Home Blog Page 3

10 BEST POST-RUN SNACKS TO REFUEL

0

You’ve finished your long run or crossed the finish line of a long race — what should you grab to eat so you can start refueling?

Experts recommend refueling with a blend of carbs and protein within an hour of a hard workout. That’s because your muscles are primed to take in nutrients and much-needed glycogen at this time.

Don’t forget to pair anything you take in post-workout with a healthy serving of water. Hydration is super important at all times for runners, particularly after a long run, race or hard training workout.

Here are 10 of the best snacks to savor after a hard run or race. P.S. I vote that all races 10 miles and over should hand these out to runners at the finish line!

– Chocolate milk: This treat will take you back to when you were a kid, and it is so delicious. The great news is it’s also packed with a good mix of carbs and protein, as well as calcium to help you recover.

– Bagel with peanut butter: The bagel gives you ample carbs to refuel, while the peanut butter is a great source of protein and unsaturated fats. This snack will help fill you up until you can get a bigger meal in your stomach.

– Banana: There’s a reason nearly every race ever offers these at the finish line – they’re packed with carbs to rebuild your glycogen levels and they also have a ton of potassium. Plus, they’re easy to cart around and eat on the go.

– Pretzels: The salt content in pretzels provides an immediate pick-me-up. Pair them with some hummus – a good source of fiber that helps you feel full – for a nice treat.

– Greek yogurt + fruit: The yogurt is filled with protein you need to refuel, and it offers a great base you can add to many foods – including fruit, honey, nuts, granola and more.

– Nuts: Ones such as almonds and pistachios are a great source of antioxidants, carbs, fiber and healthy unsaturated fats. Just a handful should be enough to give you a boost before you can get home to a bigger meal.

– Cereal + milk: This back-to-basics meal gives you the carbs and protein you need after a tough run. There are so many cereal varieties to choose from that you’re sure to find something you like. Many cereals are also high in vitamins, iron and fiber – all good things.

– Oatmeal: This is a great post-run treat because it’s filled with everything you need: carbs, protein and fiber to help keep you feeling fuller longer. Plus, you can add a little fruit or brown sugar to sweeten it up.

– Smoothie: Combining your favorite fruit or fruits with some low-fat milk or almond/soy milk makes for a tasty, sweet treat that packs in protein, calcium, carbs, vitamins and fiber.

– Cottage cheese + fruit: Like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese is a great food because you can add many different things on top of it, most notably fruit. It also is packed with protein and calcium.

For more from Katharine Lackey, visit Kat Runs D.C.

SO MANY RUNNING TRAINING PROGRAMS, WHICH TO CHOOSE?

0

Couch to 5K, Run Less Run Faster, 80/20 Running, McMillan Training, Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk method — all these major training programs offer something different to each runner. Here’s what you need to know:

Couch to 5K: This beginner program promises to take the non-runner from 0 miles to 3.1 miles of continuous running in just nine weeks. The program calls for three workouts a week for about 20-30 minutes each.

By starting slow and not building too fast, this training program tries to strike the right balance between motivation and progress. It cautions against skipping ahead if you feel the workouts are too easy. You can also choose to measure your workouts by either time or distance.

The first workout calls for repeats of 60 seconds of jogging, followed by 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes, not including a warmup walk. By the end of week five, you’re running for 2 miles or 20 minutes without walking.

An accompanying mobile app ($1.99 on iTunes and Google Play) keeps track of your workouts using your phone’s GPS and includes voice commands to tell you when to walk or run.

Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk: This program flips the switch on the idea that runners are only supposed to run and provides a walk break ratio for all runners – from beginners to advanced. The idea is taking strategic walk breaks provides quicker recovery, better control over fatigue, reduced injury risk and improved finish times.

Galloway’s website says shifting from non-stop running to strategic walk breaks results in an average of a 7-minute faster half marathon and 13-minute faster marathon. The site includes training programs for every race from a 5K to a full marathon with lots of tips along the way.

