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Runners Nutrition Part 4: Minerals

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance, instead of focusing on what foods to avoid.

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

 

1. What am I consuming? Minerals
Minerals are the chemical elements other than carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, associated with the structure of the body. There are many minerals the body needs but calcium, iron, and sodium seem to be the most relevant in terms of deficiencies and toxicity. Like vitamins some minerals taken in excess can be toxic (iron, zinc).

Calcium-(Ca++) and phosphorus combine with organic molecules to form the teeth and bones. The bones are a “store” of calcium that helps to  maintain the plasma Ca++ concentration when dietary intake is inadequate. Bone is constantly turning over its calcium and phosphorus, so diet must replace what is lost. If the diet is deficient in calcium for a long period of time, loss of bone, osteoporosis or stress fracture can occur.

2. Why should I consume it?  Minerals
This answer is a bit technical. Feel free to comment if you have questions. Iron, of all substances in metabolism, contributes to the beneficial adaptations seen with endurance training. A powerful case could be made for iron as the most critical for at least four reasons:

1. Hemoglobin fills about one third the volume of each red blood cell, so an increase in red cell mass results in an increased total hemoglobin.

2. Without iron, hemoglobin cannot be manufactured.  An increase in cell mass means that the rate of production of red blood cells must be stepped up in endurance-trained athletes.  In untrained people, typical dynamics of the red blood cell synthesis-breakdown continuum are such that about 233million cells are released from the bone marrow into the blood stream each second, with an equal number destroyed (Cronkite 1973).  This number is larger in trained athletes because of an increased production of cells to meet the increased destruction of cells.

3. A red blood cell has no nucleus and thus divides no further, but all its precursor cells do and this cellular division requires DNA synthesis, which is impossible without iron.

4. Endurance training is characterized among other things by an increased myoglobin content in skeletal muscle.  Myoglobin contains iron. Limitations in iron supply should reduce its availability as an oxygen storage reservoir in skeletal muscle. Krebs cycle enzymes, more than half of which contain iron, which allow eventual interaction of 02 and H+ to form H20, completing the large-scale energy release to form FUEL BREAKDOWN (eg energy)(“Better Training For Distance Runners”, Martin and Coe).

Are you getting enough iron? Whether you understand the four reasons or not, the take home message is, iron is very important.

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Reference:
Thanks David Martin for your insight on endurance athlete nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331

Runners Nutrition Part 3: Vitamins

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance, instead of focusing on what foods to avoid. We first covered water and now we are onto vitamins.

The common assumption that an American endurance athletes make is that if they avoid the foods that could harm performance, they will automatically consume foods that will improve performance. However getting the proper nutrients isn’t that easy.

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

1. What am I consuming? Vitamins
Vitamins are needed in small amounts and are not “used up” in the metabolic reactions.  However they are degraded like any biological molecule and must be replaced on a regular basis to maintain body stores.  Vitamins exist in two forms: Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble.  Vitamins taken in excess can lead to toxicity.

Fat-Soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K.  These vitamins can be stored in large quantities in the body; thus a deficiency state takes longer to develop than for water-soluble vitamins.

Water-Soluble vitamins include C, the B vitamins: thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin, pyridoxine (B-6), folic acid, B-12, pantothenic acid and biotin.  Most are involved in energy metabolism.  Vitamin C is involved in the maintenance of bone, cartilage and connective tissue.

2. Why should I consume it? Vitamins
The most important vitamins for elite endurance athletes are:

Vitamin C
Found in citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and greens
Vitamin C helps with connective tissue synthesis, hormone synthesis, and neurotransmitter synthesis

Vitamin B-12
Found in animal foods, oysters and clams
B-12 helps with folate metabolism and nerve function

Thiamin
Found in sunflower seeds, pork, whole and enriched grains, dried beans, peas and brewers yeast
Thiamin is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and nerve function

Riboflavin
Found in milk, mushrooms, spinach, liver and enriched grains
Riboflavin is involved in energy metabolism

Niacin
Found in mushrooms, bran, tuna, salmon, chicken, beef, liver, peanuts and enriched grains

Pantothenic acid
Found in mushrooms, liver, broccoli and eggs
Pantothenic acid is involved in energy metabolism, fat synthesis, fat breakdown

Biotin
Found in cheese, egg yolks, cauliflower, peanut butter and liver
Biotin is involved in glucose production and fat synthesis

Vitamin B-6
Found in animal protein foods, spinach, broccoli, bananas, salmon and sunflower seeds
Vitamin B-6 is involved in protein metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, hemoglobin synthesis

Vitamin D
Found in fortified milk, fish oils and breakfast cereals
Vitamin D facilitates absorption of calcium and phosphorus and maintains optimal calcification of bone

Vitamin K
Found in green vegetables and liver
Vitamin K helps form prothromibin and other factors for blood clotting and contribute to metabolism

How do you get your vitamins?

