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Speeding Recovery

An injury prevention and/or recovery article always seems to make it into my Google Reader feed at just the right time. That time being the I’m about to cross over the overtraining line so you better get back to those preventive exercises time.

For his latest article, Ben Greenfield interviewed David Tao, the chief researcher at Greatist.com about how to recover faster. You can read the entire article here but here are 9 things I took away from what I read:

  1. Sleep: There is strong evidence to support sleep helping with protein synthesis and muscle generation. There is also a strong connection between sleep and human growth hormone production, which helps keep muscles healthy and active. 
  2. Music: Listening to slow tempo music post exercise (in particular after an intense workout) can help bring the heart rate back down to what it would be in a resting state or before exercise.
  3. Massage: A massage helps break up the fascial connections that can form in response to stress in the muscles as well as reduce muscle tension
  4. The Stick and Foam Rollers: There is not really a lot of evidence to prove the benefits of foam rolling but there is definitely a lot of anecdotal evidence to suppor the claims. The Rumble Roller is the best.
  5. Compression Gear: Compression gear promotes optimal blood flow to those muscles that experience the most stress during exercise
  6. Icing: Research is now pointing to hot-cold therapy, not simply icing an area.
  7. Anti-inflammatories: Anti-inflammatories can hinder recovery by causing extra stress to the kidney and liver
  8. Naps: Naps for 30 or 90 minutes in the early or late afternoon (but not 5 hours within bed time) can help promote recovery
  9. Alcohol: One or two drinks post exercise is NOT going to hinder recovery

As race day approaches, I am going to focus more on sleep, music, massage, the Ruble Roller, and hot-cold therapy. I must get to the start line healthy.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Oh elliptical how I’ve missed thee. Not! I made a decision today to cross train instead of run. I think it was the best decision for me and luckily this week is a lower mileage/easy week. I also did a some strength training to work on my left leg. It made me sad to not be outdoors but it was definitely what my body needed.

Clean Eating

There is no specific definition of what is clean eating. Generally speaking, I consider myself to be a pretty clean eater. In any given day, the worse thing I eat (other than a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate) is a handful of plantain chips. (My sweet potato chip habit has been traded.) However, this year I want to focus on really clean eating. I’m a firm believer that food is fuel and that it is also medicine, which heals the body from the inside out.

Why do I want a cleaner diet? First, I want energy and lots of it! Caffeine energy is not the same as an overall feeling of oh my gosh, I feel amazing and can do any and everything. That’s the feeling I want. Whenever I’m on my green smoothie kick, my mornings are so productive, it’s unbelievable. And as a runner, that extra energy can go a long way. The second reason I want a cleaner diet is because I want better gut health. Maybe I’ve listened to a few too many Ben Greenfield podcasts, but it seems gut health is a pretty important part of your overall health. Did you know about 80% of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract? Here’s a podcast with Mr. Greenfield himself discussing how gut health can also affect endurance performance. Like I said, it seems pretty important. And the third reason I want a cleaner diet is because I want to be kind to my body. My body has carried me through a lot and I believe in order to do its best, it needs the right fuel. I’ve been reading a lot about how the body will always try to maintain a state of homeostasis. By eating cleaner, I am helping that.

I’ve been researching recipes for clean eating and came across this website. So far, I’ve tried two recipes and they were quite tasty. Another one of my favorites is Oh She Glows. Her stuff is pretty awesome as well.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Today was a rest day and I actually took the day off! No gym. No running. Nothing. It was nice.

Chicken, veggies, and endives

Chicken, veggies, and endives

The Top 10 …

Last weekend I was walking into Target and this lady, who was probably over 70, said to me (and I quote), “Damn lady, you’re so skinny. How do you keep your weight down?” Umm, I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer that. Eat right and exercise? I simply said I run a lot, smiled, and kept walking. That same afternoon I was reading articles on my Flipboard when it dawned on me how many articles there were about the top 10 this or 5 quickest ways to do that. Why is it all about quick fixes?

Lose Fat

Food

There is no shortcut to being healthy. There are not diet tricks, no five step workouts, or 3 simple foods to eat that will all of a sudden change your life. You work for that and you work hard for that. Work Hard: How to Have the Healthy Body You Always Wanted by Exercising, Eating Clean, and Treating your Body Right does not sound nearly as fun as the 8 Minute Workout. 

