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Exercise and Pregnancy

Question:

“What are your opinions about running and pregnancy. Does it affect it does it hurt the baby in the beginning trimester? Does it affect trying to get pregnant? There are so many myths out there. I have been training for a half marathon for the past year and have a good base of ten miles and have run 3 half marathons, everyone tells me to stop if I want to get pregnant, but I feel like I already have a good base so its not like I am overworking myself to the point of exhaustion. Any tips you have I’d love them.”

Answer:

As a rule, pregnant women are encouraged to engage in regular, moderate intensity physical activity. You are correct, however, in that there are many myths surrounding exercise and pregnancy. This is partly due to the scarcity of data on the subject and the ever changing positions from the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology over the years. Some of the original concerns were theoretical. These included a fear that rising a woman’s body temperature, as occurs with exercise, can cause birth defects in the developing baby particularly in the first 3 months (first trimester). This concern was based on studies done in mice in which increases in body temperature resulted in deformed or miscarried babies. This has never been proven in humans although, as you can imagine, such a study would be difficult to find volunteers. Body temperatures between 102 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit can be reached in normal modest to intense exercise under normal conditions without harm to a developing baby. Another myth associated with exercise was the fear that active muscles demand increased blood flow, blood flow that could be taken away from or stolen from the baby and placenta. This also has never been proven under typical exercise conditions. Lastly, is the fear that the excess jostling that occurs with exercise could be harmful to the baby. This may be true for situations in which the mother is exposed to major trauma e.g. motor vehicle accidents or falls, but is not true for typical non-contact exercise in an otherwise normal and uncomplicated pregnancy.

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by on Aug.17, 2011, under Training

Dealing with Injury

“As a runner how do I deal with injury and the frustration of not being able to participate in the sport that is so much a part of my everyday life?”

Most likely at some point in our running careers each of us will be faced with a running injury and possibly be asking ourselves the same question. Whether it be a major or minor injury, if it affects our running routine it can be frustrating. Why is this when most of the world would be delighted to have an excuse not to run? Runners are a different breed.

Over time, running becomes not only what we do, but it is how we identify ourselves. Running can become so much a part of who we are that when this aspect of our lives is taken away from us we are left feeling lost (I know, I know—pathetic, but true). Our focus, our drive, and our motivation become fuzzy. Now we all know it is not the end of the world to take a break from running (we do have lives outside of running…don’t we?), but when we are the one on the “injured list” life can seem kind of bleak.

I started running in junior high and I continued to run all through high school. After high school I competed for four years on the track and cross country team at Weber State University. Interestingly enough, throughout my junior high, high school, and college career I can’t remember having an injury that ever took me out for more than a week or two. It wasn’t until after giving birth to our first child in 2009 that I dealt with my first major injury. I had started running again, but I soon developed some lower back problems that halted my running pursuits for several months.

It wasn’t until the beginning of 2010 that I was feeling pain free and at a point where I could start building up my mileage again. After only a couple of months of training, I was encouraged by how good I was feeling.

So, in April 2010 I decided to run the Salt Lake Half Marathon just to see where I was at. I hadn’t raced in a long time and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I surprised myself when I finished in third place (out of the women) and ran my best half marathon time of 1:21:50. I was still a long way off from where I wanted to be, but it gave me confidence and I began considering pursuing one of my “big” running goals again—qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials. My plan was to continue training hard through the summer of 2010 and then look to run a fast marathon in the fall.

Things seemed to be falling into place when I found out the Salt Lake Half Marathon time qualified me to participate in the Chicago Marathon (a great fall marathon to run a fast time) under the elite development program. I set out training with my new goal in mind, but about a month after the Salt Lake Half, I started having problems with my right foot. At first I tried to run through it, but eventually I realized I needed to take time off or it was never going to heal. Any training at this point was just counterproductive. Well, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and I ended up taking 5 months off from running. It was a very frustrating time in my running career, but I did learn a lot from the experience.

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What to eat before a race?

One of my favorite episodes of the TV show “The Office” is when Michael Scott decides to put on a 5k.  A charity 5k to raise money to find a cure for rabies, which already has a cure.  Just before the race begins Michael “carbo-loads” on a huge serving of fettuccini alfredo.  As you can imagine, he feels the weight of the alfredo like a rock in his stomach as soon as he starts running.  I’m sure all of us at one time or another can relate to that feeling and as a result we do everything we possibly can to avoid it!  We stress about what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat it.  Unfortunately there’s not one specific solution that works for everyone every time.  The key is finding what works for you.  The foods that work for you before hard workouts or long runs will be what works for you before a race, so keep the same routine.  That doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing before every race, you can have options and still feel confident that you’ll be fine for the race.

