Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nutrition an Ongoing Battle

Another part of training for a long course endurance event is nutrition.   The training is important of course, but the nutrition can also make or break a race.  I know many an athelete that killed the training but then on race day had difficulty with the nutrition portion, completely bonked, and any thoughts of a PR quickly died.  Questions to ask:  How long is the race?  How much do you sweat?   What is your race weight?   Can you keep down solid foods when you race?   Just to mention a few.   Figuring out what to do race day comes with practice, like everything else.    Not only during training, but also before and after.   What you put in your body all the time really does effect performance.   Recovery and what you are doing after a tough workout, sets you up for your next workout, and so on and so forth.    This to me is an ongoing artform.

One of the steps I took last year was to meet with a dietician with a background in endurance athletes.  I met with Dawn Daniels out of Max Sports Medicine.   She helped me to determine that I need about 60 g of carbohydrate during any training that is longer than 60 minutes.   A few other things she assisted me with was the importance of post workout recovery (for any workout longer than 90 minutes), and daily how much calcium, protein, carbs, fats, etc. that are important for me.   We met about 3 times and also had some email chats and I found the information to be really helpful.    I was surprised to find out that I actually need to eat alot more protein during the day than I had been.   So this is an area I have been working to improve.   Difficult for me intitially because I am not a big meat or egg eater.   I am not vegetarian or vegan but I have dabbled with some different eating styles in the past year,  including,  the  E2 or Engine 2 Diet.    IT was a challenge for me to follow this diet - I tried for about 28 days.   I liked that it forced me to try some new things, which I now incorporate regularly into my diet, but it was too restrictive for me.   So I have kept some of the basic principles of the diet, but I don't adhere to it.   I also regularly use the website for some of the recipes.    As I have mentioned before, I am not a big meat eater.   I have never really liked the taste, plus I don't cook it well.   So when I eat at home, which is alot, I really don't eat it.   But, I do like fish, and bacon.  I don't think I could ever give these up completely!   I have also found that I really like greek yogurt as a protein source.   It satiates me, especially on days when I have to work.  I add it to fresh fruit and granola and it seems to keep me full for a much longer time than any other breakfast type item I have tried, and I have tried alot of different things!   Another thing I tried more of on this diet was quinoa.   I love it now! It is a great source of protein and can fixed alot of different ways!  The following is a nice summer recipe I just tried:

Citrus-Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa
1 cup diced unpeeled cucumber
1/2 cup diced dried figs or dried apricots
1/2 cup drained canned mandarin orange sections, halved
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds or toasted almonds
2 green onions, diced
2 TBS chopped fresh corriander or parsley
1 tsp grated lemon or lime rind
3 TBS lemon or lime juice
1 TBS sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander.

1. Rinse quinoa under cold runningg water, drain.  In saucepan, bring 2 cups water or broth to boil, stir in quinoa.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is transparent.   Drain and let cool.
2. In a large serving bowl, combine, quinoa, cucumber, figs, orange sections, sunflower seeds, green onions and chopped coriander. 
3.  In a small bowl, mix lemon rind, lemon juice, sesame oil, sugar, cumin and ground coriander.  Pour over sald and toss to mix.  Serve immediately.  Can be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days.

One other thing I have been using alot this year is a product called Infinit Nutrition.   It is a company that allows you to custom blend a sports blend mix that you can add to water and use during or after training.   You buy it in bulk and it comes in a powder form.   The nice thing about it is that you can change things like the amount of carbs, the amount of calories, the electrolyte content, etc.    So far I have been using a blend I created for the run and a different one for the bike and I seem to be doing well with them.   Much better than trying to use gatorade/gu, etc.   Using this product I really don't have to use anything else, although I have found a protein bar or granola bar here and there is nice for variety! 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Run back with MIT

Today was my first day back with MIT since I have started HR based training.   It was a humbling experience.   I started with the 11:30's thinking that it should be a slow enough pace for me to maintain my zone 2 (121-135) HR.   Not so, after the first 5 minutes my HR was already in the 150's and that was even after a downhill start.   After about 10 minutes I gave up and slowed down.   Got dropped by the group pretty quickly.   Eventually the 12:30s flew by me.   Then a speed walker.   So, I took a deep breath and kept going.   I had to walk 4 times in the first 30 minutes to make sure I was staying in zone 2.   After a quick stop to refuel at Hills Market and then a potty stop at Wilson Bridge Rd., I turned around and headed back.   The second part of the run felt better, I actually felt like I was able to pick up the pace alittle, although I really don't know since I don't wear a garmin.   Only had to walk 2 times to get HR to stay in zone 2.   Saw a deer, saw lots of my MIT friends, and kept going.   90 minutes later and I hardly felt like I had run.   If my shirt wasn't drenched I probably would have questioned it.   So, I guess next MIT run I will probably start with the 12:30 or 13:00 pace and see what happens.   At this point I am frustrated but I am going to try and believe and  have confidence that in the long term this will be a good thing.   If nothing else I will be able to slow down and enjoy the view!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Heart Rate Training

Alot of the Ironman plans use Heart Rate (HR) Based Training.   I ignored it the first time I trained and just trained  by how I felt.   I finished my race and felt good about it, but I was slow.   So many people have talked about the benefit of HR training that I decided this year, I was going to try this type of training.  Rather than try to guess my true max HR, I opted to get a VO2 max test done instead.   I did this for 3 reasons:  1) I wanted to know how well I do with oxygen utilization. 2) I wanted to know my max HR.  3) I wanted to know my LT, better known as lactate thershold.   

