I’m A Newbie: Runger

There’s this thing that happens to your body when you train to run a marathon. It’s called Runger. Runner + Hunger = Runger. And it’s a very real thing.

Just a girl and an empty pasta dish (and crazy eyes).

Just a girl and an empty pasta dish (and crazy eyes).

During peak training, you’re running more than ever. You’re burning more calories than you normally do. And, unless you’re an elite athlete, you’re not used to doing this much exercise.

Translation: you need to fuel accordingly.

Refueling with carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of workout replenishes depleted stores of energy and helps to repair muscles tissue faster. Additional fruits and veggies help to maintain a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals in your body while you’re pushing yourself to your physical limits.

Oh yeah, this happens regularly in my home.

Oh yeah, this happens regularly in my home.

A few ways to make sure you’re keeping up with your body’s needs:

  1. Keep a food journal along with your running log.
  2. Eat when you’re hungry.
  3. Eat calorically dense foods like whole grains, meat, and legumes.
  4. Eat the rainbow at every meal.
  5. Eat a small snack between each meal.

Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night and eat a bowl of cereal during peak training weeks. It happens. Just don’t make it a habit, rather, for emergencies only.

Whatever you do, feed the beast. If you starve it, you’ll never get out of your runs (or race!) what you’re working so hard to achieve.

Dieting has no place in marathon season.

Just say no.

Just say no.

Now go out and run!

Friday Fitness News of the Week

Hey, hey, hey…it’s FRIDAY! I know it was a short week, but this has been a veeeeeery long week for me and I am glad to see it go. We’ve got a BIG weekend planned. Well, a BIG Saturday, at least. It’s gonna go like this:

9am: luluemon Madison Avenue opening party workout with Soul Cycle. I was invited to cycle in the middle of Madison Avenue @ 85th Street with the new team up at lululemon Madison Avenue. Come check us out! We’ll be the great, big cycling class happening in the middle of the street. No joke. I’ll be in the front 😉

12:30pm: BRICK workout with Aleah Stander of Flywheel Sports followed by a 3 mile run lead by moi. Yikes! We may have a few bikes available, so stop by at 12:15 if you’re feeling lucky. If not, join us for the run starting from the E. 66th St. lululemon store at 1:30pm. See you there.

4pm: I’m was invited by Well + Good to join them at CLAY for a complimentary workout and discounts on spa treatments for the day. I’ve been dying to check CLAY out and am excited to see what their facilities look like. Thanks for the invite, W + G!

9:30pm: Official opening party at the luluemon Madison Avenue store. Come uptown and celebrate our new opening with me and my fabulous friends! If the husband and I decide to walk home, 16 Handles is on the way. I’m just sayin’.

When do I have a packed schedule like this on a Saturday? Ummm, never. So, long run will have to wait til Monday, which is fine. Do you ever have a  weekend like that? When your long run seems like an impossibility? If I’m feeling up to it, I’ll try to do it Sunday, but 20 miles after two cycling classes and a 3 mile BRICK run just doesn’t seem smart.

Anyway, here’s what’s going on in the fitness world this week:

What are you doing this weekend? Anything in the news that I missed? Wishing all the ladies running the Nike Women’s Half & Full Marathon this weekend lots of luck and sunshine! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Now go out and run!

Post-Long Run Recovery

Runners talk a lot about running long runs and races and all that jazz, but I hear very little about what happens after you stop running. Most professional athletes are taught to respect the recovery as much as the run, and so should you! Recovery is where the growth takes place and without growth there will be no progress.

If I’m honest, the first thing I do after a long run is go to the corner store next to our apartment and get drinks and whatever food sounds good. Sometimes it’s watermelon, sometimes it’s pita chips. Because I sweat more than the average bear (it’s true: in yoga class the other day I was the only girl who looked like it was raining down on her; true story), I tend to crave salty items pretty much immediately. I don’t judge after a long run. And also, the Diet Lemonade Ice Tea from Snapple has been calling my name recently.

The perfect lunch. I had a sandwich, too, but it didn't make it to the photo shoot...

Most people jump into the shower first. Not me. Reason? Well, I am sensitive to dips in my blood sugar and once my body realizes I’ve stopped running and my sympathetic nervous system chills out, my parasympathetic nervous system takes over and the first thing it does is totally freak out because I haven’t eaten in a very long time. How do I know this? Oh, I do this very lovely little thing where I get very dizzy and nauseous and it usually ends with my gorgeous husband shoving some carbohydrates down my throat so that I don’t pass out. Very sexy indeed. So, I’ve learned my lesson. Food first.

The very simplest rule of thumb for post-endurance activities is eat whatever you can tolerate first, since your stomach is probably not the most inviting place on Earth. Second, eat protein within about a half an hour to get those amino acids flowing to your muscles for rebuilding. You see, in order to achieve optimal (and speedy) recovery time, your body needs protein right away. Not so appealing, I know, but very necessary.

I’ve recently found that because the temperatures are so high at the end of my long runs, I am desperate for a slushy immediately after I stop. I mean within seconds. So, I’ve tried a slightly (I mean, ever so slightly) healthier version in navigating the end of my runs so that I am nearby a Jamba Juice. You health nuttys out there are going to tell me there’s sugar in those drinks. I know. That’s what I’m going for! I need a little pop of sugar and something that easily digests in my stomach to boost my blood sugar levels and get me home. It helps that it’s sweet and cold, too!

Mmmmm...Mango-a-Go-Go!

