Nutrition On The Run

I need to lay out a disclaimer right off the bat.  As I’ve mentioned in precious posts @HoneyStinger and @TailwindNutrution have selected me as an ambassador for their brand.  I do not get paid nor do I get free product from them, but I do get a discount from them.  However, in order for me to even feel ethical about supporting them and applying to become an ambassador, I must have used the product already.  Since I had already been using both products I felt ok to apply and represent these 2 awesome companies.

I’d also like to disclaimer that a hydration calculator might be worth your wild if you live in a hot humid environment.  You can use something like this one or this one.

With that out of the way, let me help you better understand my nutrition on the run.  I’m really not even sure where to start, but I’ll start with number of calories per hour and go from there.  It’s my understanding that we are looking for 100-300 calories per hour.  I really thought the only way I could get through such long runs is via 300 calories per hour.

I’ve tried this all via solids in the past.  I think my preference is a mix of both just to keep up the variety.  I really like the Honey Stinger waffles and chews for about 100 calories per hour.  For the eletrolytes and calories all in one, Tailwind is awesome.  I try to 200 calories per hour via this method.  I usually carry some sort of CamelBak pack that has a bladder and all kinds of pockets to carry all this in.  Sometimes you can also fit in a soft flask like this one or this one if you want a small amount of something different than your larger pack.

For daily training I use the CamelBak Podium Ice with either just water or some electrolyte especially on hot days.  I learned that the colder the water is on a hot summer houston humid day the better.  The sweat mechanism just doesn’t work here the same as it would in a low humidity enviro like Colorado.  For those warm kind of nice days you can get away with something like this as opposed to needing the Podium Ice.

There is a whole other level that can happen in Houston in the summer.  For that I have finally found a product that can help.  It’s not for the couch to 5k runner.  In fact, the company kindly asks you to read their blog article on the product before purchasing.  However, if you meet all the criteria, it could just save your life one day.  HyperHydration mix is a powder that you an mix into your water and it is for the times that no matter how much you take in, you just can’t keep up with the water/electrolyte required to keep moving.  The article has some really good insight into topics that we probably don’t know much about in theory but have experienced in practice.

I’m referring to sodium concentration of the blood/plasma and the ability for water and sodium to pass in and out of the cells.  These 2 things are why I love TailWind so much.  The reason has to do with GI distress.  If you’re consuming something that has a balance that isn’t right for you or that your body has a hard time absorbing you will likely have some GI distress out on the road or trail.  The more I’ve studied this to select the right products the less GI distress I’ve had.  I feel like TailWind is really well balanced and really has the ability to be absorbed properly.

Thanks for sharing this adventure with me!

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Training Coaches

I’ve recently been toying with the idea of getting a training coach.  I have always found my own training plan and think I’ll continue to do that; but, I can’t get the idea out of my head that a coach could really make a difference.  I have already started seeing the difference training by heart rate is making.  I know that the accountability and specialty of a coach could identify the big and small inefficiencies that I continue to have.

I have a friend and training partner in Austin that might just have convinced me to link up with her coach via online training.  I have to say I’m a little nervous and a little excited to think that I would be paying someone to tell me what to do and critique my runs and data.  It just feels like a big decision, but then again it’s a pretty big deal to shave over 2 hours off of my 50K PR as well.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Big data

I know what you’re thinking.  What does Big Data and running have in common?  More over, what in the world is big data?  Google states it’s, “extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.”  Ok, so my data set is not extremely large, but I am looking for patterns and trends relating to human behavior.  The human behavior I’m observing is running as it relates to other things in my life.

As I stated before I grew up playing soccer until about 2002.  From 2005-2007, I started studying humans, the data associated with them and the way in which they interact with their work environment.  Sometime around 2009 I started running to lose weight.  Since weight was my main focus, I started tracking it.  Sometime around 2010 or so, I got a Garmin watch that would track my running data.  Sometime around 2012 or so, I got a FitBit that tracks steps, resting heart rate and sleep.  I say all this to give you some background into how and why I am the way I am and why this post means something to me.

Knowing my background will hopefully give you some idea of how and why I research and track these different things that I’ve been writing about.  I update my logs on the first of every month so that I can see if anything is trending and if there are any new correlations.  Most of the time the obvious and well known correlations are all that I see, but occasionally I’ll find something and then try to be able to explain it.  I look to see if avg heart rate is dropping as a function of pace or distance.  I have recently been trying to correlate weight with fitness.  I would love to look at sleep score/efficiency as compared to performance the following day.  I’ve also been considering using a more powerful analytics tool to look for more meaningful trends in the data.  One thing that I’ve never looked at is HRV (Heart Rate Variability).  There has to be some reason why anyone would care about this though right?!

