Belly Breathing

Y’all have heard me talk about “belly breathing” during the various training seasons. Well, this morning i had an email from Runners World and in there was an article on belly breathing- the benefits as well as how to get better at doing it.

You can check out the full article here: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/1,7120,s6-238-267–12989-0,00.html?cm_mmc=beginner-_-629188-_-06292011-_-Breathe%20Easy

It’s definitely worth reading. Some people have a harder time controlling their breathing when it’s hot outside and also when increasing distance so this is a perfect time to check out the article.

Marathon nutrition

Training for a marathon is totally unlike training for a half. It may not be until later in the training season that everyone will really get the difference but there definitely is one. Not that 10 miles is ever easy, especially if hung over or not properly fueled but imagine 20 miles like that. Nearly impossible!

Fueling for a marathon is very different too. You just can’t treat the distances like you treat shorter distances. Also, you may have a plan for 13 miles when running a half marathon but do you think this is the same plan you’ll have for the first 13 miles of the marathon (or of long training days). No way. You have to think long term and realize that nutrition changes as your mileage changes.

As always, your pre-run meal (Friday night) is important. You’ll want to eat carbs but you don’t have to “carb load.” A meal of pasta is great but you don’t need to eat any more calories than you would normally eat- just make sure about 70% of your calories are coming from carbs. This is just one meal and you will work it off so don’t let it stress you out. *I happen to like pizza on friday nights but i don’t really like thick crust (which i need before super long runs) so i will usually drink some Accelerade before i go to bed or even eat a cup of Easy Mac if i’m feeling like i’m a little empty. (i start following this once i’m at about 16 or so miles in training…or i base it on how i felt the week before- did i feel sluggish? did i have enough energy?)

You must eat something the morning of a long run. What you eat and how much you eat is really up to how much your stomach can handle. You want 80% of your pre-run meal to be from carbs. Protein and especially fat and fiber can be kept low because these nutrients will only take up space that would be better utilized by carbs. The closer you are to the run, the less calories you can eat but 2 or so hours out, you should be able to consume 300-400 calories. Bagels and bananas are great pre-run meals. You’re using this meal to fill your liver with glycogen – this helps your body produce ATP which is basically your bodies battery…it’s all about energy!

Ok, so now we’re running! This is a super important time to fuel. Most of us will be going over 2 hours fairly soon- this is when it all starts to change. You should really try to take in 200-300 calories (carbs) per hour if running 2 hours or more. LOOK at your sports gels- i bet you’ll be shocked at how few calories you’re getting! Don’t forget to count the calories in your sports drink, if you’re using this instead of water.

Here’s an example of a 20 mile training run and how i fueled (**you don’t have to follow this or use these things- just showing you the effort it takes to fuel properly!)

drink sports drink (Accelerade) every 10 minutes until mile 4 (about 80 calories)
mile 4 to 5- eat 1 serving of gu chomps (4 pcs) and wash down with water (90 calories)
water every 10 minutes for the next 20 minutes to help digest food
mile 7 to 8- eat 1 serving of gu chomps and wash down with water (90 calories)
water only for next 20 minutes; then switch to sports drink
mile 10 to 11- sports beans- 1 pkg with water (100 calories)
sports drinks
mile 13 to 14- gu chomps (4 pcs) with water (90 calories)
sports drinks (about 80 calories combined with earlier)
mile 16 to 17- gu chomps (4 pcs) (90 calories)

This is about 620 calories and we ran for 4 hours. So, technically STILL not enough. As you can see though, taking a chomp here and a bean there is not going to cut it! On a 20 mile run you’re burning approximately 2000 calories so you just can’t stress that you’re taking in calories while running!!

things to note:
1. if you’re using a sports drink AND sports gels, you must wash your gels / beans down with water, not your sports drink. otherwise you’re taking in too many carbs at once and you’re going to end up with an upset stomach. that’s why i like my 4 bottle belt- i put Accelerade in 2 of the bottles and water in 2 of the bottles.
2. if you’re not using a sports drink and are only using water, you must look at the carbs, calories, and electrolytes on whatever food your using and make sure it’s enough. you’ll probably need to take in more gels than you’re expecting.
3. if you only have 1 bottle and you want sports drink, make sure you’re able to get water somewhere along the course to wash down the fuel. you’ll need to wash down your “food” with water for 10-20 minutes before drinking a sports drink.

