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Workout of the Week Part II: Hydration

3 Apr

I can’t believe that my half-marathon is one week away! I hope the weather is as beautiful next weekend as it is on this fine Sunday. I’m about to knock out my last long run, and then comes the hard part- the week of rest before race day.

The week(s) right before a race, milage drops considerably and other activities like strength training are decreased to prevent excessive muscle fatigue. I kind of have ants in my pants around the clock, so physical “rest” is difficult for me. Anyone else have ants in their pants when they don’t get a sweat session in or am I the only crazy one? :)

To keep my sanity before race day, I turn my attention to other things like stretching, fueling, and hydrating. That last one is very important.

During exercise, water helps cool the body, maintain blood flow to the muscles, and rid the body of toxins. Dehydration can negatively impact your exercise performance.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • muscle cramps, fatigue & soreness
  • dry mouth
  • sweating may stop
  • lightheadedness or headache
  • dark yellow urine
  • decreased frequency in urination

Proper hydration is important for everyone, but it is especially crucial when intensity, duration, and temperatures are high.

Hydration For Exercise Rules of Thumb:

Before Exercise

Drink 20-40 fl ounces of water (about 3-5 cups) in the 2-3 hours prior to intense exercise.

During Exercise

Drink about 4 fl ounces (1/2 cup) every 30 minutes during intense activity.

*TIP: one “gulp” = about 1 ounce

After Exercise

To determine fluid needs for post-exercise, weigh yourself before and after exercise and drink 16 fluid ounces (2 cups) of fluid for every pound lost during exercise. Because this isn’t always convenient, do it once and use this as a guide for future workouts.

What Should You Drink?

For the average exerciser and workouts <60 minutes, plain water is the perfect rehydrating fluid. For athletes and intense workouts lasting >60 minutes, a sports drink may be beneficial.

A sports drink must have liquid for hydration, carbohydrates for energy and refueling, and electrolytes to replace sweat loss. Zero-calorie sports drinks don’t have carbohydrate for energy, so they aren’t a good choice for intense workouts. Plus they contain sugar substitutes. Yuck. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of drinks like Gatorade because they contain high-fructose corn syrup. Yes, these beverages are effective recovery drinks, but putting high-fructose corn syrup into my body makes me a little uneasy.

My Solution: Coconut water


Coconut water is the clear liquid that comes from the inside of young coconuts. Because of its carbohydrate and electrolyte content, it has been dubbed the “natural Gatorade”. You can find brands like Vita Coco, O.N.E., and ZICO in the beverage aisle of many grocery stores.

Coconut Water Ingredient List: 100% Natural Coconut Water

Gatorade Ingredient List: Water, Sucrose, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Mono-Potassium Phosphate, Ester Gum, Yellow 5, Brominated Vegetable Oils, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 1, Caramel 1

The new Gatorade labels list “Glucose-Fructose Syrup” in the ingredient list, but there is no sign of the words “High-Fructose Corn Syrup”. Did they take out the HFCS? No! Glucose-Fructose Syrup is a less common name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Very sneaky, Gatorade.

The only problem with coconut water is its electrolyte balance. It is heavy in potassium and light in sodium, while Gatorade is the opposite. We lose more sodium than potassium when we sweat, so this makes coconut water a less ideal electrolyte replacer. My solution is to pair my post-workout coconut water with a salty snack such as salted pretzels.

A Few Hydration Tips:

  • Carry a water bottle with you at all times. I never leave the house without a water bottle in tow.
  • Sip water throughout the day. Try to remind yourself to drink every 1/2 hour – 1 hour.
  • Always drink water before, during, and after intense exercise.
  • When out to eat, order a glass of water along with your other beverage choice. Drink a glass of water along with your morning coffee.
  • Water can come from food too! Consume foods with high water content including fruits and vegetables. These help keep you hydrated and curb hunger.
  • Before reaching for a snack, drink a glass of water. Often, we confuse mild hunger with mild dehydration.
  • Monitor urine color. If you are properly hydrated, urine should be pale yellow to clear and transparent.

For exercise fueling tips, check out Part I

Happy Hydrating and Thanks for reading :)

Workout of the Week: Fueling Your Workout

20 Mar

This workout update is way overdue!

I just finished up week 9 of half-marathon training. With race training amping up, I’m a bit too sore to maintain my regular lifting routine. I’m still trying to make two dates a week with the weights, but yoga has taken priority this week. It feels so great to stretch my very tight, sore body.

