Author Archives: juliewilkes

Getting Ready for the Big Day!

Wow!  We are ALMOST there!  A few days away from the Cap City Half Marathon!

Our training programs are just about complete and now it is time to focus on our final ‘details’ to ensure a great race day performance!

  • PRE/DURING RACE DAY: Make sure to eat/drink easily absorbable carbs 45-60 minutes before race time – this includes bagels, orange juice, power bars, Gu, etc..  Please do not eat anything that you have never eaten before – (don’t try a new flavor or product – you need to make sure what you put into your body is something your body will welcome!).  Make sure to take some GU Bars with you (tri shirt pockets or pin to your shorts or shirt), or take advantage of the various refueling stations (there is 1 Gu station as well).  (A good rule of thumb is to take in an additional 300-400 calories every hour you are working)
  • POST RACE DAY:  Make sure to refuel quickly – with readily absorbable carbs (bananas, oranges, juice, bagels) and then make sure to get a good meal with protein within a few hours of your race.  Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day; stretch and celebrate yourself!
  • FRIDAY NIGHT NUTRITION: Eat a good meal, with carbs (traditionally known as a ‘pasta night’) – to put glycogen into your muscles. Adding a little salt to your pasta may help to hold water into your cells – but don’t over do it.  Drink water throughout the day on Friday!
  • FRIDAY WATER:  Also – make sure to get as much sleep as possible the night before!  Prepare yourself so that you can be your best!  (Coach Aimee has a great blog about water consumption -check out her post!)
  • SUPPORT SYSTEM:  Let your friends know that you are doing the Cap City Half, Quarter or 5K – and give them opportunities to support you – either by asking them to come out and cheer you on, make signs, follow your tweets on Twitter, and/or updates on Facebook!  Your support system is a great way to add an extra push to your step!

Take care of your mind, body and spirit to prepare for the big day!  Spend some time relaxing/breathing/stretching and focusing on Friday and make sure to remind yourself just how far you have come along the journey.  If you are looking for a stretching routine for runners, click here: 

Once you cross that finish line, we will be there to celebrate with you!  Remember – life is about the journey, not the destination – so enjoy every step of the course!

See you at the finish line!

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…

Why Does Sodium Matter?

A lot of people have been writing me asking me about sodium- so I thought I would share some ideas here!

First of all – our body only needs 200 mg a day for proper function.  However, the American Heart Association recommendation for sodium intake is 1500 mg (or less) a day. Salt is an essential part of our diet, but we only need a little of it. 

When you overeat salt, you retain water, and that increases pressure/volume into your arteries/veins. Excess pressure over time wears down the walls of the arteries and veins and creates unneccessary stress and strain (which can lead to additional complications and serious health problems).  In addition, the heart, who loves to self-regulate the body, notes that there is an excess of pressure in the arteries and veins, so it lowers the heart rate in order to try to decrease that volume.  This stress on the heart can cause various cardiovascular concerns and conditions over time.

Eating a meal higher in salt the night before a race to retain extra water is a fun tradition, but in general – keep your sodium intake to 1500 mg or less a day.

Not sure what you currently consuming?  Trying using a food journal for a few days to understand how much salt your diet includes on a regular basis.  is a great free journal.  is another great site that offers a free journal. Check them out!

For more information, watch the video I created regarding ‘What’s the deal with Sodium?’

Feeling Tight After Your Run? Try these Yoga/Stretches for Runners!

Many think that as a walker or runner, you are quick, nimble and flexible.  But – the truth is that most runners tend to be tight in their hips and lower back.  And, in general, as a population, we tend to place stress in our lower back and feel stiff and tight through our hips (many times, because some sit for long periods of time!)

To conquer these feelings of tension and tightness, I put together a 15 minute stretching program for you to use as a part of your training, to release your hips and lower back.  The program is a combination of yoga postures and stretches – if anything doesn’t quite work for you – modify it so that it does (ask me if you need help!).  Nothing should ever be painful or feel ‘wrong’ – it should enable you to feel more relaxed and flexible!


