Endurance Diet vs. strength training/HIIT Diet: What I’ve learned.

Endurance Diet vs. strength training/HIIT Diet: What I’ve learned.

In January 2016 I decided to try a crazy thing and follow a specific workout program and nutrition plan. Because what could it hurt?? I ended up loving the nutrition plan and workouts, I found them both sustainable for long term – I lost 20 lbs in four months and have kept it off for over a year and a half now. With my new found fitness regime, it gave me the confidence to do something I never would have attempted to do before but always wanted to – run a marathon.

I ran several half marathons in the past but always got EXTREMELY burnt out running and usually gained weight afterwards because I didn’t want to run for a period of time afterwards. And honestly, in the last 10 years or so, running was always the best way to lose weight that I knew of so I kept going back to it. Now I didn’t need to do it to lose weight; and I had a fallback workout regime for when I needed a break from running. So I ran my first marathon in March 2017!

I was planning to do it once and never again, but before the pain in my legs even subsided I signed up for the same marathon for next year. Because I knew the first one wasn’t my best effort. I felt I had a lot to learn and could do it better and run it stronger; and I wanted to feel good finishing (not sure that’s possible for a marathon, but I’m going to try!!).

This time around, I’m doing things differently. I really struggled for a lot of my long runs marathon training – fatigue, low energy, dead legs. A number of things contributed to this for me, with incorrect fueling before and during running chalking up as numero uno. I read the book recently called The Endurance Diet by Matt Fitzgerald, which talks about the diet of elite athletes – which coincidentally is the same across all continents. They all eat well and eat a diet heavy in carbohydrates. Obviously I am not an elite athlete, I am in the recreational category – but he lays a persuasive argument for the benefits of such a diet and why recreational runners can benefit as well. I’m not going to outline it here, but his research is substantial and definitely convinced me that carb heavy was the way to go. Not just any carbs – think clean eating/whole foods/whole grains/fruit/ oatmeal/potatoes, not sugary cereals or desserts. He outlines the specific food types and many examples of things different athletes eat in his book.

healthy carbs
Some healthy carb examples – beans, brown rice, potatoes, fruit.

I have further proof of this diet working – coincidentally, I followed it in high school. I did fairly well running cross country in high school, and my best year was my freshman year (26th in the Pennsylvania State Championship) where I followed a very strict diet of my own choosing. I don’t know how I came up with this, but I pretty much ate exactly the same high carb foods every day with little variation: a low sugar cereal for breakfast with milk. For lunch: juice, bagel with cream cheese, fruit and pretzels (hello carbs). Dinner was usually a protein, carb, and vegetable. I abstained from the majority of desserts and ate more fruit if I was hungry. After my freshman year, for whatever reason I lightened up on my diet and began including some unhealthier carbs; and in looking back I think diet was a contributing factor to my performance dropping. I still did well but not at the same level as that first year.

Matt Fitzgerald also talks about training in his book; and how most elite athletes do 80-90% of their training at a low intensity and only a small amount at a high to moderate intensity. Which was very surprising, but again – my high school cross country years came back to support. All I did for training during that time was consistently run 3-6 miles at a comfortable pace. Yes, during the season my coach incorporated speed and hill work, but my foundation during the summer was set with low intensity runs. And it worked.

Back to the present day – I attempted to follow my regular workout nutrition plan for marathon training with some higher carb cycle days, and looking back it was a colossal fail. It DID work for up to a half marathon distance, however. I had a PR for the half marathon distance December 2016 with a 1:38 time. But once I started running distances greater than 15 miles I really started struggling. I ended up with a minor foot injury 4 weeks out from the race so my training was cut short early in order for it to heal to run in the race, but I was really struggling on long runs and maintaining the paces that my training plan outlined.

Fitzgerald also mentions how too much protein can actually decrease your endurance performance. Honestly, I forget the scientific explanation, but you can read his book for it or just trust me that I’m not making it up to throw you off. And guess what my workout diet had plenty of? Protein. My meal plan wasn’t extreme like Atkins or anything, but it does lean heavy on veggies and protein and lighter on carbs and fats. Protein is necessary for endurance runners on a daily basis, but not at the frequency I was used to following.

