milk Bar.  Milk Bar is one of those places NYMAG will not stop talking about!  So I was very curious.  We ordered four desserts to split, the cornflake softserve (which tastes EXACTLY like cornflakes and milk, seriously, it’s uncanny), the crack pie, compost cookies, and dulce de leche cake.  I have to say, from the line out the door, I was expecting to be blown away.  Milk bar gets ridiculous points for creativity, everything on the menu sounded completely unique, yet delicious. IMO when it came to taste,  the desserts weren’t over the top amazing.  I had a few bites of each, and that was more than enough. The crack pie was quite delish, but everything was a bit too sweet…and I LOVE sweet!  It was a fun place to try, and clearly very popular, but it’s not my first choice for a sweet treat.

And the final tip, echoed by many, get enough SLEEP! And with that, I am off to bed, tomorrow is a workday after all.

I am going to try to do a short run tomorrow am, and a long run on Sunday, since we don’t have to be in until 11am.

Oh, and just as a reminder, on Monday I will be announcing an awesome giveaway, if I can wait that long!

Chandra on Strength Training!

Oh my gosh, my first guest poster is one of my favorite bloggers of all time!  She is hilarious, a great dancer, shares my love of Brit Brit, and is a health and fitness inspiration to us all!  I am so excited to introduce Chandra!  Not only that, she is sharing an amazing post on a very important topic for us ladies, strength training!  When I do strength training, I love how I feel and that you see changes right away, but sometimes I get into a cardio-centric rut and that’s no good.  So here’s Chandra!

 

Hello readers!  I am Chandra, writer of the blog Chandra’s Shenanigans.  I’ve been reading Melissa’s blog for as long as I can remember and I am so thrilled to do a guest post for her!  She has been a major running inspiration to me and is always so helpful when I need advice.  As much as I love running, I decided to make my guest post about another love of mine – strength training!!

 
So many women are afraid to do strength training for fear of “bulking up”, but trust me ladies – you can’t unless you try REALLY hard to get bulky.  We women just don’t have what it takes to build big bulky muscles (thank goodness!).  But strength training does have many benefits, so read on to find out why everyone should include strength training in their workouts!

 
Strength Training: Why you should do it and do it regularly
Strength training will increase your metabolism and reduce your body fat. We all know cardio is the fastest way to burn calories during exercise. Many of us are cardio queens. But what about burning calories when you aren’t exercising? How can you increase your “at rest” calorie burn? Build muscle. Muscle is metabolically active, meaning it burns calories. The more muscle we have the more calories we burn while we are sleeping, doing daily activities and through exercise.
Strength training will increase muscle mass (without bulking!) and prevent muscle loss. Cardio exercises may improve our cardiovascular fitness, but it does not prevent muscle loss. Even people who exercise but neglect weight training can lose an average of 1/2 a pound of muscle a year. Plus, as we age we lose muscle and our metabolisms decrease. Building muscle through strength training can help counteract this and keep your metabolism roaring.
Strength training will improve your bone mineral density. – As someone who is accident prone and has broken both her arms twice, this is important to me! :) Like muscle mass, we slowly lose bone mineral density as we age, which leaves us at risk for easier fractures and osteoporosis. The stress placed on bones during strength training stimulates the bones to lay down more minerals. This can help protect against fractures, “shrinking”, and osteoporosis.
Strength training will improve your glucose metabolism and help prevent diabetes. Poor glucose metabolism is associated with adult onset diabetes. Muscle built through strength training improves the use of blood sugars into the muscles, helping reduce the chance of developing diabetes.
Strength training can decrease your blood pressure. Combining strength training and cardio exercises is a very effective means of improving your blood pressure which means there’s less of a chance of developing heart disease. If our muscles are stronger, this places less stress on our cardiovascular system while performing day to day activities.
Strength training can make day to day activities easier. As you get stronger, day to day activities such as carrying laundry/shopping bags/children, going up the stairs, etc… will get easier. You will be less dependent on someone else for assistance. You should see me open pickle jars now. ;) Ha ha
Strength training can improve your attitude and help fight depression. I am walking proof of this. Besides building muscle and toning up to get that hot new body, as you get stronger you become more confident in yourself and your abilities. Plus there’s that hot new bod thing too, right?  :)
Strength training is extremely versatile. You don’t need a gym or fancy equipment to do strength exercises. There are many exercises you can do basically anywhere with dumbbells, resistance tubing, or even your own body weight! Exercises can also be adapted to make them easier or harder depending on a person’s ability. There are numerous exercises to work different muscle groups, so you can keep your routine fresh and creative so you don’t get bored!
There are many, many more benefits of strength training, these are just a few I picked out. I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without strength training. I am stronger, leaner, toned, and have gained a lot more confidence. Cardio alone cannot do that for anyone. Yes, cardio burns a lot of calories up front as you’re doing it, but building and keeping muscle is what keeps those calories burning and keeps you strong. Don’t get me wrong, we all know I love my running, but I will never again shove off my strength training exercise. 

