Monthly Archives: April 2012

Some Good Food Choices for Runners from our friends at Ohio Health

The countdown begins in earnest.  We are officially in celebration week, or race week, which is my absolute favorite time of the year.  We’re all counting the days, checking the weather constantly, and thinking about how to get ready for Saturday.  One of the biggest questions that both Julie and I receive is about nutrition.  We have talked about nutrition on the course and carbohydrates and such, but a lot of people want to know WHAT exactly are good options for runners.  You see articles like this in Runners World every month where they have a guest chef who runs give his or her favorite running meal, either pre or post run.  Since I am not a nutrition expert, I enlisted the help of someone who is.  Dawn Holmes is a Sports Dietician with Ohio Health.  She has some great advice on good food options for runners and the reasons why.  The information below is from Dawn.  Thanks so much Dawn for helping us with our race week food prep plans!

Top Foods for Runners

Dawn Holmes, MS, RD, LD, CSSD

Sports Dietitian, OhioHealth Sports Medicine

Your body will perform based on the fuel you give it.  Just like gas in your car, put the right stuff in and you’ll get great performance.  That means three meals and a couple snacks to maintain your energy during the day and with training.  Choose half your foods from healthy carbohydrate sources – whole grain breads, oatmeal, pasta, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables.  The other half from lean protein sources, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy to round out your day.

Top foods for runners include:

1)      Whole Grain Breads – These are a great source of energy from complex carbohydrates which contain fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.

2)      Salmon – Not only a great protein source but it also provides essential omega 3 fatty acids.  They help curb the inflammation that occurs with training and keep your heart healthy.

3)      Yogurt – This food has it all – carbohydrates, protein, and potassium.  Plus calcium and Vitamin D to support strong bones. Even those with sensitive digestive systems should be fine.  For less added sugar, try plain yogurt and add your own fruit.  For more protein, try Greek yogurt.

4)      Kiwi – This little fruit contains quick-acting carbohydrates and over 100% of your daily Vitamin C.  Just cut in half and scoop out the tart goodness.  It’s also a good source of potassium.

5)      Stir fry – A quick and easy meal with loads of vegetables and lean meat.  Try using peppers, carrots, and broccoli which are rich in fiber, beta carotene, and immune-boosting Vitamin C.  Add lean beef to increase your iron and zinc.


Proper Pacing Come Race Day – Part 1 Pacers

We’re less than 10 days from Cap City 2012!  I am so excited and I know all of you are getting pumped and just a bit nervous.  You should know by now how your fitness has improved over the last several months of training.  You may have a goal in mind for a time come race day.  You’ve seen the course maps and may have even driven the course.  Now you need to figure out your race pace and strategy.  I will dedicate an entire blog to that, but I want to focus this one on the use of pacers.  Lots of big races have pacers, some good some bad.  We’ve got a great team of pacers for Cap City, the world famous MIT pace team! They are out there for you.  They want you to enjoy every minute of your race experience, so they will worry about the pacing duties so that you do not have to deal with it if you don’t wish.  They will point out the porta potties, upcoming water stations, places where you should run the vectors (the shortest part of the road and how the course is marked – not cheating!).  They will generally run even paced race and their goal is to have you finish ahead of them!  How they deal with water stops will vary only a bit, some will walk them, some will slow down and then let you all catch up.  When in doubt, ask them!

MIT Pacers

Marathoner in Training is a great group of runners here in Central Ohio.  For many of us, it has become a lifestyle and not merely a training group.  We love running and love hanging out together, on the trail and off.  The majority of MIT pacers for Cap City are also MIT pace coaches.  We do this week in and week out, about 45 weeks of the year.  We love pacing and we can nail a pace when asked!  We also think of ourselves as moving cheerleaders (but not overly peppy, don’t worry).  There’s a lot of support and chatter from the pacers, so you can just zone out and run if you want!  They will be running an even pace throughout the course.  They will have special singlets and pace signs and balloons so that you can easily find them come race morning.  They will be out there early so you can talk with them and see if their plan matches up with your own.

Some info from Specific Pace Groups

A few of our pacers wanted to share some pre-race info with you all.