Lastly, fueling after the run. You are not done with your long run until you have properly fueled. After a long run it is key that you rehydrate, replenish muscle glycogen, reduce secondary muscle damage, rebuild muscle protein, and replenish muscle fat stores- the quicker you do this, the faster and more thoroughly you will recover. Exercise related muscle damage can continue after you finish exercising unless you quickly consume carbs and protein to lower cortisol levels and initiate muscle protein rebuilding. Rehydrating with plain water is not going to be enough! You’ll need a carb and protein along with some electrolytes (especially if you have sweated a lot) within about 30 minutes. This will help keep you injury free and, believe it or not, will keep you from gorging on bad foods later in the day. Think of it as medicine for your muscles that you have to take before you eat something. *I drink a muscle milk after all long runs before my shower. I then shower and have time to concentrate and make (or get) a somewhat healthy meal. Again, you do NOT have to do as i do but this is just giving you an idea of a way to refuel.

Here’s a study i’d like to share:
This was published in the Journal of Physiology. Subjects were given a carb-protein supplement either immediately after exercise or 2 hours later while participating in a 12 week strength training program. The subject receiving the carb-protein mix immediately after exercise has a muscle size increase of 8% and strength improvement of 15%. Those who got it 2 hours later had no improvement. For runners, this would serve the same purpose of preserving muscle after long runs. (and NO, you’re not going to “bulk up” by doing this!!)

One more thing, you may be wondering why i choose Accelerade as my sports drink. At the time i started using it, it was one of the only sports drink with a whey protein. There was a study done that showed that athletes who used a carb-protein sports drink during a workout lasted 40% longer in workouts than those who used a carb only drink. I have nothing to compare it to but i do know i’m willing to take some help anywhere i can get it 🙂 You definitely want to make sure your sports drink has electrolytes- sodium, potassium, and magnesium- this is the stuff you’re sweating out when you think it’s just water.

Again, these are tools for you to use to determine what works best for you. I don’t know if you’re going to do well with an Ensure before a workout or a bagel but i do know that if you’re not fueling properly before, during, and after the long runs, you’re going to suffer.

Don’t use your marathon training as a license to eat what you want. Use it as the time to treat your body with respect. You’re about to expect a lot out of it so “reward” it by giving it the proper fuel…..and, of course, have the occasional brownie and beer 🙂

Random

In blog land, it’s current protocol to share 25 random things about you that many people might not know. Seeing as how i’m using today to be completely worthless and lazy, i’ve decided to join in.

You’re welcome to close this post and go back to one that is of some worth 🙂 or you can find out 25 random things about me.

1. i have always wanted to go skydiving

2. i love the smell of vanilla

3. my granddad was 100% Choctaw Indian and his mother walked the Trail of Tears

4. i sometimes forget that Georgia is not a dog

5. i love to bake…i love my kitchenaid mixer

6. i am deathly afraid of vampires…and refuse to watch any of the vampire crap that is now on tv.

1. i love my freckles but wish i had control over how many new ones i get every summer

8. i lived in bermuda for a while as a child. i even said “mum”- what happened to the accent?!?

9. i wish i could be healthier but i love food too much

10. i’m really sensitive and will cry at just about anything that i find touching, sweet or sad. i even cried when 2 little rednecks on Teen Mom got married.

11. i am a sucker for the ASPCA commercials and donate yearly

12. i truly think i have the best marriage anyone could hope for

13. i’m not sure having kids is in the cards for me…according to the tarot card reader i had back in the 90’s!

14. i would give anything to move to austin

15. i miss my granddad, who passed away in 1998, all of the time!

16. i love my name! hated it as a kid but have embraced it as an adult.