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Reference:

Thanks Dr. David Martin for your insight on runner’s nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331

 

Runners Nutrition Part 2: Water

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance instead of focusing on what foods to avoid. The common assumption that American endurance athletes make is that if they avoid the foods that could harm performance that they will inherently gain the foods that will improve performance. This assumption is flawed for many reasons. One example is the common avoidance of saturated fats by many endurance athletes that has lead to a depletion of iron stores as a result of avoiding the consumption of red meats.

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives in the form of questions:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. In the following blog series each nutrient will be described briefly and the primary food sources of each will be identified.  Also within each section, a brief suggestion of when to consume each nutrient will be given.

In the following blog series we will go through each nutrient with a:

  • Brief description
  • Primary food source
  • Best time to consume

1. What am I consuming?  WATER
The body is 50% to 75% water, depending on age and body fatness. A loss of only 3% to 4% of body water adversely affects aerobic performance. Water is lost primarily through sweat, urine, respiration and cell activity.

2. Why should I consume it?  WATER
Deena Kastor, the American record holder in the marathon, says that one of the keys to her performance is drinking 1 Gallon of water per day. Optimal consumption of water comes within 30min after training sessions are completed and during training sessions of over 1hr 30min.

You will often hear a recommended amount of ounces per distance or time. The troubles with these formulas are that often athletes do not take the time to remember the amount or timing of such formulas. Also, in December because of the temperature being cooler you will need less water than in August when it is hot.

I suggest that you drink within 30min after your training session until you are no longer thirsty and then drink a little more. Think of it in terms of drinking the amount of water you lost plus a little more for cell adaptation to occur.

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Reference:
Thanks Dr. David Martin for your insight on runner’s nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331

Runners Nutrition Part 1: Are You Eating Enough?

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1526I recently read an article about lower leg pain being caused by too few calories in diets of collegiate distance runners. In a study with 76 collegiate female athletes there was a higher incidence of lower leg pain, missed practices, and stress fractures in athletes that had abnormal eating patterns. Abnormal eating patterns were defined as missing meals, eating lower calories than consumed by more than 3,500 kcal per week, binge eating and purging.

As a male collegiate, post collegiate, and now coach I have tried to see what the best race weights for my athletes and myself are for several years. The conclusion that I have come to is that athletes need to be at the weight that they stay the healthiest for the longest period of time.

You may be able to run faster in the short term by lowering you body weight through an abnormal eating pattern but it will not be without it’s risks of injury. The problem is that your body structure will not maintain strength when you limit your food intake beyond a certain point.  You will begin to lose some weight that is muscle mass due to your body consuming some of the protein in the muscles for energy.

Your body was made to survive and it will survive by consuming whatever is present. If you don’t have enough carbohydrate and fats in your diet, your body will begin to eat away at your muscle mass to fuel your running and daily activities. The bottom line here is try to eat good food and a lot of it.

So what should you eat? Check out the next practical, simple nutrition tip for runners. Learn what your approach to eating should be.

Find Your Race Weight


Wondering how to find your perfect race weight?

There is a great book called “Race Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald that talks about trying to run faster by finding your best race weight.  The book’s premise is that trying to reach your optimum weight should not involve starving yourself to see how many pounds you can lose before race day.  Instead it is more important to pay attention to your weight when you are running PR’s and feeling your best.  Then write down this weight and try to hit it during your competitive season.

In “Racing Weight” Fitzgerald points out that extra weight can make you run slower.  The other end of the spectrum is when you lose too much weight and lose the ability to produce enough power to maintain your best racing paces.

When you’re ready to slim down for your peak race remember that what you eat after an easy run, workout, or race plays a major role in numbers on the scale. Two easy ways to head towards a healthy goal race weight are to eat the right kinds of foods after a race or workout and to eat the right amounts of food. Of course there is a time and place for “splurging”, but if you have a weight goal it is best to avoid the “I just went on a run, I can eat whatever I want!” mentality.