2:45 Group Dave and Jen

Jen and Dave will be pacing for a 2 hour and 45 minute finish which is an average pace of 12:35. Our plan is to walk through all water stops, so we will run closer to a 12:00 mile pace to compensate. Jen will preview the course with the pace team Sunday AM so we are prepared to be great course caddies!  Training and pacing for MIT every week makes for a fun and fabulous race day. – Jen and Dave

2:20 Group Jennifer and Nicole (a very spirited group)

We leave no man behind. I always make every last of my pack pass me at the end :0)  We also do a lot of Whoo hoo’ing at mile markers, what happens on the trail stays on the trail ha.  We do enjoy dressing up to entertain ie st pattys halloween etc –  Jennifer

2:05 Group Erin and Dave

Welcome to the 9:30-9:33 minute pace group! We expect to finish in 2:05 and have lots of fun out there! This will be a VERY popular pace group and we will be carrying a sign and balloons for you to keep an eye on the whole race.   Our goal is to ensure your race is evenly paced. We hope to finish BEHIND you! As your pacers, we will not stop to drink at the hydration tables. Your pacers will grab, chug and jog through the stations to give you a chance to quickly hydrate without getting water up your nose. We will speed back up to pace as we leave the hydration tables. Don’t forget to smile for the cameras!

Plan your race but make some time to enjoy it!

Make sure that you have a plan in mind for pacing, nutrition, hydration and such.  Don’t worry if something goes slightly amiss however, like you go out too fast.  Don’t just give up your plan, fix it immediately.  If you went out too fast in mile 1, slow down as soon as you’ve figured that out.  Fix your issue as soon as you can and you’ll be right back on track.  The pacers will help you control yourself if you plan is an even paced race.  If however, you want to run negative splits (faster in the second half than the first) maybe choose a slower pace group initially and work yourself up to the goal pace later in the race.  This is a great plan and is super motivating to pass folks at the end of the race!  Whatever your plan, make sure you take some time and enjoy yourself.  This is your victory lap.  You’ve done all the hard work in training and race day is the payoff.  Relish your accomplishment and make sure to smile when you see the race photographer out there!

Happy training and see you on May 5!

Protein Bar Or Power Bar?

Many of you have been asking me about the various ‘bars’ on the market, and which are better for training/recovery and just energy in general.

There are different bars for different needs – and not all bars are equal. It is important that you look at a few things:
1.) The Protein
2.) The Fat
3.) The Carbs/Sugar
4.) The ingredients

Of course, the more natural ingredients in a bar, the more likely your body will enjoy digesting it. When you eat products with a lot of synthetic ingredients (usually long words that are hard to pronounce), your body doesn’t recognize it and has to create additional enzymes to process it. This can cause overwork for your digestive system. So, in short, where you can find more natural ingredients and simpler products, I encourage it.

In addition, there is a big difference in ‘bars’. While I don’t want to recommend one brand over another, I can tell you the following:

1.) Power Bars – or High Energy Bars (brands: PowerBar, Cliff, etc) are typically higher in carbs and sometimes sugar. These are typically intended for someone who is working out for 1-3+ hours and is burning their readily available fuel source (high intensity) and need some quickly absorbable/easily digestible fuel. Your body can use carbs/sugars at a high level if you are burning them or recovering from burning them. An example: Use energy bars when on a long training run/ride – to consume every 45mins-and hour to supplement your energy system.

I notice some people using energy bars for every day living. While these can be a calorie-control way to get some good energy – I’d encourage you to make sure you are getting some protein in as well when you are snacking throughout the day.

Protein bars, on the other hand, typically have a higher protein content. Protein is an essential building block for muscle and so if you are looking to improve your strength and muscle definition, consuming Protein Bars prior a workout and within 45 minutes of a work can be a nice compliment to aid your muscles in breakdown and repair. They are good for training/every day use… you just need to study the label – if the product tastes like a candy bar- chances are, it may have the sugar equivalent to a candy bar. Sugar, when unused in its digestible timeframe, turns into fat – so you may want to look for products that have a good combination of protein, carbs and fats. While I do not support one brand over another, I have found the EAS Carb Control, Detour Brand and Zone Bars to have a good combination of these items for my preferences/goals.

