What is LISS Cardio?

Have you ever heard of LISS cardio? I had not for a long time, but this year I have seen more and more people posting about LISS cardio. So I thought, what is that?

It turns out that LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State. It’s all about doing at least 45 minutes of low intensity cardio, 65-75% of your max effort. Yes, this is the long, steady, and sometimes boring, type of cardio that is typically hated. To perform LISS, you can walk, run (at your own comfortable pace), hop on the elliptical, or hike! It may be boring at times, which is why I like to run or walk outside for my LISS. Unfortunately, I have something going on with my ankle so I am out of running commission right now, so I walk or do the elliptical. 

It’s so easy to take yourself outside and walk for 1 hour. And it’s summer! This is the time to get outside. Fall is right around the corner — which I am PUMPED about — so now is the time to enjoy the heat before it starts creeping away. I think Summer and Fall are the best times to be outside, so I like to get out verse staying inside. It doesn’t always happen and plans can change due to weather, but it is so worth it. 

How does LISS cardio help with weight loss?

It’s important to mix up your routine. I’m a big fan of running, swimming, walking, hiking, HIIT (high intensity interval training), strength training, LISS cardio and doing other fun active things like kayaking, bike riding, and playing tennis. It’s important to mix it up so that your body doesn’t get too used to your preferred type of exercise. 

Think about it. We exercise to work our bodies, exercise certain muscles, improve our health, improve our strength, and for several other reasons, but our bodies are brilliant. They adapt. They get stronger. If you are working your body the same way over and over, your body will adapt, get stronger and that work won’t really be much work anymore. We need to change it up.

How do I do that? Easy! Mix up your favorite exercises and activities throughout the week to make up your weekly plan. Do different things on different days, change the time or the intensity (by taking it up or down) or try something completely new! If you have something you love, like running, you can change up the distance, your intensity, your course, or do intervals. There are so many ways you can do this. The options are seriously limitless. Change it up any way you can.

You don’t have to go crazy with it, but aim to do it differently 1 day a week if you typically perform the same exercise 3 times per week. So for running, if you have your course that you love and always do it the same way — maybe you just try to run your best each day (that’s what I typically do) — stick to that 2 days out of the week and do 1 “change up” run. It can be a day of speed work or a day of longer distance where you work a little harder to kick it up at the end. Make it work for you. 

How does LISS work into this? Like I said before, it’s part of mixing it up. But it’s also how our bodies perform during LISS cardio. When you get too fatigued or are working really hard, your body stops using fat for fuel and looks for other sources of immediate energy like blood sugar and muscle glycogen (think immediate sources of energy, like the ones you get from carbs and sugar). When you perform 45-60 minutes of LISS cardio, your body is mostly using fat for fuel. 

How do you control this? Target heart rate. At 120 beats per minute or less, your body will most likely be using fat as it’s main fuel source. Looking to lose fat? Then LISS is for you. Incorporate LISS cardio into your workout routine and see how your body changes. Ready? Let’s make a plan. 

The plan…

A good game plan is to workout or get significant exercise 5-6 days a week. I’m all for get up and move as much as you can, but I also believe in having a rest day. Relax and recharge.

So if you are exercising regularly 5-6 days a week and prefer to “go hard,” you can perform LISS 2-3 days a week and go harder on the other days. 3-4 hard days a week is really good. By incorporating LISS and a rest day, you are allowing your body to recover and still stay active. You are still elevating your heart rate and working your body, just not so intensely. You’re up and you’re moving — you’re doing your body good. 

Want to do more LISS or primarily LISS? No problem! You can be a LISS cardio queen or king and still transform your body. For those who prefer exercising primarily through LISS cardio (think walkers and steady runners), you can do your thing 5, 6 or 7 days a week! The great thing about LISS is that it is low intensity and should typically be less stress on your body.

Walking is the picture perfect way to perform LISS. You can walk your heart out every morning, afternoon or evening and then sprinkle in other forms of exercise throughout the week. Maybe 2 days a week you take a kickboxing or boot camp class, maybe you do yoga, pilates or do some strength training. It’s up to you. My suggestion is to do something that requires strength. Yoga and pilates are fantastic and gentle ways to improve your strength and work your muscles. Need to bump it up or tailor the workout specifically to your capabilities? Strength train in a way that works for you. You can get help from a personal trainer, watch videos online, take a class — whatever, just make sure you are doing the exercises properly so you don’t hurt yourself.

