Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Making Weight Without Crippling Performance

This week’s blog was inspired by an article I read in the October issue of Training and Conditioning Magazine. Written by an RD, CSSD, it was a perfect example of what great work sports dietitians do for athletes – in this case, wrestlers wanting to cut weight. For those of you who can’t access the article, here are the key points covered by Making Weight, written by Kim Tirapelle MS, RD, CSSD. Whether you’re a coach, strength coach, athletic trainer, or wrestler yourself, read on to learn how wrestlers can cut the weight they want for competition without affecting their performance or overall health. While the article discussed much more, I will just focus on beginning 72 hours prior to competition until post weight-in.

The most important thing when arriving to the practices leading up to weigh-in on match day is that wrestlers should be within 2-3% of their target weight the day before weigh-ins (though this recommendation can vary slightly). This will assure that the amount of weight lost in the 24hrs prior to weigh-in is not so much that it hinders overall performance.

To achieve the final 2-3% weight loss before weigh-ins, consider doing the following:

48-72 hrs prior to weigh-in
·         Reduce fiber and residue in your food choices. These foods remain in the intestinal tract because they are not digested. Therefore, they will add to overall body weight – sometimes as much as one to two pounds! However, only cut out these foods prior to competition, as without high-fiber foods on a regular basis, you are missing out on some good nutrition.
o   Low-fiber/low-residue foods include cooked vegetables, melons, vegetable juice, and enriched grains (think white bread, white bagels, etc.) as well as Cheerios.
·         Moderately decrease the amount of food you normally eat during the two days prior to weigh-ins…but also be sure to reduce energy expenditure so you don’t burn off all of your stored energy in the process!
·         Up to 24 hrs prior, keep fluid intake high – especially fluids that include carbohydrates and electrolytes. By taking in fluids, the body will use what it needs for competition and get rid of the rest very easily.

24 hrs prior to weigh-in
·         Restrict fluids and promote sweat loss through LOW INTENSITY exercise. This can be used to create up to a 2% dehydration (take your weight in pounds x 0.02 to figure out the max number of pounds you can lose). Try to do this exercise the night before weigh-ins so you spend less time in a dehydrated state.
o   Again, this is LOW intensity. If you have a heart rate monitor, make sure your heart rate stays at 50-60% of max heart rate. Don’t know your max heart rate? A good estimate is 220 minus your age.
·         It may be beneficial to reduce salt intake (as low as 1500 mg daily if you can pull it off) to assist with water loss - especially if you are not typically a salty sweater.

After weigh-in
·         Begin refueling immediately!!!
·         Drink 16-24 fluid ounces for every pound lost. A good rule of thumb to avoid over-hydrating is to drink 6-12 ounces every 15 minutes. Stick to fluids that provide carbohydrate and electrolytes (sports drinks are great) as well as cool beverages to help cool the body.
·         Stick to easy-to-digest carbs and fluids and try to eat small, frequent snacks to avoid GI discomfort prior to competition (big meals are a big no-no).
o   Examples include low-fat salty crackers, sports drinks, pretzels, bagels, bananas, PBJs, low-fat chocolate milk, low-fat pudding, and low-fat granola.
·         Avoid high-fiber and high-fat foods, which not only might not be tolerated, but also are digested so slowly that they prevent energy from getting to working muscles as quickly as you'll need it.
·         Use cold towels on the head, neck, and/or wrists to also help cool the body’s core temperature.

Like you’ve heard me say in the past – these are just guidelines. So, everything above needs to be tested out prior to competition day/week to establish what works best for each individual wrestler in terms of performance as well as tolerance.

And remember – it’s not just about what you eat in the days prior to competition – stick to a healthy diet every day to continue to have energy to train, compete, and recover. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and fluid are your friends!

Be Extraordinary,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Detroit Marathon Race Report

Well it was an interesting first marathon this past Sunday. Many of you visited my blog last week to read my nutrition plan. Today I will report on how well the plan worked and how I fared in general.

The Summary (the short version)
Event: Detroit Marathon - Sun, Oct 16th
Actual Weather: Cloudy, spitting rain, 50-55 degrees
Actual Start Time: 7:10am
Actual Pace: 8:58/mi
Actual Finish Time: 3:54:32

The Story (the long version)
It was quite the crazy weekend for me. My fiance and I drove from Chicago on Friday afternoon to go to his little brother's football game on Friday evening. After 3 hours of sitting in cold, pouring rain (but watching some good football I should I add), we then went back to his parent's house where we were staying that night. Since it was two nights before the race, I knew it was my important sleeping night. I went to bed early after some good stretching and rolling with "The Stick".