I think that the goal that most people really want to know is how they will perform before they go out.  We use all kinds of lagging indicators to try and get some idea, but wouldn’t we want some leading indicators or a tool to help predict our performance?  I’ve been working on this with a fellow teammate and we think we might have a few leading indicators that might help.  I plan to expand on that in the coming posts.

Quick update on my Training by Heart Rate: I’ve started noticing that my fitness is coming up.  I’ve been overlaying pace and heart rate.  When I started this the heart rate would stay flat (on purpose) where the pace would slow down (with a wide gap between the two by the end).  As of last week, I was able to make that gap smaller.  The goal would be to either be able to hold the pace at a given heart rate or not to have it drop too far down while holding the pace.  I’d been researching this for a while but heard the interview with Anna Mae Flynn on UltraRunnerPodcast when I heard that she’s dealing with the same thing!  She called it

Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Injuries

I’d like to spend a little time talking about injuries.  This is something that every athlete goes through.  Some athletes have the financial means to get the right help and some don’t.  Some athletes have the sense to research or ask for help and some don’t.  Some athletes think if they ignore it, it will go away and some don’t.  Some injuries are small and nagging where as others are full on no more running.  I’d like to think of myself as blessed and thankful to be on the right side of those statements.  Here are a few of the recent injuries I’ve been up against.

In September 2018 I got my first bout of plantar fasciitis.  This is a pain in the bottom of your foot/heel.  It can range from mildly bothersome, to full out can’t walk or stand.  Mine progressed pretty steadily but never got to the point where I was immobile.  I tried all kinds of things from Arrosti, massage, PT, ice, heat, NSAIDs (debatable, I know), rolling, stretching, orthotics, etc.  I was able to recognize the problem early and get care while it was progressing.  I was taking time off from running to ensure I wasn’t doing any damage.  I was following all of the “homework” assigned to me to get back on track again.  While still in the middle of dealing with this, I had an old injury come back to haunt me.

In January of 2019 I tweaked my back and could barely sit or stand.  The first few days were so bad that I was willing to do anything.  I tried massage, acupuncture, heat, ice, back braces, PT, Osteopathic treatment, horse linement/dmso, NSAIDs, etc.  I’m not real sure what “worked” and frankly, I don’t care.  All I know is that I was able to get back to doing what I needed to be doing at that moment and sometime in March or April I was able to get back to running again.

Luckily, today, I’m doing pretty good.  I stretch and roll every day.  I do strengthening every other day.  I found out that over a period of years not working in the gym as hard as I was working on the trail, that my posterior chain was not firing like it used to.  My body was finding other ways to adapt to keep running.  For example, I was over taxing my hip flexors on distance runs.  Therefore, at some point, it all finally crumbled resulting in injury.  This forced me to focus on the weaknesses that had been mentioned to me over the past few years….and I’d neglected to listen.  Through the high quality of care I received, I’m back training for my next big race!

These may seem insignificant to you, but I come from a background growing up playing soccer.  As a soccer player, I used to get pretty bad ankle sprains.  I had a few or more on both ankles just about any type of sprain; inversion, eversion and different levels of severity (grades).  The result ranged from icing down (mild grade I) to full on crutches and no soccer for months at a time (severe grade III).  Either way, some amount of pain can keep you from doing what you love.  These little pains should be listened to and treated so that they don’t become the next thing that takes you away from your passion or your family.

I’d also like to mention that the “RICE” (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) is still alive and well just as much for me those ankle sprains as it is now for these other types of injuries.  I’ll admit that dates my recovery strategy.  I realize that some of the newer studies suggest that 1) active/gentle rest/recovery might be better than total rest. 2) ice might actually be slowing the tissue to heal (although it does decrease inflammation).  With that, I think we’ve covered a little of everything.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me!

New Ambassadoship

I’d like to thank @HoneyStinger for continuing to support me on my health and fitness mission.  I love the Honey Stinger waffles and chews to keep my calories flowing.  I’d also like to thank @TailwindNutrition for supporting me in my current goals and mission.  I love that Tailwind’s model is one drink that has everything you need all day.  It has the electrolytes and the calories to sustain you.  I like to opt for some solid food too so that I ensure I get the right feel in my gut while pushing for long miles.  As I stated in the last post, my pace has been pretty slow, which keeps me out on the trail/road for longer than someone else might be.  More hours pushing, means more calories needed to sustain until the end of the race/run.