Lately, some of my runs have been a little less than ideal. I haven’t been feeling my best, so I’m really focusing on proper nutrition and hydration. It must be working because JWD and I had one of our best long runs yesterday (we switched our long run to Saturday and rest day to Sunday this week). We had a great first 6 miles, then I got really tired and sluggish for the next 1.5 miles, and then I rallied and we finished with a strong, fast 1.5 miles. Whew I was tired afterwards.

Whatever spring race is on your agenda, you are probably settled in to your training program by now. But what about your nutrition routine? Proper nutrition is just as important to exercise performance as the training plan, and a poor diet isn’t going to get you a PR. This will be a two-part post for workout nutrition & hydration.

PART I

Here’s an exercise nutrition plan that’ll get you to the finish line in record time.

Pre-Workout Nutrition:

Pre-workout meals equip your body with the proper fuel to power your workout. Because carbohydrates are the body’s fuel of choice, pre-workout meals should be high in carbohydrates and easily digested. Easily digested meals are relatively low in fiber and fat. These two nutrients slow down digestion. If too much food is left in your stomach when you begin exercising, it will feel very uncomfortable and inhibit your performance. So when it comes to pre-run meals, timing is everything. Larger meals should be consumed 3-4 hours before a workout, while smaller meals can be consumed 1-2 hours before your workout.

Examples of pre-workout meals: toast with peanut butter and honey, oatmeal with fruit, or cereal with a low-fat milk.

Post-Workout Nutrition:

Post-workout meals are key to replenishing and repairing the body. For maximum recovery benefits, consume a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes after completing your workout. This is your optimal recovery window, so take advantage of it! Carbohydrates help to replenish muscle fuel and protein repairs and rebuilds muscle tissue. Proper recovery nutrition after a run can help improve performance during your next run.

Examples of recovery meals: turkey/veggies/hummus in a whole wheat wrap, veggie stir-fry with tofu and brown rice, peanut butter and banana in a whole wheat wrap, low-fat chocolate milk and a banana, or a fruit and yogurt smoothie.

Other Tips:

  • Experiment. Early in your training program, experiment with different pre- and post-workout meals and meal timing. Everyone’s body has its own quirks, so there is no one-size-fits-all meal plan. Keep a journal of what and when you eat and how you feel during your workout. This can help you pinpoint the best meal routine for your body.
  • Practice! Once you’ve found your perfect meal routine, practice it throughout your training. Use long run days as dress rehearsals for the event. Practicing your race day routine, especially your nutrition routine, will help your body perform its best on race day.
  • Don’t be afraid of salt. When I sweat for an extended period of time, my skin is covered in a salty residue. Sodium is an electrolyte that helps with fluid balance in the body and needs to be replaced after hard workouts, especially if you are a salty sweater like me. You may even find yourself craving something salty after a hard workout. Listen to your body! Salty pretzels, whole grain pita chips, or salted nuts can help do the trick. However, this is not permission to devour a bag of potato chips every time you break a sweat. High sodium intake is linked with high blood pressure, so if you or your family have history of high blood pressure, sodium intake should be monitored carefully. Sports drinks also contain sodium, but we’ll save that for next time.

***Just an FYI– Running on Sunshine is moving to a new server, so she may be out of commission for a little bit in the next 24 hours. Hopefully everything goes smoothly and I’ll see you on the other side!

Happy fueling and thanks for reading :)

Workout of the Week: Half-Marathon Training

23 Jan

Running and I are pretty good friends.

We used to be best friends.

When our relationship was in its “honeymoon phase”, we spent a lot of time together. Running helped me survive a very transitional, rocky part of my life. Running was my therapy.

We had a great time together.

You see, I didn’t meet running until I was in college. First it was just therapeutic runs in the park. Then a half-marathon. Then a few more. Then a moment of almost running cross-country. Then a handful of other races. And then a marathon.

It was somewhere between the “handful of other races” and the “marathon” that things got a little turbulent. First a stress fracture. Then a run-in with infrapatellar tendonitis. Then a strained quad– between mile 6 and 10 of a marathon. *Ouch*

After that I decided to back off a little bit. Give myself some space. Get reacquainted some of my other dear friends, yoga and strength training.

But I never lost that itch to run.

So here I am finishing up week 1 of half-marathon training. I thought about running a marathon instead, but the truth is I’m having way too much fun experimenting with other types of workouts. So a half-marathon PR (personal record) goal is on my agenda this year. For this week’s Workout of the Week I would like to share my training plan.