By mixing and matching your exercises and workouts and incorporating LISS to your routine, you can and will transform your body. Of course it is also best to pair your routine with healthy eating habits and to make this routine a habit. Consistency is the biggest key. Stay consistent, and you are on the road to reaching your goals.

Til next time! 🙂

Good food. Good moves. Good tips. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good

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How to Recover from Vacation the Healthy Way

Recovering from vacation the healthy way.


We often return from vacations, weekends away or long holiday weekends feeling like we need to turn up our healthy habits and recover from the weekend damage. The 4th of July is just around the corner so it’s the perfect time to be discussing this. I also just returned from vacation and implemented these methods to bounce back to my pre-vacation self.

In order to bounce back, you do not need to go to any extremes. That means no skipping meals, no 3 hour workouts, nothing like that. All you need to do is get back to your regular routine and stick to this guide: 

1. Workout hard. I don’t mean go crazy or do something you aren’t trained for. I simply mean work your hardest. Do not half-ass it. I’ve recently been working out for 1 hour, going hard for probably 45 minutes and using the remaining 15 minutes for my in-between rests and stretching at the end of my workout. Intensity is more important than duration and will give you better results faster. HIIT workouts are a great way to do this. I will provide more details about my workout below.

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2. Eat 3 meals a day. Eat a nutritious and satisfying breakfast, lunch and dinner. Shy away from snacking. I will outline what my meals are typically like below.

3. Snack with a juice. I lied a little bit. You can snack and you should snack. But only on one thing — green juice. It can be fresh or an organic cold-pressed juice like SUJA, Evolution Fresh, Blue Print or something else like that. But make it organic and cold-pressed. Also look for a juice with greens and lemon. Wheatgrass and ginger are good things to look for too. IMG_3444   IMG_3718IMG_4138

If you do this for 3 days, you can do a green juice on your first and third day and another kind of vegetable juice on your second day. Something like beet or carrot with apple is a great choice. (click images to enlarge)

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4. Drink lots and lots of water. Drink. Drink. Drink. Try to drink half your body weight in water. So if you weigh 130 pounds, I want you to drink 65 ounces of water throughout the day. It also helps do drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning upon rising, before each meal and before bed. This helps with digestion and is really good for your internal organs.

5. Add lemon and/or mint to your water. I prefer to drink plain water when I first wake up, before I eat and before bed. My other water, throughout the day, typically has some mint leaves or lemon slices and mint leaves. Both are great for cleansing the body, fighting off cravings, healthy digestion, detoxifying and work as natural diuretics.

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6. Sleep and be patient. Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night and just be patient. Your body needs time to get back to its “normal.” It will take a few days, maybe 3-4. You can follow this guide for as many days as you like. You can even use it as a guide for weight loss.


In more detail…

The workout: I typically start my workouts with some form of cardio. I do this because I enjoy it and it makes me feel good. If you hate cardio, make sure you at least warm up with a brisk 5 minute walk, some jumping jacks, some squats and a side-to-side step with a punch. You want to move and target as much of your whole body as you can to lubricate the muscles.

My cardio is usually running, but I injured my heel a few weeks ago and cannot run. Therefore, I’ve been biking for cardio. I go on the spin bike and bike for 20-30 minutes depending on the day. I do intervals of moderate to high intensity. I’ve typically been doing 20 minutes because my HIIT and strength training circuits are pretty tough and I want to reserve some good energy.

My circuit or HIIT session for the day is one of the following: (I rotate and sometimes mix it up)

  1. Either the leg, arm or ab workout from Kayla Itsines’ free workout guide. You can download it from her website — go to download now.
  2. The drill pictured above from SWEAT Fitness. I do it twice through along with the following drill.
  3. A 2 move drill of squats and squat thrusts. You will do a decreasing count of the two moves in circuit form. If you workout regularly, I’d say you can start with a count of 15 and do another 5 or 10 if you complete it and feel you can do more. Better to be safe than sorry! Okay, so you do 15 squats (weighted or not) followed by 15 squat thrusts, 14 squats followed by 14 squat thrusts, 13 squats followed by 13 squat thrusts… until you get to 0. Make sense? Do it and do not stop until you get to 0.

