Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Evolution of Nutrition

Ugh.  I still haven't learned how to use this blogger.  I thought it was going to post this automatically-so to my readers, I'm sorry for the delay.

I'm putting off a promised blog post about taking breaks during running to post about my nutrition.

When I started running, I was clueless.  Sometimes I still am.  I was so proud of how I looked with something like fourteen packets of Gu stuffed in a running belt during the Austin marathon...

I used Gu to keep the calories in.  On my frame, however, I took in too many calories.  Now, several years and many evolutions of my nutritional plan later, I'm still running water stop to water stop, but my nutrition is different.  None of this occurred in one huge leap, but more as a series a stumbles and hops as I (eventually) took advice of those smarter and more experienced than I.

The first major evolution of my nutrition came when I moved to triathlon.  I started using a packet of Gu before my swim, then water and Gu just out of T1 and every 30 minutes for the rest of the race.  I added a half serving of Perpetuem per hour on the bike and took in water when I took in Gu.  Essentially, every fifteen minutes I was taking in Gu or Perpetuem.

Guess what?  Still. Too.  Much.  Nutrition.  At my last triathlon, I wound up abandoning my "tried and true" nutrition plan and taking in coke on the run just to try and settle my stomach.  It was a less than pleasant experience (well of course it was, it was a half ironman, silly) and I vowed not to repeat the nutrition portion.  But since I'm gearing up for Ironman Texas and a marathon and........   Anyway, I had to figure out what I was going to replace my defunct nutrition plan with.

Enter Infinit.  (Can you hear the angels singing?)  I'd been considering switching anyway.  I was tired of all the gels, all the mixing, keeping it straight on race day, and trying to figure out where to put all my gels (There's a joke there..) So I logged onto the Infinit website, ordered an initial consultation, and waited patiently.  The slider thing on the front page didn't do much for my Type A personality because (are you listening Infinit?) there are no numbers on the sliders to tell me what exactly is in my drink at each step of the way.  Okay, I'll wait for a real person.  And of course, I'm a typical athlete.  I know what I need, I know what's best for me, just set it up so I can do it the way I've been training and let me order it!!!!!!  Yeah, about that.....   I got a email from Laurie asking me some basic information about what distance races I usually tackle, how heavy do I sweat, do I have any GI issues, my, ahem, weight......  In a pretty short period of time she had two formulas set up for me.  One for running and one for cycling.  I looked at the nutritional values and (drumroll please)......

Are you kidding me?   How am I supposed to run on that?  My pet dog couldn't run for an hour on that, let alone me.  But her email was so convincing, so I decided to give it a try. I ordered my first bag, a cycling mix, and I didn't just settle for any test.  I put it to a real test.  I set out for a 52 mile bike ride.  Hills.  Sustained climbs.  Wind.  Heat.  With no backup nutrition.  Just me, my bicycle, Infinit, and of course my cell phone, just in case my stomach decided to revolt and I had to turn my bike ride into a sudden duathlon involving a run for the treeline away from the road. 

What happened next was pure magic.  No stomach upset.  No bonking.  I felt strong, I felt good and my bicycle had wings that day.  Okay...  I'm convinced...  Slightly.  Let's see what happens when I run.  Surely this is a fluke and can't happen twice. So I ordered a bag of the running mix.  Once again, a real test.  Fourteen miles in Texas heat.  Once again, magic.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not just taking my word for it.  I'm putting it to the test.  Again.  And again and again.  And we'll see what happens.  But through this whole process, Laurie has been amazing.  She's been patient with a Type A athlete who is demanding and not understanding.  I just run this, I don't do the whole microbiology thing where you need to understand exactly how muscles/cells/organs work and work under the stress of endurance exercise and then how to feed them.  I mean really, who has time to do all that?  But I'm glad someone does!