This plan is adapted from a plan on Hal Higdon’s website. His plans are incredible. No matter the distance, skill level, or goal, he has a plan for you. He even has training plans for those that want to walk a race. Fabulous.

Because I am so injury-prone, I need a plan that allows me flexibility , builds milage slowly, and incorporates plenty of cross-training (for both my health and my sanity). I also want a plan that includes speedwork since I’m shooting for a faster time. This plan fits the bill. It is a slight variation of Hal’s (yes, we are on a first name basis) intermediate half-marathon plan.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be featuring the different workouts involved in race training plans as well as how I plan to (fingers crossed) get through this race injury free.

Is anyone else currently training for a race or have a 2011 race goal?

The snow is pouring out of the sky today in St. Louis. Looks like my first long run will be spent on the dreadmill treadmill. blah. And then veggie chili and football are in the plans– because we’re all-American like that. Who am I kidding, you’ll most likely find me in my lab (a.k.a. kitchen) whipping up some experiments. Too much of a busy-body to sit on the couch. Stay tuned :)

Thanks for reading :)

Workout of the Week and The Best News of My Life (so far…)

11 Jan

I can’t believe we are already 11 days into 2011! And I can’t believe I still have a whole glorious week of winter break left to enjoy.

It will be filled with a lot of this:

Cooking, reading, and organizing my recipes.

And this:

Yep, that’s a GRE book. I have to take the GRE this week. sigh.

But I won’t let THAT little hurdle ruin my last week of vacation.

I am going to live it up. JWD and I have embarked on some early spring cleaning to make room for our ridiculous amount of Christmas goodies.

Something else I started on my last week off is the Frostbike rides. A big group of girls get together every weekend to do a 11.5 mile bike ride through the city. Last Sunday was our first ride and it was chilly (14 degrees to be exact)! But amazing :)

Laura and I enjoying our free coffee and beignets after the ride.

I am a little rusty on my bike, so needless to say I was feeling a bit stiff Sunday night. The perfect cure: a little yoga practice.

The first official Workout of the Week is a DVD review of my go-to yoga practice: Body by Bethenny.

I’m sure you all recognize Bethenny from the mind-numbing Bravo show Real Housewives of New York City. (Confession: I am occasionally a closet Real Housewives viewer. It’s like a car accident…). But unlike some of the other housewives, Bethenny actually has some credentials. She’s a natural foods chef, she’s cooked for many celebrities, and she’s the author of the diet book Natuarlly Thin. Not to mention, she seems like a pretty cool, down-to-earth girl.

Anyway, back to the DVD. Body by Bethenny is a 40 minute yoga workout with a 10 minute free-weight session and 5 minute booty workout at the end. I’ve never done the weight portion, but I’ve done the yoga portion countless times. The yoga practice is lead by Kristin McGee. Kristin is a certified personal trainer, Pilates and yoga instructor, and has trained many celebrities.

The workout is a perfect mix of flowing, strengthening poses, and stretching. It includes all of my favorite yoga poses (tree pose and pigeon pose to name a few). The best part about this workout is anyone can do it! No matter what your fitness level, you will enjoy this workout. It aligns with my philosophy that fitness, nutrition, and health should be accessible to everyone. Bethenny is very relatable- she wobbles right along with you throughout the practice.

I love to turn on this DVD post-run, when I’m feeling tight/sore, when I’m short on time, or right before bed. DVD’s are especially great in the winter when the weather is icy and gym motivation is low. I just roll out my mat, open my laptop, light a few candles, and get my yoga on right in my living room. JWD has even been known to join me (shh… don’t tell him I told you)

(note the wonderful Lululemon Manduka yoga mat I got for Christmas. LOVE this mat)

Body by Bethenny can be purchased on Amazon.com for about 10 bucks OR you can download it instantly on Amazon for 10 bucks. That’s what I did. Instant gratification :) I highly recommend this workout DVD.

Oh yeah, and about that news…

First a little background info- You already know I am studying nutrition and will graduate in May with a degree in nutrition and dietetics. But that’s not the end of the road for an aspiring dietitians. To become a registered dietitian, you must pass an exam. To be eligible to take the exam, you must complete a certain number of supervised practice hours in the form of a dietetic internship. The internship application process as well as the actual internship is a stressful and competitive part of a nutrition student’s journey.

Last week I was so thrilled to find out that I got accepted to SLU’s dietetic internship! I am so excited to continue my nutrition education at SLU and can’t wait to share the journey on the blog.

Thanks for reading :)

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