Coach Becca breaks up a carb party

Nutrition Nutrition Nutrition.  I love it, I need it.  I live it, it helps!  Here is Coach Becca’s thoughts on fueling, both as a human and as a marathoner.

If your workout is going to be longer than an hour (such as our Saturday runs) – that’s when you need to start adding calories. This can be in the form of sports drinks vs. water (which also have some electrolytes, though not enough to replace your electrolyte losses), sport beans, GU, power gel, power bars, etc. Or, the old fashioned way is to eat real things. You have to determine what works for you.. Others hate them and swear by GU and power gel. It is really individual. The only thing that is definitely true for everyone is whatever you choose should be easily digested and fairly simple. 

Now that we are consistently running more than an hour (especially on our Saturday runs) we need to start adding calories. This can be in the form of sports drinks vs. water (which also have some electrolytes, though not enough to replace your electrolyte losses), sport beans, GU, power gel, power bars, etc. Or, the old fashioned way is to eat real things. You have to determine what works for you, one year for me it was pop tarts, I was sick of everything else.  I don’t mind power bars and GU, but it’s is really individual. The only thing that is definitely true for everyone is whatever you choose should be easily digested and fairly simple.

Although many theories have come and gone, the basics have remained the same:

1. Eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods
2. Control your weight
3. Eat a diet relatively high in fiber
4. Eat a diet relatively low in high-cholesterol foods and fat
5. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
6. Eat regular meals
7. Eat fewer simple sugars (candy, table sugar, sweets, etc)
8. Avoid junk
9. Avoid salty foods
10. Drink little alcohol
11. Make dietary changes gradually
12.Learn about your body, and whether high blood pressure, diabetes, blood cholesterol or other factors should influence your diet.
13.Rely on food, not pills for your nutrients, though consider a multivitamin supplement
Set yourself up for feeling great and and feeling energized!  Remember our bodies are like cars and gas. Our cars can’t run without gas and our bodies cant run without fuel so just pay attention to what you are and are not consuming.. 

The best current thinking is not new.. Rely on a variety of whole, unprocessed foods, Have food items in balance and in moderation. No one food supplies all of the many vitamins and minerals that we need. And there are probably still nutrients yet to be discovered. Too much  or too little of many foods is detrimental. It’s like tire pressure. Too little air and you have too much rolling resistance. Too much and too little and you risk flat tires!!! There are no truly good or bad foods. Its all a question of moderation. The USDA nutrition pyramid (which I will bring one for everyone) is an excellent guideline. Make carbohydrates (pasta, potatoes, rice, breads, and cereals) the center of your meal. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Add relatively small quantities  of protein and fat for their nutritional balance, taste and variety. That’s it, simple!