So unknowingly, I was sabotaging my results with my diet last time around. So this time I’m trying to eat smarter. I am working on a balance of healthy carbs, fruits, veggies, protein and fats that are conducive to endurance running as I train for a Ragnar Ultra, which is 31 miles, but the training is very similar to that of a marathon. I’m already seeing the results, which is eye-opening!! I have SO much more energy on long runs. Although my legs do get tired, I still feel like I can push and keep going. Carb-centric is the way to go! I’m still working on finding that perfect balance, and honestly I love protein and had such a good routine with it so it’s hard to cut it out at times. I find myself thinking about carbs so much that sometimes I don’t realize I am not eating enough veggies, either, which are very important to a balanced endurance diet as well.

It’s a work in progress! If you are struggling with your endurance training – I highly recommend you read The Endurance Diet. I don’t know Matt Fitzgerald, I am not receiving commission off sales of his book (I borrowed it from my local library to read) – but it was a really, really good and informative read and I’d say a must for any long distance runner! Happy running ya’ll!

endurance diet

 

 

 

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Ragnar Ultra Countdown: less than 4 weeks!

Ragnar Ultra Countdown: less than 4 weeks!

The past two weeks I’ve had both kids start school; one in kindergarten and one in preschool. I now have 3 times a week I am ALONE for 3.5 hours. What have I been doing with all of this lovely free time? Running. Yes. Almost every time. Here’s why!

I am running in a Ragnar Relay Ultra Team in 4 weeks! What is a Ragnar? It’s a relay race that you run with a team, taking turns running until you are all done the set course. There are trail ones, there are road ones, there is even a new crossfit division. Check their website, there is probably one in your state if not near you!

The Ragnar I am participating in is a trail run so we will not have to have the whole van situation of driving around as is common for the road race series. We will be camping out in a set location with three different trail loops that all start and finish in the same location. Typically for this race, there is a team of 8 people. Since my team is doing it as an Ultra (more mileage) – we have a team of 4 lovely ladies.

And what kind of mileage are we talking here? See my legs and mileage below. I am runner #2, so I will start my legs whenever our first teammates finishes hers; and each leg going forward is dependent on when my teammates finish theirs, etc.
Leg 1: will start approximately 2pm on Friday – approximately 11 miles
Leg 2: will start at approximately 10:30pm on Friday – approximately 13 miles (nothing like running a half marathon in the dark! Gotta get a headlamp soon!)
Leg 3: will start at approximately 7am on Saturday – approximately 7 miles. Hallelujah! Then I’m done.

I am loving the times I was assigned to, as I will be able to get a hopefully restful night’s sleep at our campsite for most of the night. I am excited for the night running. I hope I don’t let my team down as I imagine it will be a little bit slower running at night. I’m a bit worried about the overall mileage.

Thus my need to run every single chance I get! I have been doing a lot of trail running to get used to the conditions and have been loving every second of it. It is so peaceful and relaxing. I’ve been doubling up some days to try to get used to running on tired legs; but my mileage is still not as high as I’d like it to be – there is a fine balance with increasing mileage as not to risk injury. I probably should have started training a few weeks earlier than I did, but nothing I can do about it now besides work hard and get as close to where I need to be as possible! 2 more weeks of pushing hard and then I will be reducing mileage to rest and recover my body for the actual event. Here’s a shot from one of my trail runs! Have you ever done an ultra trail race or Ragnar?

Sherman Branch
The trails are calling and I must go.

 

 

Schiele Museum: A Charlotte day trip must!

Schiele Museum: A Charlotte day trip must!

Top three reasons to visit the Schiele Museum of Natural History: Pirate Ship playroom, Planetarium show and lots of room for kids to run around! I’ve been seeing Schiele Museum pop up on Charlotte Parent calendars for YEARS. And then I see it’s in Gastonia and in my head I seriously think it’s on another continent. “Gastonia is SO far away, let’s just stay home and drive each other bonkers.” (Reality: it’s 43 miles from Matthews, 22 miles from Charlotte and about the same in minutes because it’s straight highway).