 
Also, as with any new exercise regimen, it is important to learn how to perform strength training exercises with proper form, take rest days, and don’t over do it. If you would like a few tips/suggestions on how to start a new strength training routine, I found this article which has some helpful tips and links: Exercise for Beginners – Strength Training. And as always, if you have questions/opinions/comments, feel free to leave them below or send me an email!!
Happy fat loss and muscle building!

Thanks again Chandra!  I use your strength moves for inspiration all the time!  Hope we actually get to meet at some point!

Round Up of Healthy Traveling Tips!

Traveling is one of the greatest pleasures in life!  You get adventure, new perspectives, great memories, new friends, relaxation, an escape from your daily routine and environment, heck, if you are lucky, you even get your bed made for you!  However, most of us do a lot of traveling—business, social, leisure, academic–not just a once a year vacay, so it never hurts to do a little planning and preparation to keep your health and fitness routine on track, so you feel your best during and upon returning from your totally awesome adventure!

I put together a round up of great posts and articles and tips for having a healthfully indulgent and fitness friendly sojourn from around the blog world, I am sure you have seen them before, but they are worth another glance!

Kath-Snack Packing for International Travel—covers that often forgotten vacation period the transit time to and from your destination!

Meghann-Healthy Snacks and Running Gear!

Tina-Easily Transportable Fitness Gear!  I love this post.  And also be sure to check out Tina’s great  travel articles for Health!

Gena—Travel Wrap Up-Be Prepared

Me!  I did a LONG post on Staying Fit While Traveling a while back covering everything from weekend trips to study abroad, my attitude is much the same, as when I wrote this post.  However, tomorrow I will share my specific fitness plan for this trip.

Checklist for travel friendly fitness:

-take advantage of all the time you have to be away from a desk and on your feet—walk, walk, walk

-sightsee rigorously—blasting hundreds of calories per hour at the same time—doing it on foot rather than on tour bus will help you in this effort

-plan fun natural exercise activities including, but not limited to: hiking, golf, mini golf, sailing, water skiing, surfing, rock climbing, basketball, tennis, swimming, scuba diving, volley ball, beach walks and runs, skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, etc.

Easily packable items:

-Ipod

-Ipod charger for wall outlet (I have a Griffin-best purchase ever)

-sneakers

-weather appropriate workout clothes

-bathing suit

-Dyna band

-workouts torn out of magazines

-workout dvds

-deck of workout cards

-misc. books such as the NYC Ballet Workout

 

Other things to look out for:

-FitTV

-one day gym passes, guest or daily fee

-friends that want to get in their workout and will take you along for a run or exercise class

-hotel stairwells or football field stairs

-Wi Fit and an energetic nephew

-opportunities for power shopping

-turkey trots/local races or even City Running Tours

-youtube workouts

-downloadable ipod workouts such as my beloved Serena Williams’ Workouts and numerous coached runs

Happy Trails!

Running Questions part 2

Hi, I received a few more good running questions!  For part 1, see here.

mychall01

 First, Tami from Journey of a Runner  asked: do you have any good track workouts?

I found a couple for you Tami!

First, I recommend the All American Rejects Speed Workout, I do it on the rooftop track at the gym a lot.  My favorite part is when they say:

“Kick butts, lean forward as you drive your heels into your butt, it looks really awesome, strong quads right here.” 