Pasta is probably one of the most popular choices for people before a race, and it is a good choice, but there are plenty of other foods that you can be safe eating before a race as well.  Plus, some pasta dishes leave you feeling heavy and that’s the last feeling you want to have going into a race.  If I have pasta I choose some kind of pesto with vegetables instead of alfredo or meat sauce.  Some other options could be grilled chicken, salmon, halibut, rice (I prefer brown rice but do what works for you, especially if you’re not used to eating brown rice), steamed vegetables (easy on the butter if you use any at all), baked potato with cottage cheese and salsa, fajitas (easy on the sour cream, cheese, etc.), etc.

Some things to keep in mind when deciding what to eat before a race:

-Avoid fatty foods.

-Avoid food that takes a long time to digest.

-Eat foods that you’ve eaten before harder runs or workouts.

-Don’t try new foods, now is not the time to experiment.

-Drink plenty of water, ALWAYS a good idea whether you’re a runner or not!

-Eat healthy foods.  Again, always a good idea whether you’re a runner or not.

The best thing you can do for yourself as a runner and as a person in general is to create healthy habits so that when the hard part of the race comes your body has the fuel it needs to perform and do what you want it to do.

As for when to eat . . . this is kind of a personal preference, and it takes some trial and error.  So try different things before workouts to find what works for you.  Personally, I like to eat my last “meal” about 2.5 to 3 hours before my race.  I’ll continue to hydrate leading up to the race and possibly have a small snack (mostly comprised of carbohydrates) an hour or so before the race.  If I’m racing in the morning (which is when most road races are) I usually wake up a few hours early to get some food in my body and depending on what time the race is I may even go back to sleep for a while before I get up to start getting ready for the race.  When I race in the morning I’m definitely more picky about what I eat for breakfast because my stomach tends to be more sensitive in the morning.  Some ideas are oatmeal, toast, a little bit of fruit, yogurt, etc.  Sometimes if it’s a shorter race I’ll just have some kind of a powerbar and a banana or something similar.  Again, the key is to find what works for you.  Some people can eat an hour before they race, some people have to eat four hours before.  Try a few ways and then once you’ve found what works, make it a routine so your body knows what to do and what to expect on race day.

The nice thing about having a set routine is that it’s one less thing you have to worry about on race day.  You’re naturally going to be nervous and if you have a set routine you can have confidence in the fact that your body will be ready to perform.  You just have to go out and do it!  Which brings out another point, don’t stress if things don’t go perfectly leading up to a race.  They rarely do!  Have confidence in the things you can control, your training, the foods you eat, the amount of sleep you get, etc.  And know that you’re ready, you’ve prepared yourself and now you get to go show off all the hard work you put in!  Enjoy the race and as Coach Pilkington always says . . . “Look forward to the hard part of the race.”  That’s what we train for, to prepare ourselves for the hard part of the race so that when it comes, as it inevitably will, you’re ready and you can still run fast when it hurts.

by Lindsey Anderson – Olympian | Professional Athlete

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STOP THE OFF-SEASON EATING INSANITY

Doesn’t it make sense that if you change your training, then you should change your eating? The normal winter habit of “taking a break from training” by dropping volume, reducing intensity AND eating the same or MORE carbohydrate is killing your race season performance. STOP THE INSANITY! The pursuit of optimal health and human performance is a year round endeavor!

Never fear, for a typical age group endurance athlete training less than 10 hours a week in the warmer months, this isn’t as drastic as it sounds. The key is realizing that your carbohydrate needs drop when your workout volume drops. Also, as long as you’re doing strength work twice a week and some speed in the winter (you are doing both of these right?) then your protein and fats stay the same or even increase a bit.  Another way to understand this idea is that you have to keep your training and nutritional focus on anabolic, muscle and health building, overdrive. That means training for strength, speed and power and eating meals that keep your insulin stable and kick your hormone system into that anabolic state of rebuilding lost muscle tissue, burning fat and boosting your immune system.

