Curious as to what other endurance athletes eat? Find out what elite distance runner, Olympic Trialist, and EnduroPacks ambassador, Tina Muir eats in a regular day!
RunnersConnect.net has written many in-depth articles helping runners with nutrition and training advice. We have republished their latest article, titled "Electrolytes For Runners: a Definitive Guide" which can be read here.
One thing that definitely does matter to you as a runner is hydration, you already knew that. But what about electrolytes? The big drinks companies have been telling us about the importance of them for years, and they are right….to an extent, but not in the way you think.
If you have ever cramped in a marathon, run on a hot summers day, or sweat to the point where the salt crystalized around your eyes, you definitely have required electrolytes. Even if you have not, if you have lived and breathed, your body needed electrolytes, and we are going to explain what they are, and how you can keep yours up to where they should be (without risking diabetes by constantly taking in sugary drinks!).
Most running articles discuss hydration and mention that electrolytes are necessary; however, they fail to explain what electrolytes are and why keeping them balanced is crucial to a runner’s health and success.
Electrolytes are similar to laundry soap in your washing machine; although soap doesn’t make your washer run, it is necessary to get your clothes clean. Like laundry soap, balanced electrolytes are necessary for your digestive, cardiac, muscular and nervous systems to function well.
Electrolytes are sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), calcium (Ca 2+), magnesium, (Mg 2+), chloride (Cl-), phosphate (PO4 2-), bicarbonate (HCO3-), and sulfate (SO4 2-). Sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are the four major electrolytes that maintain the body’s fluid balance.
As a side note, the + and – symbols mean these minerals are ionic. Their ionic nature gives the electrolytes the ability to carry electrical energy to keep the body’s systems functioning.
For a runner, keeping your electrolytes balanced is key for successful training and optimum performance. If your electrolytes are imbalanced, you could potentially compromise the success of your next run because of muscle fatigue or cramping. Along with the more frequent muscle cramps in the legs, stomach cramps or side stitches can also be the result of an electrolyte imbalance.
Other electrolyte imbalance symptoms are: muscle spasms, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, constipation, dark urine, decreased urine output, dry mouth and foul breath, dry skin, muscle weakness or stiff and achy joints.
Bathroom frequency and urine color are often the easiest and simplest way to assess your hydration and electrolyte levels. Although bladder size is a consideration, an average, healthy adult, should urinate 5-8 times a day and the color should be a light straw yellow. This is especially important to note after hard workouts or long runs.
While running you lose electrolytes through your sweat, mainly sodium and potassium. Potassium permits the movement of fluids and nutrients across your cells’ membranes, thus allowing them to carry on their metabolic activities such as contacting muscles.
Without sufficient potassium, your muscles cells can’t generate the necessary nerve impulses that control muscle contraction.
Cramping is the body’s way of letting you know the electrolyte tank is empty and it cannot continue; it’s like a car running out of gas. Even you’ve never experienced cramping, electrolytes need to be replenished after sessions longer than a hour to facilitate optimal recovery.
Now that we understand the function and importance of replenishing your electrolytes, we can discuss the best possible options to replenish quickly and efficiently. Of course, you can always opt for electrolyte drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, but those often contain high amounts of simple sugar. When you’re replenishing electrolytes throughout the day, you don’t want to be consuming high amounts of simple and artificial sugars.
While sports drinks are easy when racing, when you’re replenishing electrolytes throughout the day, you don’t want to be consuming high amounts of simple and artificial sugars. That is why we like EnduroPacks Spray as you can add it to any drink of your choice, and it contains all the essential electrolytes you need to maintain levels.
You could also look into Hammer Fizz, Nuun, and Nathan Catalyst as flavored alternatives to put in your drinks.
As you try different electrolyte supplements be aware of your body responds. Monitor your thirst after your run and the color of your urine. The runners at RunnersConnect.net suggest you experiment with different electrolyte supplements that do not have artificial ingredients or colors to determine if you are a drink or capsule person and which flavors fit your tastes the best.
