Newsletter: Volume 27, May 2001
Low motivation is often caused by low blood sugar and can be solved
by eating an energy bar an hour before your run.
- Jeff Galloway
Increasing the Long Run Will
Help You Manage the Blood Sugar Level (BSL)
By gradually increasing the length of your long run (with walking
breaks), you'll push back the threshold of this blood sugar crash.
As the muscles become better fatburners, they make many adaptations
which increase the efficiency of each use of glycogen. This reduces
the quantity of glycogen needed for any use: long run, daily activity,
etc. This means that there is more glycogen available to you later
to maintain BSL at a higher level for a greater time and distance.
It is most important that you run the long ones at least two minutes
slower than you could run that same distance on that day.
As you extend your endurance barriers, you'll go further before
experiencing the discomfort of low blood sugar. Your energy system
becomes increasingly "stingy" with the glycogen you have and delivers
a better quality of fuel at the same time.
Long runs also stimulate the exercising muscles to store more glycogen.
By the time you have increased your long one to 20 miles and more,
you not only use less glycogen per mile, you'll have a greater deposit
in your bank.
The significant improvement in the storage, shifting of supplies,
and consumption of glycogen is a prime example of how the human
organism is designed to improve when faced with a series of challenges.
On each long run as you push further than you've gone before, you
stress the limits of glycogen resources. This stimulates the systems
to improve in every way to deliver better quality and quantity on
your next long one. Further efficiencies in the use of glycogen
are realized as you repeat this challenge in a series of long runs.
Counterattacking Low Blood Sugar Level on Long Runs
Even if your BSL is ideal at the beginning of a run, it is certain
to be dramatically reduced as you push your limits beyond 15 miles
(and many runners experience the "crash" before this). Almost everyone
will suffer low blood sugar at the end of these runs if he or she
does not eat quality carbohydrate snacks before the start and during
the second half of the long one.
Waiting Too Long Between Snacks Will Lower Your Motivation
You may not feel like exercising in the afternoon because it's been
too long since you've had a snack. As the time increases between
significant snacks of food, your BSL drops and so does your motivation,
concentration and attitude.
Many of the "Middle-Age Crowd" Notice Blood Sugar Letdowns
Some look on it as another betrayal of the 35+ body when they experience
hypoglycemia or low blood sugar symptoms for the first time in their
lives. Relax, this is a common occurrence. More reassurance is the
realization that you can do something about it. Older runners who
have this low blood sugar condition will need to ensure that they're
eating often enough.
This entire section taken from Jeff Galloway's new Marathon!
(Phidippides Publications, 2000), pp. 64-66
Smaller Women Are at Greater
Risk for Fractures
From American Running Association's Running & Fit News
April 2001, http://www.americanrunning.org
Being petite (and many female distance runners are) increases your
risk of osteoporotic hip and pelvis fractures. In a study of over
8,000 women 65 and older, women in the lowest quartile of weight
(under 127 pounds) were twice as likely to suffer hip, pelvis, or
rib fractures than women in the highest quartile of weight. The
researchers found that small size was a predictor for low bone density,
which accounts for the higher fracture risk.
Weight bearing exercise and adequate dietary calcium can improve
your odds by helping to maintain bone density and strength, but
aging, estrogen loss, and low body mass index work against you.
In the US, one out of every two women over 50 will suffer a fracture
due to osteoporosis. Your best insurance, in addition to running,
is to make sure you get 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and after age
50 increase your intake to 1,200 mg. Best best for calcium are nonfat
or yogurt, which weigh in at 300 mg per one-cup serving. They also
include other important nutrients like riboflavin, potassium, and
If you avoid dairy (some of us are lactose intolerant), it takes
some work to make up the difference. Equivalents for one glass of
milk are dark green vegetables - two cups of kale or eight cups
of spinach and canned salmon and sardines with the bones - about
three ounces. Just how much can you eat? Supplements can help make
up the difference, although they don't always include other nutrients
found in dairy that are not only important for their own merits,
but are also needed to absorb the calcium present in milk (like
Vitamin D). If you can, stick with low-fat or nonfat dairy, and
keep running to make sure your bones can carry you the distance.