Unfortunately it was not a good night of sleep for me - likely some race nerves combined with a few other factors resulted in only short episodes of deep sleep. I was up by 6:30am and we were on our way to East Lansing by 7:15am. We arrived on campus around 8:30am - in time to do some tailgating before the big Michigan State University vs. University of Michigan football game. While the weather again threatened rain, it was actually quite sunny and VERY windy the entire game. All day I felt good - was being very careful to drink my water and enjoyed some nice apple cider at the tailgate as well (non-alcoholic of course). I was leery of eating anything with mayonnaise or anything for which I wasn't sure how long it had been sitting out for fear of food poisoning. We stopped by the tailgate after the game (an MSU win!) and I actually caught myself eating a crock-pot creation of which I suddenly realized might have been sitting unrefrigerated all day. Luckily I quickly got rid of that!

My food on Saturday was very carefully selected - nothing high fiber but a good variety of carb and protein. I wanted to make sure everything could be quickly and easily digested. Saturday night we stayed at my uncle's house in St. Clair Shores and had a delicious pasta dinner (my favorite pre-competition meal). I again stretched very well, used The Stick, took a shower, and relaxed. Sleep that night was slightly better than Friday, but not by much.

Sunday- Race Day!
Race morning came quickly - everyone was up by 5am with an anticipated departure time of 5:30am. Of course with 5 people, that was not achieved; we were on our way by 5:50am. As soon as my feet hit the floor at 5am, I began my pre-race fueling: 2 cups water, 2 entire white bagel thins with 1.5 Tbsp on each, and 2 bananas. You'll notice this was a slight change from my plan as there was no jelly to be found at my uncle's house. I had brought all of my breakfast food to assure I had what I needed. Pre-race nerves delayed my ability to eat the food as quickly as I would have hoped. But I was able to finish everything by around 6am. I also drank another cup of water in the car.

We arrived at the course finally around 6:15am. Slightly too close for comfort for me, but there was nothing we could do about it. I started last-minute race preparations (put on my fuel belt, final stretches, last bathroom stop, etc.), and to my horror realized that my IPod was dead. I still have no idea how that happened but using it during the race was no longer an option. At the time I was worried about how this would affect my mental game, but as it turns out I think not having the music actually helped me keep my pace a bit better.

After finally finding gear check (located very inconveniently far away from the start), my brother (also doing the race) and I found our way to our corral (Corral E). Unfortunately we were so late that we had to be creative actually getting into the corral. But, alas we made it. I took a few final gulps of water (remember I was wearing my fuel belt - holding four 6-oz bottles of water, 5 gels, a headband and knee brace just in case) and our wave went through the start I'd say around 7:10am.

I had been warned by multiple people not to start out too fast. I'm glad they scared this advice into me. I planted myself firmly between the 3:40 and 3:50 pacers. Unfortunately they didn't pace too well. I realized quick I would have to figure out my pace on my own. Mile 2.75 or so started us over the Ambassador Bridge which meant a very long slow incline and then a decline down the other side. I felt really good the entire first half of the race. I found I didn't need the water at mile 2.5. I took the gels at miles 3.5 and 6 but used my own water to supplement. At that point we were in Canada, which was fun.

I took water at mile 8.5 (about 4 oz.). My gel at mile 10.5 was delayed as we were in the tunnel somewhere around then. The tunnel (between Canada and the U.S.) was surprisingly uncomfortable for me - it was 15-20 degrees warmer than the outside air, humid, and crowded. I had to keep myself calm as I ran the I'm guessing mile or so through the tunnel. After a blast of cold air coming out of the tunnel back on U.S. ground, I calmed down and felt better. I took my gel then. At the halfway point I was still feeling really good. I realized early on that an 8:40 pace was probably too aggressive and had decided to back off and listen to my body in order to pace myself. Therefore, my pace in the early miles was around 9min, then dropped to 8:30, then leveled off around 8:45. Again - that was purely based on how I felt my body was dealing with whatever pace I was running at.