17. i love that i am still friends with my high school girls- there are some bonds that can just never be broken

18. i am actually pretty shy- even though most people don’t think so

19. i will always be a social worker at heart but am thrilled to no longer be in this profession

20. i am a total planner and rule follower

21. i still struggle with the “runner” title

22. i am really silly at home but really guarded elsewhere

23. i love to dance

24. i think it would be awesome to move to mexico, work in a beach bar, wear a bathing suit all day, and not even own a phone.

1. i am perfectly aware everyone thinks i am nuts when it comes to georgia…and i don’t care!!

that’s about it for me…

Plank, anyone?

We talk a lot about our knees when we talk about running. Did you know that in order to protect your knees you need to do some leg, hip, and core exercises? Yes, sure you did!

Here are some exercises you should try to do at least twice a week, with three sets of 10 repetitions- it probably wouldn’t even take 30 minutes or so if you just focus and do them. Use dumbbells where appropriate, if you have them but, if not, no big deal!

Squats
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed out and keeping your back straight and head up, slowly bend at the hips as if sitting down, allowing some of your weight to shift to your heels. Begin with shallow squats and gradually progress to where your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should pass over your feet but not extend beyond your toes. *tip: if you keep your toes up off the floor, you’re more likely to have better form and not extend past your toes

Lunges
Standing straight, bring one foot forward and bend your knee until your upper and lower leg create a 90-degree angle. The knee of the rear leg should be almost touching the floor. Bring the outstretched foot back and switch positions or perform walking lunges. For variety, add backward or sideways lunges.

Step-ups
Standing in front of a stair or bench, step onto that surface with one foot, straightening that leg so that your trail leg is brought up to but not touching the surface, then slowly lower the foot.

Bridges on a stability ball
Lying on your back with your heels on a stability ball, contract your stomach and back muscles to create a “bridge.” In that position, use your hamstrings to roll the ball back toward your body. When proficient, perform with one leg at a time.

Side-lying leg raises
Lying on your side with leg weights on your ankles, lift your upper leg upward as high as possible, pause, and return slowly. Then bend the upper leg slightly and lift the lower leg.

Planks
Lying on the floor and resting your upper body on your forearms, use your abs to lift your body so you are supported by your toes and forearms. Work on holding your front plank for 60 seconds. *tip: if you are in jeopardy of falling to the mat and not holding your plank for the allotted amount of time, just have your bulldog crawl under you and lie down 🙂

Thanks, Georgia, for helping me through this workout today!

Strong

When i was in Nashville for the race in April, i had the opportunity of hearing Kara Goucher speak. If you don’t know who Kara Goucher is, you should! She’s the most normal looking girl who is completely unassuming but she’s also a total badass when it comes to running. She has her sights set on winning the Boston marathon one year and she is also hoping to make it back to the Olympics this year to run for the USA in the Marathon distance.

She had a lot of good tips and interesting things to say but the one thing that went off in my head like a lightbulb was when she spoke of her “power word.” The power word is not that different from a mantra, but it’s more personal; more about you. She said she chooses a new power word at the beginning of training for each upcoming race. Her power word changes based on what’s going on in her life at that time. It’s a word you start your training with and it should mean something to you and carry you through your training and, more importantly, through your race.

Kara, in her book Running for Women, says “before each big race, I choose a power word that I think about during the hard parts of the race to stay strong and fight back against fear. It’s always a word that resonates with where I am in my mind at that time. The word I’ve chosen for the Boston Marathon is ‘free.'” She was among the favorites to win the Boston Marathon in April but this was only months after having a baby. “I want to run this race free of both expectations and limitations,” she said.

I loved this and i also loved that this was a word she used for months during training. She said the word “free” meant a lot to her in other ways as well, to free her mind of “mom things” during training, to free her body of any “setbacks” she might be dealing with coming back from having a baby, to run free.

I immediately knew what my word would be- Strong. I have been dealing with one injury after another for a solid year and not only has this gotten my down physically, it’s gotten me down mentally. “Strong” means all kinds of things to me- be strong physically on the uphills, be strong mentally when wanting to quit….strong, in general. When i ran the marathon last fall, I was as strong physically as i felt like i could have been although now i know where i needed to be stronger.