Here is an idea of what you should consume after easy runs, workouts, and races to help you recover and not put on extra post run weight due to your eating habits:

Post Easy Run Snack:

  • Water- amount depends on weather, distance covered and thirst
  • 1 granola bar or piece of fruit
  • Vitamins and mineral supplement

Post Workout or Race Snack:

  • Water- amount depends on weather, distance covered, and thirst
  • Carb/Protein drink- 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein (Muscle milk, chocolate milk, Endurox, Accelerade, etc)
  • 1 granola bar or piece of fruit
  • Vitamins and mineral supplement

 

Solidify Your Run with Recovery

This is a term that I have been using to remind myself that each run needs to be solidified by a recovery element. This is my new mantra that I hope is going to help me balance the need for recovery after hard workouts or long miles.

You can solidify your run or workout by massage, naps, hydration, eating right, ice baths, etc. Why is there a need to solidify your workouts?

One of the problems with training hard or training at all is that our bodies don’t get faster or better when we run fast or long. We actually get weaker and more broken down by the training that we do. I can prove this by asking you to run a race as fast as you can and then asking you to repeat the same effort 2 hours later. You will not be able to do it because your body is not recovered yet. We get faster when we are sitting on the couch.

So how can we return to a recovered state faster after a hard workout?

  1.     Place equal value on recovery and hard work.
  2.     Be honest with yourself…are you actually recovered? Did you do the right thing to solidify your run.
  3.     Force yourself to take a 1-day off at least every 14 days. Most people will need 1-day off every 3-7 days.
  4.     Remember that good performances come not from any individual session but from consistency.
  5.    A good mood is good sign of recovery…
  6.    Solidifying your run can make your quality of life better…

How can you solidify your run?

  1. I have recently been solidifying my runs by 30mins naps.  In addition to the fact that the body does most of its healing during sleep I have been feeling a great deal less stressed by adding my 30min naps 3Xper week.  It just feels good to lay down and get some rest. Watch the Importance of Sleep video if you need more convincing.
  2. Drink some chocolate milk within 20mins to 1hr after your hard workouts.  Check the refueling with chocolate milk video.
  3. Do some dynamic drills before you do a workout or race.
  4. Stretch after your run is over.
  5. Take an ice bath for 12minutes in 52-55 degree water.
  6. Get a massage.
  7. Take a leisurely walk to unwind.
  8. Do some Yoga.

If you are a highly motivated athlete you may have a hard time solidifying your run because you thrive on the instant gratification of hard workouts. My suggestion is to change the way you think about getting faster. Instead of focusing on times and splits and ignoring the recovery process, try to balance your running with at least one activity that will solidify your run every day. By focusing on both hard work and the recovery process you can solidify every run and make sure that they count.

P.S. One of my favorite quotes is from Deena Kastor.  She says “…there is no such thing as OVER TRAINING, only UNDER RESTING.”

Living a Simple Life is necessary to run fast…

There are few things more simple than running.  All you need are shoes (some people don’t even have that) and a heading.  This year has been a year of trying to simplify some things in my life.  The last several years has been a full of life markers (buying a house, starting my own business – three of my own businesses, and the best markers were 11 years of marriage and having our first child) that I don’t regret but it is time to pull in the reigns and focus on what I love doing.

I am sitting in Flagstaff Arizona at 7000ft elevation and life is really simple right now.  Even though the city has 60k people and where I live (Rome GA) only has 30k, things are much more simple here.  Even the weather seems simple, quiet, and just really still.

So here are few things that I am going to do to try to “Simplify” life and run fast.  For me this is not just about doing less but in some ways it is about doing more.  Here we go:

#1.  Sometime in 2006 I went to an online running log.  I really enjoyed this time of getting to see what others were doing and share my workouts with them.  However I think I lost some solitude in my training.  Not that I do any secret training, but my running is definitely where I get recharged and writing in my log has been my way of journaling since I started running in 1996.  Today I am going back to a paper log.

#2.  Stretching.  I understand the science of stretching as I wrote about here (http://gogorunning.com/does-stretching-really-work/) but I forgot a few things about stretching that I really need.  One is stress reduction and the other is that I think stretching allows you to work on focusing and not rushing.

#3.  Sitting and talking.  Coaching Kenyans has taught me that storytelling and just sitting around doing nothing is not only relaxing but it is good for your mind and body when it comes to recovery.  I hope to find some time just to hang out with friends and family more.

#4.  Saying NO to things that don’t fit with existing business and running goals.  In other words I will strive to make the things I do better without adding additional things to the mix.

Let me know if there is anything that you are doing to add simplicity to your routine.

-J