The meals: If you have a healthy routine, get back to it. If you need some guidance, this is what I usually do for breakfast, lunch and dinner:

  • Breakfast: Superfood Protein Oats — cook oats with egg whites, 1 tsp coconut or coconut palm sugar, 1 tbs Nutribullet SuperFood SuperBoost mix (chia, goji, cacao, maca), 1 tbs organic almond butter or peanut butter, 1-2 tsp ground flaxseed or wheat germ and 1 diced banana. To make the oats with egg whites: cook your oats for close to 2 minutes, whisk in 1 egg white or 1/4 c egg whites and cook for another minute.
  • Lunch: Big Green Smoothie — spinach, fruit (usually 4-5 whole strawberries, frozen mixed berries, frozen peach slices and/or cantaloupe — just mix up what you want), 2 tbs hemp protein or 1 scoop of your favorite protein, 1 tbs Nutribullet SuperFood SuperGreens, 1 tbs Nutribullet SuperFood SuperBoost or Fat Burning Boost or Energy Boost, coconut water and unsweetened almond milk.
  • Dinner: Salad with Veggies and Chicken — I like to make a big salad loaded with organic romaine lettuce, organic carrots, organic tomato, organic cucumber and top it off with some almonds and organic raisins. This has been my favorite way of making my salad as of late. I love the tiny bit of sweetness that the raisins add. I get Earthbound Farm organic raisins and use 1/2 a box per salad. If you don’t like raisins, you can simply slice and toss in some grapes. Pineapple is also a nice addition. But choose 1 fruit, no more. I also use 1 whole heart of romaine, so this is a big salad. I then dress my salad with some organic extra virgin olive oil and organic balsamic vinegar. Yum!

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  • If you need more — Like I said above, I suggest you have a juice somewhere in your day. I typically have mine somewhere between lunch and dinner. If you need some more sustenance, that’s perfectly fine. Here are some things you can have with your juice to hold you over until dinner:

1. Raw Revolution Bar — they sell full size and minis! Perfect. I love Spirulina Dream.

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2. Two Mom’s in the Raw Granola Bar — only have 1/2

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3. Quest Bar — choose a flavor without sucralose! My favorites are chocolate peanut butter and double chocolate chunk. If you like Quest bars, have 1/2 alongside your smoothie and the other 1/2 alongside your juice.

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4. A small handful of nuts and/or seeds — whatever you like but make sure there are no added oils. You simply want the nut or seed. That’s it. These are my favorites:

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With this you should be good. Stick to your workouts, healthy eating and water drinking for 3-4 days and you should bounce back to normal pretty fast! And remember to take rest days with your workouts. After 3-4 days, take a rest day. Your body needs to recover. Rest by walking, taking a yoga class or just spending the day out and moving around gently. Recovery without any extremes… that’s the way to do it!

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good

 

 

Osteoporosis Awareness and Body Regeneration

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your health and wellness?

Your heart? Your fat percentage? Your endurance and ability to engage in physical activity? Those are all important factors when it comes to our health, and they are probably the factors that get the most attention. But what about your bones? May is Osteoporosis Awareness month, so I’d like to talk a little bit about our amazing bones, bone health and osteoporosis prevention.

“Osteoporosis accounts for more time spent in the hospital than diseases like diabetes, heart attack and breast cancer among women over 45. . . . One out of every two women and one in four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. The most serious osteoporotic fractures are hip fractures.”   -The American Recall Center

I find that most people don’t think about their bone health until a later age, and I think it might all be because of perception. As you can glean from the information above, women over the age of 45 and men over 50 are at highest risk for bone fracture and osteoporosis related injury. How often do we hear that? A lot. Probably because it happens a lot, so awareness is targeted at those who are at risk. But how does that make sense? Shouldn’t awareness be something all people are, well, aware of? And what about prevention? “Children and teenagers form bone faster than they lose bone,” and shouldn’t they know that? They are at the prime age for setting their bodies up for success later in life. And by starting healthy habits early, they are more likely to carry them out for the rest of their lives. Isn’t that what we want? I find that most people are under the impression that young people can do whatever they want because they are young and “bounce back.” When in reality, that is so far from the truth.

Our bodies are constantly regenerating themselves. No matter our age.