The recommended “healthful diet” for the general population is very close to the same diet as endurance athletes: high in carbo There are a few variations I will discuss below. Although marathoners may require more nutrients than the general population, the increased calories they consume usually compensate for their increased requirements.
Marathoners Nutrition:
Carbohydrates- Fuel for endurance athletes
Aerobic athletic performance demands glycogen, a storage form of carbohydrate. Your body makes glycogen from the carbs you ingest, not from fat or protein. The body can store about 2,000 calories in glycogen. For those who exercise for more than an hour per day, there’s a good chance that a diet high in carbs and low in fat will help your body make glycogen and continue to perform at a high level.
Carbo Loading and Reloading
Carbohydrate loading in a technique you’ve probably heard about- increasing intake of complex carbohydrates for a few days before a long run/race should boost performance. It’s helpful so scoop up the pasta, potatoes and breads before your event (or long run).
Carbo reloading- promptly replacing carbohydrates after activity is very important to help recover.
Extra Sodium
Marathon training, day after day especially in the heat will deplete our body’s sodium. Sweat contains about one gram of sodium per quart. On hot days when working hard, many of us will sweat more than that. The average runner ingests two-four grams of sodium per day. Since most of us exercise a few hours at a time, sodium is usually not a problem. Adding salt to our diet before, during and after exercise will help maintain exercise intensity, assist in hydration and re-hydration and prevent hypoontremia (sodium depletion in the blood) which is a lethal consequence of exercise. Sodium-rich foods and salting foods are suggested under these circumstances.
Is it was that you need when exercising. Drink before you are thirsty. Clear urine is an indication of appropriate re-hydration. Dark urine can we a warning that you are dehydrated  and need to drink more. Drink one quart (32 ounces/one nalgene bottle) or fluids per hour when exercising hard or in hot weather. It’s possible to lose several quarts of sweat per hour, its hard for the stomach to absorb more than 32 ounce per hour.
Trying out new foods
Now is the time! Experiment away before, during and after your training run for the big day!
Pre-training Nutrition
A good breakfast is key to a good start on the day.  If your running an all out fast short race a big breakfast isn’t a good idea. If you are going for a long run, fuel your body. A half-hour before training, you’ll want to top-off your energy supplies and make sure you are well hydrated. Again, a  high-carb, low-fat diet works best. You will be able to run farther and faster if you do.
Gatorade/ Sports drinks
Gatorade helps you hydrate and get some calories and its easy on the stomach. If its too sweet, dilute it to one half strength. When it’s hot (and I keep mentioning this as we approach hot weather) you are working hard and it’s hard to get down solid food. Even sugar solutions with a 6 percent concentration is difficult to digest. The solution to getting calories while exercising is maltodextrins (carbs that keep the concentration down, but add calories by increasing particle size) So…look at nutrition facts labels, then look for TOTAL CARB, then look at Sugars. The difference is usually the carb calories from maltodextrins.
Energy Bars/ GU
They are convenient sources of calories while running and they fit in your fuel belt or pocket. GU makes some flavors with extra caffeine. GU’s are not a solid; not a drink. You suck gel into your mouth and then chase with 6 ounces of water. Get used to these, you will be happy you did.
Post-Training Nutrition
Even if you’ve had a good breakfast, even if you have fueled while running, long runs still leave you calorically depleted. Replenish your body’s carbs with a few hundred calories within the first half hour after a training run, and then again within the next two hours. This will help you recover, replace your glycogen and be ready for your next run.
(Below is an actual picture of my bran flakes cereal with bananas, cranberries, and no sugar added vanilla almond milk from….TRADER JOE’S!) Carb party!

Sick and tired of being

Sick and tired.  Somebody turn the lights on…somebody tell… OK enough singing.  Kids, I have been so sick this week and because I am a glutton for punishment, I still force myself to go to work because of the deadlines that hang out there.  It hasn’t been helpful because my training is the one that suffers.  I have only been able to get my body to do one workout since Sunday….and now its thursday.  I ran with my middle school training group on wednesday and participated in a pacer activity and 15 minute run, but I was wayyy winded, so I decided that the elliptical would have to do.

Tonight I’m going to Brookline High School to listen to a presentation on how the mind heals the body. WOAH, exactly what I need!  I will definitely come back with a recap.  Here is the event info:
“On this evening, we will take a closer look at the mind/body phenomenon, explore the possible relationship between daily stress, emotions, and chronic illness, and discover how we can use our mind to heal our body.”

This is exactly what I’ve been going through this year and it needs to stop.  Seriously!  I am queen of optimism and good times; I never let some tough times get me down.  However, my stress levels are significantly impacting my work and home life productivity.  Seriously, its not ok.

I’m ready to go from this….

to this:  
Here are the steps I think I’m going to take until I start to feel more energetic.
1.  Its time to start prioritizing my life and maybe make some cuts to my social calendar.  I’m pretty sure I’ve overbooked myself in all areas of my life.
2. Censored by Gomomgo.  It had to do with making sure you limit your alcohol consumption.  Good thing I’m almost 28.
3. Get enough sleep.  I haven’t been sleeping that well since like the beginning of january, I want to start really getting into a night time routine that ensures a good nights rest.
4. Continue my healthy eating/running lifestyle.  I summed it up all in that statement.
5. Manage stress levels at work. I’m pretty sure I’ve vented in almost every post about how the year is going for me.  I basically dread waking up every morning.
6. Think about going to see Dr. Slavsky.    I just want to see if she has any recommendations or just make sure nothing is medically uncool, yo.  I don’t mind doctors whatsoever, but, boy….my doctor really just, doesn’t hold back.  She’s as blunt as a blunt object. Yea…I might also start thinking about going to see a therapist, to kind of keep myself in check. I won’t apologize for making that decision.  I’m a school psychologist, I’m going to promote counseling.  Sorry. 
7. Continue to listen to my body.  I know myself really really well, and when my mind and body is off, its definitely off.  When I need to take a break exercising, I definitely do it because pushing myself to run sometimes stresses me out even more.  Chicken and egg kind of thing.  Ya heard?
Any other suggestions?