After the halfway point, I was nauseous. I realized I just could not do any more gels and would have to switch to Gatorade.  I did not drop my fuel belt as I felt comfortable with it on and wanted to keep it just in case I needed anything I was carrying. Since I had been training with it for months, I didn't feel it was holding me back at all. Starting around mile 15 or so, I completely switched to Gatorade and from that point on took 3-4 ounces of Gatorade at every aid station. Keep in mind it was cold and slightly rainy. I am a light sweater to begin with, so I wasn't too worried about hydration - I was more worried about keeping my energy levels up. Keeping my energy up kept my mind positive and focused to keep on running.

At mile 18.5 I took Gatorade and was still feeling okay (that's me in the blue top). Mile 19 took us out onto an island for the next 3.5 or so miles. This was when things started to go south. I had been feeling really great and quite positive the entire race up to this point. By the time I got to mile 19 (a bit over 3 hours in or so), it was like all of the muscles in my legs started to turn against me. I can definitely say at that point I had a slight anxiety attack and wasn't sure I'd make it. This was where the sheer mental fight started. I began thinking to myself, "I just need to get off this island. Get off the island. Get off the island."

Mile 20. Mile 21. Mile 22. Exit from the island up ahead. Mile 22.5 - this is where my fiance had said he would be waiting to see if I needed support from him. He ran the Chicago marathon last week and knew how much it helped to have someone run miles 23-25 with him. As I approached him, he said "Do you want me to run with you?". All I could manage was to nod. He ran with me from mile 22.5 until just before mile 26. I admit I had to walk for about 45 seconds in mile 24 and about 30 seconds in mile 25 (during an uphill). For me I needed to mentally refocus and the walking helped me do that. Believe me when I say that walking did not help with the pain and in fact made it worse (I wouldn't recommend it). But it did help me re-group and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Mile 26. The finish I knew was just around the corner. I looked up and realized I'd have to do yet one more hill. The course was advertised as flat and fast but I would beg to differ on that. I used everything I had left to power up the hill, turn the corner and run to the finish line - about 300m ahead. At that point it was all sheer willpower. Physically I had nothing left.

I crossed the finish line in 3:54:32. Slightly higher than my original goal but still under four. I'm happy with that because I know I couldn't have gone any faster on that day. Looking back on the race and preparation, my nutrition was solid. I felt hydrated and energized before and during the race and had no cramping or GI issues (I attribute the nausea to anxiety). If I ever did another marathon the only thing I would change is implementing more cross training- specifically swimming - and being religious about lifting 2x/wk. I think doing those two things would have better prepared and protected my muscles for that 26.2 mile run.

After the race, I felt like I was in a daze. I slowly made my way to the food. I immediately drank an entire cup of Gatorade but could not fathom eating anything solid. I grabbed a bag full of food anyhow - knowing I would eat it eventually. I was so cold after I finished that I was shivering uncontrollably. My fiance got me a coffee and a hot chocolate (showcased in the picture below - that's my brother, James, on the right). I drank the hot chocolate and then was able to stomach chocolate milk and half of a muffin. After that, I slowly nibbled at more food until my appetite came back.

My favorite part of the day - the ice bath Sunday night. It took willpower to get in that ice bath, but that was easy after running 26.2 miles. Believe it or not, as I write this on Tuesday I remain only slightly sore and I know the ice bath, The Stick, my foam roller, and lots of stretching is the reason for that.  I am grateful for the opportunity to run this marathon, as I know I now better understand the physical and nutritional demands of all you marathoners out there!

Be Extraordinary,


Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Marathon Nutrition Plan

Ever wonder how a sports RD fuels for a marathon? Are we all talk and no action? Well, here is my proof that I, too, create a nutrition plan for every race in which I compete. This week I'll tell you my plan; next week come back to hear how it follow along the course as you read my plan, click here.

Event: Detroit Marathon - Sun, Oct 16th
Anticipated Weather: Sunny, 65 degrees
Start Time: 7am (wave start)
Approximate pace: 8:40/mi for first 13 miles; re-evaluate at the half
Goal Time: 3:45-3:50

4:45/5am - Wake up. Immediately drink 2 cups water followed by breakfast of 1 large bagel with peanut butter on half and jelly on the other half + 1 banana + 1 cup Gatorade at end. Eat all by 5:30am.