Yes, our bodies are constantly regenerating themselves. That means our bones and our organs are regenerating, or remaking themselves, every few years. This gives truth to the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Your body takes the nutrients from what you eat and drink to remake bones and organs. Typically this process slows down as you age. Of course you can’t slow down or stop the aging process, but there are other things you can do to give your body it’s best fighting chance. You do not have to be “at risk” just because of your age, and you do have to care for your body as long as you can. I refuse to believe that young people can eat and drink whatever they want and that a number will defy what you and I can do.

So what exactly is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both. Your bones become porous and weak, putting you at risk for fracture or break.

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What can you do specifically to uphold good bone health? Practice healthy lifestyle habits such as following healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.

Food for good bone health: opt for organic food from grass-fed animals and seasonal produce

  • Organic, grass-fed, full-fat dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Fresh fish: sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna
  • Organic fruit: tomato, raisins, papaya, oranges, bananas, plantains, prunes, grapefruit, strawberry and pineapple
  • Organic vegetables, especially dark leafy greens: collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, spinach, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, dandelion greens, beet greens, artichoke, red and green peppers, and brussels sprouts
  • Although they were not part of this list, avocado and almonds are also good for bone health

Exercise for good bone health:

  • Weight-bearing exercises: running, dancing, hiking, jumping rope, aerobics, walking, stair climbing and tennis are a few examples of high and low-impact exercises
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises: lifting weights, using resistance bands, lifting your own body weight and practicing functional movements such as standing and rising on your toes
  • Yoga and Pilates are other forms of exercise that will improve strength and flexibility, but be careful if you have a pre-existing risk of bone injury or already have osteoporosis. In this case, modifications will likely have to be made for certain moves and poses. If you do not have any type of bone-related issue, you should not have to worry.

Osteoporosis is serious, common and costly. “Osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones and $19 billion in related costs every year. By 2025, experts predict that osteoporosis will be responsible for approximately three million fractures and $25.3 billion in costs each year.” You have the choice – invest in your health now or pay for it later. This goes not only for osteoporosis but for every chronic disease. Your lifestyle will determine your future, not statistics. Make a change and give yourself a better future.

For more information on bone health and osteoporosis prevention, please visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good

Recipes: Green Recovery Smoothies with Vega Sport

When I was at the Boston Marathon Run Expo, I got a sample packet of Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator. At the expo, I sampled a taste where the tropical accelerator was mixed with water. This past week I decided to add it to my post-run green recovery smoothies. It is soooo incredibly delicious in a green smoothie, no matter how you make it! But here are two smoothies I whipped up this past week that were just phenomenal.

Green Smoothie #1

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*I use organic ingredients and made this in my Nutribullet, so I didn’t measure my liquids.

  • 1 big handful of kale/spinach mix
  • 1 big handful of frozen peach slices
  • 3 whole strawberries(tops included)
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • 1/2 packet Vega Sport Tropical Recovery Accelerator
  • 2 tsp hempseeds
  • some organic milk (maybe 1/2 cup or so)
  • plenty of coconut water (maybe 1 cup)
  • Blend til very smooth and enjoy! 🙂

Green Smoothie #2

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  • 1 big handful of kale/spinach blend
  • 1 handful of frozen mango chunks
  • a few frozen peach slices
  • a few whole strawberries (about 3 or 4)
  • 1/2 chopped zucchini
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • 1/2 packet of Vega Sport Tropical Recovery
  • 2 tsp of hempseeds
  • a small handful of almonds (raw or roasted — no salt)
  • organic milk (about 1/2 cup)
  • coconut water (about 1 cup)

Mmm 🙂 These were so delicious, it was hard not to go back and make more. But there is always tomorrow. I love my green smoothies and this tropical accelerator really took it to the next level. Try them out and remember to use the hashtag, #runningongood so I can see your creations! ‘Til next time… keep running on good.

 

Good food. Good tips. Good moves,

Kim, Running on Good

How to Reach Your Goals by Summer

Hey everyone,

Most of you know that I am a big fan of Karena and Katrina of Tone It Up and all that they do. Yesterday, April 27th, launched the beginning of their annual Bikini Series, and I am somewhat taking part so I can reach a few important goals by June 21st, the first day of summer.