Here are some simple nutritional guidelines to help you achieve this optimal off-season flux:

Guidelines

  • Protein: Consume high quality non-denatured (not destroyed) lean protein 5-6 times a day.  Eat enough to equal 1 gram protein/lb of lean mass a day. Protein should be the first macronutrient you are concerned with.  This quantity is for those of you actually lifting and/or doing speed. Eat less if you are not doing these activities.
  • Fat: Eat fat to lose fat, boost anabolic hormones and stabilize insulin. Eat omega 3 based fats with most meals. Put flax seed or mixed plant oil into at least 1 or 2 protein shakes a day. 1 TBS /50 lbs of bodyweight/day is the maintenance dose.  Double if you have joint or inflammation problems
  • Carbs: refuel muscle tissue properly right after workout so you don’t starve later! Recovery drink or shake within 30 minutes of workout. Within the next 60-90 minutes eat a solid meal with an extra serving or two of dense carbs like fruit, yams, squash, red potatoes.  All other meals only require one serving of carbohydrate, if any! Daily intake of at least 90% produce based carbs with no more than 10% whole grain!  Eat a big dark green salad everyday.
  • Fluids and fiber: drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water a day. That does not include during and post workout fluid. Take a fiber supplement once or twice a day with meals (although not before a run!)
  • Meals: Focus on protein and produce and some fats like olive oil, nuts, sharp cheese to feel fully satisfied. Eat until you are full. Eat extra carbs only after workouts.

 

 

Benefits

  • Each protein dose, when accompanied by a small amount of low glycemic carbs, releases growth hormone and glucagon (the opposite of insulin). This sets up the body to burn fat throughout the day.
  • Metabolic efficiency! The focus on protein, fats and produce teach the body to live off its own carbs stores and finally burn fat more easily because it has to.  This transfers over to being able to burn fat longer and in greater quantities in training during longer and slower workouts when you add them in later. SWEET!
  • Your insulin becomes more stable, sensitive and efficient so your body doesn’t need as much of it as it used to in order to process carbs.
  • Feel more satiated, recover better from workouts, improve sense of health and wellbeing dramatically, don’t get sick much, strongly curbs carb cravings and you sleep better.

 

The goal

The smartest athletes will use the off-season as a time to rebuild their bodies. After 4-8 weeks of resting, then eating and training in an anabolic pattern will get the body lean, mean and ready for a full season of specific endurance work. Cheers to a wise winter!

 

by Debbie Perry

Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor

USA Triathlon Certified Coach

Colgan Power Program Strength Trainer

Local Elite Runner/Triathlete

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Fueling for workouts and races over 3 hours long.

There are alot of runners and triathletes out there who are learning how to take in some fuel during events and workouts over an hour and that is great news! The not so good news is that as some of those athletes start going longer than 2-3 hours problems start occurring that didn’t happen before.  So what is going on here? Isn’t 1-2 gel packs an hour enough? Do I absolutely have to have an electrolyte supplement? More water? What?  Well, the deal is that for events shorter than 3 hours, you can almost fake it on not doing enough. You may feel kind of lousy by the end, by you will survive even though you are running very low on energy, fluid and electrolytes. That is because you should have enough stores of all of those things to make through by doing only minimal amounts of eating and drinking. But…especially after the 3 hour mark…EVERYTHING CHANGES! You just can’t keep up with how much you are losing unless you make a SERIOUS effort to eat and drink more.

While it is true that you are hopefully getting about 50%-60% of your fuel from fat during longer,slower events, you are still blowing through quite a bit of carbohydrate. Most any runner or triathlete will still be using a MINIMUM of 125 grams of carbohydrate an hour. Then, in the case of  a Half-Ironman triathlon, the fastest athletes can burn over 200 grams.per.hour! And since we only have about 400-500 grams of carb stored in our muscle tissue and liver, it is easy to see how quickly you will start running out even if you are eating some fuel.  Yeah, do that math for a second.  ”Let’s see…I take 2 gels an hour or one pack of Clif blocks so that is about 50 grams of carbs I eat in a hour. Okay, well if I am blowing through at least 125 grams, but probably more like 150-175, then I am running an hourly deficit of about 100-125 grams. So by the 3 hour mark, I will have used 300-375 grams of carb and running very very low in fuel and by the 4 hour mark, I will be done!”  Yep, all those feelings of being light-headed, sick to the stomach, heavy legged, cranky, crampy, slowing down and feeling like you have been hit by a bus  somewhere between the 2 and 3 hour mark does not always have to be the case. Does this ring true to anyone? Is it worth trying more? (Notice here the picture of Mirinda Carfree holding 2 gel flasks full of 100 grams carb each while on her way to running a 2:56 marathon at the end of Ironman Hawaii 2009)

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Beginner Running Question

Question:

“I just started running…. what do you recommend for me to get started…. as started I mean I ran 2 miles up my road… I had to stop and walk some of it, and my lungs hurt so I think I need to work on my breathing… any advice would help…”

Answer:

We would recommend taking a look at the following articles a few of our Experts have already written. Let us know if you have any further questions.

Getting started: How to Start and Beginning Runner Training
Breathing: Pre-Exercise Ventilation

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