I have started my training with this one power word and i plan to finish the race with it as well. I will still use my mantras when i need but i love that i can pull out one word and that one word has everything to do with me. It’s a reminder of why i’m doing this and what i’m hoping to get out of it.

Find your power word and start using it now!

The big debate

The biggest debate I’ve come across is a long time, other than whether or not to barefoot run!, is that of the run / walk during a marathon. We’re approaching training season for most Fall marathons so now is the time to start thinking about it. If you are running a marathon but taking walk breaks are you still running a marathon? Well, let’s see. Did you just cover 26.2 miles? Yes? Well, that my friend, is a marathon regardless of how you got there.

I have to be real honest. I used to fall in the category of people who thought, “why would i do that? if i’m going to run a marathon, i’m going to RUN a marathon.” Not until i actually trained for a marathon with a run / walk did i really see the benefits. I was used to going on long runs and coming home and feeling pretty wiped out for the day but that was just normal for me. I switched to a run / walk method for a marathon and was shocked at how much longer i could go without feeling the affects of the time on my feet and was still able to have a fairly productive day.

I used my walk breaks as my time to eat and drink and found that it helped me to chill out a little. When i got stopped at red lights i didn’t panic that i was losing time; i just added some time to my run or took some time off my walk. I found that it made me a more laid back runner for the time being which was what i needed. I was a little nervous on race day that people were going to hassle me for stopping to walk or that i would be in the way or really just that someone would think “gosh, just stay home if you can’t run.” I was shocked instead at how many people were doing the same thing!

The point of the walk intervals is to decrease fatigue, speed recovery, and reduce injury. Of course, if not done correctly, you don’t reap the benefits. If you wait until you’ve already hit the wall, it’s too late. If you start it before you ever feel like you need to, you’re right on target! Some of the people i’ve talked about this method have told me that it didn’t work for them but it seems that when i further investigate, i find out the intervals were more sporadic than structured which defeats the point all together. Also, the idea is that the time you lose on the front end or first two-thirds of the race will be made up at the end since you’ll be maintaining your pace and hopefully not having to walk as much as those that are running face first into the dreaded wall.

Interestingly enough, even after doing 1 race with the walk / run method, i still thought i would go into my next one without but why? Maybe i’m still kind of hung up on the “stigma” of the run / walk. I don’t know. What i do know is that it worked for me once and now i’m just competitive enough with myself that i’m dying to do a second one this way to see if i can PR. I also know myself and i know that i often times don’t respect the long run enough (meaning i don’t slow down enough which in my book is a big no no on long runs but sometimes coaches are their own worst students!) so i really think throwing the walks in there is a great way to build endurance without totally killing myself!

It’s an interesting debate to me. Yes, i know plenty of people who have awesome marathon times and didn’t take walk breaks but i also know some people who had awesome times, took walk breaks, and ended up PR’ing. It’s a weird phenomenon to me. It’s something that makes perfect sense to me but it’s also something that drives the stubborn me crazy! Sometimes i want it to not work. I want it to be a myth but I can fight it tooth and nail and there’s still going to be proof that it can really work. I’m embracing it. I know that whether you run, walk, or crawl to the finish line, when you cross you’re a marathoner and that’s what matters.

I was super excited when i went to my mailbox and got the new Runners World and there’s a small piece in there on a guy wanting to PR in his next marathon and he hopes to do it with the walk / run method. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but i’m looking forward to it. It totally peaks my curiosity. I can’t wait to hear how he does. Again, why would a sub 3 marathoner need to take walk breaks?! Well, i guess his little legs get tired too 🙂

What do you think? Ever tried the walk / run method?

(yes, i’m on a walk “break” in the picture above- mile 23 or so, after missing 7 of 10 critical long runs due to injury, still standing, and on my way to the marathon finish…..and if you’ll notice, nobody is out there berating me for taking a 60 second break!)