Thursday, April 26, 2007

When did Soda Become Our Water?

Last night I met with my Wednesday night running group. During the run our conversation turned to the subject of drinking pop. A general consensus was many people drink soda as their only source of fluid. I found that really ironic, with all the commercials about bottled water. Everywhere I go I see bottled water. I thought that everyone drank water. But then again I am not everyone.

I was told that people think that it is ok to just drink pop because; there is water in soda pop. Well yes there is water, I must agree. What about carbonated water and sugar that are also added to soda. I just don’t believe that soda is as good for you as drinking water. What did they do before the invention of soda pop? Those poor cavemen only had water to drink.

Is it the sugar in pop that causes an addiction? I think that there is a comforting good feeling when people drink soda. Like having a treat with every time that a drink is taken.

I wonder if it’s the super sizing of all the fast food restaurants that have helped people become so addicted to pop. Or all the free refills that eating establishment’s offer.

Then I was told that people do not like the taste of water. This I can understand because I add lemon to the water that I drink a lot of the time. Does this make me just like a soda pop consumer?

I guess the whole point of all this ranting is that I was totally shocked to watch someone drink about a gallon of pop when eating supper. This same person describing in great detail to me how they wanted to be a great runner. The only thing that needed to be changed was to eat better. I found that so amazing. I guess that does not make anyone’s dream any less important because they drink a lot of soda pop.

I tried to explain why water is so important to this person. After a few sentences I realized that life only teaches words do not. I wonder if this needs to happen for all those in this world who want to do things their way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Women Runners and Iron Deficiency

Athletic ladies of all ages who suffer from decreased performance may be suffering from iron deficiency. Many women who are watching their weight will eat more salads. Thinking that eating a lot vegetables and less red meat is healthier. This is true, but not including red meat in your diet can cause iron deficiency.

Low iron levels will decrease levels of erythropoieses (the hormone EPO which is responsible for red cell production) which controls hemoglobin production. Hemoglobin is the component of blood that carries oxygen. What does all this mean to women? A noticeable drop in performance will be occurring.

During periods of high training volume, weight loss or menstruation iron deficiency will be more noticeable. Studies show that 50% of women runners are iron deficient. Feeling chilled or cold is a common symptom of low iron levels. This could explain why some women who are always feeling cold.

The recommended daily allowance for iron is 15 milligrams. Your performance will start to decline on the day that the recommended daily allowance is not met. Thankfully one of the solutions is quite simple; eat more iron-rich foods. Two very good sources of iron are red meat and dark poultry. Many women will shy away from red meat and dark poultry due to the fat content. Choosing lean cuts of red meat will meet your daily iron requirements of iron and still maintain a low-fat diet.

For vegetarians, two iron rich sources include lentils and iron-fortified breakfast cereals. Do not drink coffee or tea when eating iron-fortified breakfast cereals. Coffee and tea block the body’s ability to absorb iron. Drinking orange juice which has vitamin C actually helps the body absorb iron. Drinking orange juice with iron rich foods actually helps the body with absorption.

If you have low iron levels now, you can take supplements. Be sure to check with your doctor about recommended dosages. Too much iron can create other problems. Excessive amounts of iron will cause constipation and the body’s ability to absorb zinc. Several studies have shown that no benefit can be found in taking iron supplements. The best way to get enough iron is to consume 2-4oz of red meat a day.

Once your iron levels are back up to normal you will be amazed by the improvements in performance as well as increased energy levels for daily activities.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Nutrition + Rest = Top Performance

To stay on the positive side of training, nutrition and rest are very important. When nutrition and rest are not given importance, training will suffer. This sounds simple but, at times following this can be difficult.

Fatigue is the resulting effects of exercise and the bodies non ability to adapt to the stress. Fatigue Nutrition along with rest and a sensible training plan will allow for adaption and improvement.

What does all this mean? To eat a diet that includes lots of fresh vegetable and fruit. Eating good sources of protein such as lean beef, chicken breasts, and white fish. Getting 8 hours of quality sleep a night. At times sleeping more when training at high levels. Taking rest days to ensure that the mind and body are allowed time to recover. Following a training plan that has equals parts of hard and easy training. And still challenges the body enough to continually improve.

An example of this would be from this past weekend. Friday I ran a 10 mile tempo run. Afterwards I made sure that I took a recovery drink. Within an hour I had a good breakfast consisting of oatmeal, strawberries, bananas and a cup of coffee. I concentrated on hydration and good food for the rest of the day.

I slept in Saturday and did an easy 5 mile recovery run. Saturday night I ate a high carbohydrate supper consisting of pasta, chicken , salad and a bagel. Went to bed early and got a good nights sleep.

Sunday I prepared for an 18 mile run. I drank 32oz of gatorade and ate a banana. I planned water stops and also consumed power gels. After the run I had another recovery drink and a good breakfast. Sunday afternoon I took an hour nap.

Today is a complete rest day. I will concentrate on nutrition and stretching. Tonight I will sleep 8 hours again. Tuesday will be another rocovery day. Wednesday I will head to the track for 12x400 repeats.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Going Long on Sunday

What a beautiful morning to run. Spring weather is always welcome after the cold months of winter. This morning I left the house just as the sun was rising. Watching our town of Moline,IL come alive in the morning is always a time to enjoy. The birds were singing their praise for the beautiful morning.

Today I planned a 17-18 mile run. I started out at a moderate pace. By mile 9 I felt a bad patch coming on. My usual approach has been to take one gel every water stop. Today I got an idea to take two gels at the 9 mile stop. Within a mile my energy returned and I started feeling good. At mile twelve I returned to taking one gel. Things held together for the rest of my run. I finished by running a long hill that is on the Quad City Distance Classic course near the finish line. I finished my long run feeling really good. What a confidence builder for the race in three weeks.

Last week's Sunday long run did not turn out so successfully. Having a bad patch at mile 12 caused me to shorten the 18 miler that I had planned. By taking two gels when the bad patch occurred this week I feel that I solved the problem.

One thing to consider when taking two gels. Don't keep taking two gels at a time every water stop. The continuation of taking this many gels can cause stomach upset. Just use this strategy when a bad patch happens. And be sure to drink a little more water when you take two gels.