Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Eat Like a Pro During Your Taper

(I made my Rev3 Quassy tattoo even cooler!)

With high training volume comes high caloric intake, and honestly, isn't that one reason why we love being endurance athletes during a training push? "Ugh. I've only had 2,5oo calories today. I still need to get another 1,500 by the end of the day!" The trick is to focus on well-balanced macro nutrients that adjust according to your training phases. This will help you preserve your precious "race weight" AND with the right food choices you can use your taper as an opportunity to get closer to that number you're obsessing over.


I'm going to use John as my example because he's dreamy. John is in the third week of his final push for IMLP. His current diet is comprised of high calories, high protein, well-timed carbs and coffee. A typical day looks like this:

Wake up - COFFEE - then get out of bed

Breakfast - whole grain cereal, toast with peanut butter and jelly, or fruit with peanut butter (pretty light breakfast unless its before a long ride)

Workout #1 - calories from Heed and Hammer gels, apples and bananas (if riding)

Recovery meal - omelet with spinach and cheese, yam or whole grain toast (like Men's bread), COFFEE

Workout #2 - same as above, depending on S, B or R

Snacks - protein based (hemp shakes, protein bars, hummus with bread and veggies, etc) and COFFEE

*Lunch often happens while training with training foods and pb&j and COFFEE

Dinner - ALWAYS with whole grains from brown rice, brown rice pasta, quinoa, etc/ also high protein from vegetarian sources like beans, tofu, tempeh and lentils/ usually homemade/ generously large portions

Dessert - Protein shake with chocolate, peanut butter and banana

Two things that John does really well when it comes to fueling for high volume training:

1) He times his macro-nutrients very thoughtfully
2) He prioritizes vegetables, especially leafy greens


When the taper begins (Saturday, July 2nd for our subject) there will be a major shift in this diet. This is the time that you can see your "race weight" numbers balancing out... IF you are thoughtful about your diet. John will focus on the following:

1) Remove dairy products completely in order to avoid asthma symptoms on race day.

2) Lower total caloric intake to reflect the drastic reduction in training hours and calories burned. This can be done without calorie counting by focusing on smaller portions, adding more fruits and vegetables, switching to lower glycemic index carbs, and PLANNING AHEAD.

3) Coffee detox. Yes. He will slowly wean himself off of coffee for a few days and then stop drinking it until race morning. The benefit is that you feel a greater energy boost from caffeine after not having it for a couple of weeks. The drawback is that you will want to die and you will be highly unpleasant. It's a great way to learn who your true friends are because once the fog clears you'll see them still standing there, making fun of your sorry state.

4) Promote nutritional healing by using mealtimes as opportunities to load up on nutrients. When you're training for hours and hours, day after day, your body is working hard to keep you healthy and repair the damage you are causing. Your taper is a great time to treat food as medicine to boost your immunity and repair your muscles.

5) Choose carbs with a lower glycemic index.

Finally, I'm not racing IMLP but I am going to use this taper schedule to refocus on healthy goals. Stay tuned for the Mid-Summer #i8this Challenge...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cajun Kale Salad is So Very Pretty

I wanted to try something fun with some kale the other night, so I whipped out this recipe. You're gonna love it. It's pretty.

Cajun Kale Salad

4 ears sweet corn, shucked
¾ pound kale (about 6 cups, chopped)
1 large red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 small Vidalia onion or red onion, minced
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1 to 1 ½ teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix or to taste
sea salt to taste

Cajun Spice Mix (or use an already mixed mix):
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)

1. To cook corn, bring 2 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add corn. Cook for 5 minutes until bright yellow. Remove corn from water with a slotted spoon, saving a cup of the cooking liquid. Cool corn and cut kernels off the cobs. Place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Wash kale and strip the leaves off the stalks. Discard stalks and chop kale leaves into medium-fine pieces. Bring saved cooking liquid to a boil, add chopped kale leaves, and cook for 4 minutes, or until kale is tender and still bright green. Remove from cooking liquid with a slotted spoon to a large plate to cool quickly.
3. To prepare Cajun Spice Mix, combine paprika, peppers, allspice, thyme, and white pepper in a small bowl or dish.
4. When kale has cooled, toss with the corn, red pepper, green pepper, onion, garlic, and desired amount of Cajun Spice Mix.
5. Just before serving, sprinkle on the lemon juice for a nonfat salad, or whisk together the lemon juice and the olive oil and toss with the vegetables. Season with a pinch of sea salt.

(Recipe from Greens Glorious Greens by Johnna Albi)

Monday, June 20, 2011

How to Stop Being Such a Cranky... (You know what)

Warning: This blog post is for the ladies. Men, it is about PMS'ing, so run and hide.