A calculator on the site helps you figure out your own personal walk-break ratio and where your training and race paces would be based on a one-mile trial run.

A number of training apps under Galloway’s name for various distances run anywhere from $3.99 to $19.99 in the iTunes store. Galloway also offers individual training programs for all distances at a cost of $297 for new registrants or $197 for alumni of the training program.

McMillan Training: Enter a recent time of a race or even just a fast mile and McMillan’s calculator will spit out predictions for other distances as well as training paces for everything from easy runs to long runs and tempos to intervals. It also provides heart rate targets if that’s something you keep track of.

That’s all free. For an additional fee of anywhere from $60 to $175, you can purchase a customized program for various race distances. The site also offers personal coaching for the cost of $150 a month for 12 months to $225 a month for 3 months.

80/20 Rule: Based on accompanying book by Matt Fitzgerald ($10 on Amazon.com), the idea of this training plan is that most runners do too many workouts in the moderate-to-intense range without even realizing it.

Instead, 80/20 calls for you to slow down so about 80% of your runs at an easy pace and 20% at a faster, moderate-to-high intensity rate. Using evidence from studies and elite runners, Fitzgerald says running 80% of your runs at a slower pace will make you faster come race day.

So how do you determine what pace you should run with this program? You have to go based on heart rate or perceived exertion, which you can figure out based on your breathing.

The program calls for up to six or even seven runs a week, with moderate or high-intensity runs never being back to back.

Run Less Run Faster: This program promises you can become a faster runner with just three runs a week supplemented by two days of cross training. The idea is that by eliminating lower quality runs – aka junk miles as some call them – you can train faster and, therefore, become faster. The book costs $12.50 on Amazon.

The three runs each week follow a formula of track repeats, tempo runs and long runs – all hard workouts. And you figure out your pace for those workouts by your most recent 5K time, which provides a range of paces depending on what run you are doing that day.

In between those runs, you do a minimum of two days of cross-training, with swimming, cycling and rowing being the recommended workouts. The program provides a number of sample cross training workouts, which include tempo and hard efforts sandwiched between easy warmups and cooldowns.

Katharine Lackey is a Va.-based editor who fell in love with running just a few short years ago. After her first 5K, she quickly became addicted to races and progressed to her first and second half marathons within a year. Read more about her adventures at www.katrunsdc.com.

RUNNOVATION LAB: DATE YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED TO KNOW

0

Philip Miller, of Dallas, Texas, never felt quite satisfied with his runner tracking. He tried it all. MapMyRun, Strava, RunKeeper – but still, he wanted something more than pace and calories.

Even his trusty Garmin watch, which tells runners pace, splits, milage and even hooks up to a heart rate monitor, didn’t cut it. “I was frustrated because it doesn’t re-scale the y-axis on your pace versus distance graph.”

Wait, wait, wait Philip, you’ve lost us — the what?

Lucky for the long-time curious runner, Miller is a bit of a science technology nerd with a knack for graphs.

“I like science and graph data and running is my passion,” Miller jokes. “You put all of that that stuff together and you get GraphMyRun.”

Rather than go into the science of what Miller made with his website GraphMyRun, let’s look at what it can do. Miller has taken practically every piece of data that you might get out on your run and cobbled together some basic software and an extensive graphing library to let you find out incredibly intricate details.

Google map of run path with color coded pace overlay.

Most runner tracking tools allow us to see our average pace and intensity over the whole run or over each mile. But what if you’re just wondering how hard you worked on that quarter-mile hill on the way home?

Miller’s site lets you plot your heart rate vs grade of the him and pace vs grade of the hill and then fit a line to the data. “The slope of the line will quantify ‘Just exactly how much do I slow down when running up a hill of xx grade?’” Miller explains.

Pretty cool! But that’s not all.

A runner can use the cadence vs grade chart to figure out how much they are shortening their stride on hills.

The Graph tab of Miller’s website shows the standard pace vs distance graph that you’ll see anywhere else, but you can click and drag anywhere to zoom in on a specific segment. All the data readjusts to give you averages of just that area,

“It becomes trivially easy to find out your average pace during the tempo portion of a tempo run– even if you didn’t start and end the tempo pace exactly at an even mile marker.”