Remember that if the bar is sweet, but the sugar is low, the replacement product may be a sugar substitute, which may not be the best solution either.

Spend some times looking at your labels, reading about the various products and deciding that based on your goals – what the right choices are for you.

You don’t have to consume bars at all – lean protein sources like beans or chicken, granola, almonds, eggs, and yogurt can be wonderful additions to a workout program – the bars add convenience and take the ‘think-work’ out of it, but just remember that not all bars are created equal.

Share with us what your favorite brands, and energy/protein sources are…

What is your reason?

Why would you run that far unless someone is chasing you?

Do you hear that question a lot from friends, family, co-workers?  If so, join the club.  Most people would not even think about attempting a half marathon let alone make the time, effort, and commitment it takes to get to the starting line.  We all start off on this journey from vastly different places, with different goals, fitness levels, and reasons for going the distance.  As you continue down the path of the endurance athlete, the answer to both questions above will undoubtedly change.  Whatever your reason, whatever your goal, it is yours alone.  It is real.  It does not matter if you are running to set a world record, a personal best, to finish in front of your husband, to raise money for cancer, or to check it off the bucket list.  Hold onto it and remember it come mile 11 when you know that the finish is close but it is not close enough.  I have friends who coach younger athletes, high school and youth.  Often they have to find ways to motivate their athletes to work harder, to push more.  The one major difference in coaching adult runners is that I have never once had a tell an athlete to work harder or to just find some motivation.  It’s already there and if anything we as coaches have to slow people down, teach runners how to rest.  You’ve already proven that you are a champion by undertaking the training and your self-motivation is the reason that’s kept you moving forward.

Celebrating the gift

Many of you know me personally, we’ve logged more miles together on the banks of the Olentangy than we can count.  Those of you that do, and those of you who read my posts, know that I’m a pretty open person.  I’m a “sharer.”  Maybe I share too much, but that’s what we do with all those hours on our feet.  Running has taught me so much, and not just about myself as an athlete, mostly about people, life, and the sweet gift we are given.  This season for me is so much different that any before it and I know that goes for hundreds of my fellow running buddies this Spring.  In the past, I have run for personal best times or to qualify for a specific race or even as a stepping stone to a later race.  I’ve run races to pace others and by far those have been the most fun.  I’ve run for the medal, for the Boston qualifying time, for the glory in my own mind, or to prove something to myself.  In the end, even the races where I’ve been running as a pacer, the races were for me.  I do not believe that this is selfish.  We all need the “me time “and how we choose to spend that time is our decision alone.  You and I have chosen a lifestyle that moves.  We journey together toward a race, but the true gift is the daily sunrise and the run that we are blessed to take each day.  Some days they are blissful, others they frankly just hurt, right?  But the constant is that we have the ability to go and do it, whenever and however we choose.  To run is a gift and we receive it again and again every day.  Our bodies and our minds grow stronger with each one and the celebration continues.

This year is different

This year is different.  I have no goal time, only to run.  I run for joy.  I run for life.  I run because others cannot.  I may not run very fast, but that is not the point.  I do not care what the clock says, only that it is running.  My first race of this year will be in Utah, a few weeks after you all finish Cap City.  I will talk to people along the course, smile at every photo op, and enjoy the movement because this year is different.  I will cry I’m sure, but the tears will not linger.  I will laugh though too because this is a celebration, a moving 26.2 mile tribute to life lived fully.  Mine won’t be the only one, of that I’m sure.  Running mile 26 I will search my memory to find that huge smile, a smile so big that it cannot fade away.  There is only one reason I need, because this year is different.    On May 19th I will run for my friend.

Let YOUR reason pull you through

This is by far your biggest training week.  You’ll be doing your last truly long run and then the taper will begin.  There will be times when you are tired or bored or just not in the mood.  When those times hit, think back to the initial decision to start this journey.  Whatever made you press that “register” button is still there in your mind.  Let it be the strength you find when you can’t seem to summon your own.  You are all amazing and truly champions for taking on this challenge.  Enjoy the last big week, recall the reason you started.  Run healthy and I’ll see you at the finish line on May 5th!

