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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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Tips for Training for a Marathon

Expert Panel Question???

“I’m a 62 year old male runner, have run many half marathons but never a full marathon. I run 3 – 4 times a week averaging 25 to 35 miles. I play golf and weight train moderately. I’m training for a marathon and would like to feel more energized – suggestions?”

Answer!!!

Realize that training for a marathon at any age is an energy draining pursuit, but to help you feel as good as possible try the following:

1. Keep your run days to 3-4 times a week
2. Keep your weekday runs to no more than an hour.
3. Do long runs every other Saturday and start them about 16 weeks out(assuming you already can run 90 minutes for a long run)
4. Do your longest training run at 22 miles and do it 3 weeks out from your race.
5. Focus on eating really well after all your runs. Drink a recovery drink IMMEDIATELY upon finishing a run and then eat a whole food meal within 45-60 minutes following that has a lot of carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat.
6. Drink lots of water each day.
7. Sleep really well.
8. Use a sports massage therapist twice a month
9. Take a solid vitamin/mineral/ antioxidant supplement day and night.
10. Take an ice bath after each long run.

by Debbie Perry

Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor

USA Triathlon Certified Coach

Colgan Power Program Strength Trainer

Local Elite Runner/Triathlete

Google Buzz

Couch to 5k Program Question

Expert Panel Questions???

“Ok. I’m just starting the couch to 5k program. I think if I plan for August 1st I will be ready for any coming run during that time. Already thinking ahead now; I’m worried about what is next? How do I increase training for a 10 K and how much time needed.”

(ask your questions to the UtahRunning.com Experts)

Answer!!!

First off, congratulations on taking the first step . . . making the decision to do it! My suggestion to you, if you haven’t already, is to pick a specific 5k race that you want to do and register/sign up for it. This gives you a deadline and helps your training become more specific and purposeful.

Once you’ve done a 5k and you’re ready to tackle a 10k, really the only thing that will change in your training is you’ll gradually increase your mileage. I personally think that if you’ve put in the training for a 5k you could do a 10k as early as 2 or 3 weeks after the 5k. The key is the increase in mileage, maybe a half a mile at a time (more or less depending on how you’re feeling).

I would suggest getting your regular distance runs up to a distance further than 6 miles so that when the 10k does come around you’ll be confident knowing that you’ve done it before! Good luck and have fun!

by Lindsey Anderson – Olympian | Professional Athlete

Google Buzz
by on Jul.08, 2010, under Expert Answers, Training, Utah 5k

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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Pre-Exercise Ventilation

I thought a short explanation of a typical ventilatory response to the onset of exercise might help answer this question. Carbon dioxide in our blood increases at the onset of exercise at a greater rate than it does later during our exercise bout (after we’ve warmed up for a while). Respiration is what gets rid of this carbon dioxide, and thus our breathing rate also increases more than normal at the beginning of exercise. As exercise progresses, the chemical conditions of our blood (i.e. increased heat & metabolism) allow more oxygen to distribute carbon dioxide out of the blood, creating less demand for our breathing rate to do that.

Read More….

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