Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
After reading a lot of good reviews on them I wanted to give them a try, but not at full price! In October I found a pair on sale online, but they were the racing model, not the everyday model. I waited to try them until after my half marathon, I didn't want to risk causing an injury after all that hard work!
Right after the half marathon at the end of November I got sick. But I was desperate to get outside after a few days, so I took a walk, and decided that would be a great opportunity to try them out. So this was about a week after the half, walking, just to give you the background. And I walked to the drugstore to buy decongestants! Anyway, the 45 minute downhill walk there was fine, no problems. As I started to walk home my left heel hurt. Not in the arch, but in the padded part of the heel. Weird. I got home fine, but the heel pad was sore for a few days. Being the paranoid athlete I am, I went to my PT and he thought it was plantar fasciitis. Oh no, the dreaded PF! So I rested it for a week (and I was still sick) and now, 3 weeks later, that part is not sore, but I have some Achilles soreness. I'm not sure that's related to the shoe, but I'm not going to risk it and will not wear them again!
Anyone want to buy a pair of once used Newtons in a size 8??? :-)
In talking to other people, I guess they're a love them or hate them shoe. So what does not work for me may be great for you!
Another reader asked about the Vibram Five Finger (VFF) and Nike Frees. In my opinion, these would be a better way to go as they do not change your foot strike like the Newton's do, but make it feel more like barefoot running.
I would be curious about other opinions!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Heather G and I did it two years ago - ran the 5K plus submerged in Lake Washington! It actually felt great! Check out the video - we're coming out of the water at 3:25 - H is in the black swimsuit in front of me and I'm in the LUNA top!
Monday, December 28, 2009
This is a new book, a collection of poems, by my almost-sister-in-law Kirsten. She is the winner of the 2009 Starting Gate Award.
The book is now available for pre-sale from Finishing Line Press. The book ships in March.
Read more about it and pre-order here!
In her prize-winning collection of poems, When The House Is Quiet, Kirsten Neff has given us light: from the “meager wisps of sun” in a winter kitchen to “Technicolor evening promises” of childhood to light glistening from “ardent grapes”. These poems gleam and surprise with the beauty of their language and the power of close observation as a woman explores the permutations of family. Ms Neff uses the lens of memory to capture breathtaking moments of connection to her children, her husband, her landscape, her self. These are rich poems, worthy of repeated savoring.
~Catharine Clark-Sayles, author of One Breath and Lifeboat
Deeply personal and deeply felt, Kirsten Neff's poems radiate love and human connection in an earthy, honest and unflinching voice. When The House Is Quiet is a graceful debut collection that is lyrical, moving and wise.
~Rose Black, author of Clearing and Winter Light
Kirsten Jones Neff is a writer, gardening teacher, and filmmaker who lives with her family in Northern California. Her work has appeared in several PBS films, periodicals and anthologies, including When The Muse Calls: Poems for The Creative Life, 34th Parallel, Ode, The Believer Englishcafe.com, WriterAdvice.com, The Poetry Farmer’s Almanac, and The Marin Poetry Center Anthology. This is her first collection of poetry.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
"I am an outdoors type of person."
Really means: I train in any type of weather. If its raining, snowing, 90 degrees w/100% humidity, or winds gusting at 30 mph. I don't want to hear any complaints because I will still train in it and you're just a big wuss for complaining about it.
"I enjoy riding my bike."
Really means: with or w/o aero bars, alone or in a peloton, I don't care. If you can't do a spur of the moment 30 miler then you're not my type. I will let you draft, but if you can't hang and I drop you - I will see you later. I am a capable mechanic, but don't expect me to change your flats or tune your bike. You need to learn that on your own.
"I enjoy jogging."
Really means: Lets run hills until we puke. I have just as many shoes as you only mine are better because they are functional and all look the same.
"I enjoy dining out."
Really means: I enjoy eating out, in or anywhere else I can find food. Don't be shy because with the amount of food I eat, you can have that main entree instead of a salad and you will still look as though you eat like a rabbit in comparison. Don't get your limbs too close though as I may take a bite out of you. Most importantly don't expect any taste off my plate unless you can bring something to the party like more food. Eventually though if your not burning 4,000+ calories a day your going to plump up and have a terrible complex due to watching me eat deserts and not gain any weight. Friends and family will eventually decide not to dine with us anymore due to my horrid table manners. Oh, and don't ask me any questions during breakfast, Mid Morning Lunch, Lunch, Afternoon lunch, Dinner or Recovery Dinner as it does not lend to efficient food intake.
"I enjoy quiet walks on the beach."
Really means: Walks on the beach warming up into an 8 mile run and then plunging myself in the ocean for a 2 miler. If you get in my way you're going to find out what mass start is and let me assure you that you don't want to find out.
"I find fulfillment in charitable work."
