As an athlete one of the most critical ways we can support our bodies is by providing fuel during long workouts. Often new athletes will do a long run or ride, drink plenty of water and then be baffled at why they are tired, out of energy or even dizzy. Simply fueling the body during the effort can provide the energy it needs to power you forward without slowing you down. Teaching clients to do this with whole foods often leads to "ah ha" moments.
You don’t need to fuel during an hour of gentle yoga or a 30 min run, eating well before and after are perfect here. Before hand enjoy a wheat tortilla with peanut butter, a scrambled egg with avocado, a Juice Plus complete shake, something with protein and carbs. Fueling during exercise comes into play with a workout over an hour with an intense workout.
Finding a fueling system that works for you takes trial, error and time. That’s why it should be part of your workouts and certainly part of your event training process. When looking for fuel, we want easily digested carbohydrates that will absorb quickly and give you a nearly immediate boost.
The fuel market is full of gels, gus, bars, chews, you name it. Flip it over, read the ingredients and see if you know what you’re eating. I do this with everything I eat already so there’s no sense in throwing that practice out the window with training. Athletes trained with whole foods long before this gu market exploded and there’s a great way to find balance here.
Whole food fuel options:
Honey sticks – you can often buy these at farmers markets if you have a local bee keeper. My local grocery store, Raleys, started carrying them in a box recently for a decent price a few years ago. Just bite off the end and squeeze out a little honey as you go. If you have trouble opening them on the run, you can cut a slice in the end before you leave, just carry them in a zip lock.
Raisins – my all-time favorite fuel. It’s so easy to eat a small raisin on the run, you don’t have to have water at the same time so you can feasibly eat them between water stations if you don’t carry your own. And cranberries, figs, blueberries or your favorite dried fruit can mix up your flavors.
Fig bars – Find a fig bar without high fructose corn syrup, cut it into small bite size pieces. Yum! Natures Bakery makes one that is available at Target, Costco and on Amazon.
PB & J – If I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would probably be peanut butter. So it’s no surprise that making a peanut butter sandwich, cutting it into small pieces is one of my go-to fuels. Potato bread is higher in protein, potassium and sugar than wheat. Protein is go power, potassium is one of the electrolytes you need during exercise and sugar is a quickly digested carbohydrate.
Nut butter pouches – Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and honey peanut butter are some of the single serve pouches widely available. Justins has several varieties. These are a water required fuel option, you’ll be literally tongue tied trying to eat even a little bit of these without water. But they are a quick grab and add variety.
Stingers – on one particular run, I discovered I’d dropped my fuel zip lock and changed my route to pass the local running store. They had these honey stingers which met my need to have something on the go, while still being mostly whole food ingredients. My nod to living in the real world and not being psycho with my whole food quest.
Zip lock bags are perfect with fuel. An open honey stick is not your friend at mile 8 oozing out of a pants pocket. The snack size small enough to fit in a pocket, or easy to store in my race belt (fanny pack who are we kidding). I have also found these reusable bags if that’s your thing.
Buy a few options or raid your pantry for some foods you have already. Start by eating a small something every 30 min. then play with that. Is 20 min better, 45? If you are training for an event, find out how often there are water stations available and try matching that interval during your training. Again, training for an event has to include practicing fuel options. Over time you’ll discover you really can fuel with whole foods.
Do what you would tell your kids to do. Wear clean underwear and eat good food.
Keep Moving Mama
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My family had a waterski boat when I was growing up and we spent most summer weekends on the lake. My mom tells us stories about how we learned to swim in the 6 person jacuzzi in our backyard and just jumped right off the boat into the water and swam.
You could say I have always known how to swim, but never learned technique. Despite that, I have done a few sprint and super sprint triathlons. That was me you saw starting last, with her head above water the whole swim portion, rarely a front crawl mixed in.
So this January, I managed to cause a herniated disk in my back just getting dressed. Yes, really. No great story here! Broken bones, twisted ankles, muscle spasms, strained calf muscles, IT band syndrome, and delivering two babies without medication have nothing on the pain of a this herniated disk situation. WOWZA.
Those first few months, just tying my shoes was near impossible, sitting in a chair or car more than 5 minutes caused pain down my leg and made my left foot numb. My left calf muscle just stopped working causing me to limp when walking. Early every Saturday morning I head out to mark trails for my Keep Moving Mama run/walk team with chalk on the sidewalk. Bending down to write the turn around points brought me to tears on more than one occasion. Pain such as this I have not known before.
A few weeks after the injury, I was referred to physical therapy. Does everyone LOVE physical therapy? They are magicians that figure out what is wrong and retrain your body to move correctly. With weekly treatments and exercises at home, my pain has subsided over the last 3 months. It’s not gone but it’s improving.
On my list of exercises was swimming. With my undeniable addiction to exercise I was losing my mind without running. So into the water I went. At first, just holding a kick board under my chest and kicking for 10 minutes was the limit. Then I built up to swimming on my back that long without the kick board. Then my back allowed me to try a few strokes.
Co-owner of Sunshine Swim Center, Kim Amali, teaches swim clinics for my triathlon teams. Typically, I am with the runners and make it to the pool at the end of the swim clinic. Knowing swimming was my new go to for cardio exercise, I rearranged things to get in the pool with my clients. This was completely eye-opening. Wow, you scoop with your hands? You keep your arms next to you not across your body? That’s how you put on a swim cap?
With this new found knowledge, I’ve started swimming laps. Like a real lap, back and forth and using arms and everything. Turns out, you can really get your heart rate up swimming laps. After not running and doing low impact cardio work, I can tell I’ve lost some of my stamina. But with swimming now in my routine I can see the light.