On the Zones tab of the website, GraphMyRun takes all of your running data and puts it into four pace zones. You can use the zones Miller set, or set your own to watch how your intensity changes.Pace and heart rate zone analysis.

So runners, head on over to GraphMyRun and play around. Cyclists and triathletes doing bike-run brick workouts feeling jealous? Don’t.

“I’ve already reserved the domain GraphMyBrick and will be creating a version of GraphMyRun that can handle bricks.”

We can’t wait to see it! Let us know what you think of GraphMyRun in the comments.

Welcome to the Runnovation Lab, a place for stories about entrepreneurial runners. This series will shine a light on runners who are creating products or services to make the world a better place for other runners. Have someone you’d like to see featured? Email me at natalie.diblasio@runhaven.com

DEAR MOTHER NATURE, THANK YOU

0

Have you been searching for something to give you that feel good feeling you just haven’t been able to find lately? You’ve tried a pair of new shoes, created a playlist for your running mix or even downed an energy drink before your last run? No matter what you do, it seems that you just can’t get that extra spark you once had. What if I told you, I can almost guarantee a way to light your fire and help you regain your running bug?

It’s majestic, awe-inspiring, humbling, invigorating, rejuvenating and so much more. What is it? Where is it? How much is it? Well, it’s all around us, and it doesn’t cost anything, and it is the most beautiful gift we may have- mother nature. Yes, the creation around us can be the fuel that drives your running to new heights. Imagine yourself on a cool mountain, lacing up your trail shoes, taking a deep breathe in. The familiar smell of the forest penetrates your senses and instantly brings to mind memories of past runs, miles covered over the years, and a deep love you have for running. The cold, crisp air hits your lungs and signals them like an alarm clock; your body knows it’s time to turn on, turn it up, and run.

As you head out, you don’t hear a sound. No passing cars and no other distractions. Soon though, you start to hear the chirps of some birds off in the distance. You begin to take note of the distinct noises of each step you take. The soft landing on a dirt trail, the grinding of rocks as you pass over some loose gravel, or the crunch of fallen leaves now covering portions of the trail. You’re surrounded by the beauty of this great planet we call home. You become lost in your run, and the only thing that serves as a reminder of how hard you’re working are the beads of sweat, starting to make its way down your face.

So you want some inspiration? Get outside and get some! There are endless amounts of it all around us. Head to the mountains for a trail run and explore the hidden beauty we sometimes forget is out  there. Maybe you’re near the coast, and you can run a trail near the beach, listening to the waves crashing against the shore. Need a sneak peek on how it feels?  Watch this awesome video that is sure to inspire.

As good as the video will have you feeling, I guarantee it is only a fraction of the enormous vigor and motivation you will find when you’re out there doing it yourself. Explore this beautiful planet by taking your next run off road, and I promise that your feel-good feeling will be off the charts.

RUNNING SAVED MY LIFE – CAN IT SAVE YOURS?

0

Anxiety and depression are two very real mental health issues in America. Due to lack of awareness and social stigma, millions of Americans with these illnesses go untreated every day. Families, jobs, and relationships suffer as many of us often struggle with the basics of daily existence. Whether a result of brain chemistry, prior emotional trauma or some combination thereof; this dark cloud of melancholy can be unrelenting but remains our silent burden to bear. Unfortunately, so many of us refuse to seek help, and it is not until someone takes his or her life (i.e. Robin Williams) that this problem becomes the topic du jour.

Most of my childhood and on through college, I struggled with mood swings that my parents never fully understood. I suppose that they assumed I would grow out of them. Living with my dad my first years in college, I returned home from classes to sit in the dark, stare at a shotgun I bought from my uncle, and wonder. I enjoyed lifting weights in high school with my friends at the local YMCA, but the pressure I placed on myself to lift for an hour every day until I puked began to give me panic attacks. I would retreat to the family bathroom and sit in the dark until they subsided. Fifteen years later, I have never consistently lifted weights since – the fear I began to feel the last day I sat a dumbbell down has never left me.