After following an 8 week training plan last year to prepare for my first 10k and a 6 week lifting program from Women’s Health, I sort fell in love with multi-week plans. While I don’t follow Karena and Katrina’s plans religiously, these girls are great leaders and motivators. They have tons of great workouts and recipes, plus they like to run!

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I wanted to share my goals with you and hopefully inspire some of you to make your own list of goals to achieve over the next 8 weeks. I picked very attainable goals with one of them being a bit more heavy than the others: securing a full-time job.

How to Reach Your Goals:

The key to achieving your goals is setting goals that are attainable and going after them one or a few at a time. Ideally, one at a time is best, but it depends on what your goals are and whether they are short-term or long-term goals. You can achieve short-term goals while still working towards a long-term goal, resulting in you achieving multiple goals!

That’s what I am doing. I have 5 goals to achieve over the next 8 weeks. There’s a mix in long-term/short-term and how I even go about achieving these goals. So I feel confident that by June 21st I can have all of these goals completed. Here are my goals to reach by June 21st:

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  • Reach 150 miles between running, swimming, biking and walking (it’s important to mix it up!)
  • Run 8 miles straight
  • Read 2 books ( I have had no time to read lately! But I want to make the time because it’s important to me)
  • Secure a full-time job
  • Take a trip (planning in the works)
  • Inspire someone

I had to think very carefully about what I wanted to my goals to be. I thought about where I want to be in a few months, how I can make that happen and what goals were really important to me right now. I thought about things I’ve never done before, things to keep me honest, and ways I can work in some enjoyment. And although the goal of finding a full-job is heavy and stressful, I’m motivated to make it happen. Another big factor in goal setting is to not feel overwhelmed.

How to Reach Your Goals:

It’s ideal for your goals to motivate you, not intimidate you. Don’t try to make all your dreams come true at once. That is incredibly overwhelming and very hard to accomplish. Take it day by day, goal by goal and you will find yourself accomplishing amazing things. A good place to start is by setting 2 short-term goals and 1 long-term goal, then working to achieve them. Your short-term time span can be anything from 1 week to 1 month, but plan it out first. Which is it going to be? I recommend short-term goals in a 1-4 week time span because that achievement is important. You will be reinforced by it. All those little goals will add up to a HUGE sense of pride and achievement. And if all your goals are related, those short-term goals will help you achieve your long-term goal. Before you know it, you will be one giant success! 

We have 8 weeks; we can do this! What will your goals be? If you want to take part, you can sign up for the Bikini Series and e-mails at Tone It Up. Use the hashtags: #100BySummer or #150BySummer (depening on your goal) and #CreateYourSummer to connect and follow other Tone It Up girls + Karena and Katrina! Partaking in a series like this, with such a big community, is the perfect way to stay motivated and honest so that you can achieve meaningful, attainable goals by summer.

How to Reach Your Goals:

Love the idea of a community + support but don’t think Tone It Up is for you? No problem! Come together with a group of friends or family members and you can create your own support group. Make a group on Facebook and post status updates, inspiration or just be there to talk and support one another. Or you can do the same thing through e-mail. Having a support group is a huge deal when it comes to achieving goals and once you experience the love and support of others, you’ll see how much of a difference it can make. 

The first day of summer is June 21st — more than a month away! There is plenty of time to achieve your goals and show yourself what you are capable of. Let’s get to it.

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Find YOUR good.

xo Kim, Running on Good

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy the following posts by my blogging friends from around the web regarding balance, positivity and change. One of them may help you reach one of your personal goals!

  1. How to Think Positive in 10 Easy Steps by Mind Body Oasis
  2. Changing Our Relationship with Food by Lindsay Dahl
  3. 5 Ways to Find Healthy Balance as a Stay at Home Mom by Cheerfully Imperfect

Runner’s Race Day Nutrition: Sports Gel Alternatives

Have you ever wondered what’s in those Gu sports gels, Jelly Belly sports beans, and other mid-race sports products? I have. I’ve also been thinking, are there any healthier alternatives? I’ve done some thinking and research, and I think there is with proper planning and food/drink combinations.

This week, more than ever, I’ve been thinking a lot about nutrition for runner’s. Last weekend was filled with running inspiration as I was at the Boston Marathon expo on Saturday and the race itself on Monday. My brother-in-law, Tim, ran the marathon with the Multiple Sclerosis team, so my family and I went to support him and celebrate the Easter holiday.