I've been talking to more women lately who are telling me that they are getting very moody in the days leading up to their period. They want to hide away until its over because otherwise they may push people away with their unreasonable reactions. Combine this with lots of training and us female athletes may be less than all sunshine, rainbows and star sprinkles for a few days each month. This can be miserable for us and for anyone within our reach.

So, what can we do? Here are some ideas:

- Start each day by jotting down 10 things you're grateful for from the previous day. This helps to start the day on a positive note and helps build the habit of bringing awareness to the appreciation of ourselves and our lives on a regular basis.
- Be active and exercise! Keep up with your regular routine so that you feel on top of your workouts while having the added benefits of the stress reducing effects of moving your body. If you're not doing so already you may also want to add yoga.
- Get out in the sun, even if only for 15 minutes, if possible. Vitamin D is a natural mood enhancer.
- Focus on eating omega 3 rich foods, and foods containing lots of calcium, magnesium and, B vitamins.
- Supplements that may help are: evening primrose oil, valerian root, cod liver oil, and vitamin B complex.

Lastly, give the people in your life (especially the ones you want to keep around) a heads up that you're not in the best mood ever. This helps cut down on the anxiety you may feel about people noticing your moodiness. It is also nice for them to know that it isn't personal and that you're taking steps to deal with it.

Interesting side note: some of my strongest training days and best races happen when I'm pms'ing. So maybe there's a bright side?
Sent via hovercraft

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kick Back or Kick Ass?

Photo: A delicious nectarine posing in front of the swim lake in VT

Originally I had planned to race the full Rev3 at Cedar Point this year as my A race. All of my friends are going and we had such a blast last year. Plus, I love the course and I love Rev3. That plan changed quickly when we got an invitation to a very important wedding for the weekend of the race. It was an easy decision. We're going to the wedding and will do Cedar Point again next year. So I had to rewrite my tri season plan. I decided to do the long course at Am Zof as an early A race instead of doing the mid-distance F1 again. After that, the plan is all Rev 3 halfs, all the time. This is a completely awesome schedule BUT because I'm such an endurance junkie I'm totally bummed not to be racing a full IM (or three).

After racing Am Zof, and doing really well, I've felt a bit like my season ended before it started. Do I sound like a whiney, spoiled, racing brat? Waaaah! I want to do another 140.6! Since Am Zof I've taken a very "kick back" attitude towards training and racing. I'm out there training a lot still, but only doing the workouts I love doing (read: not much swimming) while being tri-social. I've started all races since then with a "just have fun" attitude, but then... I'm kicking ass! What?!?! I did this is 2009. I wasn't training for a full IM but I trained for one. Two of my best buds, Phil and Javier, were training for IMLP in 2009 and we spent a lot of time together on bikes, swimming and running. I did the tag-along style training and I was IM ready for my HIM that year. That is happening again now. Yowzer!

Thus far my KICK BACK training has brought in some KICK ASS results:

- 3rd woman overall at the Brooklyn Bun Duathlon
- 5th woman overall at American Zofingen long course
- 4th woman overall at a Van Cortland XC 5k running race

Then I had a really strong race at Quassy with a sub 2 hour half marathon after really pushing the bike. That course was brutal!

Oh, and CREW member Augie (sitting here with me now) just reminded me that I got 1st place woman overall and am the female course record holder at the 2011 CREWAPALOOZA duathlon. We did that yesterday and it was INSANE and DIABOLICAL and EVIL (I hope you're reading these words in your best death metal voice).

And next up on the calendar:

- Portland Rev3 HIM
- South Carolina Rev3 HIM
- an LP training camp while I'm there to specate
- I'd like to test my running with a stand alone 1/2 marathon, not sure which (suggestions???)
- Then I will most likely go to TX in October or November to do Ironbaby with Brett

Lastly, I have a wicked cool NYC marathon opportunity that I can't wait to share. Stay tuned!
Sent via hovercraft

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do These White Potatoes Make My Butt Look Big?

(Dinner: potato wedges, sauteed broccoli with orange slices, and citrus baked cod)

Every week I get a box of organic produce from Urban Organic. I love that it takes the guesswork out of what to make for dinner. I usually use my veggies in the order that they'll start to go bad, using spinach first and kale last (for example). I also get a ton of fresh fruit to snack on throughout the week. The produce list varies from week to week, but there are a few staples; I always get carrots and either russet potatoes or yams. Honestly, its hard to go through the carrots quickly enough so I've taken to giving bags of carrots as birthday gifts.

As for the white potatoes, I ain't skeered... I eat them up. So many people are horrified by white potatoes because they see them as a starchy, carb-laden, evil villain! These very same people eat bagels. They also eat toast. I bet they even eat the occasional cupcake (not that there's anything wrong with that), but they won't go near a potato. Are you kidding??? Potatoes are VEGETABLES. They must have some redeeming qualities.