6am - Drink 1 c water + a couple of sips Gatorade (I tend to start getting nervous at this point, so too much Gatorade doesn't settle well)

6:15am- Drink 1/2 c water

6:30/6:40am - Be in start corral. If feel hungry at this point, will take a gel with water (will be wearing fuel belt to supplement water/gel intake throughout as needed - I trained with it so am used to it).

(Approximate start time 7:10/7:15am)

Mile maker 2.5 - 1 c water at aid station (I'm guessing will take in ~6 oz per cup)
Mile marker 3.5 - Start taking 1 gel after cross bridge (takes me a while to finish each gel pack)
Mile marker 4.25 - 1 c water at aid station to help digest gel
Mile marker 6 - Take gel
Mile marker 6.5 - 1 c water at aid station to help digest gel
Mile marker 8.5 - 1 c water at aid station
Mile marker 10.5 [~90 min in] - Take gel
Mile marker 11.2 - 1 c water at aid station to help digest gel
Halfway point - Reassess body's hydration/energy levels - mentally adjust nutrition plan as needed
Mile marker 13.7 - 1 c Gatorade at aid station + 1 c water if needed
[Mile marker 14 - Possibly drop fuel belt here to family member]
Mile marker 16 - Take Gu from aid station [if I don't get a berry flavor, will not take as I only like berry flavors - I will be carrying enough on me still so can just take one of mine]
Mile marker 16.2 - 1 c water at aid station to help digest gel
Mile marker 18.5 - 1 c Gatorade at aid station
Mile marker 20 - Take gel [~3.25 hrs in]
Mile marker 20.7 - 1 c water at aid station to help digest gel
Mile marker 22.5 - 1 c water at aid station
   Will likely take in little else at this point depending on how I feel as I will have taken in quite a bit throughout, though will reassess as pass two remaining aid stations.

After finish: Lay down and contemplate why I just put my body through that. Take in Gatorade immediately; solid foods as soon as can tolerate. Stretch. Go to lunch!

So, there you go. I should mention the gels I use are Clif Shots...for no particular reason other than I like the flavor, tolerate them, and (most importantly) have trained with them. Also, Gatorade is what is being provided on the course (and yes I have trained with it).

My plan comes down to taking in something approximately every two miles. This works with my pace and the weather I anticipate. Remember, EVERTYHING is individual! Also notice I'm trying to do a lot of front-loading (taking in more at the beginning of the race) because I anticipate having little interest in anything toward the end of the race except finishing.

Wish me luck!

Be extraordinary,


Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Last Supper

The Chicago Marathon is on Sunday, which means that the pre-competition last supper is coming up soon. If you really want to carbohydrate load (i.e. take in gigantic portions of carbohydrate at dinnertime), it's best to do that two nights before (which would be Friday night in the instance). The night before a race, carbohydrates are important, but don't get too crazy - be sure to include good portions of protein and also a little healthy fat to prepare your muscles overnight and help you get a good night's sleep.
And keep in mind that a pre-competition meal is not just important for marathon runners. We are in full swing of fall sports, so all athletes from soccer and football to cycling and tennis should heed the importance of the pre-competition meal.

But what to eat? Ideally, your meal will include high carbohydrate, moderate protein, and low fat. Here are some great meal ideas - choose one that includes foods you are comfrortable with. These meals would be ideal either one or two days before - just adjust how much carbohydrate you are taking in depending on which day you choose to enjoy them!

Meal 1: Chili with beans, rice or pasta, lemonade or juice, sherbert or frozen yogurt for desert

Meal 2: Grilled chicken sandwich, baked potato, iced tea, frozen fruit bar for desert

Meal 3: Pizza with mushrooms or other veggies, salad with veggies, breadsticks, soft drink (be careful with this one unless you tolerate carbonation VERY well before a race)

Meal 4: Pasta with vegetables, italian roll, strawberries, iced tea

Meal 5: Turkey sub, low-fat chips, apple, sports drink

Meal 6: Rice with vegetables and black beans, salad with veggies, fruit cup, low-fat milk

Meal 7: Cereal with banana and granola, whole-wheat toast with jam, orange juice [who says you can't have breakfast for dinner?]
Source: Eberle, SG Endurance Sports Nutrition

Stick with one of the above, and you're well on your way to a great race, game, or match!

Be Extraordinary,