In retrospect I would respond to the lady at Target, Well I eat fruits, veggies, unprocessed foods, drink water, run, and have the occasional shot of wheatgrass. Healthy isn’t that difficult.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Belly Fat

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Today was 17 miles. I did it. The pace felt fine but my left leg started aching. I’m nervous and want to do all that I can to avoid injury. I went to my sports massage therapist this afternoon and he said my left leg definitely having some issues. Tomorrow it’s lots of self therapy. Stats are here from today’s run.

On a side note, I gave Mario a good scare today. When I went to get my massage, I parked in front of a driveway (totally did not see it). When I got in my car to leave, I had a voicemail from the Raleigh Police saying if I didn’t move, they were going to tow my car. Luckily, I moved in time. However, when I drive up to my building, there is a police car parked out front. Uh oh. When I get off the elevator and open the door, the police officer is inside talking to Mario. Opps! But what an incredibly nice police officer to try and help me avoid from getting towed! Happy Saturday!

What is EPO?

Oh Lance, you make me sad. As well as millions of other people, I’m sure. When I first got into running and fitness, Lance’s book It’s Not About the Bike, inspired me. It made me push harder and believe that I could be an amazing athlete. I remember when I had to do the one mile swim test for my PE class, I told the girl who was counting my laps, “If I start to slow down, yell at me ‘What would Lance do?’.” Whenever I was injured and spending hours on the bike, I would wear my yellow Livestrong bracelet to remind me to push my limits. And I always remember thinking that Lance wasn’t the best person (the way he treated Kristin really bothered me), but I believed he was an amazing athlete who had a different understanding of what it meant to really try. He had been so close to death and now he wasn’t afraid to find that next level. I guess that next level meant “winning at all costs.”

After last night’s interview, and the constant mention of EPO, I realized I have no idea what exactly is EPO. Well EPO, which stands for erythropoietin, is  a hormone produced by the liver and kidneys and it can boost your endurance quite a bit.

Freya Peterson:

 EPO — which can also be produced in a lab using cell cultures — regulates how many red blood cells your body produces.Once released into the bloodstream, it binds with receptors in the bone marrow and stimulates red blood cell production — thus increasing the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity (red blood cells carry oxygen).

In addition to increasing endurance, EPO might also increase motivation.  (If I didn’t know better, I’d say that doesn’t sound so bad.) But EPO can also cause serious health problems. Due to the increase of red blood cells, it can lead to a thickening of the blood which can lead to a clot, heart attack, or stroke. Um, definitely not worth it.

Oh Lance, I had truly believed.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: I’m tired. My body is tired, my legs are tired, and I think I need more sleep. Today, I skipped my 5 miles and fell asleep on the couch. There is a thin line between training and overtraining. I desperately do not want to cross it. 17 miles in the morning.

Mario and I salsa dancing with our Livestrong bracelets

Mario and I salsa dancing with our Livestrong bracelets three years ago

 

Looking really awkward holding a baby, but supporting Livestrong

Looking really awkward holding a baby, but supporting Livestrong

 

I wore my bracelet everywhere

I wore my bracelet everywhere

The Clymb

Thanks to  Becca, I have been introduced to a pretty cool website – The Clymb. The Clymb offers discounts on all sorts of fitness/adventure related products – compression tights, running shoes, nutrition (Honey Stingers!), sunglasses, mountain climbing gear, cycling jerseys, and a lot of other things. Last week that had Inov8 shoes on sale for $50-$70, which is more than 50% off. Definitely a cool website to check out and if you’re interested, you can sign up here (it’s totally free).

Thanks Becca for the info!

 

 

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Today was a tempo run at 7:20 pace. It was also a cold, wet, and really windy day. This week I’ve been in one of those moods where running isn’t as much fun as it has been the past few months. But I do it anyway knowing that next week is a low mileage week and that I’m going to see my sports massage therapist on  Saturday. Hooray! I was scheduled to do 6 miles but only did 5.5 (on a treadmill!). I traded in the last .5 miles for mountain climbers, abs, and pushups.

And this is how I get motivated for a tempo run on the dreadmill…

Eminem and black coffee make me run, even if I don't want to ;)

Eminem and black coffee make me run, even if I don’t want to 😉

Haile Gebrselassie

Many of us are familiar with Haile Gebreslassie and his world record performance in Berlin back in 2008. A 2:03:59 marathon is nothing short of amazing. However, I did not know much about Haile outside of his superb running performances until a few days ago. CNN did a special on Gebreselassie – Haile Revealed. Although done before his 2008 WR performance, it still highlights Haile’s incredible character. Simple, happy, giving, inspiring, motivating, hard working, funny… those are just a few words I would use to describe him.