And they do.

Russet potatoes are low calorie, a good source of fiber, vitamin b6, potassium, vitamin c, antioxidants and even protein!

I bet you never thought about that.

Russet potatoes have earned a bad rap as part of the Standard American Diet (SAD), not because of the vegetable itself, but because of the way it is often prepared. Fry them up and they soak up oil like a sponge. Melt a half pound of butter on top and you have a high fat, greasy treat. This is simply a butter delivery mechanism, just like popcorn and lobster. Imagine serving your acai covered in melted cheese.

For healthy potato preparations, try:

* baked potato wedges with coconut or olive oil and herbs and spices
* add them to soups and stews
* saute with olive oil, garlic and onions
* bake and serve topped with arugula and sea salt
* try flavoring with plain yogurt, vinegar or tomato and black bean salsa

And always eat the skin! The skin holds most of the healthy nutrition.

I'm not denying that white potatoes are a higher carbohydrate food. I'm pointing out that they aren't as bad as people tend to believe, in fact, they're really not bad at all. If you're reading this blog there's a good chance you're an active person. If you're a triathlete or a runner, and you're putting hours and miles underneath you every week, white potatoes can be a healthy addition to your diet. Especially if you're in the midst of a heavier training phase. Try choosing starches (types and amounts) based on the amount of training you're doing. Look at carbs in the same way you look at the fuel you put in your car.

A final tip... try choosing more carbs from vegetables and less from grains to see how you feel. The two types of carbs are processed very differently and will effect your body differently.

For more details on the superfood power of potatoes, read this article by Dr. Geoffrey Harris.

And for guidance with training nutrition and general healthy eating, email me at christine@liveandeatbetter.com to set up a consult. I'm awesome at this stuff.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rev 3 Quassy Race Report

I am not gonna be afraid to let my talent shine - ani

First off, I am blown away (again) by the full-on-double awesomeness of Rev3. The Quassy course is breathtakingly beautiful while also being the hardest half on the planet. The swim is clean, clear and pretty, and you sight for the finish with rollercoasters! The bike is gorgeous and hard as hell. Honestly, you try to think about how tired you are or how much it hurts, but all that comes to mind is "Wow, this is amazing". It makes it hard to dwell on negative feelings and forces you to feel positive which makes you race better! The run is silly difficult. Every time you run up a hill and crest the top you can see the next one. Its an evil game of shoots and ladders with some fun dirt roads thrown in. I really love a mean, tough, run course. I can't wait to see what Rev3 has in store for us in Portland!

Race Report:

I always have music playing in my head while I race. This time, for some reason, it was the Super Mario Bros theme song. As I swam, I was thinking of myself in the frog suit on the video game. My wetsuit had a gaping hole in it, possibly creating some drag, and that made me feel like I got hit by a video game fish and lost my frogsuit power. My swim wasn't great. The water was beautifully clear and the perfect temperature, but I just wasn't feeling it. I floated along and finished a few minutes slower than I normally would. I was perfectly happy with that.

My transition was a bit dallied. I was hanging out, excited to see Kate and Katie volunteering and wanting to chit-chat with them. Kate yells "Hurry! You can catch Bobby!" And I was all, "I can eat my lunch first and still catch Bobby". Yes, I'm a maneater (watch out boy she'll chew you up). I finally got my act together and got out on my bike. From there, I proceeded to have the best day ever. That course is HARD! My bike recently had some work done and it felt perfect. I also practiced my bike skills that I learned in Spain for climbing and descending. I used to get dropped horribly on descents because I am so light. Now I know how to get more aero and descend more aggressively and I'm even able to pass a few people! I pushed hard on the bike and was very happy with my time and my effort. I am teensy tiny and Strong Like Ant now. The last 16 miles of the course are just so gorgeous I kept thinking to myself "this is my life". Awesome.

I was really excited to get out there for the run. This is where I got into video game mode. I decided that I was now on level 3 and everyone I passed was one of the mushrooms you stomp on in Super Mario Bros. The JH CREW have skulls around the collar of their kits that are meant to hold the souls of the people you pass while racing. My CREW skull collar started to fill up pretty quickly so I decided only to count the female ones. This was also my power meter. I was filling it up. If I got passed or walked I lost power. I didn't walk. I did get passed. Gels and aid stations were where I got my star power to stay in the game. I fought through and ran on dirt and winding roads on a course that seemed to go mostly straight up. Sometimes all I could do was laugh at how unbelievably hard that run was. I just needed to get to the end and fight the evil villain monster to save the princess.

And I did. I beat the game.

I'm also officially hooked on Rev3. They rock!