So, sometime in mid April I went to Max Sports Medicine to get this test done.   I showed up early on a Tuesday morning.   You have to "rest" the day before and the day of so that you are not tired for the test.   The staff there was great and Dr. Devor guides you through the test very easily.   You have to wear a mask that measures your breathing and the test is primarily done on a treadmill.   You start at a walking pace and are incremented up to higher speeds every 60-90 seconds.   Once you hit your tempo pace, which we predetermined based on what I perceived as my tempo pace at the start of the test,  then the treadmill is slowly elevated by 1-2 degrees.   This also happened about every 60-90 seconds.  They basicically do this until you decide you are done or can't do it anymore.   I made it up to a 10% grade, I don't remember now what my speed was on the treadmill.   Total test took just a little over 10 minutes.   

I was fortunate as I was the only one Dr. Devor saw that day, so I was able to meet with him right after to go over my results and get his suggestions.   From what I understand, he often doesn't meet with people until 2-3 weeks after their test and it is with a group of 3-4 people.    So I was actually a little disappointed in my results.   My VO2 max is 42.   This isn't terrible, as Dr. Devor put it, it is actually high if you compare it to the general population of women my same age, which is avg of 38.   However, I am used to hearing the VO2 max numbers of alot of my friends, which are a unique group of endurance athletes.   Compared to them this is very low.   My max HR was 182 bpm.   I actually thought it would be higher than this.   Again some disappointment.   My LT is around 151bpm.  Based on max heart rate, Dr. Devor then came up with intervals/zones of training for me.  

They are as follows:
1) Zone 1:  (108-121)  This is the active recovery zone and also low intensity used to establish a cardiovascular base.
2) Zone 2: (121-135)   This is where the majority of the building phase of IM training should be, it is used to improve overall conditioning and endurance.
3) Zone 3:  (135-151 )  Tempo Pace/Latcic Acid Tolerance, this is a higher intensity zone that starts to add an anaerobic component to training. 
4) Zone 4: (151-169)  Interval Training, this is a high intensity zone used primarily for speedwork training.   Needs to include full rest breaks in between workouts to avoid overtraining.
5) Zone 5: (169-182)   This is the highest intensity training zone and reserved for use in very hard interval training.    

So far doing this type of training has been very challenging for me.   I have had to slow way down on my long slow runs (lsr) and my recovery runs.   I often have to take walking intervals during these runs just to keep my HR below 135.   I feel like I am barely above a walk on these runs and think that people have to wonder what I am trying to do on these runs.   I am not even sure what pace group to run with this Saturday when I rejoin MIT.   I don't have a garmin that monitors pace/speed.   I only have a HR monitor so I really don't have much idea of what pace I have been running.   I am going to start with the 11:30 pace group, but suspect I will likely end up dropping back to the 12:00 group.   For those that know me, this is a significant decrease in pace to what I normally do.   For the past year and a half, I have been helping to pace the 10:30 group (I also happen to know that my HR was generally in the 150-160 range with these runs, apparently I had been doing my LSR in my zone 4)!   On the flip side, my quality workouts have felt easy.   The past two weeks I have been able to do a couple of runs with some zone 4 intervals, they have almost felt too easy and I have had to be careful not to go up into zone 5 with these workouts!   I have also noticed I haven't been nearly as tired after my workouts.   The first year I trained, I was sleeping at least 8 hours a night and I was often taking naps during the day after some of my workouts.   I really haven't felt like I have had to do this so far, even with the increase in training over the past month or so.    At this point I am going to try to be patient and give this a shot, but it really is frustrating, especially on my slower workouts...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Catching Up

It has been quite awhile since I have been on my blog.   Not really sure why I got away from it, but a friend asked if I would start up again and thought it was about time.   Since my last entry I have been keeping quite busy and managed to do a few races.    These races include:  Stomp the Grapes 1/2 Marathon (Nov),  The First Annual Chalet Trail Run (Jan - I did 12 miles), Arizona Distance Classic Quarter Marathon(March), and Kentucky Derby 1/2 Marathon(April), and TOSRV (May). 

Races that I currently have on the calander are:  the Warrior Dash (June), Muncie 70.3 (July),Ironman Louisville (August), and The Bourbon Chase (October).  I will likely do some shorter distance tri's but haven't signed up for anything yet.   

Training this year so far has been a challenge.   In January I injured my right IT band and hamstring.   The injury itself seemed to take forever to heal and I had to change some of my race plans because of it.   I was originally going to do the 1/2 Marathon distance at the Arizona Distance Classic, but at that point in time, my knee was bothering me even on short 2-3 mile distances.   So I ended up doing the quarter instead, which I was happy about.   Very slow, but it gave me a chance to enjoy the course and then cheer in all my friends as they came through the finish.   So, although not a fast race for me, the experience was still great.   I thought I was going to completely have to bail on the Kentucky Derby Half, but I kept at my rehab for the IT band and slowly but surely increased my mileage each week.   The weekend prior to the race I was able to do a 2 hour training run and decided at that time to go ahead and do the race.   I knew it wasn't going to be a PR race or anything and decided to approach it as a training run.   I ran with my friend Kathy and we decided to try and keep my HR at a tempo pace or lower.   First half of the race I felt great and felt like I could speed up.   Unfortunately Kathy started having some cramping issues.   The course only had water at the stops until mile 9, for some reason.   I had bought my own fluids, but Kathy had not.   So, we ended up walking/running the last 4 miles or so.   Definately the slowed 1/2 marathon I have done to date.   However, that being said, I still had a great time.   The course was flat and I really liked going through Churchill Downs and ended down by the river.   It was a well run race and I felt great the whole time we were out there.  I didn't really even feel tired at the end.   So, for me it was more of a confidence booster than anything!  

The second challenge of my training this year is that I have started HR (heartrate) based training.   More on that next blog, but the main thing is that I have had to slow way down on my long runs, which is more mentally challenging than anything.