Really means: If I am not racing, I am volunteering and I expect you to be there along side me as I stand out in 90 degree weather for 8 hours handing out sports drinkto cyclists going 20 mph. Just stick the ol' arm out there and hope it doesn't get taken off.
"I enjoy sharing quiet moments together."
Really means: It's taper time. Just back off because I am strategizing and in a pissy mood because I am worried about my "A" race and can't workout.
"I am an active person."
Really means: Aside from my 40 hour job, and the 8 mandatory hours of sleep a night. 10 hours a week are devoted to me during the off-season and 20 during race season leaving us 4 hours. 2 of which are spent inhaling food and you not talking to me, so lets make the best of the 2 hours we will spend together on average each day. If you are a licensed massage therapist or doctor this would make the most optimal use of our time together. Nutritionist is also acceptable, but I probably already know just as much as you.
"I enjoy road trips and leisurely drives."
Really means: You have your choice of Wisconsin, Idaho, Florida, California, Arizona, and New York, but don't expect to do much site seeing. If I get enough support from you we might be able to include Hawaii in there.
"I enjoy site seeing."
Really means: Lets grab a mountain bike and get our HR's up to 90%. There's plenty of time to look around on the descent as trees and bushes whiz by you at 40 mph.
"I like stimulating conversation."
Really means: while we are running, we can talk about food. Then we can talk about how we decided what to wear on this run based on the temperature at start time versus the temperature at the time we expect to finish, how horribly out of shape we are, how many miles we did last week, and how many we will do this week and next week. Then we can talk about food.
"I enjoy relaxing soaks in the tub."
Really Means: I'm going to stop on the way home and buy two bags of ice, throw them in the tub with some water, and sit in this torture chamber for 30 minutes.
"I'm interested in photography"
Really Means: My camera is permanently perched a tripod in front of my trainer. I obsess over taking photos of my bike position and analyzing them to get the perfect setup.
"I'm into in technology"
Really Means: My HRM and power tap are my best friends. Until you can give me some hard data that can improve my training, don't bother trying to buddy up to me. You could one day break into the top three if I find you as entertaining on long runs and rides as my mp3 player.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
AS a former cross-country runner for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where a free massage was part of an athlete’s weekly schedule, Briana Boehmer remembers the benefits of having qualified hands work her sore muscles.
Now that she is 30 and starting a corporate wellness business with her husband, Mrs. Boehmer no longer enjoys such a perk, so she massages her muscles herself. She works out about seven hours a week, training for triathlons and duathlons, and begins and ends each session by kneading her back and legs on a foam roller, which she calls her “best friend.”
“It’s like getting a massage without having to pay $85 an hour,” she said. “I can’t afford the real thing right now.”
Devices for self-massage have become more common as more people compete in endurance sports and, more recently, as the recession has made professional rubdowns look prohibitively expensive. Trainers usually recommend a massage every week or every other week for people who are training for a marathon or triathlon, but the costs do add up: according to the American Massage Therapy Association, the average price of a massage is $63 an hour.
Though a massage may sound like a luxury, it can become a necessity as part of a training regimen. When the same muscles are forced to do the same motions over and over, they become tight and injury-prone.
For instance, “riding on aerobars on the bike sets up a huge muscle imbalance in the upper back and shoulders,” said Tim Crowley, a triathlon coach in Marlboro, Mass. “Hip flexors, hamstrings and glutes become extremely tight and immobile from running.”
While it’s hard to say how many people do self-massage, many athletes swear by it, and a growing range of products and how-to videos is available in stores and online. A foam roller, which costs about $25, is just one of a family of products, manufactured or improvised, that can relieve tight muscles.
“In the late ’90s, you could only find foam rollers through physical therapy catalogs,” said Keats Snideman, a massage therapist and conditioning coach in Tempe, Ariz., who produced a DVD about self-massage. “Now you can buy them anywhere, and exercises with them are all over YouTube.”
In addition to the many name-brand products that are sold specifically as massage aids, old-fashioned household objects will do, too. Most small balls, including golf, tennis, baseball and lacrosse balls, can unkink sore muscles.
Rich Poley, author of the book “Self-Massage for Athletes,” favors using your own hands. But he is also a fan of the Knobble II, a mushroom-shaped device that can be used to press on muscles at specific trigger points to try to break up knots, and the Thera Cane, a hook that can be used to reach points on the back.
For all its advantages, self-massage has its limitations. Cassidy Phillips, founder of Trigger Point Performance Therapy, considers it the equivalent of oral hygiene. “You brush away some plaque yourself,” he said, “but you still go to the dentist for a thorough cleaning.” His company, based in Austin, Tex., sells self-massage tools for athletes.
Clearly, a massage from a trained therapist can be more effective — and relaxing — than a self-administered massage. A therapist also has a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy and can help with injuries, like muscle strains, that may not respond to self-massage.
“A foam roller can’t alleviate deep trigger points the way an experienced thumb or knuckle can,” said Collette Glass, a sports massage therapist in Atlanta.