Armlin’s Army

As you all know, I’m training with Team in Training for this here marathon in San Diego. I signed up for the marathon originally on a whim; a manic moment because I was struggling with my own personal life and wanted to prove that I was stronger than those difficult times.  However, as I have become more involved with the LLS organization (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) I realize that I want my training to be more than proving to others that I can push myself.  

When I partnered with the organization, I found an overwhelming support network of people who are working together to raise awareness and funds to cure blood cancers.  As the training has progressed, I have been working with TnT and receiving more information about families that have benefited from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s efforts.   However, it is at this time that I wanted to share a story of a family who fought so incredibly hard to win the battle over Lymphoma, yet lost the fight in the end.

This is the story of Geoffrey Armlin.
I became aware of Geoffrey and his struggle upon attending my sister’s high school graduation in June of 2010.  She shared with me that one of Geoff’s goals throughout his battle, was to simply be able to graduate.  When he walked across the stage in order to receive his diploma, he was met with a standing ovation and hundreds of tears and applause.  
Geoffrey relapsed in October of 2010, yet because of his unfailing ability to connect to other people, paired with his humble personality, the community quickly came to his side.  Local television stations and radio stations within the Albany area began to take on Geoff’s cause and promote awareness of his diagnosis.  Below is a summary of Geoff’s struggle, from the Fly 92 radio station webpage.  A similar story can also be viewed through the Your News Now (YNN) website seen here.

“Geoffrey Armlin is 18 years old from Middleburgh, NY and is a talented musician. He plays guitar, piano, drums and is learning to play violin. He loves the outdoors, camping, rock climbing and paintball. Geoff was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Burkitts Lymphoma in March of 2010 and on October 31st he relapsed. Geoff  was accepted into Utica IT as a math and linguistics major, but because of his treatments, he’s unable to attend.

The Armlins are a very tight knit family and Geoff is the oldest along with 4 brothers (Geoff’s twin, Jarod-18, Jon-15, Jacob-17, Floydie-9) and sister, (Jaylynn-7). Tammy (mom) and Floyd Jr. (dad) along with the rest of the Armlin family are staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Albany while Geoffrey is being treated at Albany Medical Center.

Tammy reached out to FLY 92.3 to see if we could play Geoff’s favorite band, Second Hand Serenade, because he is such a big fan of their music. We made arrangements for the lead singer, John, to give Geoff a call. They spoke for a while about music and it was a thrill for Geoff.

Upon hearing the story of the Armlin Family, three local businessmen and very close friends of FLY 92.3, realizing that time was of the essence, decided to pool their resources together to grant this family an Insta-Christmas. Al Hannoush, (Hannoush Jewelers), Bobby Mallozzi (Mallozzi Family of Restaurants and Banquet Halls), and James Goyette (Mohawk Honda), as we affectionately dubbed “Armlin’s Army”, have received the family’s “gift list” and are in the process of helping them celebrate an Insta-Christmas.”

Despite his efforts and unparalleled optimism, Geoffrey died on December 9, 2010, at the young age of 18.  His family has set up an organization in memory of his life called Armlin’s Army, which is a nonprofit organization that raises money for families of seriously ill children and lessens the financial burden of dealing with these diagnoses.  I encourage you to check it out, or pass on the information to others who are in need of support.  You can also became of fan of Geoff’s community page on facebook

In the meantime, I have asked the family’s permission to dedicate the last 10k (6.2 miles) of my marathon to Geoff. (And don’t be surprised when you see me slip into a shirt with his face on it at mile 20!) His story is exactly why I am running my marathon with Team in Training; so that families like the Armlins do not have to suffer the loss of a child due to a blood cancer diagnosis.  The money you donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is used to support families throughout the diagnosis of a blood cancer.  It also raises the money to be able to find a cure.  If you could please visit my donation page and make even a $5 contribution, you have no idea whose life you could potentially be saving or the cures that could become available.