I’ve been going a little nuts with the kids (5 and 3 year old!) being done summer camp and home every day; and school is still 2 weeks out.  So I decided it was worth the drive and we’d check it out! We arrived around 11am, meeting up with some friends. We purchased our tickets, including tickets for a 1pm Planetarium Show. Prices for the museum and planetarium shows are separate but are quite reasonable, see the full list here (varies for resident/non and age of children).

First we went to explore the outdoor areas before it got too hot. There is a .7 mile trail that winds through the woods and it’s a beautiful area with several different exhibits. Unfortunately, most of them were not open when we visited. We could still walk around but the buildings were locked up, same with the Catawba Indian Village, which looked awesome from the outside! According to museum pamphlets, they only run certain hours and they finished up for the summer on 8/5. But that didn’t stop the kids from running around to check every building, and running down all the trails. (Parental supervision required for little ones, the bridges have very wide railings easy for little ones to slip through and also the pond has no fence!) We checked out the Stone Age Heritage Site and ended up at the outdoor playscape and pond, which was a big hit. Turtles sunning themselves on the rocks plus some cool houses to play in and rocks to jump off of. We also found a painted Gastonia rock (which was our hidden treasure for the day!).

 

After exhausting the kids on the hike, we grabbed our coolers and ate at a shady picnic table at the edge of the parking lot near the hiking trail. After lunch we went inside to cool off.

We went through the dinosaur exhibit rather quickly (not very interactive, just dinosaurs to look at, which is only fun for so long and then your kids want to climb over the exhibit walls and try to touch the dinosaurs). Yeah, the dinosaur exhibit did not impress. The Pirate Ship room was a different story!!  There is a huge pirate ship playground the kids can climb up into, pretend to shoot cannons, climb into a crow’s nest, go down the slide, climb into the bottom of the boat and up the rope ladder and then repeat, repeat, repeat. All the while shouting Aye Matey and Aarrrrgh! We went back to this room 3 times in the almost 4 hours we were at the museum. Yes, that long! We had to drag the kids out of there to go to the Planetarium Show at 1pm!

 

After a short wait in line for the show, we went inside and grabbed some very comfortable reclining seats. The show was Totality, which explained the upcoming solar eclipse in a fairly kid friendly way. I lost focus around the Albert Einstein part and may have dozed a little bit at some point, but that was more so the dark room/momlife/reclined chair effect than a reflection of the show. Both my 3 year old and 5 year old sat still for the entire 30 minute show without asking ONCE for a snack. This is a feat in itself. I would say the Planetarium is a must see when you go. It was really a cool experience; I want to go see another one.

After the show, we explored the rest of the museum. It just kept going! We dug for dinosaur fossils, moved a robotic dinosaur egg arm, pet some turtles (statues but Shea loved them, mommy turtle and baby turtle); saw a live skunk, possum, turtles, snakes and groundhogs. My kids enjoyed the Indian exhibit mainly for the telephone like recorded information stations at various exhibits. Button pushing is fun, even if you don’t listen to what comes out! We explored the everglades and the animals found there. The fish tanks provided a bit of entertainment as well.

 

The green roof was recommended, but somehow we missed seeing it, I am totally bummed but we will make a point to see it next time! I thought we explored everything before we ended up in the Pirate Ship room (again). The kids also enjoyed the huge T-Rex standing fossil in the entry way – they really wanted to climb it, but settled for running circles around it’s feet instead every time we passed it.

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We finally headed home around 3pm, and I got a nap out of my 3 year old!!! Ya’ll, the things that happened today just don’t happen every day. Which leads me to conclude this was worth driving to another continent to explore.  You can follow the museum on Facebook at the Schiele Museum of Natural History  for upcoming events or on Instagram @SchieleMuseum for up to date happenings.

 

What you need to know before playing at the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex

What you need to know before playing at the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex

Playing at Mecklenburg County Sportsplex for the first time, from out of town or just not familiar with the area?? Read on – learn what you need to bring, pack and what to do in the area.