Multi-electrolyte replacement is critical for sports enthusiasts. High volume oxygen intake during athletic exertion oxidizes blood cells faster than normal and increases the change of anemia. Electrolytes are the ultimate oxygenator of all living cells through a process known as bio-oxygenation. The building of muscle and the production of energy draws on chromium, acting as a cofactor to insulin. It also promotes the entrance of glucose and amino acids into the cells to make muscle. A loss of potassium can cause dizzy spells or lightheadedness, especially during exertion in hot weather.Read More
Whether it’s with training, racing, treatment modalities, or nutrition, the physiologist in me always likes to experiment. With the ever changing ideas about optimal training, health, and nutrition and the fact that EVERY BODY IS UNIQUE, finding the best way to keep yourself healthy and fit should be an evolving process.
I’ve learned from the smart people around me that knowing your numbers when you’re feeling good and racing well can give you a reference point for when things aren’t going as well. These numbers can include body weight, training volume, training intensity, heart rate, ferritin, hematocrit, and a variety of other blood markers.
Building off a great Fall of 2014, and hoping to make 2015 another fun and successful year, I’ve been working on developing a picture of a healthy, fit Kimber. Every athlete wants their body to be functioning like a well-oiled machine, so the first step is creating a user manual for how to keep that body firing on all cylinders and how to troubleshoot when it isn’t. With workouts we need to know how to play to our strengths, but also strengthen our weaknesses. The same is true of our nutrition, recovery, and the other hours of our day we don’t spend training. Thanks to my friend Julia Webb, I was introduced to the program InsideTracker, which measures many biomarkers in the blood and uses a special system of making nutritional recommendations to optimize these different markers for each individual. You can check out Julia’s blog post about her results here.
So in the past several weeks, I’ve used a few tools to work toward creating my athlete user manual. 1) Inside Tracker Biomarker Analysis, 2) Body composition testing, 3) Heart rate monitored test effort, 4) Keeping a training log, and 5) Identifying my physical strengths, weaknesses, and imbalances. You may not have the desire or resources to track all of these things, but they all provide different pieces of information. I’ll go into a little more depth about each of these over the next couple weeks, but in today’s post let’s focus on biomarkers and nutrition.
With Inside Tracker, you can test up to twenty biomarkers that give information about energy and metabolism, bone and muscle health, inflammation, strength and endurance, oxygen delivery, and liver health. Every individual will have different markers that are important for them to focus on, so we’ll just use a few of my results as an example. Remember that my optimized zones may not be the same as your optimized zones.
As an endurance athlete, oxygen delivery via the protein hemoglobin in red blood cells is important. Hematocrit is the percentage of blood volume that is red blood cells, while ferritin is the body’s storage of iron, which is used when making new red blood cells. As I get ready to go train at higher altitude for a few weeks, it’s important to make sure I have adequate iron storage to support red blood cell production.
Although I do eat fish and a little chicken and turkey, I don’t really eat red meat. So the month or two leading up to this test I had started supplementing with iron. The fact that my blood iron levels are high and my ferritin is low, despite taking iron supplements, indicates to me that my body may not be effectively absorbing this iron. There could be several reasons for this. The questions to ask when taking an iron supplement are: 1) Are you taking the right supplement, 2) Are you taking the right dosage, and 3) Is the timing or what you’re consuming with the iron supplement interfering with absorption? In terms of timing, you should consider that iron supplements should be taken on an empty stomach, but with vitamin C and not with other vitamins and supplements, as these can block the absorption of iron. You should also consider that iron supplements can cause upset stomach in some people. There are also a variety of types of iron supplements, from basic iron pills to liquid iron to liver capsules. If you’re a meat eater, consuming red meat can be one of the best sources of iron. It may take some experimenting to figure out what works best for your body. The changes I plan to make include using a liquid iron supplement, establishing a schedule that ensures I’m taking my iron on an empty stomach, and taking it with a little juice (vitamin C) to support effective absorption. When you monitor your ferritin, hematocrit, and hemoglobin, make sure you consider the questions above to optimize absorption.
My Vitamin D levels were also low, despite taking Vitamin D supplements. As most of you know, Eugene, Oregon doesn’t get a whole lot of sunshine in the Winter and early Spring. Vitamin D is important for bone health and energy. There are two ways to increase Vitamin D, get more sunshine and take in more Vitamin D through diet and supplementation. My solution…head to Flagstaff for some sunshine. I’ll also try to consume more tuna and salmon, as
recommended by Inside Tracker.
