Friday, January 27, 2012

Post Run Nutrition

Yesterday at lunch my wonderful friend Melanie asked me a question that I think many runners/athletes have at one time or another.  Her question was "What do you eat after a run?" No matter whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, fueling your body properly is a major concern.  I know there are numerous schools of thought on how best to provide your body with the nutrients it needs as well as the optimum time to do it.  I am by no means an expert, but I have learned a few things that work for me and thought this might be some information everyone could use.  One key fact that plays into every workout is as follows:  you have a window of about 30 minutes post workout in which your body is most receptive to nutrients.

Short distance (3 miles or less) training run:  Post run needs after an easy short run are certainly not as demanding as if you have just run a half marathon.  Calories out will more than likely not exceed calories in that day so don't get fooled by your body screaming "feed me".  It is best to give your body some simple carbs and protein to replace your glycogen stores.  I would suggest a banana or apple with some peanut butter.  Another good suggestion might be a small protein bar with at least 10 grams protein and a good mix of carbs and fat.  Yes, you need some fat in your diet to break down vitamins A,D, E, and K. That's my nursing education coming out, sorry.  Just make sure you keep the calories in check.  Sometimes new runners get caught in the trap of "I can eat anything because I ran."

Average distance (6 miles or so):  I picked 6 miles as an average because for me, that is my bread and butter when it comes to training runs. It's far enough to make you work but not so far as to exhaust you.  For this distance or even a little farther you have burnt a fair number of calories and thus you need to replenish your stores.  I am a big believer in post run recovery drinks such as Endurox R-4 and homemade protein smoothies using whey protein powder.  Mix up a serving of your favorite recovery drink and follow up with a good balance dinner or high protein smoothie and I promise you will feel better the next morning. I know there are a ton of recovery products on the market from folks like Gatorade, Hammer Nutrition, Endurox, Powerbar, etc.

They all have good qualities, so just find the one you like best and go with it.  Recovery drinks can improve the quality and rate of recovery after a hard workout.  Additionally, signs of over work and poor recovery are fatigue, sore, achy muscles, and poor performance on your next workout.

Long runs (1 hour or longer): After a long run exceeding an hour or more you really need to replenish the nutrients you have depleted rather quickly.  If you can get some good quality carbs and protein in quickly, you will be on your way to a great recovery.  Again, I like recovery drinks because most of them offer not only carbs, but some protein as well.  Of course you need to be hydrating throughout, but using sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, as part of your recovery, is a good idea as well because they replace those carbs your have lost over the course of your run.  Sports drinks are absorbed quickly and paired with a protein bar, make a good recovery because not only are you replacing the lost carbs, you are providing your body with muscle building protein to repair the damage you have just done.  Make sure to eat a regular meal within an hour or so to replenish your glycogen stores.

I truly hope this information is helpful.  Again, I know everyone has different thoughts on what works, but this is some of the things that work well for me.  Happy running, biking, swimming, or whatever you like doing!  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stormy Days make great running days

Nike+ Sportband, foot pod, and Marware holder
Today did not start out as one of the best days here in the Heart of Dixie.  A terrible line of thunderstorms came through overnight and left a path of destruction from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham with the worst tornado damage in the Clay/Chalkville area NorthEast of town.  Thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by todays events, and it is with a prayerful heart that I thank our Father above for watching over everyone and ask him to continue comforting those who suffered loss.