You can read a general overview of the Sportsplex here on the Mecklenburg County page, which tells you the basics about it and you can apply for reservations for conference rooms, fields, tournaments, etc. Here’s on overview map below showing the fields and areas. But here’s what you really need to know:

Mecklenburg County Sportsplex January 2017 map with edit
Playgrounds are circled in red!
  • Shade is scarce. This is a brand new complex – and while the landscaping has some small trees, it’s not something you can sit under. Bring a chair with an overhead shade thing, or better yet bring a tent canopy for the team. It gets HOT especially on the turf. There are several covered picnic areas (two at area A, one at area B) which have a substantial amount of picnic tables, but if you there during a tournament and need somewhere to relax between games and athletes want to lay down and chill – BYOS (bring your own shade!)018
  • There are no bleachers or seating for watching the games aside from the main stadium – so bring your own chair!!
  • There is no concession stand or food sold on site currently and area A doesn’t have vending machines. Area B MIGHT have a drink vending machine, I will update the next time I am there. So – BYOS (bring your own snacks and plenty of drinks!!).
  • Walkability – there are approximately 2 miles of paved trails/sidewalks that go around the perimeter of the fields and connect areas A & B. It’s great if you want to get some exercise between games and it’s very handicap/stroller friendly.
  •  The playgrounds are great for kids of all ages – there is a smaller, toddler playground at each one along with a larger one and some great features, like the racing ziplines in area A. See pics below! Each playground is conveniently located next to the restrooms, which are very LARGE (tons of stalls!) and have been immaculate every time I’ve been there.

 

 

 

When the Sportsplex was in the planning phase, I read in the local paper that originally a landfill was discussed for the land. WOW. Pretty happy that got changed!! I play in the Charlotte Women’s Soccer League and this is one of the locations we play at in the area. The soccer fields tend to be on the wide side in my opinion, FYI!

There are a TON of food options (as in, anything you could possibly want) and lodging accommodations in the Matthews area, all within a few miles of the Sportsplex. I’ll be adding my local recommendations soon, with the best local food and drink joints. Check back soon and follow my page for local updates!

Healthy chocolate banana waffles!

Healthy chocolate banana waffles!

First timer over here for the chocolate waffles, and I have to say I am definitely a fan!! My kids: one had already eaten a plum and declined waffles. The other ate Cheerios and also declined a waffle. Whaaaat!?  I ate 2 eggs with a turkey sausage/mushroom and onion scramble, and being the good mom that I am, had to eat at least one waffle to taste test it and make sure it was edible. It was good plain and that’s how I ate it! It would have been over the top amazing with butter and syrup, as would pretty much anything, but I decided to not go too crazy since I’m *trying* to stick to a lower carb plan for this week following the week 3 Shift Shop nutrition plan and workout. More about that in another post!

The original recipe can be found here – this is listed as an allergen free recipe. I didn’t have buckwheat flour, so I used whole wheat flour+ almond meal so it took away the gluten free element. It also resulted in a drier mix so then I had to modify and add more egg & milk. Here’s what I did below and it turned out perfect.

Chocolate banana waffles

1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c almond meal or almond flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (baking cocoa)- I used Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 medium banana, mashed
1 TBsp coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 – 3/4 c milk

Combine dry ingredients, set aside. Combine wet ingredients until mixed – start with 1/2 cup milk. Combine wet and dry ingredients. If you think the batter is too thick, add an additional 1 TBsp of milk at a time and combine. I probably added 2-3 TBsp in addition to the 1/2 cup. Scoop into waffle maker and cook according to your device’s instructions! I have an Oster large waffle maker, I had mine on second to highest heat setting and cooked for 5 minutes. This yielded 3 full size waffles for me. I think next time I make this, I will add another banana (or applesauce) to make it a little sweeter, which will probably change the consistency a bit but I think it will be good. Let me know if you try them and like them!

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Summer and Fall races and Training update!

Summer and Fall races and Training update!