Here are two workouts from my TNT training, we used the reservoir, so the track would be fine!:

Speed:

  • 1st Round: Run easy 1.5 miles-effort around 6.
  • 2ndRound: Run 1.5 miles, 15-20 seconds faster than first round
  • 3rd Round: Run 1.5 miles, 15-20 seconds faster than your second round (30-40 faster than first)
  • 4th Round: Easy 1 mile cool down

Fartlek Speed run:

  • Warm-up 5-6 minutes
  • Run .5 miles HARD, recover .5 miles
  •  Run .75 miles HARD, recover .5 miles
  • Run .5 miles HARD, recover .75 miles
  • Run .75 miles HARD, recover .5 miles
  • Cooldown 8 mins 

Finally a couple from the book, Run Less, Run Faster:

  • Warm up 10-15 minutes–easy jogging followed by four 100 meter strides, stay comfortable and watch form, accelerate for 80 meters until you approach 90% of full speed then decelerate for last 20 meters.  Follow this with 100 meters of each: high knees and kick butts. (it looks really awesome)
  • 6X 800 meters with 90 seconds recovery between each interval.  Try to keep each of the speed intervals very similar in time.
  • cool down 15 minutes

Workout 2:

  • warm up as above
  • 5 x 1000 meters (2.5 times around standard track) with 400 meters recovery walk/jog between each interval.
  • cool down

Margaret , who is training for a half, asked if I had any training tips.

Let’s see, last year I did a post with general “get started with running tips” in my so  you want to be a runner posts 1 and 2.

Some of the advice from those posts definitely applies to training, but for more training focused ideas, here are a few things that have worked for me:

  • Concentrate and time, then distance, then speed.  The time on your feet is what is going to prepare you to get across the finish line.  Even if your longest training run is a few miles shorter than the race,  if you have prepared by doing long runs at a comfortable pace, your body will be equipped for the extra distance.  This is because in training 8 miles may take you an hour and a half, but in a race you will be running faster and it  may only take you an hour and a half to run 9.5 miles, the excitement will carry your through the last .5 easily. Next get used to distance, it will become a lot less scary.  I remember when 5 miles was TERRIFYING, but a gradual increase of 1 mile (and occasionally 2 miles) per week, and suddenly 18 was surprisingly simple. Note: you have to build the base, there is no safe way to get around it, take it a mile at a time.  One you have distance down, then you can concentrate on speed.
  • A note on speed training, this is something I am working on doing more of, so for now I suggest saving it for one  or two shorter runs a week.  Pick a distance that you feel comfortable pushing beyond your comfort zone, but not so long that if you go too hard you will die half way through (5 miles of less).  Most runners suggest a tempo run and an interval run each week.
  • Don’t give up your other favorite forms of exercise.  I know if I only ran, I would resent it and get bored.  I try to fit in spinning, core fusion, the elliptical and anything else I feel like doing to stay motivated and keep running “fresh.”
  • Try joining a local running group, enroll in a training course or just finding a friend to run with.  While I am practically engaged to my ipod, nothing makes the miles slide by unnoticed like a good chatter. I have one friend that I would love to have podcasts of, she can just tell story after story, it’s great!
  • Mix it up with coached runs.  I like to download them from itunes Nike Sport Music–click music and it is on the left hand sidebar.  I haven’t been disappointed any of  my purchases, yet and they really get me through longer runs or boredom! I mean when kara Goucher is cheering you on, you can’t feel good about bailing early.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend a little money.  I am kind of cheap.  When I started, I was convinced running was the ultimate no frills sport, so I didn’t want to buy anything.  However, adding a little tech or at least proper running shorts to your daily jaunt can make a huge difference in your running or at least your cute factor–and come on we often overlook how the cute factor puts spring in our step.  Some of my much debated, but very helpful purchases include: race ready shorts, shot blocks, nike running jacket, hat and gloves, fuel belt, hind ventilated running tank, and hopefully, my brand new garmin. Oh and NEVER EVER skimp on SNEAKERS. I am not yelling, just passionate about it :)
  • Sign up for races to prepare yourself for crowds, how your body will need to be fueled, your racing pace, and drinking on the run!  The first four separate occasions I tried drinking while running, I ended up with water going up and out my nose, in my eyes or just all over me…anywhere but down the hatch!  Definitely practice this skill! When you master it, you will feel like a runner! Plus, you won’t have to stop and walk during the race.
  • Pump the tunes and refresh your playlist often.  I just added quite a few to my own ipod today, most of them were from my sister Kristen’s suggestiosn yesterday, how did I live without Kanye’s new work out plan or little of your time by Maroon 5 for so long?  I also added Don’t Trust Me by 3OH!3, Knock You Down by Keri Hilson and We Made You by Eminem.
  • Mentally prepare ahead of time. I think positive self-talk is critical to a good long run or race. Days before a particularly daunting run/race, I literally talk to myself about how great it is going to be and go over my coach’s advice to get in the right mental running place.  This might not be necessary for everyone, but it truly helps me stay positive and trample any mind negativity during a run/race. My first running blog, the little runner that could, reflects this.  I still occassionally say to myself, i think i can, i know I can, i knew i could when times get tough.
  • Get Psyched! For me this is reading, blogs like Chandra’s and Meghann’s, books on running, magazines on running, and when available, movies on running, such as Spirit of the Marathon.  If there is a local marathon nearby, definitely go watch, cheer, and get amped.

