Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Training Updates & A New Instagram

"I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible."

-John Hanc, running writer


Today began week 3 of training for the NYC half on March 16th!  So far I've kept up with my 3 runs per week and strength training, but haven't done as much spinning or yoga as I'd like.  I try to plan my runs around the weather so I can do all my training outside, but this week is looking like it's going to be too snowy and cold for much outdoor running. The picture above was after 6.25 miles of speed work on a treadmill- blah!  I did a 2 mile warm up and then alternated between a 7:47 mile pace for 0.5 miles and a 9:13 mile pace for 0.25 miles 6 times. 


If you haven't donated already don't forget I'm still fundraising for Team Livestrong!  CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Not sure how much to give, and looking for a creative, meaningful number?  As of today I have completed 40 miles of training!!!

Also I have created a separate Instagram account- @instalifetraining to share fitness and nutrition tidbits!  Please follow :) 

Forgetting the Timeline

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation -- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

I hope those of you that had a 3-day weekend enjoyed your day off!  I was lucky enough to have a visit from my brother and his wife!  Originally I had planned to start a Motivation Monday post, but in honor of MLK Day- this weeks is on Tuesday.  And while this post has nothing to do with MLK Day--in fact it is only loosely related to fitness--  I did like the above quote about dealing with adversity.

Preston & I in Times Square

After graduating college I volunteered at a week long camp for girls.  The camp focused on teaching skills and concepts they would need in order to grow into well adjusted and happy adults.  One of the activities had the kids take life events, such as graduating college and getting married, printed on a piece of paper and paste them on to a timeline.  As a recent graduate of college it was funny to see how orderly they thought their lives would go.  Almost every girl had college from ages 18-21, first job right after college, marriage 1-2 years later, and a baby just a little while after. 

The reality of timelines...
For a variety of reasons my expected timeline for life has been changed.  Over and over again.  Even as I laughed at the girls and their neat timelines I was in the middle of planning my own new, neat timeline.  I had adjusted for the time off from school I was about to take, but it was still orderly and required everything to go as I planned it.  Lately I have noticed a lot of my fellow 20 somethings falling into the same trap.  Rarely does a week (day) go by where I don't find myself or someone close to me saying "I'm [insert twenty-something age], I should [insert job they should have, things they should be able to afford, place they should be living, health insurance...]."   

Being the goal oriented person I am the thought of letting go of the timeline model has been particularly difficult for me.  However, the more I have thought about it the more the timeline seems to be hurting my goals rather than helping them.  As one of my friends put it, the twenties are particularly difficult because high school and college are filled with so many accomplishments in a short amount of time.  Winning a track meet, getting into college, making the Dean's list, landing that summer internship...then comes the plateau.  Your entry level job isn't what you want, the money sucks, you can't see your friends all the time like you could in college, everyone is getting married, and suddenly it seems like you're not making any progress.  It's like your training for a half marathon, but you just can't seem to get past the 6 mile mark.

This analogy alone is one of the reasons I love fitness so much.  Your ability to set a physical goal for yourself and figure out how to push yourself there mimics the challenges of life so well.  This is why my biggest goal for 2014 is to stop thinking of life in terms of a timeline.  This is essentially the blind leading the blind but here are my tips for finding a career that fits your passion:

1. Figure out what you want to be remembered for in your career.  For years I've wanted to be a doctor, but when I thought about what I wanted to accomplish as a doctor--helping mothers and children live the healthiest life possible I realized there were several paths that I could take to accomplish this.  That is why I have decided to drop the timeline modality, and focus more on whether each step I take is helping me towards accomplishing this goal.  

2. Don't be afraid to have plans A-Z.  This is kind of a continuation of #1, but it is something I have both excelled and struggled with.  Making a plan is something I am good at, but letting it go often feels like a failure to me.  Again my advice-- not always my practice-- is to think back to your overarching goal and start thinking outside the box of ways you can get there.  Maybe you're going to have to go back to school when you didn't plan to or move across the country to take a different job.  
3. Network outside your network.  Careers are no longer the linear path they used to be.  You never know what the photographer who started their own business could contribute to the PR firm you want to open.  Plus it's always good to have a diverse friend group.

4. Use your time wisely.  If your job isn't what you want, and you're working on a side project you may have to get up early, stay up late, or work evenings and weekends.  Plan your meals and exercise schedule ahead of time so you know your health won't suffer.  Remember you are working towards what you love!
5. Remember patience, a good friend, and a bottle of wine can get you through any bad day.

I didn't say how big...
And a special birthday shout out to my middle brother!!  Happy birthday, David!

What do you want to be remembered for within your career?



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Protein for Runners

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."

- Oprah Winfrey

Oprah after her marathon- Get it, Oprah!