As is often the case after a terrible storm, the weather takes a turn for the fantastic and today was no exception.  By about 2:00pm Central time the sun was shining and the trails were calling.  I decided to strap on my beat up trail shoes and head out and what a great decision it was.  I got to the trails about 3:00pm and it was right at 68 degrees.  The sun was out, but the temp could not have been any more perfect.  It was not to hot or to cold, there was a light breeze, you could breath effortlessly.  It was one of those rare events for a runner, The Perfect Day!  Again, I ran with my new Nike+ Sportband (pictured above) and truthfully, for a very simple device, I cannot express my happiness with it's performance enough.  This is a great tool for those looking for an inexpensive watch that will track distance, pace, calories burned, and total time.  It is extremely accurate right out of the box, light weight, and easy to operate.  I recommend giving it a try if you can.  Ok, back to the run: I started my run and was so stunned at the feeling I was experiencing.  I could breath with no effort, the air was perfect, running felt almost completely effortless. I pushed the pace a little at the beginning and of course at the hills had to back down a bit.  It was just one of the days when you feel like you could run forever and never get tired.  I love those days.  I only wish they came around more often, but I guess today was my one day a year for the euphoria!  Ha.  Oh well, at least I was  able to log 6.13 miles in 54 minutes (Average 8.53/mile).  Yes, I am old and slow, but just happy to be out running again.  With any luck, I will be able to run a couple more times this week.  If not, at least I have today to log in the memory banks.

On another note, for those of you looking for a little fitness/nutrition info, I thought I would try and add at least one "FitNote" for each posting.  Over the years of training, I have learned a thing or two and thought this might be a good place to share. Here we go:

FitNote #1:  Everyone, at one time or another in their life, tries to lose weight.  I don't care who you are, at some point you have tried a crazy contraption or radical diet method. I know you've heard this before, but it is still true today: Only one thing and one thing alone works when it comes to losing weight; you MUST burn more calories than you put in.  You cannot lose weight by taking a pill. You cannot lose weight by changing your eating habits alone.  You have to have some type of exercise in the mix to achieve long term sustainable weight loss.  I'm going to expand this idea a little further and say that not only do you need exercise, you need at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, 5 days a week, to truly achieve weight loss including body fat.  You can diet all day, but if you don't reduce your overall body fat, you run the risk of watching your weight go up and down like a yo-yo! It takes getting your heart rate up for a minimum of 30 minutes for your body to enter it's "fat burning" zone.  Do that 5 days a week, along with adjusting your eating habits, and you will see true weight loss and body fat reduction that will last you a lifetime.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Good evening and welcome to Brian's fitness blog.  This is a project I started 2 years ago, but it never really got off the ground for one reason or another.  At any rate here we are in 2012 and thus I decided it was time to shake the dust off the blog and get it going.  So, that being said here we are at day one, posting number one of this blog.  Yes, I am a 40 plus amateur athlete (48 since January 8th) and still doing my best to keep active and fit.  It is extremely difficult because at 46 I decided to go back to school to study nursing.  Needless to say, that has taken the majority of my time for the past 2 years and I have not had time to train much less blog.  I am still in school, but will be finishing in August of this year and at long last I will get to renew my friendship with my bike and the pool!  Thankfully, my running shoes still know my name and they and I get to spend some time together at least a few times a week.  Today was my first run this week unfortunately.  It was such a beautiful day, I felt the pull and the urge to get out and run a few so I logged a 5 mile trail run.  Not my best run ever, but it was just good to get out.  I love to run.  It is my release and my means of strength.  If I am having a terrible day, all I have to do is put on my shoes and go.  I have been running for probably 20 years now and yes, I was drawn into the Triathlon world probably 6 years ago.  However, even though I have crossed over to Triathlon, I am and will always be a runner.  So getting back to today's run:  I set out about 2:45 at Veteran's Park here in Birmingham.  It felt great to begin with but about a mile and half into it I hit a head wind that would stop a horse.  The wind was blowing in over the lake and it was crazy strong.  I could barely catch my breath, especially since I was running up hill.  I was able to overcome my breathing struggles and continue.  Because I have not been able to run consistently, I usually don't expect much from my runs.  If I can just maintain my fitness level, I am happy.  I was surprised today however, when I checked my watch for the total time.  I had improved my time on the trails by over 2 minutes for a 5 mile run.  I don't know if it was the good weather, strong wind, or the new Nike+ Sportsband I was sporting, but whatever the cause I was one happy guy.  It just reaffirmed my love for running and how it makes me feel.  No matter how long it has been since I last ran, I can always get back out and feel great about pounding the pavement.  Happy running! Or should I say Zumba, biking, swimming, weight lifting, etc.  Whatever you like to do, just get out and do it!  I promise you will feel better right away and every day after.