I keep hard-boiled eggs in my fridge and having been loving egg salad (2 eggs, please) on a piece of whole grain bread lately. It’s a perfect combination of basic carbohydrates and pure protein to fuel my post-long run body. Along with Cedar’s amazing Fresh Bruschetta with Stacy’s Simply Salt pita chips and some cantaloupe, I have covered all my basics. Now onto the shower.

Oh, wait. No. Cold water bath first. I know, so totally not appealing at all, but necessary to prevent excess inflammation, edema and speeding recovery of those beat-up muscles. I do a cold water bath instead of an ice bath because, well, my freezer is small and I have very little ice in there. Whatever. Cold water bath is better than nothing. I save the ice water baths (with ice!) for post-marathons. I know to some (ahem, JB) it may seem grotesque to not shower immediately upon arriving home after a very sweaty, very hot long run, but I know my body and my body needs food first.

Bottom line, you need food after your run. Sorry if you’re one of those sour stomach people after you work out, but you reeeeeally should consider eating anything you can scarf down. It’ll help your recovery and keep you from getting the dizzies later. Protein, carbs and some fruits and veggies if you can! Get it all in there! Rehydrate all day long, not just immediately after, to make sure you aren’t depleting your body further of its most precious reserve. Well, most precious aside from oxygen, I suppose. I digress. Ice bath if you can take it, cold water bath if you can’t (or if you have no ice). Trust me. 15 minutes. It helps.

After that, feel free to take a little snooze! I tend to curl up on the couch next to JB and fall dead asleep if it’s more than 12 miles. But, the most important thing is to be sure to get up at some point in the day and take a little walk. Muscles soreness can be more severe if the blood supply to them is low, ie. you are a couch potato all day. So, grab your dog or your friend and take a stroll. I like to head uptown to 16 Handles, which is about two miles from our apartment, but that’s just me. I love a reward!

Whatever you do, listen to your body and treat it with love and respect. After all, it just took you on a long run. The least you can do is listen now!

Now go out and run! Or, if you already ran, take a walk 😉

Food Is Fuel: What To Eat Before You Run

Mmmmm…I love food! As an athlete, I do my best to view the food I eat as fuel for my body. As an athlete with ulcerative colitis, this is not always the easiest road to take. My body rejects all things fiber and healthy goodness when I’m sick which makes eating a challenge for me. Recently, I’ve been finding my stride with the food I CAN eat while also fueling up for my runs.

 

There are a couple of key things to pay attention to when fueling up for a run. And yes, you will have to think ahead if you want to be properly prepared to kick butt during your workouts. Sorry, procrastinators (WHAT? Runners NEVER procrastinate…), you’ll have to make this one a priority.

 

1. When did you eat last?

2. What time are you running?

2. How long are you planning on running?

 

1. What did you eat last?

If it’s been more than three hours since you’ve had anything and you’re planning on hitting the pavement for a run, you should think about having a slice of toast or something. When your blood glucose level is low you might experience dizziness, nausea, low energy and a whole host of other not-so-fun symptoms that are rather counterproductive where running is concerned. You want to make sure you’ve eaten within 1-2 hours of your workout so that your stomach is empty, but your body knows there’s more fuel on the way and your glucose levels are stable.

 

2. What time are you running?

If you are running in an hour or less, you’ll want to stick with straight-up low fiber carbohydrates like crackers, pretzels, toast or the like. Carbs move faster through your system, out of your stomach and into your blood stream to raise glucose levels and help your body access glycogen during your workout. If it’s more than two hours, feel free to eat a regular ‘ol meal with protein or whatever. The reason you want to stay away from the protein right before physical activity is basic physiology: Rest and digest. When you are at rest, your digestive system gets busy breaking down all that food but when you’re diverting blood from your organs to your muscles during activity, digestion stops. Which means, if there’s something in that stomach of yours when you get going during your workout, it’s not moving downward and likely will try and go up. Yuck.

 

Sidebar: I learned this the hard way during cross country season when I was about 11 or 12. My favorite breakfast that Mrs. Obi-wan used to make us (and still is!) is poached eggs and toast. Well, we thought it’d be a good idea for me to have a decent breakfast before a race one morning. Oh boy, was THAT a bad idea. Let’s just say I never ever did that again.

 

3. How long are you planning on running?

If you’re going out for a relatively short, easy run, you may not need anything to get you through it. If it’s a speed workout or a likewise difficult run on your schedule for the day, have a good solid meal 2-3 hours before your run and then rock it out. In a pinch, I’ll grab some Shot Bloks just so that I have something to work with. If it’s a long run that’s in your near future, you’ll want to plan ahead the night before and eat smart for the following day. Easy on the protein (have a little bit so you’re not stuck in the bathroom during your run), eat good carbs (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, etc.), and don’t go too bananas with the fruits and veggies at dinner (ha! bananas, get it?) so as to avoid the whole bathroom situation. That morning, stick to easy-to-digest carbs or whatever works for you pre-run.

 

Me? I have a Luna Bar and some toast about an hour before my long run and that works great. I don’t feel hungry during my run and am not relying on my Shot Bloks as much, which allows me to focus on my run, not my stomach.

 

You gotta find out what works for you but if you check in with your body and ask yourself these three questions, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and make good choices to fuel your run. Remember, in the end FOOD IS FUEL for your body. Acknowledge that you are an athlete and treat your body as such. Cookies are a sometimes food now. Even Cookie Monster says so.

Now go out and run!