Athletics, like the forming of a brilliant diamond, is all about heat, pressure, stress, and sticking to a routine. Coincidentally, those forces are also the bane of any anxious and depressed existence. Running has done so much for both my physical and mental health, but I am careful to avoid letting it become something that I despise for expectations that I let my ambitious self or others create.

Below are a few principles I maintain to keep myself safe and to keep running a positive in my life:

1) Listen to your mind and body: Physical exhaustion can be good for the soul. However, if you don’t feel like running one day, don’t. It’s OK. If you grant yourself time to recover, you’ll be even stronger when you do feel like it.

2) Shun routine: This may sound crazy. However, the only times running has begun to feel like a burden is when I have stressed about missing a day on some guru’s online training regimen. I run three miles each morning because that’s what I have time to do, it feels good, and it is manageable. If I have time, I’ll run some more in the afternoon. On weekends, I’ll run farther if I feel I can, or if I have the desire.

3) Let running be your friend: Make it fun. Keep it fun. Run your own pace. Download new albums. Listen to comedy or podcasts. Let it inspire you. It should give as much to you as you give to it.

10 THOUGHTS WHILE RUNNING LONG DISTANCES

0

There are many things that run through our minds during a long run. Whether you’re going on a leisurely and scenic run or grinding out high mileage for an upcoming race, long runs can make you happy or super angry. Sometimes, they evoke both emotions at the same time. Here are 10 thoughts I have while running long distances:

1. I have water, energy gels, music – I’m golden.

2. It takes a while to get in the groove….

3. It’s only been 30 minutes?! Maybe I should walk? NO!

4. I should have brought more water.

5. Skip song, skip, skip, skip.

6. How the heck does that runner look relaxed? I’m so tense right now.

7. I don’t even care how I look to cars passing by anymore.

8. Sweat everywhere…I look like a hot mess, but I’m killing it!

9. Almost there…my feet hurt! (From kicking so much ass!)

10. Runner’s high, kick in – now, please!

What thoughts do you have while running long distances? Share them!

THE GOLDEN ULTRA: SERIOUS TRAINING FOR STUNNING VIEWS

0

It isn’t easy to pull off a flawless first-year event. But the aptly-named Golden Ultra, held in Golden, British Columbia, on September 18-20, was, indeed, golden, thanks to a gracious municipal host, a bevy of volunteers and an outstanding race director.

The Golden Ultra is triumvirate of running that’s comprised of: (1) the “Blood,” on Friday afternoon, a vertical kilometer that heads straight up the ski slopes of Kicking Horse Resort, peaking out at the top of the gondola in about five kilometers of access road, grass, rock and trail. The ride down goes over a grizzly refuge where Boo, a 700-pound gentle giant who was orphaned when his mother was shot by a poacher, sits, forages and appears to enjoy his observers and caretakers; (2) Saturday’s “Sweat,” starting and ending in downtown Golden and covering 36 miles of mostly singletrack with more than 6,500 in elevation gain and a long ridge-line ascent featuring tremendous views of Canyon Creek, a deep gorge below, and some rocky maneuvering up a high ridge that is the Dogtooth Range of the Purcell Mountains; and (3) the “Tears” of Sunday, a half marathon of flowing singletrack that also starts and finishes in Golden, with a much more runnable 1,250 in gain. Participants can race all three or mix and match and can also do the event as a relay.

TOP 12 DUMB THINGS PEOPLE SAY TO RUNNERS

0

You love to run. Simple and sweet.

What you don’t love, though, is the annoying stuff non-runners say to runners. Has anyone said any of these to you?