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looking great at mile 10

On Saturday, we spent the afternoon at the marathon expo which was filled with everything you could possibly think of that is running related and then some. It was great to be surrounded by so many runners, supporters and vendors supporting the runners, the marathon, the city and the sport itself. That night, we attended the MS team dinner which ended with inspirational speeches from runners and coaches. It was an amazing experience and truly inspirational, but I couldn’t help but think of the nutritional side of everything. Seeing as I spend so much time thinking about and preparing food, it wasn’t that surprising. But Saturday got me thinking and Monday got me really thinking.

What first got me tossing ideas around were the free samples at the expo. There were protein drinks, protein bars, recovery drinks, electrolyte drinks, yogurt, pork, cereal, GU energy gels and much more. As expected, I passed on a lot of these samples. What I did have was Mama Chia (chia squeeze and beverage), Stonyfield Organic yogurt, a few pieces of a gluten-free protein bar (the one thing I normally wouldn’t have eaten), a delicious piece of pork, a sample of Vega Sport recovery accelerator and a sample of Nuun electrolyte enhancement. I made wise decisions with the exception of the protein bits — I’m human, it happens. Moving on. I kept thinking there has got to be a better way to prepare yourself for a race such as a marathon and keep you going during the marathon without subjecting yourself to chemically laden protein drinks and bars, GU gels, Jelly Belly Sports Beans and Gatorade.

The thing is, these companies want you to think that you NEED their product. And the truth is, you don’t. Whatever it is that’s supposed to make their product worth consuming, I guarantee you can find it in a more natural source. Some may say, “It’s one race on one day, it won’t kill you.” But that doesn’t matter to me. What about the runner that really cares about what he or she puts into his/her body each and every day? Or the runner that runs multiple marathons — are these chemically laden sports drinks and food-like products supposed to be a part of their training and racing each time? I don’t think it’s fair to declare that every runner needs these things. Because like I said, they don’t.

The next thing that got me thinking was how many bodies reacted to the weather on race day. Tim had said that he started cramping up around mile 17. One of his coaches, Karen Smyers (Worldclass triathlete, coach and speaker) also cramped up during the race (by the way, you should read Karen’s story; she is an unbelievable athlete and human being). We kept hearing how people cramped up and didn’t run the race they had hoped to run — or the run their training led them to believe they could run. It’s okay, it happens. There will be more races. But aside from the unusual heat, which certainly had something to do with it, I couldn’t help but wonder if the same thing would have happened if a different nutritional approach had been taken. Weather wise, there was nothing anyone could do–the runners trained in markedly cold temperatures and ran the real deal on an almost 70 degree sunny day. That heat and sweating is going to take its toll, especially when you haven’t been training and preparing in those conditions. Regardless, this all got me thinking. A lot. Even more so because I plan on running the New York City marathon in 2015 with Tim and two of my siblings. When my training time comes, I want to be prepared. So I did some thinking and then I did some research.

Low and behold, I was right! Others have been thinking exactly what I was thinking — there’s got to be a more natural way. Not only are these alternatives organic and natural, they actually benefit your body by nourishing it with real vitamins and minerals in addition to giving you that boost of energy you need. And the sugar? All natural.

Here’s the thing: First off, the goo. Some people have stomach issues with the gels–from an upset stomach to being constipated after the run. Others find them simply gross and are extremely thirsty after consuming the goo. All can be big problems. But let’s take a look at the facts.

