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Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fast foods

Runners’ diets prove essential to success in competition, training

April 16, 2008

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On the street

Have you ever altered your diet for athletic purposes?

I usually eat a lot more food when I’m exercising a lot, but it’s not a conscious effort, it just makes me have a larger appetite.

More responses

Around 8:30 a.m. Sunday, a long line of runners will be pounding the pavement along the seemingly endless hill that runs south up Mississippi Street to the Kansas University campus.

The long, slow climb will be an early test of the runners, who will be hitting the hill just over four miles into the 13.1-mile Lawrence Half Marathon & 5K.

It's times like that climb when the runners' training regimens will probably first be felt, too - the hill work, the endurance runs and the nutrition.

The last piece of the training puzzle - nutrition - is also the last thing many runners think of, says Staci Hendrickson, a registered dietitian and a certified strength and conditioning specialist with Healthy Balance, a Lawrence-based exercise and physical fitness firm.

"One of the most important things that I tell people is that good nutrition needs to start when they start their training," Hendrickson says. "Because if they're eating well all through their training, then that's going to support good training, support them being able to run longer, faster, versus than maybe thinking about nutrition and trying to carb up a week before the event, and they really haven't been doing much prior to that.

"So, when they first start training or they first start trying to build up to do a half-marathon or a marathon, they often need to be looking at what do they eat and when do they eat, so that they can have optimal training."

The key, agree Hendrickson and Gina Fisch, a registered nurse and owner of Perfect Balance Weight Management Center, 935 Iowa, is to focus on minimally processed foods during training. Getting the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat is important to make sure the body is in its best working order before race time.

Mother Nature's foods

The first thing Fisch asks her clients to focus on is forgoing anything that is heavily processed.

"Whole-wheat pasta would be fine, but you also have to have the fruits and vegetables," Fisch says. "The closer to (how) Mother Nature made it, the better."

But what about the drinks, bars and other supplements that are popular these days?

"It depends on the product, because there's good, bad and the ugly out there," Fisch says. "Anything that is going to be mainly sugar is going to give you a quick burst of energy, and then you're going to run out of steam and all the other runners are going to pass you on the side. You need a mix. You need protein, carbs and fat in the mix of the drink or the bar that you're using.

"Putting some fruit and milk and yogurt in blender is probably a great way to get your drink, (but) I know you can't do that on the run."

Hendrickson says that among the athletes she sees in her practice, the ingredient most often missing in the protein-carbohydrate-fat trifecta is carbohydrates.

"I tell them to focus on getting enough carbohydrates. That's very important. The best sources are going to be more whole carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables - like potatoes, corn, peas - those need to be the foundation of their diet or what they're eating on a daily basis," Hendrickson says. "Then they also need to make sure they're getting enough protein and fat as well. But most Americans get enough protein in our diets, but most of the athletes that I work with I actually find that the carbohydrate is what they're not getting enough of and that they really need to focus on trying to eat more."

Why are the athletes missing out? Blame the former low-carb craze, Hendrickson says.

"A lot of people, even athletes, are kind of leery of doing a lot of carbohydrates, even though what the research shows again and again and again is that athletes need more carbohydrates than the rest of us do," Hendrickson says. "I do think some of it is kind of from the low-carb diet and things like pasta and potatoes getting a bad rap."

Eating for performance

To make sure her clients are getting enough of the right nutrients - and not skimping out on the carbs - Hendrickson recommends small, frequent meals and drinking fluids throughout the day.

"One of the rules of thumb is they need to eat within a half-hour of waking up, and then they need to eat every two hours to three hours after that. It's kind of eating small amounts regularly throughout the day because sometimes it can be hard to sit down and eat a big meal and then try to go run in a couple of hours," Hendrickson says.

"If they're eating smaller meals spread throughout the day, then they don't have to worry so much about upsetting their stomach and those kinds of things."

Eating a smaller meal also goes for the night before a race. Fisch says it's unnecessary to engage in the race-night tradition of downing mountains of pasta. Just a little will do.

"What's not going into the glycogen stores is going into body fat if you're eating more than you need," Fisch says, mentioning the body's reserves of quick-access energy. "I would say eat a reasonable amount, all in moderation. You can have, if you're a man, probably a cup or a cup and a half of pasta (is) not going to hurt you, if you're a female, probably half a cup to a cup. A nice, green, leafy salad is always a great idea.

"Of course, you want a nice red sauce on your pasta, not an alfredo. Could you imagine dragging that around the next day?"

Comments

Eride 6 years, 8 months ago

"Running" a half marathon doesn't require any special diet regimen. Anyone who spends the time training can "run" a half marathon, hell, anyone who spends the time working up to it can "run" a full marathon. Look at Katie Holmes and how she has "ran" in a marathon. Granted it took her enough time to "run" it that I could of ran two marathons but I digress...Real runners who are real athletes do need to watch their diet. "Runners" don't.