  1. You don’t look like a runner.
    Gee, thanks. Yes, I know I don’t look like a gazelle. Not everyone is an elite. Being mainly skinny with muscular quads and calves is not a requirement to be part of this club, you know. We come in all shapes and sizes!
  2. I wish I could do that.
    Well, if you made an effort, maybe you could, too!
  3. You’re lucky you’re so athletically blessed.
    This is right up there with you’re so lucky you’re naturally fit/skinny/healthy. No — it’s because I get out there, bust my butt and train!
  4. Did you win?
    Why yes — I won a banana, a finisher’s medal, all-you-can-eat bagels, the satisfaction of completing the distance and great company with lots of people high on endorphins.
  5. Don’t you get tired?
    Nope. I am Super Runner. I’m immune to the usual effects of physical exertion. That’s why I win every time.
  6. Don’t you get bored?
    No way. I delight in putting one foot in front of the other monotonously for miles and miles. (Especially on the treadmill!) Yes, sometimes it’s boring. But if you give it a chance, you’ll find what’s so amazing about it.
  7. I only run if something is chasing me.
    Like I haven’t heard that one before? I know, you’re just trying to be funny. But it just isn’t.
  8. Haven’t you heard of that guy who died during that race?
    Sure, there are the occasional unfortunate incidences of someone collapsing to his or her death while running. But what about the other hundreds of thousands of people whose health has been drastically improved by the sport? What about the higher incidence of people dropping dead because of obesity-related diseases preventable by such exercise? I’ll take my chances on running, thank you very much.
  9. Running is bad for your knees.
    You know who you don’t hear saying this much? People who actually run. Just so you know — running actually strengthens the knees, according to the most recent research. Conversely, sitting around is bad for all of your joints…and your heart…and your arteries…and your lungs…and your mental health….
  10. Do you need a ride?
    I’m amazed how often this happens to me. Do they not see that I am in full running gear, exercising on purpose? Are they just trying to hit on me? Or trying to kidnap me?
  11. Do you know how to get to (X location)?
    I just love it when people stop their vehicle in the middle of the road to ask me for directions. Do I look like a map? Don’t you have navigation on your phone? Can you not interrupt my workout, please?
  12. Run, Forrest, run!
    This one wins the award for the ultimate most annoying running remark. Seriously. Be original, people. It’s not the least bit amusing anymore.

What’s your “favorite” thing people say to you about running? Share below!

See more from Lindsay at Fit Mix Mom and on Facebook and Instagram.

(Featured image via Stock photo © littlehenrabi)

HOW TO GET YOUR KIDS TO LOVE RUNNING

0

When I was a young kid, running was fun if I didn’t really think about it. Running around the playground, running to catch up with friends, or running as part of a game – this was the running that didn’t seem like a chore. But as I started to grow and be more aware of things, running became a “necessary evil” and harder work as part of sports practice. And I would never have considered to just go out and run, for the fun of it. Running for the sake of running just didn’t sound like fun.

So how do you get your kids to love running? Here are five simple ways:

1.  Make it look fun. Kids model the attitudes that they see and if you are running with a smile, and look forward to running, this can rub off on them. If you’re always negative and complaining about the heat, your shoes, the distance you have on your training plan – they’ll notice this too! So smile and enjoy your running and they will see how fun it can be.

2. Loops, loops, and more loops. My kids love when we run loops. There’s something about running the same path over and over in one session that’s really fun and energizing for them. Perhaps it’s the familiarity of the loop the second, third, or fourth time around. Perhaps they can take it a little faster on a curve that they now know. Or maybe it’s the thrill of knowing where the end of the lap is rather than an unknown destination.

Your loop doesn’t have to be a track, as many track runners would frown on a gaggle of kids running loose around the track (and safety is a factor!). Find a block in your neighborhood or a path around a lake and have them keep track of how many loops you do in each outing. It’s fun to mix it up and vary your running locations so scout out some loops together and make a list of possible running routes!

3. Make it a game. My kids can turn anything into a game. But the thing they love the most is when turn something into a game, with a bonus if I create incentives as a reward. A contest to see how runs the most loops? Who can reach a certain tree first? Who can sing the whole alphabet before you reach the end of the street? There are lots of ways to make a run playful and memorable for kids. And the rewards don’t have to be food or money – try giving them a head start as a reward for “winning” a game, or let them pick the next game.