One Gu Gel pack provides: 100 cals, 50 mg sodium, 35 mg potassium, and 25 g carbs. A very balanced dose of energy for runners, which is much needed during a marathon. But there are a few problems — none of it is real food and while it may “energize” you, that glycogen isn’t going to your muscles. When racing, your body mainly runs on carbs. The carbs provide your body with glucose to give it energy. Extra glucose gets stored as glycogen. When your body runs out of glucose, as it does in a long race, your body goes to its glycogen stores in your muscles and liver. During a race or other strenuous exercise over a long period of time, your body will turn to the glycogen in your muscles for energy. So, to prevent cramping and dying out, you want to feed your muscles glucose before they use up all their stored glycogen. BUT, all that simple sugar and fake stuff in the goo packet isn’t the best form of glucose for your body. Therefore, you won’t be absorbing, storing or using it efficiently. Instead of going to your muscles, it’s mainly going into your bloodstream — and the brain is what uses the glucose in your bloodstream. So while racing, you’ll get the sugar rush because that goo glucose is being used up by your brain, not your muscles, and you risk cramping. Your muscles can only store glycogen after the glucose has gone through the digestive system and your bloodstream, so you need to prepare and start fairly early in the game. Otherwise, the glucose doesn’t have time to make it’s way through the body and get to your muscles. When there isn’t enough for both your brain and your muscles, you start feeling hazy or dizzy (brain) or start cramping (muscles). Both are big problems. The best thing to do is have a healthy diet throughout your training, stick to real sources of food and energy, and fuel up sooner rather than later in your race.

If that doesn’t convince you, the goo is loaded with maltodextrin, fructose and preservatives. Also, has anyone noticed that the company name is Gu Energy Labs? It tells you right there. That’s enough of a problem for me. Your body needs to utilize what you give it and store properly. Do you really think maltodextrin, fructose from a lab and preservatives are going to enable your body to do that? No. You need real whole sources of energy — that only come from living food — and vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins to absorb everything properly. So let’s see how the natural alternatives stack up.

Here are my 7 alternatives to sports gels, goos, drinks and whatever else they’re concocting the in the lab these days:

  1. Mamma Chia Squeeze (gel/GU alternative): 70-80 cals, 8 mg sodium, 70 mg potassium, 10 g carbs; bonuses: 1200 mg omega-3 thanks to the chia seeds (read more about chia seeds and how they have been used to energize runners for years), organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, bpa free, ingredients: chia seeds, fruit + vegetable puree (depends on flavor) and citric acid
  2. Gerber Organic 2nd Foods Pouches Banana Squash (gel/GU alternative): 80 cals, 5 mg sodium, 310 mg potassium, 20 g carbs; bonuses: organic, lots of different flavors, ingredients: banana puree, squash puree, water, citric acid, vitamin C
  3. Made in Nature Raisins 1/4 c (bean/chew alternative): 130 cals, 10 mg sodium, 310 mg potassium, 31 g carbs; bonuses: organic, a whole food = 1 ingredient (raisins)
  4. Made in Nature Dried Apricots 1/4 c (bean/chew alternative): 110 cals, 0 mg sodium, 520 mg potassium, 25 g carbs; bonuses: organic, a whole food = 1 ingredient (apricots)
  5. Annie’s Organic Pretzels 32 pieces (pre-race fuel): 110 cals, 360 mg sodium, 39 mg potassium, 22 g carbs; bonuses: organic, minimal ingredients
  6. Justin’s Honey Almond Butter Squeeze Pack (gel/GU alternative): 190 cals, 65 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium, 9 g carbs; bonuses: all-natural, minimal ingredients, gluten-free, 6 g protein, ingredients: dry roasted almonds, honey powder (sugar, honey), sustainably sourced palm fruit oil, sea salt
  7. Nuun Active Hydration 16 oz (Gatorade alternative): < 8 cals, 360 mg sodium, 100 mg potassium, 25 mg magnesium, 13 mg calcium, < 1 g carb; bonuses: no sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors

To get all the benefits you get from a gel, without all the stuff you don’t want from the gel, it seems to me that you would have to wisely combine your alternatives. Having not tested the theory out yet, something I do plan on doing, here is what I suggest runner’s do — try this theory out on a long run during training so you know whether or not it is a suitable approach for you on race day. Practice this routine on your long run days, 13+ miles, having exactly this and tweak it if a few things don’t work for you. That way, come race day, your body will be accustomed to this pre-race plan — a very smart move.

