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Posts tagged ‘endurance’

Inspiratory Muscle Training

Did you know that when you breathe, you only use a small percentage of your lung capacity? And did you also know that inspiratory muscle training, which is commonly used to treat people with asthma and COPD, is used by athletes to increase breathing power? Read more

Chia Seeds

A few years ago I read Born to Run.  Not too long after, I purchased a pair of New Balance Minimus shoes and wanted to know more about these chia seeds Chris McDougall wrote about.  Time passed and the chia seeds idea faded away.   Recently, however, while in Argentina, a good friend of mine was on a mission to find chia seeds (since Argentina is a main producer).  She sparked my interest once again.  Ever since we returned from our trip, I’ve been putting chia seeds on everything I eat and I swear they are the reason my nails are longer, my hair looks better, and why I only need six hours of sleep and still feel energized.  Sometimes if I forget to eat my chia seeds with breakfast, my students are quick to notice and ask, “Mrs. Rodriguez, did you not have your chia seeds today?”.  I just feel better when I eat them.  And of course now I tell everyone about the wonders of chia seeds.  Then they have quite a few questions about this superfood and I can’t always answer.  I’m not okay with that.  So….

What the heck is a chia seed and why is it so awesome?

Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia, which was originally found in abundance in Mexico and Guatemala.  Now, they are also grown in Australia, Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador.  The actual plant grows to just over three feet and has purple or white flowers.  Historical evidence has shown that chia seeds were a staple of the Aztec diet.  Some have even said that one tablespoon could sustain an Aztec warrior for 24 hours! Talk about an endurance food.

The tiny tiny seeds are rich in essential nutrients (the nutrients you must get from your diet because your body does not make them).  Chia seeds are rich in fiber and are one of the richest sources of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber takes longer to travel through the digestive tract which slows the rate of glucose absorption.  This helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.  A stability in glucose levels is what promotes stamina and endurance.  Hence, why they are known as the runner’s food.

Chia seeds also have the richest amount of omega 3s of any plant based source.  Omega 3 has been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and prevent heart disease.  It has also been shown to have benefits for hair, nails, and skin.  (Completely agree!)  Apparently, if you consume just 3 ½ tablespoons of chia seeds, it would have the same amount of omega 3s as a 32 ounce salmon! Personally, I love salmon but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to eat 32 ounces of it.  I’ll take my chia seeds.

Some other pluses of this tiny seed are that it contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, and vitamins A and E.  It is also 20% protein and is rich in the amino acids glutamic and serine.  These amino acids help with muscle repair which is essential for any runner or athlete.  Chia seeds can also absorb 10 times their size in liquids.  This means when you consume them, they expand in your stomach which makes you feel fuller for longer.

Anything that claims to be a superfood always makes me a little skeptical.  I mean if chia seeds are this awesome, why wasn’t I aware of them 20 years ago? Well maybe because I was only 9 years old and eating fried chicken or bacon biscuits.  The words chia seeds probably would have sent me straight for another coke.  But nevertheless, if these things are so awesome, why aren’t they a staple in our diet?  Chia seeds are still a fairly new thing and there are many skeptics.  But based on my own personal experience, I absolutely think there is merit to these claims.  If my nails were manicured, I would take a picture and show you just how long they are.  But they are not so no picture.  I will, however, show you my recent purchase of chia seed products…

3 pounds of chia seeds

Kombucha with chia seeds (thanks Alysha for the photo!)

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Hydration for Endurance Sports

This marathon training season, I am experimenting with some new training techniques, including different nutrition guidelines and training regiments. When I came across Dr. Tim Noakes (author of The Lore Of Running) and his belief that endurance athletes drink too much, I was a little skeptical and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to incorporate his ideas into my training.  According to Dr. Noakes, athletes should drink according to their thirst and if they do this, then performance will be optimized.  As someone who often suffers from blue lips after a marathon and who believes it is due to the lack of liquids and sodium in my body, consuming less liquid is not on the list of things I want to change.  However, in looking at the research and listening to Dr. Noakes, maybe it’s not the lack of sodium giving me blue lips.  Perhaps it’s just really cold. =)

With regards to hydration, the recommendation that athletes are most familiar with is, if you wait until you are thirsty, then you’ve waited too long.  You are already in a state of dehydration.  Also, if you lose more than 2% of body weight, you are losing too much fluid and hence decreasing performance.  However, when Haile Gebrselassie set the world record for the marathon, he had lost 10% of his body weight, and it is common for those who finish first in long distance events, finish in a dehydrated state.  The people who tend to over-hydrate (hyponatremia) are those middle and back of the pack runners.   Dr. Noakes argues that the common advice to drink before you get thirsty and drink to prevent dehydration may sometimes result in over-drinking, with hyponatremia (when fluid intake exceeds your rate of fluid loss from sweating, resulting in low blood-sodium levels) as the consequence.