Contrary to my low Ferritin and Vitamin D, my cortisol levels were high. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is important for energy and metabolism. Cortisol levels fluctuate throughout a twenty-four hour cycle and in response to things like exercise, eating, and caffeine. When cortisol is not well-regulated it can affect health, energy levels, and sleep. Some ways that I plan to reduce cortisol include: more yoga, black tea, and fish, and minimizing processed foods and simple carbohydrates.
So far I’ve focused on the biomarkers that need improvement, but overall my body is pretty healthy. The majority of my biomarkers fell in the “optimized” range. I credit this to a healthy diet and a fantastic system of vitamins called EnduroPacks that support my health, performance, and recovery. Despite a high level of training, my C-Reactive Protein and Creatine Kinase levels were in the optimal indicates inflammation in my body is low and my body is recovering well. Additionally, as reflected by my white blood cell count and the fact that I’ve stayed pretty healthy the last few months, my immune system is functioning well. Most basic minerals, including sodium, potassium, calcium, chromium, and magnesium were in the optimal range.
The EnduroPacks system consists of a daily liquid multi-vitamin taken in the morning, a concentrated electrolyte spray for hydration, an essential amino acid trans-dermal patch used after workouts to aid in muscle building and recovery, and a glutamine recovery complex taken before bed to also help with muscle repair and recovery. And it’s delivered right to your door! I do my best to use real food to provide me with the nutrients I need, but EnduroPacks helps make sure I’m getting all the micronutrients I need to optimize my health, recovery, and performance.
Based on the InsideTracker recommendations, the foods I plan to eat more of include: fish, nuts, seeds, kale, broccoli, edamame, olive oil, avocado, and black tea. Some of my newly discovered favorite snacks that hit several of these are Wondefully Raw’s Brussel Bytes, Snip Chips, and Dipperz. I highly recommend giving them a try! I also plan to make my next batch of kombucha using black tea.
Feel free to contact me to find out more about InsideTracker or EnduroPacks! And check back for my next post about the other tools I’m using to create my athlete user’s manual to keep myself firing on all cylinders this year.
Jaymee Marty is an elite marathoner, and coach, with an impressive running resume. In 2012 she qualified for the US Olympic marathon trials and followed up with a 1st place finish, for the female division, at the 2013 Eugene Marathon.
Coach Marty considers herself a student of the sport of running -- especially the science of running. She is a scientist by training and uses the skills she's developed professionally and academically on a daily basis to improve her training.
As a coach and athlete (in her mid 40's) Jaymee knows the importance of getting the proper nutrients to train and perform at her best. She recently put the EnduroPacks daily system of vitamins and minerals to the test as she trains for the Napa Valley marathon, where she hopes to earn another qualifying spot at the Olympic trials.
Coach Marty had this to say about her experience, "... I have been feeling amazing and obviously recovering really well from some very tough workouts including a lot of extra strength and mobility work...If it is contributing to how good I feel, it is absolutely worth the cost and extra effort."
Bryan Morton is an elite marathoner and member of the Rogue Running and Skechers Performance Teams. Recently Bryan finished 2nd place overall, in a time of 1:07:16 (5:07/mile), setting a new PR, at the 3M Half Marathon in Austin, TX.
When it comes to nutrition, Bryan was never one to take in vitamins, supplements or anything of that nature. He said, "...Not because I was against it in any way. I simply didn’t know what to take and was getting by just fine with what I’d been doing thus far." But as he bumped up his weekly mileage to 100 miles over the past 8 months, in preparation for qualifying for the Olympic Trials, he noticed his body taking longer to recover from workouts/races. "That heavy feeling in my legs lingers for a tad longer than it did when I was averaging 20-25% less miles the year prior." To keep up with his bodies needs to replenish the vitamins and minerals lost during training he sought help from fellow athletes, coaches and doctors for recommendations.