  • 3-4 hours pre-race, eat an energizing breakfast: oatmeal (1/2 c – 1 c, depending on how much your stomach can take) cooked in water with 2 egg whites added (or you can soak your oats overnight in milk & greek yogurt for a delicious chilled bowl of overnight oats) + 1 tbs raw honey stirred in + a banana (diced and mixed in) or raisins/another dried fruit + 20 ounces of water. Take it up a notch: keep everything, including the honey, but substitute the fruit for a green juice. Try greens (spinach/kale), cucumber, sweet potato, apple and orange. 
  • 90-70 minutes pre-race, have a snack: Annie’s Organic Pretzels (or another organic brand) + Justin’s Honey Almond Butter/Peanut Butter squeeze pack or a Mamma Chia squeeze pack or banana/dried fruit if you had a juice with breakfast + 1 Nuun tab in 16 ounces of water
  • During the race, fuel up every 45-60 minutes to prevent you from cramping and running out of energy stores. As discussed above, you need to prepare. Depending on the race (1/2 or full marathon) and your pace, your muscles can only store about 90 mins-2 hours worth of glycogen in your muscles. You also need to give your body time to digest your fuel and get that glucose to your muscles: fuel up with the Gerber pouches, Mamma Chia squeezes, dried fruit + a few ounces of Nuun. I suggest apricots for the dried fruit because they are larger and easier to eat than raisins — you could put a handful in a small ziplock bag and pop in 3 or 4 as needed. If you are fueling up 3 or more times in your race, I suggest getting a mix of the Gerber packs, Mamma Chia and apricots. When you re-fuel, take a few sips of your Nuun water — only a few ounces at a time.
  • After the race, be smart. You need to re-fuel your body but do not want to send it into shock with loads of sugar. Try chocolate milk or a green juice at first. Drinking will probably be easier than eating. When you can eat, go for a balanced meal with protein + carbs + natural sugar. A well packed smoothie would be a great option. Make it as big as you want — load that baby up with greens, chocolate milk, coconut water, hemp seeds or hemp protein/a good whey protein, fruit, and maybe some peanut/almond/sunflower/pumpkin butter (those with nut allergies, go for seed butter). Enjoy it slowly. Bonus: liquid/blended nutrition is more easily absorbed and you need to absorb those nutrients after a big race.

As with anything, it is smart to test this theory out before race day. Like I said, test it out on your long run days and see how you feel. Avoid processed foods while training and keep your body well fed. With the right foods, your body will know what to do. Incorporating green juices and recovery green smoothies into your training will nourish your body so incredibly well, I highly suggest giving it a try. Now get out there. Nourish, fuel up and run!

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.

Running on Good, xo

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the following posts regarding natural living and avoiding chemicals by my blogging friends from around the web:

  1. Toxic Chemicals in Food Packaging by Lindsay Dahl
  2. Natural Flu and Cold Remedy & Prevention by Overthrow Martha
  3. How to Make Almond Milk by Ribas with Love

5k and 10k Training Plans

Hi everyone! Racing season is just around the corner. It’s finally getting warm out which means we can all start training! Finally! I’ve been able to run outside here and there with the weather, but tomorrow will officially begin my training efforts.

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courtesy of Google Images

 

My training will focus more on speed and increasing my milage. Without getting in my weekly runs, I can still go out for a well-timed 4 miles. Therefore, I need to get my routine back and work on advancing. I have a 10k coming up in June, and I want it to be my best 10k yet. For anyone else who wants to get back into their routine or improve their running, one way or another, one of these plans is sure to help! I’m a big fan of Runner’s World, so it is my #1 source for training plans. I typically adjust the training plans I find, so pretty soon I am going to be putting up my version of a 5k and 10k training plan.

In the meantime, I’m going to direct you to a few reliable plans I’ve found.

  1. Runner’s World 5k Training Plans: this is your one-stop-shop for 5k training. Plans include beginners (new runners), intermediate and advanced, as well as plans to break 30, 25 and 20 minutes. There are also tools available to runners running their first 5k.
  2. Runner’s World 10k Training Plans: with plans for new runners (beginners plan), more advanced runners (intermediate and advanced) and runners looking to challenge themselves with their first 10k, Runner’s World has you covered once again.
  3. Competitive 10k Training Program: for the experienced 10k runner, from Cool Running. What I really like about this program is that it lays out a week’s worth of runs of which you should be able to stick to for 4-5 weeks. If so, you can safely begin the competitive training program. This program is designed to help you run the 10k in under 34 minutes for men and under 38 minutes for women. Whoa. So you must be prepared and log in at least 50 miles a week to safely begin this program.

I hope one of these plans is what you are looking for or at least can give you some guidance and structure to building a solid running program. I’ll be checking back in on Friday and uploading my own training plans!