4. Get them the right gear. Kids don’t need much, but get them a good pair of running shoes and some sweat-wicking clothing and they’ll enjoy the experience all the more. And handing a kid their own personal handheld water bottle can seem like a treat and make them feel a part of your hobby.

5. Pick a goal together. Having a goal race, whether it be a kids’ fun run, the local 5K, or a fun and whimsical color or light-themed run can give kids something to look forward to and make the training seem like a journey you take together. Give your child a few options and pick out your goal race together.

But most of all, enjoy the special time with the kids!

I TRAINED FOR A MARATHON AND GOT FAT

0

By Laura Ingalls, Certified Holistic Health Coach, NASM Personal Trainer, Certified Running Coach

In 2014, I trained for the Boston Marathon and got fat.

I know, right? WTF?! Marathons are supposed to make you powerful, sleek, and svelte — like a gazelle. I was eating clean, healthy foods. I was exercising. I’m a health coach — a nutrition expert for goodness sake! I was doing everything “right” (or so I thought) and yet my body packed on 16 pounds of… well… not muscle.

Many of my running girlfriends have similar stories to mine. In fact, the weight gain I experienced last year was not the first time something like this had happened to me. It happened several times before while training for races.

In this insane “health” paradigm we live in, it is still widely accepted that if you gain weight, it’s because you are eating too much and not exercising enough. But this isn’t the only assumption made about food and exercise that people buy — hook, line and sinker. Nearly as often as I hear the calories in, calories out theory, I also hear the, “I’m training for a marathon so I can eat whatever I want,” theory. Cupcakes are on the menu because of “running.” Well, I’m here to debunk both of these theories. Our bodies are so much more complicated than that.

Before you go blaming yourself for getting fat and hating your body for being un-gazelle-like, here are three possible reasons you might be gaining weight while training for a marathon and what you can do about it (and, for the record, my weight gain was due to reason number 3):

  • Reason 1: You are replacing calories but not nutrients.

As a result of burning so many calories during training, you eat just to replace calories. “I’m running, who cares if it’s a cupcake? Cupcakes are only, what, 500 calories max?! I just burned 2,500 calories before 10 a.m. This cupcake isn’t even going to register on the calorie meter.”

Unfortunately, food is about more than calories. Food is about nutrients.

Nutrients make your body go, not calories, and runners use up a lot of nutrients while training. If you’re eating just to replace calories and not taking care to get protein, vitamins and minerals, you may find yourself in a bad place rather quickly. You can become iron deficient, you can experience muscle breakdown, your B12 and D3 levels can drop. Your electrolyte balance can become slightly off. Your body stops being efficient. It slows down. It packs on weight.

What you can do about it: Eat nutrient dense foods.

Don’t double up on foods that have no nutritional impact like the empty carbohydrates in cupcakes or pasta. If you’re going to go overboard on anything, make it fruits and vegetables. Hit those sweet potatoes hard! Toss back handfuls of spirulina like it’s going out of style. Snack on clementines, sweet peppers, and carrot sticks like they’re popcorn. Smother avocado on everything. Grass-fed beef? I’ll take seconds, please! Free-range chicken? Bring it on. Oh, and definitely add that extra smoked salmon to your classic egg and whole grain toast stack. Buy a bag of mineral salt (my favorite is Redmond Real Salt), and get liberal with it. Romaine and spinach salad with salt, olive oil, and lemon? Yes, yes, yes!!

Foods like these will not only satisfy your hunger, they will also help your body recover and perform better. They will replenish your vitamins and minerals, unlike empty carbohydrates that tax your body’s resources just to digest them properly.

If you want to get really specific, you can get a bio-individual report based on blood work that will show you exactly which nutrients are throwing your body out of balance long before you feel the physical ramifications. Companies like Inside Tracker, whose techniques have been used by professional athletes for years to help them target their nutrition for performance, are making a big splash in the health and nutrition world by opening their services to the public.