What’s On Your Training Menu?

What’s On Your Training Menu? Does it include foods focused on high, sustainable energy, healthy fresh vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, complex carbs? Does it taste amazing?

Ours does!
We are thrilled to announce the official Cap City Panera Training Menu!
With the approval of a friend and colleague, dietician Kristen Paeirs (, I am happy to announce the selection of high-performing foods I have chosen as the official Cap City Menu at Panera Foods all around Columbus!

Whole grain bagel – Plain Cream Cheese
Egg & Cheese on Ciabatta
Mediterranean Egg White on Ciabatta
Steel Cut Oatmeal with Fruit and Pecans

Lunch or Dinner
You pick two menu: – Choose wheat baguette side
Half a Roasted Turkey Artichoke on Foccacia with Asiago Cheese with a half classic salad
Half a Napa Almond Chicken Salad on Sesame Semolina with a half classic salad
Half Mediterranean Veggie on XL Tomato Basil with Low fat veg Black Bean soup

Full Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken
Full BBQ Chopped Chicken

Soup (in a bowl – not bread bowl)
Low-fat Vegetarian Black Bean
All Natural Low-Fat Chicken Noodle

Acai Tea

Enjoy your run and then refuel with a fabulous, high-energy meal that will help you feel great all day!

(If you are looking for a dietician to help you come up with a game plan for the long haul – Kristen is a great resource – I have used her amazing knowledge in the past and enjoy her creative ideas!

Healthy Nutrition for an Energized Training Program and Beyond

Coach Julie

While nutrition varies for each person, and based on goals, medical history, and preference, there are some simple guidelines you can follow to eat for energy – in your training program – and in everyday life.

    • Eat small meals every 2-3 hours to keep energy levels the same throughout the day
    • Include lean protein in every meal (if you are having a salad, put chicken or beans on it, for example)
    • Select natural carbs when possible – whole grains, fruits, vegetables
    • Try to avoid processed or synthetic foods when possible – these are more challenging for the body to break down and create more work for your digestive system/potential distress in the body
    • Drink water with every meal; 64 oz. a day
    • Don’t think of food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and try not to consider a day a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food day – consider food what it is – energy.  And, try to eat 80% of your calories each week focused on energy and sustainment – the other 20% – those can be favorite splurges.  Consider each day a day focused on ‘energy’.

Now, let’s break down how to eat before, during and after exercise.

    • 45-90 minutes before your workout
      • Eat an easily digestible, light food; such as a banana with peanut butter, greek yogurt, bar, small shake (try somethings out – see what you enjoy and tastes good to you!)
      • Drink 8-16 oz. of water
    • During your workout
      • Drink 4-6 oz. of water every 10-15 minutes
      • For a long training workout, consume around 300 calories of a easily/quickly digestible, high-carb product – like a PowerBar, Gu, PowerShot; you may also want to select an electrolyte drink as well if you are working at a high intensity/sweating
    • After your workout
      • Within 45 minutes, eat something with a 4:1 carb: protein ratio (whole grain bread with turkey, apple and peanut butter) – this combination helps to repair muscle breakdown, refuel your energy system and help you to recover quicker
      • Drink 8-16 oz. of water
Water is a en essential element to healthy and efficient cellular function, so make sure you are drinking your water ALL the time!
So, you might be thinking – Julie – this is great – but help me translate this into real-life.  What can I eat when I am out and about?  I am so glad you asked!  In the next few weeks, Cap City is proud to announce our official training menu at Panera!  I have helped to select breakfast, lunch and dinner options at Panera that focus on whole grains, high protein, lower sugar, sodium or fat – perfect for your training program!  So now you truly can have it all – healthier, tasteful food that makes it easy for you to eat for energy!
Here’s to your journey ahead!

(Please note: for a specific dietary plan, please consult a registered dietician)

What/how Should I Eat As I Am Training For the Cap City Half Marathon?