Sick Contest

I am sick, my loves, so if you’ve noticed a lag in posts, its because I don’t really have the energy to think of creative and witty things to say.  However, there is kind of a big deal contest happening at entitled  I posted the whole link so you knew how important the link was.  Go ahead and click, and sign up for the contest.  I know I know, I’m blogging about it because she told me to, but I’m also blogging about her because she runs in makeup…which would only make her my biggest idol and hero ever.  Plus, she wears a ton of pink and doesn’t make excuses for it.

(photo courtesy of website.  Obviously I didn’t go over there and stalk her while she stood perfectly still for me to take the pic and run.)

As for me, I need a day off from training.  I really don’t feel good and am starting to sound and feel like when you unplug a robot.  You know, because we all unplug robots so often.  I might try to hit up the gym later, but it took every ounce of energy I had to stay awake enough to go to work.  Let’s review: Thursday I did some cardio and weights, friday-5 mile run, Saturday 6 mile run, and Sunday a 4 mile run.  The mileage gets upped again this weekend.

Stretching for Rock stars

A little lesson on stretching, thanks to my coach, Becca.  Also download beautiful people by Chris Brown. Good song.
STRETCHING may help prevent injuries and strains. This is the current, common thinking, but it’s not proven. Stretching reduces post-training soreness. Evidence suggests that longer muscles and tendons are more powerful and have better elastic properties, and so probably improve running economy. Stretching is effective in increasing flexibility, and again, that is why so many runners partake in yoga. Joint motion is limited by joint capsules, ligaments, tendons and muscles. These tissues can be successfully elongated with stretching exercises. Some stretching has a merely temporary effect, based on the elastic properties of the tissue stretched. Other effects of stretching can be long-lasting.
When NOT to stretch:
Please be cautious about stretching when injured. Don’t aggravate an injury by pulling more on an injured area. Use stretching to prevent reinjury when healed. An exception: some muscles/ligaments can be stretched at the other end, away from an injury. For example, when your IT band is a problem, you can stretch the other end, near your hip. Sit down, and with both hands pull your knees towards the opposite armpit. Stretching before running, when the muscles are COLD may sprain ligaments or strain muscles, stretch inside when possible.
Guidelines to Stretching:
-A stretch workout can be done in 15 minutes. If you have the time, it can easily occupy a half hour.
-Develop a stretching routine, and stretch in the same order. This is great for no missing any stretches.
-Stretch the muscle groups that are most important for you early in your routine.
-Some joints can be stretched in several directions. Develop your routine so as to stretch these motions in sequence.
-Stretch sloooooooooooooooooowly and gradually. DO NOT BOUNCE when you are stretching.  There is a basic neurological reflex called the stretch flexor. When a muscle is suddenly stretched, the reflex contracts/shortens the muscle. If you stretch slowly, the reflex is not activated. Fast stretching is usually counterproductive.
-Stretch to tightness, but not to the point of pain.
-Hold stretches for at least 29 seconds and up to 60 seconds- everyone will be different on this one
-Stretching is more effective when your muscles are warm. Avoid stretching first thing in the morning when you are otherwise stiff. If your routine provides the time to stretch in the am, first jog for 10 minutes or do some other general exercise.
-As discussed above, (and it’s important, so I am throwing it in again) do not stretch an injury.
Put Your Mind in Your Muscle:
Concentrate on how the muscle being stretched feels during the stretch. This will help in ensuring proper tension and help you to maximize gains, utilize proper form and prevent injury. If you pay more attention to the range of motion than to how the muscle feels, you tendency will be for you to “cheat” yourself. (for example if you are doing the hamstring stretch, if you focus on placing your head to your knee, the tendency will be to bend the back and flex the neck  in effort to help get your head to your knee, BUT the hamstring will not to properly stretched- so again, focus on what you are stretching, really pay attention.
Also, a super happy birthday yesterday to my Megaloon!  Welcome to 27, my love!