So I'm still taking in nutrition every fifteen minutes, but not at the higher levels of calories I was taking in before.  Laurie dialed it down for EXACTLY what I needed.  She seems to be an expert or something!!!  She asked the right questions and got the answers she needed so that my hypersensitive-going-to-need-counseling-before-this-season-is-over stomach could handle the stresses I'm putting my body through.

And that's the foundation behind Infinit.  The formula is designed with each athlete in mind.  How many calories, how strong you like your flavor, how much you'll be sweating, how much caffeine do you want (if any), do you have any gi issues, etc.?  Infinit knows you aren't just another athlete with a number.  You're an individual with different needs than the ones that you're racing, and I really got that feeling throughout this whole process.

So, Thanks, Infinit.  And Laurie...  Standing ovation!

Infinit has goodies like energy drink mix and recovery drink mixes, water bottles and hats.  Don't forget that when you order from Infinit, you can help to fund the scholarship by using the discount code "firegirl" at checkout.

To my readers-I hope your holiday season is going well.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Great news from our Sponsor and an early Christmas Present for You!!!

So I interrupt this crazy Holiday week to bring some really great news!!!  Infinit Nutrition has agreed to help sponsor me for the marathon!

What this means:

Are you an Infinit Customer?  Use the code "firegirl" at checkout to save 10% on your order and Infinit passes your savings to us!
Are you considering switching to Infinit?  Use the code "firegirl" at checkout to save 10% on your order, and Infinit passes your savings to us!
Do you know anyone who uses Infinit or is thinking about it?  Pass on the discount code to them.  Let's get this out there!

Tomorrow you'll see another blog post about my Infinit journey and the evolution of my nutrition to where I am now.  I started using Infinit before they became a sponsor.  Give their custom blend nutrition a chance, and you'll see why they have such a great product!
Infinit Nutrition really is an amazing product, but even more-they are an awesome company.  So send over your order today and help us fund scholarships!

You can find Infinit Nutrition's American Website here .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why trainer and treadmill work are (in my opinion) important to any good training program...

There, I said it.  The boring, mind numbing, OH-MY-GOSH-THIS-WORKOUT-IS-NEVER-GOING-TO-END, work that involves a treadmill or a bicycle trainer (better known as dreadmill and drainer, muahahahahaha) is important to a triathlon training program in my opinion.  With winter setting in for the Northern Hemisphere, many of us relegate ourselves to hours of indoor riding/running.  Despite the mindsuck that is trainer riding/ or treadmill running, this is something that is an important piece of the triathlon puzzle for me.  Here's why:

No breaks, unless I take them.
When I'm out for a ride on the road, even on the flats, I can get to a point where I can stop pedaling and coast for a bit.  Not true on the trainer.  If I stop pedaling, the trainer stops.  Constantly pedaling, constant effort.  It's the same on a treadmill.
Of course, there are the breaks that I take... More on this in my next blog post...

Increased resistance... (trainer)
I've found that it takes more effort to push those pedals a similar distance when my bike is properly installed on the the trainer.  And, depending on the model of the trainer, I might even be able to increase the resistance even more.
Increased speed... (treadmill)
I've found out how fast I can really go under controlled circumstances, leading to greater gains in the wild.  Ideally.
Unsolicited advice:
The biggest thing here is if you are running this seriously that you care about times and gains and are keeping track of your miles, you should consider investing in a high quality gps heart rate monitor.  One that can keep track of your mileage inside and out.  The reason here is that I started to discover inconsistencies between treadmills and their speeds.  The key is that I calibrated my gps monitor about two weeks after I buy every  new pair of shoes. I'll post more about that later this month.