(Annals of Internal Medicine, 2000, Vol. 133, No. 2, pp. 123-127,
dietary information from Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook,
2nd edition, 1997, Champaign, IL, 454 pp., $15.95, available at
a discount to The American Running Association members by calling
1-800-776-2732 or a http://www.americanrunning.org)
Don't Run Dry
How much water you drink affects not only the quality of your
run, but also how far you go. Exercise-induced dehydration reduces
endurance, increases body temperature, heart rate, and your perceived
exertion, making your regular run seem much harder than usual. Even
slight dehydration reduces endurance and performance, and all effects
are exaggerated in hot weather. A recent review of the research
showed that individuals who drank water before and during exercise,
work out longer.
So if you don't want to run out of steam, drink plenty of water
- two cups, two hours before exercising, and five to ten ounces
every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. If you run longer than
an hour at a time, choose a sport drink to avoid losing too much
sodium. If you are an ultra-runner going distances that take you
three hours or more, even a sport drink may not have enough sodium.
Make sure you add salt to your diet and consider taking along a
salty snack like pretzels. (Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology,
1999, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 164-172
The Athlete's Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark 4/01
Fueling the Ultra-Distance Athlete
"I'm training for my first Ironman Triathlon and I'm afraid I'll
run out of energy. Help!"
"I'm doing a 100 mile trail run. What should I eat during the event?"
"My teammate and I will be competing in a rowing race across the
Atlantic. What should we do about food for 60 days...?!"
With the growth of extreme sports and ultra-endurance events, many
athletes are pushing their bodies to the limits. They train for
3 to 5 hours a day to compete for hours on end. Their goals: to
test their limits and try to finish an Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile
swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run), double century bike ride (200
miles), 100-mile mountain run, English Channel swim (28+ hours),
trans-Atlantic row (50-60 days), Appalachian Trail hike (2,160 miles)
or any number of other ultra-distance events. Clearly, nutrition
is a critical factor in being able to finish an event of this type.
These athletes put sports nutrition principles to the test! The
purpose of this article is to provide some nutrition pointers for
not only ultra-endurance athletes but also "ordinary exercisers"
who want ultra-energy and success with sports.
Tip #1. Practice your event-eating during training. Upon
starting to train for an endurance event, you should also start
to create your fueling strategy. While training, you need to determine
what food and fluids you prefer for fuel during exercise That is,
what settles best: lemon or grape sports drink? energy bars or "real
foods" (bananas, dried figs, bagels)? solid foods or liquids? By
developing a list of several tried-and-true foods, you need not
worry about making the wrong food choice on race day.
Also think about the "taste bud burn out" factor. That is, how
many gels per hour can you endure in a triathlon? When hiking, how
many days in a row will you enjoy powdered eggs for breakfast? Will
you get "sugared-out" on sports drink during the century bike ride?
Tip #2. Optimize your daily training diet. All too often,
in the midst of juggling work/school, family, friends, sleep and
training, endurance athletes have little time left to plan, shop
for and prepare well balanced sports meals, nor do they muster the
energy to choose nutritious snacks. Hungry and tired athletes commonly
grab cookies, chips and other high fat comfort foods that fill the
stomach but leave the muscles unfueled. You must remember: you won't
be able to compete at your best unless you can fuel well to train
at your best.
Your goals are to constantly be fueling-up before workouts and
then re-fueling afterwards by eating carbohydrate-based meals and
snacks on a regular schedule. By feeding your body evenly throughout
the day (as opposed to skimping on wholesome meals by day, then
overindulging in treats at night), you'll have steady energy all
day, without lags. Clearly, you need to develop an eating strategy
that fits your training schedule. For example, one triathlete devised
this routine: he drank 16 oz. of juice (i.e., carbs) before his
morning swim, refueled afterwards with breakfast in his car while
commuting to work (big bagel with peanut butter, a banana, milk
in a travel mug); ate a hot dinner-type meal at lunchtime (from
the cafeteria at work). At lunchtime, he also bought his afternoon
snack (muffin, juice) and his evening meal (turkey sub, yogurt)
which he kept in the office refrigerator. This program prevented
the evening "junk eating" that would otherwise happen if no healthful
food was conveniently waiting for him when he arrived home from
his second workout of the day.