This past November Bryan was introduced to EnduroPacks by one of his Skechers teammates and Team Rogue training partners, professional triathlete Gray Skinner. "I started adding in EnduroPacks to my daily routine back in November. In that short period of time I’ve already become a huge believer...Since starting this regimen my legs have recovered far quicker from key races and workouts. This has enabled less time recovering between workouts and legs that are far poppier within those workouts." Bryan found that supplementing his daily nutrition with EnduroPacks was easy and beneficial to his training regimen.
Be sure to follow Bryan on his journey as he trains for the Boston Marathon and a qualifying spot at the US Olympic Trials. You can read more of Bryan's experience with EnduroPacks on his blog or follow him on Instagram.
Alexi Pappas, of the Nike Oregon Track Team, finished 1st overall in the 3,000 meters UW Invitational last weekend in a stunning 9:02:36 time. After training in Mammouth with Deena Kastor and teammates in January, Alexi returned home to a strong showing in her first race of the year.
Catch her post race interview on Flotrack here: http://bit.ly/16eSHwg .
Elite Marathoner Bryan Morton finished an impressive 2nd place overall at the 3M Half Marathon in Austin, with a time of 67:16, more than 3 minutes off his previous PR. Bryan had this to say after the race, "Pretty stoked with the result as it was planned as more of a workout than a race. In the end I came away with a 3 minute half marathon PR of 67:16 and 2nd overall against some solid runners from around Texas. What was even crazier is that I was able to recover incredibly quickly and get right back into my training block. Big thanks to you guys!"
Great job Alexi and Bryan, congrats on your early season performances!
Kris Lawrence is an elite marathoner with a goal of qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. On her blog, http://kris-lawrence.com, she writes, "...I’ve made a promise to myself to give it my all, accept the good and hard times, appreciate all those who support me, and enjoy every moment along the way..." Her positive attitude, perseverance and dedication to her training have helped her cut her marathon time from 3:16:24 to 2:47:09 in just a few short years.
If you run/train long enough you've probably had your fair share of "niggles" (pains) or injuries. It's a part of training, an unfortunate byproduct of the sport that we love (and hate) so much. Unfortunately, Kristin suffered a slight tibia (shinbone) fracture, which set her training back 9 weeks. If you've ever had a fracture you know how painful, and annoying, this injury can be.
When it comes to marathon training Kristin says, "Marathon training is like putting together a 1000 piece puzzle. You know what you want the end result to look like but when you dump the pieces out of the box, it’s entirely overwhelming. You keep working anyway and every once in awhile you look and realize you have a part of that picture made and it starts to make sense..."
Having a plan and listening to your body are two key components when it comes to training. Kristin is healthy again and back on her training program for the Boston Marathon. Kristin's training program consists of stretching, core work, strength training, tempo runs, easy mileage building runs and recovery.
Running fast workouts and putting in hard efforts is a key part of the training process. However, one of the most often neglected aspects of training, especially since runners are almost always obsessed with pushing harder each day, is the recovery process.
What sets elites apart from amateurs is the amount of time and effort invested in recovering properly. As an elite runner, Kristin knows that hydrating properly, before and after her runs, is a key component to her recovery.
You lose a lot of fluid during exercise and ideally, you should be replacing it during exercise, but filling up after exercise is an easy way to boost your recovery. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve every bodily function. Consuming an electrolyte substance post-workout is even more important for endurance athletes who lose large amounts of water during hours of sweating.
After depleting your energy stores with exercise, you need to refuel if you expect your body to recover, repair tissues, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge. This is even more important if you are performing endurance exercises day after day or trying to build muscle. Ideally, you should try to eat within 30-60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include some high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates. A diet of essential proteins and amino acids can help repair muscle tissue and help avoid injury and reduce muscle soreness. There are 8 essential amino acids that are not produced naturally in the body, but need to be replaced by foods or through daily supplements. Here is an article by active.com on nutrition recovery for endurance athletes http://bit.ly/1lSeOtm .
Kristin, and other elites will tell you the most important thing you can do to recover quickly is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, sore or notice decreased performance you may need more recovery time or a break from training altogether. If you are feeling strong the day after a hard workout, you don't have to force yourself to go slow.
If you pay attention, in most cases, your body will let you know what it needs when it needs it.