Eat to Compete: 17 Weeks To Go Until the Brewers Mini-Marathon!
17 weeks to go until the Brewers Mini-Marathon!
Last week, we sat down with Nicole Fasules, Board Certified Sports Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer at Way of Life Nutrition. Nicole works as consultant for the team, visiting with the players and team medical staff to ensure proper nutrition techniques are carried out. Knowing that she is a great source of information, we wanted to get her advice on what to eat while training for the Brewers Mini, the week of the race and the night before. Nicole also talked to us about using supplements, reinforced the importance of hydration, and addressed the ways common “vices” of sugar, coffee and alcohol effective our bodies.
Since nutritional needs vary based on body type, weight, height, level of activity and time of day, it was difficult for Nicole to give us a precise plan to follow; however, her general tips below are good guidance. If you have specific questions or concerns, you will want to consult your own doctor or nutritionist.
Training for a Race- How to Fuel Your Body Over the Next Four Months:
Afternoon/Early Evening Runners
If you are running in the afternoon, the most important thing to do is to make sure that your glycogen stores are topped off (that’s the carbohydrate in your muscle). You can do this by making sure your carbohydrates are spread out throughout the day. Ideally, Nicole says, you’ll want to be eating every 3 hours or so. Make sure you have a regular lunch, and then if you you are going to have a snack before you go and run, do it about 1-2 hours before you plan on running. You should be looking at a snack of between 50-60 grams of carbohydrates (e.g. lowfat yogurt, fruit, maybe even a granola bar with that; or, a peanut butter sandwich would work well, too).
Again, ideally, you will make sure you eat 1-2 hours before your run, but what if you already get up early in the morning and can’t see yourself getting up 1-2 hours earlier to heat? Nicole says you should make sure you have something an hour or two before you go to bed (such as a bowl of cereal) and then hydration is key.
Depending on the length of your run, water is generally fine, but if your run is longer than 45 minutes, she suggests adding Gatordae.
One tip that really stuck out was that, according to Nicole, to be properly hydrated, you want to drink half your weight in ounces of water in addition to 16-24 extra ounces per hour of activity. For example, a 120 lb woman should aim for at least 60 ounces of water on a normal day, plus 16-24 extra ounces if she is going on an hour-long run.
What if you don’t like just plain water? Nicole says tea or milk can work as well, but that sugar-free products like True Lemon or True Lime and Mio can help add flavor to water.
Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day
Make sure you don’t skip breakfast. Good, balanced breakfasts include carbs and protein, like a bagel with PB, egg and fruit, plus milk or water or oatmeal and fruit, nuts or flax, and milk.
“You always want a little bit of protein with your carbohydrate because it does help the carbohydrate get into the muscle a little bit easier. It also extends the properties of the carbohydrate, meaning it allows the carb to be used at a slower rate instead of rushing in and out of your system. That means that your carb can be more readily available,” Nicole explained.
When you get further into your training and start to add mileage, Nicole says you need to adjust your caloric intake.
“Typically, per extra mile of activity, you want to take in 100-150 extra calories per mile. It also depends on how fast you guys are. If you are doing some speed work, you might want to go closer to 200 calories per mile then. Your main goal is to keep the power up as much as you can.”
Energy Gels, Chews & Supplements… Oh my!
When we visited Performance Oufitters, we were overwhelmed by all the different bars, chews, goos, gels, etc. that were on the market. How do you know when to use them and what to choose?
Well, Nicole says that usually, you are good for the first hour of running where you won’t need to supplement. After the first hour, your body will require about 45-65g of carbs/hour.
“We usually recommend you are taking in a goo gel or a chew every 20 minutes at that point. Your main goal is to not let your glycogen stores deplete. You have to see what feels right to you guys. As you get higher in your distances, you can plant your goos along the way if you can’t carry everything with you, so you can kind of gauge what you might need.”
As far as which products to choose? That’s a personal preference related to taste and what works best for you. For instance, a goo gel might go down easier while running, while a chew might work better for someone biking.
And, when it comes to vitamins, if your diet is lacking then you probably need a multivitamin. But if you’re eating enough calories and you’re getting a good balance, you’re covered. The only additional supplement Nicole recommends to everyone is an Omega-3 fatty acid.
Closing in on the Race: Eat to Compete for the Main Event
The Week Leading Up to the Race (September 17!)
“Usually, the whole concept of carb-loading isn’t exactly the way we thought it was at one point,” Nicole said. “Really, your carb-loading starts the week before your race and that’s because usually before your race, you’re tapering your mileage. When you’re tapering your mileage, you’re using less carbohydrates and they can stay topped off. Usually you don’t want to change your eating so much before, because of the taper.”
Night Before the Race (September 21)
“The night before, you don’t want to take in mass amounts of carbs because your body actually can only store so much,” Nicole warned. “The purpose of the night before is to make sure you are very well hydrated depending on the time of the race. The more hydrated you are, too, the more saturated your muscles can become so the more efficient they will operate. Do you want to focus on carbs for your dinner? Yes, but you don’t necessarily have to go above and beyond what you would normally would.
You do want to make sure you have some nice solid sources for that meal, such as pasta or rice, good complex carbs. Balance that with a protein, a vegetable, milk, a roll, and maybe even dessert (such as froyo or sorbet) and you will hit your carb needs for that meal and it’s very well-balanced.
We had to ask. What about some of our “vices” like coffee, sugar and alcohol?