To Underwear or Not, Bleeding Nipples? and Other Embarrassing Topics!

Ok hit me with your best shot.  I got a great question this week about what type of undergarments to wear if any.  I realized that there are a whole slew of questions out there that we haven’t touched on yet.  So let me have them.  I’m hard to embarrass, most likely I’ve either had it happen to me or one of the athletes that trains with me!  We’ll start with the underwear question and the ever lingering bleeding nipple concern and go from there.

Underwear or Not to Wear

Running shorts are built with liners for a reason.  They are thin and sweat wicking.  The liners cover everything that should be covered, without getting in your way or riding up.  If you don’t run in running shorts with liners, give it a try.  You do not need to wear undies under those liners.  If you do wear something underneath, make sure to choose technical undies like Under Armor style.  There are as many types as there are ideas, I’ve even seen thong technical undergarments!  Like everything else, do not wear cotton undies.  You will end up with soggy uncomfortableness – remember that we want the first layer touching the skin to be made from a wicking fabric.  For women, running skirts are another option and they are really “skorts” with boy shorts or briefs attached.  Like running shorts, the liners in skirts are meant to be the first layer.  If you wear tights, go with comfort.  For women they typically can act as both your undergarment and your tights, so feel free to go “commando” if you want.  You can also get long briefs or boy shorts to wear under your tights, to help prevent chafing if your tights are a bit loose in the nether regions.

Guys, I didn’t forget you.  Same deal as for the women.  Running shorts with liners are your best bet in the warm months.  Tights with, or without, technical undergarments underneath will (I’m told) keep all your important parts where they should be.  Again, there are so many styles of technical briefs that you should be able to find something that works for you.  Make sure you try it out though, because this is not an area that you want to find out chafes at mile 10 and you have 3.1 miles to go!

Bleeding Nipples

Girls, this is one time you can tune out!  This is mostly a guy problem because sports bras fit snugly against the breasts and don’t move around across the nipples.  Nice!  For guys, if you’ve ever stood at mile 25 of a marathon you’ve more than likely witnessed quite a few men with two red streaks running down their singlets.  Just thinking about it makes me cringe.  It’s real unfortunately, but there are some very simple fixes.  First one?  Nip Guards.  This is an “awesome” product I’m told that takes the rubbing and keeps your shirt away from your sensitive skin.  They are basically little round things that adhere directly to your skin and won’t move “until you choose to remove them” according to their website.  You can buy them online or at any good specialty running store.  Another option is bandaids of course.  They have a tendency to want to come off in sweat, but if you find the right adhesive for you it’s a great option.

Other chafing reduction

Chafing happens.  It happens to all of us at some point, in different places on the body.  Some of the most common places are underarms, inner thighs, along the sports bra seams, waist/belt area, etc.  One of the best ways to avoid or minimize chafing is to use one of the antichafe products.  Typically, runners use a product called Body Glide.  It comes in a stick like a deodorant and you basically rub it anywhere you think will be rubbed the wrong way (which of course you know because you’ve tried all your gear in training runs right?).  Some people use it on their feet to avoid blisters.  I put it on my knees because as I get tired I tend to kick myself in my opposite leg, so wherever you think you need it.  Cyclists have products called Chamois Butt’r and DZ Nuts (I’m not making those names up).  As the names suggest, they are meant for use on a chamois to keep saddle sores at bay but can also be used like Body Glide.  All of these products are lubricants of some type, like Vaseline.  Body Glide is designed to last a long time and not stain your clothes.  I have not personally used DZ Nuts, but have used Body Glide and Chamois Butt’r both on the run and on the bike and they are tremendously helpful!  In a pinch, like out on the run course, aid stations often offer Vaseline and will work for a short time and get you through to the finish line.

Thanks to my buddy Dale for his wisdom on the specifics of being a male runner!  I needed to call in some backup and he is incredibly helpful and frank.

Other embarrassing topics?

I’m sure that there are other concerns that seem personal or embarrassing.  No worries, some weird things come along with endurance training, mostly good, but different (who would have thought you’d be reading about bleeding nipples?).  Feel free to email me at if you have any questions or concerns.

See you all on May 5th!