You can keep it where you want it for as long as you want it.  Well, if your legs hold out!!!  Thanks to tougholdbuzzard for pointing out this one, you can keep your cadence where you want it for a specified amount of time.  Combined with resistance, this makes for a MEAN workout!  This goes for both the bike and the treadmill. No dodging or running from dogs, cars, geese, or snakes (Texas, remember?)  I seem to remember my running and cycling mentors nagging me to keep my cadence high for both cycling and running, and, well, my training still reflects that teaching.  So, depending on what metric you use for training, cadence can be an important factor.  It's one of the few that I look at on a post run analysis (distance, speed, time, cadence:  that's it)

Inclement weather...
Pretty obvious here.  But what sends one person indoors may just be another day on the course for another...

The pros do it...
 Do I need any other reason?  Okay, so I'm kidding.  But, the pros do it. Companies that make money producing indoor workout videos for cycling make a big point of counting how many of the podium winners at each big race use their videos.  Lately I've been hearing more and more about treadmill videos!  But pros don't typically do useless workouts.  And as I get more and more educated about the elements of workouts the pros do and why, I'm adapting my workouts as well.

I want to point out that I'm not saying take ALL your workouts indoors.  I'm saying that I think I should do a few workouts a week indoors, and that I think treadmills and trainers are valuable to a triathlon training program the way that a race belt is to a marathoner.  Valuable, probably helpful, but not necessary.

There are many more reasons...  I'll update my blog post as readers give me some great reasons.

Why do YOU take your workout indoors, and why do you believe it's a necessary part of any good training program?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Open letter to a fellow treadmill, uh, runner?

With winter setting in for the northern hemisphere, many of us are moving our workouts indoors.  Well, those of us who don't have a support crew that we occasionally, uh, need a, uh, short, period away from that causes us to occasionally have an indoor workout anyway.  I'll call a spade a spade, and admit I'm a weenie for running indoors in 40 degree weather (truthfully, my favorite is 50ish and clear) but yeah, it's for the support crew.  That's right, I'm keeping them comfortable.  Suuuuurrrreee I am......  And honestly, the whole: "He's touching me," "MAMA DAWGEE!" "He's breathing on me!" "SCREEECH!" "MOOOOMMMMMMMY, he's LOOKING at me!" wears me out more than running a half marathon in Texas heat can.

Um, so what do you do?  It's not like running faster helps much.  And I don't think that CPS would look kindly on me force feeding them cheetos to keep them happy for a two hour run.

So I move my winter workouts inside quite often.  And the cardio cinema at Gold's Gym is great.  Could you think of a better way to pass two hours than to have someone else take care of the support crew while you run on a treadmill and Indiana Jones saves the day, yet again.  I mean talk about motivation.  Could you imagine snakes and house size boulders behind you in the dark, and if you stop running or slow down, you'll get smooshed?

But this latest treadmill workout brought out something that I, thankfully, don't see very often.  So I figured I'd put it in letter form.

Dear dude on the treadmill next to me today.

1.  Axe body spray in copious amounts is not recommended before your workout.  It does not work like a magnet for the chicks to your "manliness" like the commercial says.  Please reconsider before you have to start purchasing gas masks for the people around you.

2.  The aforementioned axe body spray does not hide the fact that you are not wearing deodorant.  Yes it's gross. Yes, you need it.  Please reconsider before you come back to the gym.

3.  Sharting is real.  Yes, I can tell you did it.  No, the previously mentioned axe body spray and lack of deodorant does not hide that you (a) failed to wipe your bottom, or (b) lifted so much weight before coming over to the treadmills that you are now experiencing anal leakage.

The tears in my eyes have nothing to do with the fact that I'm so grateful that an Adonis like you had the time to run on a treadmill next to me in what you must still think is a meat market.  It has more to do with the dry heaves that your 'fragrance' has sent me into.  Frankly, I get to see people that look way better than you, and take fitness (and, to be honest, personal hygiene as well) much more seriously than you on a regular basis, but thanks again for the compliment you paid me by running on the treadmill next to the only other occupied one in the joint.  I'll remember that when I see (and attempt to avoid) you in the future.

No, please, stay where you were, I'll find another treadmill.

While we're at it, what do you want to vent about now that winter is here?