Each video is about 7 minutes long, but they all make you want to work a little harder and be a little better. Check it out…

Part I

Part II

Part III

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Well today was no fun. I ran to the greenway to complete my 8 miles and it was closed!! Why the heck it was closed, I have no idea. But it left me running circles around downtown Raleigh just to get in the 8 miles. My legs are starting to feel like they could use a good massage. I wonder if I can convince Mario?? Stats are here.

The Runner’s High

People often ask me about the runner’s high when I mention I’m a marathoner. They want to know if that’s how I able to train 40+ miles a week and run 26.2 miles at a time. For so long I would say yes and talk about how fabulous it was. However, the runner in me back then and the runner in me now are two pretty different people. For me, the runner’s high that we all talk about has evolved over time. Now, I no longer dread rain or 20 degree mornings because I know there is a chance I will reach that state of euphoria. It certainly doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen sometimes and that makes it all worth it.

This article I came across last week does a beautiful job at describing the runner’s high. Although I am not an ultra runner like Nick Mead, I’d like to think I can now relate. The 23 year old runner in me would not have had the same appreciation of Mead’s ultra experience. However, after many miles and many obstacles, I think I have a true feeling of what exactly is the runner’s high. 

Nick Mead:

Scott Jurek, the legendary ultrarunner and seven-times winner of theWestern States 100-mile run, writes in his recent autobiography Eat and Run of chasing the “zone”. He describes it as: “That instant when we think we can’t go on but do go on. We all know the way that moment feels, how rarely it occurs, and the pain we have to endure to grab it back again.

“I’m convinced a lot of people run ultramarathons for the same reason they take mood-altering drugs. The longer and farther I ran, the more I realised that what I was often chasing was a state of mind – a place where worries that seemed monumental melted away, where the beauty and timelessness of the universe, of the present moment, came into sharp focus.”

Check out the entire article here.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Today’s track workout was a warm up followed by 4x2K repeats at 6:40ish pace. My RC made me stop looking at my Garmin for the last two repeats so I wouldn’t rely on it for my pace. Luckily, I had a good feel for the pace and did fine without the watch. Race day is in a month! Stats are here.  And check out my #teemhogan bracelet – an awesome way to remember an awesome person.

The Professionals and Sleep

Sleep is essential. It allows the body to repair itself and helps improve our brain’s ability to function. The average American gets 6.44 hours of sleep, which puts me in the category of being average. My local running hero, news anchor Kelcey Carlson (who also has 2 kids), gets around 4 1/2 hours and still manages to run sub 3:15 marathons. (Some people are just wired differently.) But the elites, they are in a completely different sleeping category…

I found this infographic that describes how much sleep some of the top athletes get during a day. Lebron James and Roger Federer spend literally half of their day in bed. I imagine the other half is spent training and eating. Yes, most of us do not have the luxury of sleeping 10-12 hours a day but I think 7-8 would be an improvement. Maybe that’s why I haven’t made it to the Olympics yet. 😉

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Today was an easy 6 miler. I ran a different route and incorporated a few more hills. I also had to go sans music because I desperately needed some quiet time. Nothing super excited but here are my stats. Tomorrow is my longest track workout to date.

The Smarter Science of Slim

As I’ve written before, I love podcasts. Lots of free information by some pretty smart people (well I guess that depends on the podcast). While trying to expand my knowledge on health and nutrition, I came across The Smarter Science of Slim. So far I’ve listened to 5 episodes and I’ve really enjoyed them all.

The hosts, Jonathan Bailor (@JonathanBailor) and Carrie Brown (@CarrieBrownBlog) make scientific information about food and exercise easy to understand and fun to listen to. The information varies from high fructose corn syrup to eccentric exercises, and Jonathan cites many studies to go along with the conversation. What do I like most about this podcast? It’s about clean eating, staying away from processed foods, and how to get your body back to a point of homeostasis. It’s simple information but since we like to make things more complicated than necessary, we tend to overlook the simple way of life. The Smarter Science of Slim promotes simple eating and exercising and uses science to prove the point.

Here is the website.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: This week I ran 46.91 miles. I desperately want to hit that 50 mile mark but next week is a heavy mileage week, so I’m sticking to strength training and yoga today.

Mileage for this past week

Mileage for this past week

Running: An Individual Sport

Running is an individual sport. That’s why I’m a runner. Anything that involves working with other people… well, I’m kind of bad at that. Just ask my family. As a child, anything from Monopoly to playing frisbee – I didn’t work well with other people. Whether it was playing on their team or playing against someone, I needed something that happened on my own terms in my own time. That still holds true today. Read more