One more tip: decide before you go for a run what you are going to eat after your run. In your head, plan your post-run meal and do it before the rungry takes over your brain. You will need protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats. All should come from whole food sources. That way, when you plop down in the seat at the dinner next to your running buddies, you already know that your plate is going to include some eggs, oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables. Not just pancakes and french toast.

  • Reason 2: You are hitting the sugar hard, and you don’t even realize it.

At every marathon, you will find two things being liberally handed out at water stops along the course; sugary sports drinks and sugary gels/blocks/beans. It’s so ingrained in running culture that you need to replace carbs while running to avoid “bonking” during a race or training run that you may not think twice about chugging down a sports drink that you normally wouldn’t touch. Just because you are running doesn’t mean eating sugar won’t cause blood sugar highs followed by intense crashes. Our insulin/leptin system operates in a delicate balance.

What you can do about it:

Find better sources of race-day nutrients and try as hard as you can to avoid sugar crashes.

Before your long runs, eat a solid breakfast complete with fat, protein, and “slow carbs” like oats or sprouted grain bread. Can’t run on a full stomach? Wake up early enough to allow time to digest a bit before hitting the pavement for a long run. Pack easy to digest whole foods and drinks to consume at regular intervals such as dried fruit, spirulina tablets, mineral salts, coconut pieces, raw coconut water, “bulletproof” coffee, or even dark chocolate. Consuming a small amount of food at regular intervals gives you a better chance of maintaining even blood sugar rather than waiting until you crash.

  • Reason 3: You are overtraining, under-recovering, over-stressing, and thus over-taxing your endocrine system.

The intense tax training for a marathon puts on your body’s resources, especially with regard to stress, blood sugar, fluids and electrolyte balance, is an endocrine disaster waiting to happen. And for many people, especially women, whose bodies depend very intimately on the careful balance of changing hormones throughout their monthly cycle, it absolutely is.

It’s not just tackling long miles with inefficient methods of replacing electrolytes. How many runners out there are guilty of the following:

  • Regularly forgo the necessary 7-9 hours of sleep in order to get up early and knock out a run before work (Guilty!)
  • Ignore stress in our lives or “power through” by adding extra “stress management” work-outs. (Guilty!)
  • Exercise MORE, not LESS, when you feel your performance slipping. (Guilty!)
  • Register for race after race after race with little to no recovery time between running one race and beginning training for another. (So, so, so guilty!)

What can you do about it:

Have a smart training plan and an even smarter recovery plan.

Start by considering that you may not need to train as hard or as much as you think you do. New evidence suggests that training up to the revered “20 miler” before a marathon can actually do more harm than good, especially for those who run 9:00+ minute miles. Some scientifically proven methods, such as those coming from the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training, suggest that all you need are three very specific run workouts per week to achieve your best race. Do some research and train with intelligence, not frequency.

Make sure you get that average 7-9 hours of sleep per night! Lack of sleep contributes to disruption of the endocrine system and significantly impacts physical recovery. Protect that sleep time like a mama bear with her cubs.

Address your chronic stress and do not underestimate its ability to ruin your health. Stress can cause hormone imbalances with as significant an impact on your body as nutrition.

Recovery, recovery, recovery! Schedule in and take recovery days. If you’re feeling run down despite your scheduled recovery days, skip a workout and take an extra recovery day. After training for a big race, take a few months off from endurance training and back off of the long distances. If you’re a marathon runner, choose two marathons per year to train for and make them about 6 months apart. If you’re a race junkie, pepper smaller, shorter distances in between so you can get your bling-fix without running your body ragged.

In conclusion:

Before blaming yourself for packing on the pounds, or assuming that it is your fault that you gained weight by not training hard enough or trying hard enough, consider that you may just be experiencing your body’s natural reaction to being depleted of resources! Get curious about your weight gain if it doesn’t make sense to you. Before abandoning the sport that you love, realize it is possible to train a bit smarter going forward. Keep the faith, love yourself, and treat your body with kindness, sleep and good nutrition.