Hope that helps!  Good luck with the half!!!

Answers to Running Questions

I typically email people back when they ask questions, and also try to remember to put my response in the comments if it will help others.  But I know I sometimes miss questions, so here are a few great ones that I have received a few times.  Topics: pain, injury, music, preparation the week of a race. 

 

Ouch!  My knee hurts when I run.  Do you have any tips for easing the pain and avoiding injury?

 

I have been lucky to have avoided any real injuries throughout my running experience.  This is probably due to the fact that I never over train; I typically run 3-4 times a week. I also don’t push myself to the edge for more than a short distance.

 

However, I occasionally will get a sharp knee pain right between the joints and, also occasionally, mild ankle pain.  While these are rare, I have found two things to nip the problem in the bud immediately: buying new shoes and stretching.

 

These are the four stretches I have found to be incredibly helpful for nixing pain asap.  I recommend stretching before and after.ilio1and2

 

  1. The IT stretch where you cross your left leg behind your right and then reach over your head to the right with your left arm, hold at least 10 seconds and reverse.

 

  1. The cross-legged toe touch-especially and oddly good for knee pain.

 lunge-with-raised-arms_slideshow_image

  1. Runners lunge- lunge forward, knee at 90 degree, back leg extended, raise arms over head.

 

  1. One Leg Squat Cross- cross leg over your knee at 90 degree angle, so your ankle is on your opposite knee and you lower into a squat.

Many runners that experience knee pain or have “bad knees” wear a Jumper’s Knee Strap-Patella Support.  They are only $8, a great investment. I bought one the first time I ever had knee pain, wore it once and never needed it again.  Still a worthwhile purchase.

 

*forgot to add an important one!  New shoes!  Whenever, I start feeling slight pain, it is almost always around the time I need new shoes! Replacing shoes frequently is incredibly important.  I really need to get better about wearing running shoes only for running.  It is my worst running mistake!

 

Do you have any advice for the week prior to a big race, half or full marathon?

 

My marathon coach (and the coach over thousands of successful first time marathons each year) gave me some great advice for week before and race day preparation (Sunday race):

 

 

  • Wednesday do not run. If you must do something stretch….nothing else, no lifting, no yoga, no cross training, nothing. You want to conserve the energy, prevent sweating (dehydration) and make your body/mind hungry for exercise/miles.
  • Thursday go for a 30 minutes easy run.
  • Saturday run 20 minutes and stretch 20 mins stretching
  • Starting yesterday concentrate in nutrition and hydration, especially hydration.   Drink plenty of liquids, you can/should add a sports drink per day, or add a little extra salt to your meals (this guarantees that you have a good level of electrolytes so you retain the liquids) just don’t over the hydrating.  If you have to go the bathroom every 30 minutes you are overdoing it,  if so stop hydrating for a while and resume later on.
  • 60-65% of your calories should come from carbohydrates.   Remember it is not about eating more, it is about making sure most calories come from carbs, eat normal size meals. This is by far the most common nutrition advice offered by experts.
  • Sunday morning you should be done with breakfast by 5:00 am (at most you can have something very light at 5:30 am).   What to have for breakfast?  Don’t try anything new, just have your usual breakfast, it should include some kind of carbs (PBJ sandwich, cereal, bagel, banana,etc. are good choices) and YES coffee is allowed ! (just keep it to one cup!)
  • Continue to hydrate up to 5:30 am. After that make sure you get rid of the excess of fluids (aka   go to the bathroom as often as you can).  5-10 mins before the start have your last 6-8 oz of liquids (bring a cup/bottle of water to start line).
  • Before your leave your house, ‘force’ yourself to go to the bathroom (nothing better that being in the comfort of your own house to take care of business.
  • The first thing you’ll do when you meet us will be going to the bathroom, lines are going to be huge. Do not wait to the last minute to go the line.
  • It’s common to have strange twitches, if your left knee usually hurts, your right knee will hurt. Suddenly your right eyelash will start cramping, it’s nerves, relax.