I have been putting off writing a blog post for a long time mostly because I just didn't know what to blog about next.  So when a friend asked me about protein powders after running I felt like this was the perfect to do some research and write a blog post!

Why do athletes need more protein?

Protein is the building block of muscle--so you can have big guns.  

Shout out to my brother who has left protein powder all over my bedroom on multiple occasions 
Protein is also important for several other functions including cellular structure and functions, enzyme function, hormones and neurotransmitters, immunity, fluid balance, energy, and movement.  

Athletes, who are much more active than the general population, obviously require more protein to make up for losses.  Muscle is torn apart during strength training, but also during endurance activities like running.  The consistent pounding on pavement during a run causes damage and muscle breakdown, which can lead to injury and soreness.  In addition, when carbohydrate and fat stores are depleted the body will turn to muscle for fuel.

So how much more protein is needed, especially for runners?

The general recommendation for daily protein intake is 0.9 g/kg.  For an athlete this is raised to a range of 1.2-17 g/kg.  The maximal protein recommendation is 2.0 g/kg, but this is geared more towards power lifters and body builders.  

While athletes use more protein, it has also been shown that exercise increases the efficiency with which the body utilizes protein--i.e. the more you use it, the less you use it (or the faster you put it back)--so it is not necessary to recoup all of the losses (1).  In addition, excessive protein intake can cause stress and damage on the liver and kidneys, and excess is either converted and stores as triglycerides and carbohydrate, or excreted in part via urine (2).  The above guidelines have been shown to be safe.  In addition, a carbohydrate/protein combination has been shown to be best for recovery.

Since the recommendations for protein consumption are higher in endurance athletes like runners, and these individuals tend to be extremely busy protein powders can be an excellent source.  However, there are several alternatives that will also give athletes their protein needs without the worry of exceeding recommendations.  Some suggestions are:
  • Chocolate milk (my favorite)
  • Milk and cereal 
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (also a fav)
  • Lentil soup
  • Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites

If I want to use a protein powder, which protein is best?

There is just as much controversy over which protein to supplement with as there is with whether or not to supplement.  Complete proteins derived from animal sources seem to be more effective than plant sources.  Of the supplemental proteins, whey protein has been argued to be a better form than other forms (3).  For more info on the types of proteins see the end of this post.

When you go to find your protein powder be sure to check exactly how much protein, carbohydrate, and overall calories are in the powder.  Think about what you will be using your protein shake for--is it a meal replacement or just a shake?  This will influence how many calories you want to consume.  In addition, think about how much protein you already have in your diet.  For most athletes I recommend 1.5 g/kg/day so for a 140 pound athlete that would be 95 g/day.  An individual that consumes meat can hit that number very easily-- one serving of chicken can contain 90 g of protein, but vegetarians may have a harder time getting to this number and can afford--maybe even require--a higher amount of protein in their shake.  

I hope this helped anyone confused about their protein needs!  And please don't forget I am still raising money for LiveStrong and the NYC half marathon and would appreciate any donations- big or small!


Updates to come on training!

Types of Protein:

Whey Protein: Naturally occurring in cow's milk; complete protein containing all 8 essential amino acids; fast-absorbing therefore the greatest benefits occur if ingested within one hour post exercise; also contains glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that boosts immune function

Casein Protein: Represents the highest percentage of protein found in milk; slower release of amino acids making it unideal for post-exercise recovery, best consumed in the evening during rest; contains small amounts of lactose that could causes a reaction in lactose-intolerant individuals

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA): The BCAAs-- valine, isoleucine, and leucine-- are essential (must be consumed) in the diet; these proteins may be used for fuel in endurance athletes when carbohydrate and fat sources have been depleted; often found in whey protein

Glutamine: non-essential (naturally occurring) amino acid found within the muscle cell; used to form fuel when the body's carbohydrates have been depleted; often used to prevent muscle breakdown during exercise and preserve muscle size--studies have been inconclusive in healthy individuals, however, it has shown promising results in ill patients

L-arginine: Normal functions include aiding in protein synthesis, increasing immune and nervous system function, increasing oxygen delivery to the heart, and regulating growth hormone levels however studies have been inconclusive as to whether this improves strength gains and lean body mass 

1. Rodriguez NR, Vislocky LM, and Gaine PC.  Dietary protein, endurance exercise, and human skeletal muscle turnover.  Curr opin Clin Nutr Metab Care.  10:40-45, 2007.  

2. Martin WF, Armstrong LE, and Rodriguez NR.  Dietary protien intake and renal function.  Nutr Metab (Lond) 2:25, 2005.

3. Cribb PJ, Williams AD, Carey MF and Hayes A.  The effect of whey isolate and resistance training on strength, body composition, and plasma glutamine.  Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 16: 494-509, 2006.