Coach Julie

This question came in from Lynne from Columbus!  Thanks Lynne!
Nutrition is an essential element to a successful training program.
It is important to try to eat every 2-3 hours.  This is going to keep your energy systems high throughout the day.
Make sure you are drinking plenty of water (try drinking 6-8 oz each hour throughout the daytime).   During a training session, drink 3-6 oz. every 10 minutes or so.  After a training session – try drinking at least 12-16 oz of water within one hour.
As far as foods – you will want to get the majority of your nutrients from nutrient dense foods – like fruits, vegetables, beans, tofu, chicken, whole grains, etc.  Carbs are an essential part of marathon training, but I encourage you to look for carbs that are natural, full of whole grains and taste good to you.
In general, when you eat carbs, such as chips or sugary foods, that process extremely quickly into sugar – your body usually cannot use all of it immediately, so it stores.  Instead, eating natural carbs with whole grains will help slow your digestion down, keep you fuller longer and utilize your food more efficiently.
However, as you are training/on your big runs – eating more readily-available carbs – such as bananas, ‘Gu’ packs and power bars can be a great way to help fuel your system quickly since you are training at higher levels.  It is a good idea to eat something with at least a 4-1 carb-protein ration within 1-1.5 hours of your training and then eat a 4:1 carb to protein ratio-based food within 45 minutes of your workout.  Examples are:  whole grain bread with turkey, greek yogurt, cottage cheese and a banana, beans and vegetables.  This will help your recover quickly and feel strong.
Think about food as energy.  When you put food into your body that is full of sugar/not a lot of vitamins/minerals – you don’t receive much from that food except the desire for a nap.  When you eat food that delivers nutrients, antioxidants, and sustainable energy over time – then you will feel fabulous before, during and after your run!
Keep in mind that each of us are different and we will have to tailor our nutrition to our own body responses, so you may need to monitor and adjust your food intake as your training program continues and understand your body and what it needs to feel strong and healthy.
Attached is a video that I created about carbs- that help to explain how food processes in your system.
I hope it is helpful!
Keep your questions coming!

Should I Strength Train As I Train For the Cap City Half Marathon?

Coach Juie

This was a question sent to me by Katie in Columbus. Thanks Katie, for your question! I thought it was a fabulous question that others may be interested in as well, so I wanted to post my response here!

Strength training is an essential element to your training program. Your body needs to be strong to support your frame, posture and cardiovascular endurance. If you have a strong cardiovascular capacity, but a weak muscular endurance, you will likely fatigue more quickly than you need to and this can lead to potential injury, unenjoyment of your run and a decrease in your efficiency (bottom line – you can be faster, stronger, feel better and have more energy when you strength train as a part of your program!)

I recommend incorporating strength training 2-3 days of your week (usually on your non-run days or shorter distance days) to incorporate strength training. Different people like to break their strength program down differently.

Some like to do upper body one day, lower body one day and a combination one day (with ab work on each of those days). Others like to do combo sets each day – where they will hit quads/hams, bi-tris, core one day and then calves/shins, back/shoulders. core one day. It is entirely up to you and what you prefer. I am happy to help you put together a more specific program – but you’ll need to email me and provide me a little more specific information about you and your goals/history so that I can customize a training program for you.

How much should you be lifting? When training for an endurance event, I recommend lifting low weight, high reps. That would mean lifting a weight that you could do 2-4 sets of 12-16 without breaking down form – coming to challenge/fatigue on the last few in your final set. If you lift heavy weights, lower reps, you’ll likely add onto your muscle mass in a more bulky way, which tends to slow people down in their endurance running. Low weight, high reps tend to build enduring, strong, and lean muscle tone that can compliment your running program. Again, we are all a little different in our journey and this advice is more of a general recommendation.

Another idea that you might consider is to try yoga. Vinyasa flow yoga is incredibly strengthening in the body.
Attached to this blog is a 15 minute intro video I put together that give the basics of a Sun Salutation A and B.

Yoga – Basic Sequence Sun Salutations A B

This is a great way to begin learning some basic yoga and see if it is something that you enjoy! It can help strength/flexibility and core development – all essential for your training program.

Thanks for the question Katie!
Keep your questions coming!