Fuelbelts: surprisingly the most uncool things ever.

Sadly, I was a bit underwhelmed when I got my fuelbelt in the mail today.  I don’t know why I thought it would be super awesome, like the best thing that ever happened to me.  I mean, its going to keep me hydrated and I can stick snacks in it, but, um, its so awkward and clunky.  I was also hoping to wear that bad boy around my hips, but realized its supposed to go on your waist.  Fuelbelts are basically the runner’s equivalent of a fanny pack.  Yayyyyyyyy……

(Also, leave me alone about these pictures.  My roommate is a surgeon, aka is gone a lot, so I have to use mirrors and self-timers to help out with training pics. pffftt.) 
OK well another thing that came in the mail were my Chia Seeds.  Remember how I said that Chia Seeds hold about 12x their weight in water, and help to curb appetite and insulin production?  Well, we’re going to see just how awesome they are.  You can sprinkle them on top of food, put them in your drink, or soak them in liquid and they turn into gel and take on the taste of the liquid.  
WAIT!  I just got an AWESOME idea.  I’m going straight to my fridge to put them in gatorade.  Ok, so while I finish this post, I’ll wait for the Chia seeds to grow into a gel blob.  I’m a little freaked out though because Chia seeds make me think of the movie Gremlins, where you splash water on those cute and cuddly suckers but as a result they turn into scary gremlins.  Anyway…
Ok, so my run…my run my run my run.  Another fail of a five miler.  I tried my best to fuel up properly before the run, got some gatorade, made sure I ate some carbs, went to the bathroom, and stretched.  However, I got out there and needed to stop every half mile because the area above my ankle that is also a part of the calf muscle often gets tight and cramped.  I felt fine physically, but once that area gets tight, I’m no good; its like someone pinches the muscles and makes it feel like I’m wearing weights.
After doing some research, I stumbled upon an article in the Scientific American that discusses this very issue, which I suspected to be Lactic Acid buildup.  My susipcians were confirmed upon reading this paragraph:
“Contrary to popular opinion, lactate or, as it is often called, lactic acid buildup is not responsible for the muscle soreness felt in the days following strenuous exercise. Rather, the production of lactate and other metabolites during extreme exertion results in the burning sensation often felt in active muscles, though which exact metabolites are involved remains unclear. This often painful sensation also gets us to stop overworking the body, thus forcing a recovery period in which the body clears the lactate and other metabolites.”
I find this condition to be SUPER annoying because it hurts.  It’s also SUPER annoying because you know your body can run, but then these muscle areas make it hard to do anything.  I even had to stop and sit on the pavement to massage the area in question.  
In my research, I realize that I need to do a lot more targeted stretching before and after a run.  I also need to do more tempo runs to improve my lactate threshold.  I believe what is happening, upon intense examinations of my recent runs, is that my body is having a freakout moment over the increased speed and longer runs that I am requiring it to do.  A tempo run just helps to train your body to run faster for longer periods of time.  I do see myself getting faster but also having a hard time sustaining that speed.  Like…tonight I ran 5 miles just under 40 minutes.  My pace lately has been very quick, but my legs are having a hard time keeping up.
The remedy?  I need to slow down a little and let my body adjust.  Then, as I continue doing speedwork and long runs, my body should be able to handle the changes accordingly.  So instead of a 7:30-8:00 min mile, I should try to run at an 8:30 pace, until my body acclimates itself to the intensity.  
Also, I should foamroll a hella lot when I get back.  Sorry for the foul language.

You’s welcome for those pictures.
Hey…lets check on the chia seeds now!

Well they tasted completely gel-like.  Like gatorade jelly.  This should be interesting.  Happy Friday!

Its for the children

Wellllll I’m tirreeeddd today so I’ll just talk briefly about my food choices on this fine Wednesday, as well as an event I’m participating in with some really awesome middle school athletes.  First, let us discuss my sweet eats. Actually, let’s just talk about breakfast and dinner because lunch was just leftovers from my evening out with Sara aka Baby Snake last night.