Tip #3. Plan rest days. Rest is an essential part of a training
program. Because ultra-distance athletes commonly feel overwhelmed
by their impending task, they tend to fill every possible minute
with exercise. Bad idea. Rest days are essential to not only reduce
the risk of injury and provide muscles with time to refuel, but
rest days also allow time for the athlete to food shop (and even
cook a big pot of chili-for-the-week, if so inclined).
Take heed: performance improves more with quality exercise than
excessive quantity of exercise. Performance improves when you push
your muscles to work longer or harder. Knowing this, one triathlete
successfully competed the Hawaii Ironman by training only once a
day, either hard or long, and took one rest day per week. He finished
mid-pack; his competitors were flabbergasted!
Tip #4. Drink enough fluids. During training, you can tell
if you are consuming enough fluids by monitoring your urine. You
should be urinating frequently (every two to four hours); the urine
should be clear colored and of adequate quantity. Morning urine
that is dark and smelly is a bad sign - dehydration. Drink more!
During training, you can estimate your race day fluid needs by weighing
yourself naked before and after an hour of race-pace exercise. For
each one pound of sweat loss, you should drink at least 16 ounces
of fluid. For example, if you lose 2 lbs. (32 oz.) during an hour
of training in weather similar to that anticipated for race day,
your target race day fluid intake should be at least 8 oz. every
Tip #5. Have a defined feeding plan for the event. Not only
should you know your fluid targets, but also your calorie targets.
By working with a sports nutritionist or exercise physiologist,
you can calculate your calorie demands per hour. You should try
to match those calorie needs during the ultra-distance event. For
example, a cyclist may need to consume 450 calories/hour during
an extended ride. This is the equivalent of 1 quart of sports drink
+ 5 fig newtons, or 16 oz. apple juice (plus another 16 oz. water
to satisfy fluid needs) + a banana. The goals are to prevent dehydration
and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Tip #6. Be flexible and open-minded. Although you should
have a well defined eating and drinking program that ensures adequate
carbohydrate and fluid intake, you also need to be flexible. After
all, your tastes may change during 18 hours of exercise! Your initial
approach to consume wholesome fruits, juices and energy bars may
deteriorate into M&Ms, malted milk balls, cookies and potato chips.
Listen to your body's requests during the event; hopefully you'll
have the desired fuel available. Likely that fuel will be sweets,
but that's OK. Sugar during exercise does a fine job of delaying
Nancy Clark, MS, RD offers personal consultations to endurance
athletes at SportsMedicine Associates (617-739-2003). Her Sports
Nutrition Guidebook is filled with great tips. It is available by
sending $22 to Sports Nutrition Services, 830 Boylston #205, Brookline
MA 02467 or www.nancyclark.com or you can call 800/200-2771.
From Runner's World Extra newsletter
April 3, 2001
Boost your aerobic efficiency: "Slow endurance runs actually build
more capillaries in your muscles. Because you'll have more pathways
to transport oxygen to your muscles, you can work longer without
becoming fatigued. Increased oxygen delivery helps you recover from
hard workouts. Soon a run that used to take several days to recover
from, might only take a day or two." - Runner's World magazine
Dangerous fast: Ten individuals of ideal weight went on a seven-day
fast for a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition. Blood tests
done at the end of the study showed a near doubling of the volunteers'
total cholesterol and their LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Their HDL ("good")
cholesterol count remained the same. This study suggests once again
that fasting in unhealthy.
Bonk: To "hit the wall" in a race. The dreaded point (and awful
feeling similar to what your body would feel like if you ran into
a wall) during a race when your muscle glycogen stores become depleted
and a feeling of fatigue engulfs you.
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