The end of June we traveled for 2 weeks to see family in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We hit the Jersey Shore (Long Beach Island) where I got in a few runs but mostly beach, beer and candy. Then on to central Jersey where I think I got rid of my tan lines at the pool, got to catch up with Jersey friends and got back on track a little bit with nutrition and workouts (and gave my mother in law’s neighbors some entertainment, at least). Townhouse courtyard workouts for the win! Then we traveled on to Pennsylvania to see my family. We visited Hershey Park; I got some great runs in with my brother but got sidetracked with ice cream and cupcakes. The sugar struggle is real. I have a really hard time resisting it when it’s right in front of me. I just can’t. When I don’t buy it at home I’m all good but elsewhere, forget it!

So after I got back, I started up Shift Shop, which is a 3 week agility and strength training workout that progressively gets more challenging (and each workout increases by 10 minutes!). I just finished up week 2 so I’m pretty stoked to see how the final week of workouts are!

After I wrap up Shift Shop, I am ramping up the long distance running to start training for the South Carolina Ragnar Relay Ultra I will be running in the beginning of October. I will be running an 8, 10 and 12 mile leg each over a 2 day period so I need to get the training started! I am pretty sure I will be cross training with Sagi with the program Body Beast, which is a lot of weights and strength training. I need a break from Autumn Calabrese. Although I love her, we have spent a lot of time together with 21 day fix extreme over the past year and we need some space. I’m pretty excited to be doing more with weights and I think it will compliment my running very well.

I’m also running two 10k races during the Ultra Training, one in August and one in September to keep me motivated! If you’d like to follow my journey a little more please find me on IG at jodiprice55, I keep things a bit more updated there!

 

Label Reading Simplified: What to look for

Label Reading Simplified: What to look for

When you start changing your diet, one of the most important things you can do is to start looking at the labels of foods you buy. Unfortunately, you can’t trust the marketing lingo on the front of the box. A product may claim to be all natural, whole grain and no sugar added – and still be full of chemicals, sodium and artificial sweeteners. So you may think you are being healthy but in reality it is that food that is bringing you down! The best thing to do is to look at the ingredient labels and compare that to the nutritional label to see if it’s a healthy-ish option.

I look at the ingredient list first. The ingredients are listed in order of the ingredient that is in the highest concentration in the food. So if the number one ingredient is sugar….yeah, it’s going back on the shelf! I look for the top ingredients to be foods that I recognize, whole grains, etc. I look for a minimum of things I don’t recognize. If I don’t know what it is, do I want to eat it?? There are a lot of sneaky words for added sugar, which often are things like fructose, sucrose, syrup of various varieties (corn, rice, etc). I don’t mind if honey or pure maple syrup are added, as long as the overall sugar content in the label isn’t that high – a few grams or less. Women should consumer less than 20g of added sugar per day and men 36g.

sugar

Sodium is the next thing I look at, because sodium is often added in large quantities to make food taste better. Everything tastes better with salt! But I would like to be the one to add it in small amounts. As with sugar, I look for the sodium level to be in the single digits and as low as possible.

salt

I don’t buy a ton of processed foods, because they are usually high in one of these! Milton’s crackers and cereal and gluten free pretzels are probably my only “staples” that I buy in the snack category. Oh and Z Bars, which are organic, I am pretty comfortable with all the ingredients and my kids love them. So I feel less guilty about them being “processed.” More about cereal in another article (my 5 year old LOVES cereal, I used to eat it every day but after reviewing the sugar content on pretty much every box of cereal I save it for an occasional treat meal!). My husband is a celiac so he likes the gluten free pretzels.

There are a number of other things you can look at…calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat…I try to stay away from GMO (genetically modified ingredients), MSG, partially or full hydrogenated oils…

And added vitamins and nutrients are all well and good but I’m not going to consume extra sugary items for that reason! I feel it’s sort of a marketing strategy to make it appear healthier than it is!

There are a lot of things but I focus on the ingredients first, because the ingredients will tell me if there is crap in it and if the sugar is high then the calories and carbohydrates will be too! This is a very broad overview, and if you’d like a more indepth one you can read more about it on the FDA’s page here. When I’m in the grocery store with both my 5 and almost 3 year old, I have about 10 seconds to scan a label before I get interrupted and the ingredient scan and sugar and sodium scan give me a really quick idea if I want to buy the item or not. Rule of thumb – stick to the perimeter of the grocery store for clean eating!