 

How do you find new work out music to keep your playlist fresh? 

 

I find music all over the place. I obsessive check the music section of itunes for best of store, essentials and any other cool things I see.

 

I also like to use MTV Video picks and VH1 morning jumpstart for ideas.

 

Gossip Girl and the Hills/City have great music, so check out their websites to see what great new bands are being featured in each episode.

 

z100 playlists will give you the top 40 mix.

 

Fitness Magazine has a plethora of great playlists  to suit any and every taste!

 

You can check out my sidebar (which needs to be updated) and music and playlist tags for some of my favorites.

 

I look at other bloggers playlists and I ask you guys for ideas.  That is how I found out about Girl Talk. Best.workout.music.ever.

Dressing for Winter Runs

Merry xmas eve, happy Hanukkah, chrismakuh and Kwanzaa!  I made it home after a 5 hour delay at Amtrak.  Instead of getting home at 8:15 PM, we didn’t get in until 1:15AM.  It was pretty crazy standing in the  exact same spot for over 4 hours surrounded by about 600 semi-hostile-extremely hostile people with zero information on when a train might possibly be ready to board passengers.  I tend to be most calm, patient and level-headed when people are getting worked up around me, and vice versa. But still the trip was  a dream compared to my sister’s snowbound journey home.  I hope everyone is warm and cozy and ready for the holidays.  Safe travels to all traveling today.

So on to the post!

pedrosnowrun1200m1Yay!  The answer to many of your questions and mine.  Can I run in winter and what do I wear?

In the notably fabulous January issue of Runner’s World, there is a great guide to dressing for winter running.  Por fin!  Even better, on the website they have a what to wear tool where you can put in the temperature, conditions and even how you like to feel, and it will generate a response!  Too cool!

So here is a quick and dirty guide to dressing for winter runs.  As you will notice, the guide goes down to -10 conditions…brrrr!

35-45 and clear

-tights or thin pants; a long sleeve shirt; pants; gloves closer to 35

35-45 and rainy

-running tights; wool base layer; water-resistant jacket

10-35 and clear

-technical underwear under tights; a long sleeve shirt underneath insulated vest or jacket; thin gloves and a thin beanie. technical underwear? I had to google it! Patagonia has quite the collection.

44430_048144341_1551

10-35 and sleet-yuck

-tights; water resistant jacket, cap and mittens.

10-10 and clear

 -cover every each of your body at least once by wearing wool underwear and thick socks underneath tights and running pants.  Keep core warm with long sleeve base layer under insulated vest and windproof jacket.  Beanie, gloves and mitts.

-10-10 snowy

Same as above for bottom, put a waterproof hooded jacket over your base layer.  Make sure hat, mitt and gloves are water-resistant.

It looks like we are off the hook if it is -10-10 and sleeting, hehe.  But it actually can be dangerous to run in icy sleet, hail or freezing rain, so be careful out there. 

trn-10971Happy winter tide trails!

While I think it is definitely warm enough to run outside here (25), I am not sure if it will be safe. The snow banks are really high and roads are really really windy, so I would be invisible to cars and the omnipresent snow plows.  Plus, my shoes would be soaked in the slush in minutes.  What do people do about keeping their shoes dry…say for example in the photos above?

I called the local YMCA and they offer no one day passes…BOOO.  The road conditions are really bad, so I don’t want to drive anyways.  It might be fit tv and workout dvds for a couple days :(

Oh, Josh from one of my favorite blogs put up his favorite songs of 2008.  I will have to check them out, a lot are new to me.

Beat the heat!

Okay so the heat wave may finally be over, but summer can be a hard time to find the motivation or time to exercise. I mean who wants to be at a gym when you could be having bloodies and bagels on the beach? Plus there is also safety to consider.

So here are few of my tips (from experts and personal experience)

If you are going to be exercising outside:

1.) Start early!
You should really be starting your workout by 8am. Plus you get it over with and have the whole day ahead of you. Ideally, you want to finish before it really starts getting hot and the strongest rays are coming down (around 10am).

2.) Be smart
Your body increases around 20 degrees once it is warmed up, so use your head, if it’s too hot, stay inside or go for a swim. Note: heat advisory warnings mean it’s too hot!