For breakfast, I’ve realllly switched things up by having annnn…wait for it…wait for it…


Today’s omelet included cage free liquid eggs from Trader Joe’s (35 calories a serving), a ton ton ton of spinach, half a tomato, a sprinkling of dried cranberries, and my new best friend, Honey Goat Cheese.  Let us fondly mourn the loss of our Cranberry Goat Cheese that is a seasonal food item at Trader Joe’s.  A moment of silence, please.
Instead, let us cherish the birth of my new seasonal goat cheese of choice: 
Trader Joe’s Chevre with Honey Fresh Goat Cheese.  
Tis’ Awesome.
I have also switched to strawberry cream cheese from my seasonal pumpkin cheese to top off my multigrain english muffin.  Its pretty rad, too.  
By the way, their cows just so Nooooooo to hormones.

As you all know, I have switched from tea to coffee, but have recently discovered Yogi Organic Teas and really enjoy their array of flavors.  Currently, I am in love with their Stomach Ease brand.  I haven’t had a stomach ache in the three days I have been drinking this tea!  And you all know how bad my stomach aches can get.  Um, well if you don’t know, they are really bad sometimes.  Its my stress house. Anyway, here is the description, as told by Yogi.
“At home, dining out or traveling, enjoy a cup of Stomach Ease after your meal to help with healthy digestion. Our delicious traditional medley of all organic herbs and spices is specially formulated to support digestive health. We combine fennel seed with licorice, two fragrant and flavorful herbs that naturally soothe the stomach. Refreshing peppermint and warming herbs such as cardamom, coriander, and ginger help promote digestion. So try a warm cup of Stomach Ease after your meal as a gentle and effective aid to digestion.”

I also snacked on a banana around 9, an orange around 3:30, and then a Kids Clif Bar around 4:30….as I was starrrvvingggg.
For dinner, I decided that I had had a lot of bready-like carbs, so I went the veggie route.
Here, we have a salad…but not just any salad, an Herb Salad Mix with mushrooms, tomatoes, half of a small avocado, honey goat cheese, a small sprinkling of pecans, and my Champagne Pear Vinaigrette a la Trader Joe’s (only 45 calories, what whattt!)

Nom nom nom.  I try to be healthy for the children.  I also, have decided to join in on some fun.  Say what?
Well well well, I’ve officially signed up with two administrators and 40 students within the two middle schools in my district to help run the Club 115 Relay Challenge through the Boston Athletic Association (BAA, and yes, THE BAA of the Boston Marathon).  Here is a picture of my shirt that I received today during one of our four practices.  P.s., I also get a coaches track jacket. YESSS.
Anyway, so the Club 115 Relay Challenge happens on April 16, 2011, two days before the Boston Marathon.  The BAA sponsors this youth running program, in which middle school age running groups (larger than 20, less than 50) compete at a relay race along 8 locations on the marathon route.  However, our middle school team competes at the finish line in Copley Square. HOW COOL IS THAT?! The program lasts a total of four weeks, and kids train to run the relay.  Because the team I joined has been training together in a rec running league, and have attended this event for four years, I really just get to join in on the fun and feel the excitement instead of actually coaching.  I can’t wait!  I guess I’ll just have to switch my long run from that day to happen on Sunday, instead of with my running team. Phooeeyyy.
Also, side bar.  Last thing, I mean it.  I’ve officially booked my fundraising party for May 7th at the Battery Park Bar and Lounge in the financial district.  I think I’ll charge a cover of $10 (suggestions on upping it to $15 or $20?) which includes appetizers (donated by the bar because the manager is also a Team in Training fan) and a raffle ticket towards an ipod (which I’m hoping Apple donates to my event…I’ve head they’ve done that in the past).  I am also going to raffle off Red Sox tickets, as well as having a fun balloon pop, where you pay $5-$10 for a balloon and inside, everyone is a winner (as I will be getting donations from area restaurants, spas, clothing stores, etc!).  HOORAYYYYY!