Throughout the history of hydration guidelines, there have been changes from not drinking anything, to drinking as much as possible, to most recently, drink when you are thirsty.  Certainly, there are times when we need to drink more than others – such as in high heat and humidity.  However, I am often of the mindset that I should drink at aid stations, regardless of the fact of if I’m thirsty or not.  According to the International Marathon Medical Directors Association’s (IMMDA) latest revision, this really isn’t necessary.  In 2006, IMMDA released its long-awaited hydration guidelines, which concluded that runners should, simply, drink when thirsty.

This weekend, along with my beet juice pre-race beverage, I’m leaving the handheld at home.  Instead, I’m leaving the water bottle in the car and running a loop where I can easily get to it when I start to get thirsty.

Here are a few other interesting articles I found on hydration from Runner’s World and

The New Rules of Hydration: Revisionist Drinking
The New Rules of Hydration
Revisionist Drinking

What are your thoughts about this approach to hydration? Do you drink when you’re thirsty or drink to prevent dehydration?

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Pace Per Mile – A Review

Some of the older people in my life don’t quite get the importance of Twitter and all of the possibilities it offers.  I try to explain to them that it gives you the opportunity to converse, share, and learn from others, who you may never have actually come in contact with during pre-Twitter era.  I, personally, have learned so much from my fellow runners and feel like a better athlete because of it. I mean really, where else can I follow elite athletes and learn from their day to day training tips?

Recently, Twitter introduced me to Pace per Mile – the “1st Place for Endurance Radio.”  Cool, free things to listen to while I get ready in the morning AND lots of great articles to read.  Well… I haven’t found it to be the easy access to an endless supply of information I was hoping for.

First, let me explain what Pace Per Mile does well.  They have a staff of well educated athletes who know their sport.  Kevin Leathers and Chris Nicholas get great interviews with running legends like Bart Yasso and Scott Jurek.  There is a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be uncovered on their website.  Their news section covers all things running related, and you can even find people who report on local events in your area.  I submitted an inquiry to be a reporter for North Carolina back in early December and am still waiting to hear back.  (By the way PPM, I’m still interested.)

So why am I struggling with making Pace Per Mile my “1st Place for Endurance Radio”?  The first problem I noticed immediately from clicking on their Twitter links.  They share links about energy gels, upcoming races, shoes, etc., and instead of taking me directly to the article when I click on the link, it takes me to their news page where I have to in turn search for the article.  I don’t think I should have to use “control F” to find an article I already clicked on (or so I thought).  Which brings me to my second issue – organization.  The articles in the news section are not archived or tagged in any sort of way.  This makes it very difficult for me to search specifically for running gear, nutrition, or whatever it is I want to know about.

The endurance radio part of Pace Per Mile has been quite a struggle for me as well.  I haven’t made it through all of the shows, and maybe that’s because my ears couldn’t take it.  There was music playing the entire time in the background which made it INCREDIBLY distracting.  Yes, I am a woman and can multi-task but that was pushing it.  I did notice there were some interviews with Bart Yasso, Kristin Armstrong (who I love), and Amby Burfoot, and in fast forwarding through the episodes, they were mostly sans music (phew).  I’m sure these are definitely worth a listen, and as long as the music DJ takes a break, I’ll gladly tune in.

Perhaps my biggest issue with PPM comes from the fact that so many links, including the Race Calculator link, do not work.  The name of the website is Pace Per Mile and I can not even calculate my pace per mile with their race calculator?  Maybe it is a temporary malfunction, but I did try it in three different browsers and on three different computers.  Not cool PPM.

Pace Per Mile, I want to check in with your website daily. I think you have a lot of great information, but it’s just not easy to follow.  Make the links a one step process, kill the music during the radio shows, and please fix your race calculator.  It’s a must have with a name like Pace Per Mile.

Happy Trails and Happy Running everyone!