3.) Wear sunscreen and a hat or visor.
It is amazing how much wearing a hat and sunscreen helps fight fatigue and protects you from heat exhaustion and even heat stroke! You will be able to go longer and stronger. Plus your skin will seriously thank you later on! Believe me, no one will give you more sympathy for wanting to hone your tan while your out of doors than me. A gorgeous tan was practically a requirement to be a lifeguard with any social status. But even I slap it on!

4.) Drink, Drink, Drink
No brainer, if you are working out, have tons of water on hand. Seriously consider buying a fuel belt and always carry a few dollars in case you need to buy more water. For every 15 minutes spent exercising in the heat, you need 8 ounces of water. That’s a lot, so be prepared! If you are going for more than 45 minutes, you need to switch to a drink with electrolytes to replace those you are losing through sweat. This keeps your body’s sodium and electrolyte levels in check, so it isn’t a bad idea to fill your bottles with half Gatorade/half water or carry a few of each!

5.) Eat by the clock
For endurance athletes, the heat can make you feel less hungry, but once you are out for more than an hour, you need to refuel. Just enough to keep your body stable. So about 100 calories after the first hour and 100 more every 45 minutes there after. Gels, gus, shot blocks, dried fruit, whatever works for you. Just make sure it is at least 90% carbs and very little fiber. This is so it is easily digested and your body can access the energy (cals) quickly. It doesn’t make sense to eat something that your body needs hours to break down.

6.) Go shopping
It is really worth it to sell out a little extra money to replace your cotton wife beater with dri-fit tanks during the summer. Wearing clothing that breathes properly, will keep you drier, cooler and more comfortable all around. So hit up your local sports store, ask questions and try something on until you look and feel fabulous!

Fitness food for thought

I have seen quite a few interesting articles around the web lately, so I thought I would share some fitness food for though with you.

I only remember to check Vital Juice Daily once in a while. Sometimes it’s not too great, but in glancing through the archives, it has been pretty stellar of late
A fun spring shopping list. Here are just a few spring stars:

*Asparagus*Berries and Strawberries (look for organic)*Broccoli*Fava beans*Morels*Oranges*Radishes*Rhubarb*Spinach and Baby Lettuces (look for organic)*Sugar Snap and Snow Peas
Click on the link for full list.
Their NYC Vital List mentioned a vigorous Punk Rock Yoga class that is set to music. It sounds really cool, and I have a free pass to East West Yoga. Sadly it is only the last Friday of every month, and I already have plans this month. If it was with girlfriends, I might as them if they wanted to join, but I don’t think it’s appropriate in this situtation. ;) I guess I’ll have to wait until next month. Is it sad that I am a teany bit disappointed?

I am totally obsessed with Sarah Backhouse at gliving.tv, she recently did a 30-day green diet challenge that was very hysterical and very real. Even more recently she wrote a fun article on Green Tea, in case your still on the fence.
Health magazine did an interesting article on new ways to boost your metabolism, nothing groundbreaking, but worth a peruse.

Fitsugar had a fun roundup of healthy tidbits.

While I am totally a google girl Yahoo Health has a lot of great blogs. One of my fav’s is Joy’s Healthy Bite, by Joy Bauer, who is basically America’s nutrition goddess. Gabrielle Reese also has a good blog on health and fitness.

Do good, get beautiful (stuff!) I have learned two horrible things about bottle caps this week. #1 many states/companies won’t recycle your bottle if there is a cap on it. So make sure to remove the cap. #2 The caps can coke baby seals, penguins and turtles! Harp seals and sea turtles are my two favorite animals! The best thing to do is to cut down on the amount of bottles you use–most bottled beverages (besides h20) aren’t that great for you anyways. But realistically, you are going to use bottles occasionally, so remove the caps and save them. Once you have 25 caps bring them to Aveda (or mail them in), and they will recycle them AND give YOU a free beauty sample! Find out more!

To my running buddies, if you haven’t seen mapmyrun. It’s fabulous. Far more accurate than my pedometer.

While I don’t have too much time to find new blogs, I am interested to know what everyone is reading. I am sure there are absolutely fabulous blogs I haven’t seen yet! Let me know, even if it’s yours! :) I don’t have too many blogs on my list only because I want the list to reflect blogs I check regularly, even some of the ones on my list are being neglected, maybe it’s time to update.

Ciao bellas and fellas!