As far as what I’ve read, I try to hit 300 calories per hour.  In the past this is really all I had to go on.  Now, I’ve started at looking at how many oz of water an hour and how many mg sodium per hour.  My most recent research says 16-32 oz an hour for water and 600-800mg/32oz.  I’ve done a little experimenting with the water and sodium but will continue to refine this for optimum performance in October.

I stated that I’ll be going over gear in the future, but a quick review with regards to nutrition.  As for my Honey Stinger products, I just need pockets of some sort.  A “pack” is not really required per se.  However, for the Tailwind, a hydration pack is required unless you want to carry hard/soft bottles.  None of this really bothers me at all.  The most important thing is to get what you need when you need it and not have to rely on others to get your intake.

I’m just thankful for 2 different companies believing in me enough to allow me to be an ambassador for their brand.  It’s important to me to only request/support companies that I already support.  These are two companies that I already spend money with and am super excited to spread the words about so that others can also benefit from their products to reach their goals.

Thanks for sharing this adventure with me

 

Training by Heart Rate

Good morning,

As promised I wanted to cover some things that I’ve been up to lately with my training.  The first being a HUGE change to train the last few weeks by Heart Rate (HR) than by Pace.  Normally I have some idea of the pace I’d like to run and then just observe the HR associated with that pace.  Needless to say, I’ve not had much progress in my running for quite sometime.  A few months ago, one of my primary running partners (and fellow data nerd) @jorgeleuro agreed that we should do 2 training blocks back to back as opposed to just one to train for our big races; one for building base and the other specifically for the race.  More to come on training blocks later.  However, I chose to start right then and there building base by running only looking at HR.

So, what does this really mean and how do you achieve it?  Well, that’s the funny part b/c it’s actually harder than it seems.  First, what are HR zones and how do you find yours?  Second, which HR zone do you want to run in?  HR zones are given percentages of your max HR.  Each zone is supposed to achieve a certain goal.  For example, zone 1 is recovery.  Zone 2 is Fat burn.  Zone 3 is cardio.  Zone 4 is threshold.  Zone 5 is maxing out.  Each of these zones are associated with a % of max HR (220-age).  I used all kinds of websites to acquire this knowledge and apply it to my scenario.

Next, I use a Garmin ForeRunner 230 which will tell me my HR zones automatically.  But, the issue is that the formula it uses is for the general public and not for me specifically.  So, I went back to some of my old data that I acquired from Memorial Herman Iron Man Institute where I did a lactate threshold test.  I used those zones to plug into my Garmin.  From there I used the knowledge acquired above to figure out which zone I wanted to train in.  This was a tough process b/c I kept thinking in my head about the pace I needed to run vs the heart rate I was trying to achieve.  At first I kept trying to hit zone 2 which was nearly impossible unless I was walking.  After reading more and consulting more, I determined that zone 3 was where I needed to be training at.

In terms of my goal, I need to run roughly 12:29 min/mi ) 6hrs 30min for the Marine Corps Ultra-Marathon in October otherwise I’ll be picked up in a truck and earn my first Did Not Finish (DNF).  For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to run around 150 beats per minute (bpm) which is zone 3.  This heart rate yields around 11:40-14 min/mi.  This means that as the temp comes up the less I’ll be able to accomplish if I keep this up.  It’s been pretty tough dialing back my running to stay within this range.  Normally I’m extremely time bound and just try to get as much in for the time I have.  The hope is that as my fitness comes up, my heart rate will stay the same but I’ll be able to run faster.  But c’mon, lets be honest, when it comes to race day ain’t no one caring about heart rate.  Heart rate is for training and pace is for race day!   

I hope this gives you a little insight into what I’ve been up to from about 11am – noon most days for the past month.

Thanks for sharing this adventure with me.

New adventure

So I’ve signed up for a new adventure. The marine corps ultra marathon. I’m very excited for this big new challenge. I’ve done a 50k before but this one has a much more strict cutoff that will be a new challenge. I’ll also be flying to DC for this with @piratehawkinstherunner I’d like to cover a few things over the next few weeks.

1) training by heart rate

2) new ambassadorships

3) injuries

4) big data

5) training coaches

6) nutrition while on the run

7) strategies

8) gear

9) time management

10) training blocks

11) weather and TH factor

12) how did I get started running

13) body fat % vs bmi (caution: rant/soap box)

14) stretching/prehab/rehab

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read about my adventures!