Are you someone who can’t survice without a cup of joe? “Studies have shown that it doesn’t dehydrate us like we once thought,” Nicole said, much to Cait’s delight, “But it doesn’t hydrate us either. It is fine if you want to keep it in, but you need to drink more liquid as well.”
“Real sugary foods aren’t necessarily a problem if you’re wise with how you use them,” Nicole said. Simple sugars are great post-run because when you take them in, they get into your muscles that much faster, which means the healing happens that much faster too. The reloading of your glycogen stores happens that much quicker as well. It’s the easiest for your body to use that sugar. Having simple sugars when you’re just lying around is not what you want and having simple sugars before an event is not what you want either because you can crash pretty easily if your stores are already topped off.”
Simple sugars are found in natural foods like fruits, vegetables, yogurts and milk. Obviously, healthier than processed foods with more refined (or added) sugars.
Alcohol on the other hand is a different story. Alcohol can stay in your system up to 72 hours after consumption. Throughout the whole training schedule, it is good idea to cut back on alcohol consumption, especially days before your longest runs. And, the week before the big race, at the very least, make sure you cut out alcohol at least four days before, so your muscles aren’t hurting.
“Alcohol can inhibit the reuptake of carbohydrates,” Nicole said. “Alcohol is very greedy, which means it wants to be used for energy first and foremost, so until it is completely out of your system, nothing else can be utilized very well.”
Overall, you want to be sure you decrease muscle damage, because when you run, you are tearing up muscle tissue.
Here’s a scary visual: “When you think about ingesting alcohol, think about putting rubbing alcohol on a wound….it just kills. The same thing happens with your muscles inside. It creates a lot of inflammation and it can’t heal. Be wise,” Nicole warned.
I talked in an earlier blog about how my high school cross country coach, Mr. Jim Kearney, had a lot to do with teaching training techniques that are still in my head today. nyone who ran for Mr. Kearney remembers his many “Kearney-isms.” One that I always remember was (for lack of a better term), “Eat like (garbage), you run like (garbage).”
Now, that is not to say today I’m always eating healthy, but those simple words do stick in your head. I do enjoy my fair share of sweets, snacks, probably too much red meat and, well, the occasional “garbage.” But, I try to be aware what I’m eating and when I’m eating it to keep up as healthy of a standard of living as possible.
That is pretty difficult to do when you work at a baseball stadium where there is an endless supply of food all around you (Hey, but I have to taste it all to write about it for the blog!). Add that to working weird hours and I feel like I’m a pretty special case. I listened to closely to what Nicole had to say during her address to the team at Spring Training and again the other day. I picked up on the importance of being able to balance everything and eat at the right times. The food you eat affects your performance, but it also affects how you carry out your job, your overall mood and well being.
I really found the above tips useful. I know it can seem a bit overwhelming, and by no means am I going to stop eating the foods I like. I will, however, think more about what I eat and when I eat it, not just for a better performance in the Brewers Mini, but also for better overall personal well-being.
I may work out often and hard enough, but I know that my diet could use it’s own boot camp… I am that person who doesn’t like eating breakfast in the morning. I love coffee, have a major sweet tooth, a penchant for bloody marys, and such a sporadic, hectic schedule that I tend to skip meals and/or end up eating out too much.
I confessed most of this to Nicole and, although she was very polite about it, I am guessing I am probably her worst nightmare. I found a lot of her advice to be very useful and it really helped keep things in perspective. She didn’t tell us we had to give up coffee, sweets or even alcohol, we just have to be smarter about it. And, I’ve always read about how your body uses food as fuel and energy, but having the Brewers Mini to train for and hearing her talk about the science behind how your body uses the food that you put into it, really helped me understand that not only what, but also when, I eat can make a big difference. I know I’m not going to change overnight, but I’m going to start with some small changes like drinking half my weight in water and making sure I am eating more regularly throughout the day, especially at times more conducive to my runs.
A personal trainer recently spilled the beans to a friend of mine, working out is important, but what we eat really determines how fit we are!
I remember when I was training for my first marathon. I thought I would shed pounds and look like the women on the cover of Runners World. Instead, I gained weight. And not the “muscle weighs more than fat” kind of weight. I fell into the very large trap of thinking that because I was working out more than I ever had before, I could eat whatever I wanted. Unfortunately, that is just not true.
Food is fuel and you don’t want to put the wrong “gas” in your “car”, but you also don’t want to be running around on empty.
I am certainly not qualified to advise anyone on proper nutritional or caloric needs, but I do know that eating well not only improves your performance, but makes you feel a heck of a lot better!
I recently completed a 10-day cleanse which included a fiber drink, herbal cleansing and probiotic pills and a diet void of sugar, refined, white starches (white breads, pastas, tortilla’s, etc…) caffeine, alcohol and dairy. It was not easy, but I can assure you that after ten days I felt better than I had in years. I no longer crave sugar (I suffer from a crazy sweet tooth!) or junk food like I did before. When I began the cleanse, I was dreaming of double cheeseburgers, fries and custard. By the time I had finished, I honestly no longer wanted those types of food.
Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t treat myself or have something if I want it, but I definitely broke the addictive habit of having a cookie or some ice cream almost every day. It wasn’t that I really wanted or needed that particular food, it had just become routine.
I challenge our readers to adopt a new habit or break an old one this week! See if you can skip the cupcake, the post-work glass of wine or promise to eat a healthy breakfast every day. My goal for this week is to continue to eat meals high in healthy proteins and loads of fruits and vegetables. I’m also hoping to keep kicking the sugar habit!
-John and Cait (& Trenni!)