Erin Parmelee 6 years, 8 months ago

Eride (Anonymous) says: "Running" a half marathon doesn't require any special diet regimen. Anyone who spends the time training can "run" a half marathon, hell, anyone who spends the time working up to it can "run" a full marathon. Look at Katie Holmes and how she has "ran" in a marathon. Granted it took her enough time to "run" it that I could of ran two marathons but I digress:Real runners who are real athletes do need to watch their diet. "Runners" don't.-----------------------------------------------------------------------Ouch! Considering I just finished my first marathon (in the same time as Katie) and worked my ass off to do it, your comments kind of smart. More power to you if you can run a 2:30 marathon. Consider yourself elite. But you can lose the elitist attitude. For most "real" runners, just finishing is an accomplishment--one that 90% of people will never have. Congrats to all the runners this weekend and good luck! Especially to the EZ8 ladies--go girls!!

Bunny_Hotcakes 6 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, Eride was kind of a dick about it, but unless you're doing super endurance sports like marathons or 50+ mile bike rides, the emphasis on carb loading is waaaaaaaaay overblown for most weekend warriors. If your goals aren't endurance-based, all those extra carbs just mean more glycogen and water in your muscles, which will weigh you down.I am not an EZ8 runner, but I know a couple of them--good luck, ladies!

RedwoodCoast 6 years, 8 months ago

The illustration for this article looks like that Merc figure that they took off of their sign. It looks like he got a makeover and is still finding work.

JayhawkAlum03 6 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps the emphasis on carb loading is overhyped because it's all that some people associate with runners, however the need for a high carb diet for anyone doing endurance training who wants to perform well is not. Science has proven that one week of god diet prior to a race won't cut it (i.e. carb loading). For slower runners, diet is important since you use up what is freely available and have to turn to other sources throughout the course of what is a much longer race time-wise. Sure, anyone CAN train to run a half marathon or a marathon for completion, but if you want to do your best, then diet is definitely a major part of the equation.Not everyone has the genetics to be a world-class distance runner, but half the joy of running is figuring out how to train and what to eat to perform at your top level AND putting in the countless hours to do so. Not as easy as it sounds. I think going this extra step, regardless of genetics, and putting in the time and planning out diet, etc., to challenge yourself is what differentiates Eride's concept of some runners from real runners...regardless of finishing time.After having run several marathons and countless halves, 10Ks, 5Ks, etc, I know what it's like to hit the wall and I know generally what works for my body diet-wise. There definitely is a difference based on what I've eaten through the training cycle.I guess I should expect to see the back of Eride on Sunday since he'll be finishing so far ahead of me after he eats McDonald's and KFC on Saturday night?

Eride 6 years, 8 months ago

"Ouch! Considering I just finished my first marathon (in the same time as Katie) and worked my ass off to do it, your comments kind of smart. More power to you if you can run a 2:30 marathon. Consider yourself elite. But you can lose the elitist attitude. For most "real" runners, just finishing is an accomplishment-one that 90% of people will never have.Congrats to all the runners this weekend and good luck! Especially to the EZ8 ladies-go girls!!"------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------My ire was more aimed at how this article was written. There is a difference between exercising for weight loss or maintaining an average level of fitness... and actually training as an athlete. This article comes across as being the later when it really should be pertaining to the former group.The fact is weekend "runners" don't need to do anything said her and there is much better advice out their if your goal is just to eat well as part of a healthier lifestyle. I don't want to come across as putting your achievement down, anyone who completes a marathon has accomplished something great. But this article is factually misleading.Oh, and Katie Holmes time was substantially longer then 5 hours, I don't remember what time it was exactly but it is at least 30 minutes longer then that. As I said, finishing is an accomplishment, but that isn't really running... more like walking.

Eride 6 years, 8 months ago

"I guess I should expect to see the back of Eride on Sunday since he'll be finishing so far ahead of me after he eats McDonald's and KFC on Saturday night?"-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I'm going to be in Boston so you won't see me, but enjoy the run, looks like it will be decent weather.

geppetto 6 years, 8 months ago

I would just like to add that the following quote from Ms. Fisch is entirely incorrect:"It depends on the product, because there's good, bad and the ugly out there," Fisch says. "Anything that is going to be mainly sugar is going to give you a quick burst of energy, and then you're going to run out of steam and all the other runners are going to pass you on the side. You need a mix. You need protein, carbs and fat in the mix of the drink or the bar that you're using.Many products designed for use during endurance exercise (such as energy gels) are mainly glucose, and while they DO give you a burst of energy, it is sustained over time during the course of the distance, and does NOT cause you to "bonk"! Energy gels and other glucose heavy products are widely used by elite marathoners and average runners alike - none of whom are being "passed on the side" due to sugar crash. I wonder how many distance events Ms.Fisch has completed, and what her personal experience is with sports nutrition? It sounds like she doesn't know much about it! Oh, and GO EZ8 LADIES!!

moveforward 6 years, 8 months ago

Mrs Fisch might be an expert on weight loss diets for the not so active crowd, but she is certainly not qualified to give athletic nutritional guidance. Simple sugars are the rule in endurance sports. What a lame effort... this article.

JayhawkAlum03 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm kind of wondering if the quote about food "on the run" was taken out of context. I'm guessing she may have meant that in general you need that mix of things pre-race in your diet or you'll have race day issues in terms of running out of steam and that these are an option for a quick and easy transportable (aka "on the run") option. It is true (from my understanding anyways) is that you do want a combo of carbs, fat and protein for a pre-race meal or snack. I can't imagine anyone would recommend a fruit/milk/yogurt smoothie DURING a race. Since the rest of the article pretty much makes sense from a broad view, I'm gonna give her the benefit of the doubt.

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