Truth be told it’s not my favorite exercise ever. It’s like a treadmill without any music or people watching. Capitol B-oring. Running outdoors is and group exercise are more my style. My friend Heather Anders recommended this great waterproof iPod and headphone set that makes a huge difference. With music, I can find my groove. Now when I’m swimming, getting winded and working hard, I’m thinking “I’m awesome, I’m an athlete, I can do this!” I love that feeling more than anything. Exercise is my addiction to the T.
It does not matter what your injury is, there is something you CAN do. Keeping your body working, learning a new skill, challenging yourself to go out of your box will get you through the challenge. Others have faced far greater challenges than this herniated disk, but it’s the challenge I currently face and am taking head on. Hope you do the same with your own challenges.
Keep Moving mama!
5 ways to mix up your next 5K
If you hang out with runners very long this phrase will come out of your mouth at some point in time. You may start with run walk intervals, build up your distance over time, complete a 5K then another and another. Many runners give a 10K or half marathon a go but decide that’s not the distance they love. Or as the case with many mamas, we want to keep moving but 2-3 hour training runs aren’t going to fit the schedule/mom guilt game plan.
So a 5K it is. Awesome! How do you rock another 5K but continue to challenging yourself? Here are a few ideas to keep you moving:
Mixing up your speed during training or even during an event will give you a good challenge and even get you to the finish line quicker. The control freak part of me says to get out your watch and decide on an exact interval. You can even download a “simple interval timer” to your phone so it will beep when it is time to switch.
30 sec of moving faster every 5 min will get most of our hearts beating fast, if you’re in excellent shape do the 30 sec every 3 min.
Keep moving tip:
Watch idea to much preplanning? Wing it by increasing your speed at every light pole, tree or us competitive gals might pick it up to pass someone in front of us at an event.
Picking an event that has different terrain than you’re used to adds a new dimension of fun. Pick a trail run, an event with a super hilly course, something in an area you’ve never run before.
Keep moving tip: Start a race towards the back of the pack. That way you are bobbing and weaving through the crowd…another change.
Run at a friend’s pace
Bringing a friend along to chat with mixes up the race day experience too. Especially if her pace is different than yours. A walking or slower friend will allow you to talk more and enjoy not pushing your limits for once. A faster friend will challenge you to keep up…while you let her do all the talking so you can focus on breathing and occasionally pretending your shoe is untied.
Completing a destination event is a whole new spin on running. New scenery, surfaces and swag.
Build an event into a trip. Look up an event that’s near your inlaws while visiting or one that’s near that business conference you’re at all week.
OR plan a destination event as a weekend away or a day away with friends. Hang out before and after and chat it up. www.active.com is a great source for events, a quick google search will do it too.
Make a goal
I PR’d today! What the heck is PR and why do I want that? PR is abbreviated for Personal Record….so you’re best time. Making a goal of finishing your next 5K faster than your previous can keep you motivated to push a bit more on race day and during your training.
Aiming for a pace 30 sec to 1 min per mile faster is a challenging but doable goal in a 5K. Ran a 32:51 last time? That’s a 10 minute 34 second per mile pace. Shoot for a 31:16 next time shaving 30 sec off each mile. Check out this pace calculator to crunch some numbers.
Whatever you do, keeping it interesting, fun and engaging will keep you running. That’s the goal after all right? To keep moving.
Let it make you feel like a kid….or a badass. Embrace the chance to run in the rain and you won’t be disappointed. There are a few things you can do to prepare and ensure a good experience.
You will get wet
If you run in the rain you will get wet. Plan accordingly with a few dry things back at your car or by the door when you come into the house. Dry socks and a sweatshirt are my two essentials.
Check the temp
Here in California, often it warms up a few degrees when it rains. Not sure the science there but it’s a pattern. You may be plenty warm without the heavy jacket during your workout.
“Honestly, I wear as little as possible when I run in the rain,” admits Sarah Louie, one of my running clients. She recalls running in the rain in just a sports bra for high school cross country training on the secluded trails in the woods. “It was so fun!”
Not too many of us moms are running around in their sports bras, but a light weight shirt is better than a cotton tee that will soak up the water. Cotton yoga pants are a guaranteed problem too. Picking out light weight, wicking materials won’t weigh you down.
That sweat proof hat or visor is of course also waterproof. Wear that to keep the rain off your face. Head sweats is one brand among many, this one’s great.
Your favorite running shoes will be ready for the next run if you dry them after your run in the rain. Stuff them with newspaper, changing the paper every few hours till it’s dry. Newspaper is tougher to find these days, so I have found that lightweight packing paper works great for this too.
Last but not least, just remember that you won’t melt. Have fun running in the rain!
Keep moving mama.
Realizing I was no longer in control was my first lesson in motherhood. Babies do not come till they are ready and they never read the detailed birth plan. Turns out teenagers do things on their own time too.
It has taken years of practice, but I have found that if I focus on the few things that I can control, my whole family is better for it.
Running a group fitness program and a personal training business from home give me the exercise outlet. Each day I am inspired to learn new things about fitness and all its many topics, I just love it! Weird to some, but completely true.
Food is honestly on my mind even more than exercise. Baking, cooking, meal planning, visiting farmers markets...drooling over food blogs. Keeping the focus on real food for my family is my goal, doing that while living in our modern world is the daily challenge.
Attitude is a daily choice, I choose to do the best I can with what I've got.
So come along with me on this journey, I’ll share as I go if you will too…. keep moving mama!
Empowering women to build confidence through strength, health and community is the Keep Moving Mama mission. Comment to be part of the community.