Yet Mrs. Glass, whose livelihood depends on athletes who need her care, is a proponent of self-massage. She and her husband, Dr. Josh Glass, a sports chiropractor, hold self-care seminars in the Atlanta area several times a year. “The message we stress through the whole demonstration,” she said, “is that self-massage keeps you out of our offices.”
Any kind of massage —the professional type and the D.I.Y. — can stimulate blood flow and break up scar tissue, thus reducing an athlete’s risk of injury, Mrs. Glass said. “In massage, shortened, overworked muscles get flushed out and return to a normal length, which helps them properly recover,” she said. When she was training for Ironman triathlons in 2006 and 2008, she said, she used a roller every day to soothe her iliotibial bands (tendons that run along the outside of the upper leg).
Jenni Gaertner, a physical therapist and competitive cyclist in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, also advocates a combination approach. “I go to a massage therapist only during racing season, because it can be so expensive,” she said. “But I use a foam roller year-round and prescribe it to patients and teammates.”
ABBY RUBY, an athlete and coach from Manitou Springs, Colo., massaged her muscles daily while training for a 100-mile trail run in Leadville, Colo., this year. She doesn’t leave home without her tools: half of a foam roller and a small ball from Trigger Point Performance Therapy. “I sit on the ball on flights to release my piriformis,” she said, referring to a muscle deep within the hip and buttock region.
Convenience and affordability are the selling points for Ms. Ruby. “When I need a massage, I need it now, not next Wednesday at 3 p.m.,” she said.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Research tells us that people eat more when presented with larger portions of food. Even children as young as two years are affected by portion size. Our judgment about serving sizes has been completely skewed by restaurant portions, food packaging and our own eyes. So how do we reset our expectations about appropriate portions? You're already on track by reading this. Now, how do you apply it to yourself?
Start by familiarizing yourself with appropriate serving sizes. If you don't have a food scale or measuring cups handy, use visual cues to help you judge portion sizes:
- A serving of fish (3 ounces) is the size of a deck of cards
- A serving of pasta or dry cereal (1/2 cup) is the size of a hockey puck
- A serving of fresh fruit (1/2 cup) is the size of a tennis ball
- A serving of butter (1 teaspoon) is the size of one die
Test yourself — pour yourself a bowl of cereal and then transfer it to a measuring cup. How much is your portion? How does it compare with the recommended serving size?
Here are other tips to try:
- Don't put dinner on the table. Instead, serve it from the stovetop or countertop. You'll think twice before you get up for seconds.
- Don't eat out of the box. Put your snack in a small bowl or other container. And then put the box or package away.
- Opt for single-serving treats. The fear of a wrapper trail will keep you honest.
- Downsize your meal. Restaurant portions are notoriously large. So when eating out, plan to eat only half of the meal. You can share the rest with a friend or ask for a doggie bag. Alternately, consider asking for a "light" or "lunch-size" portion.
- Try the tasting menu. At parties, sample two or three bites of the dishes on offer. Keep the portions small and have fun enjoying the variety.
- Take time to enjoy yourself. Appreciate the colors, smells and textures of your food. Stop and talk to your family and friends between bites. By slowing down you'll be better able to appreciate your meal and to register when you're full.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Now, it sounds like hocus pocus, but people I know that use the shoes really like them. But they are expensive, so I wanted to make sure I really wanted to try them, and was just not looking for a miracle cure for better running form. So I've been doing a bit of reading, and came across this article on Slowtwitch.
Newton: a second look
Written by: Jeroen van Geelen
Date: Mon Nov 23 2009
To really enjoy Newtons you have to understand the philosophy behind the shoes and, as I read a lot of other articles about the shoes as well as a lot comments from users on different forums, I can tell a lot of people don't. I'm not going to explain how they work. I'm sure almost every athlete with interest in training gear visited Newton’s website and knows that there are lugs under the forefoot.
What I will try to explain is the difference between the traditional way of running and how Newton shoes need to be used. Note the picture containing three cubes. You can see that the heel strike means your heel meets the ground at a sharp angle, which is in a way of breaking your own speed. The second phase is when your feet are flat on the ground and the nex,t of course, your push-off phase.
In this way of running you don't have a smooth transition from heel to toe. To some it may looks that way, but, just stand up and put your heel with some force to the ground as you would do while running. You can feel the impact on your body and because your leg is in front of your body the upper leg muscles can hardly help your body absorb the impact of your heel strike. A lot of stress is put to your knees, hips and lower back.
So, lean forward slightly with your whole body and don't bend at the hips. If you then run with a shorter stride you will see that you will almost immediately adopt a midfoot strike, and place your leg under your hips. This affords your body a lot less impact stress and, I believe, help solve knee, lower back and hip injuries.
But if you shorten your stride and you want to run at the same speed or faster you need to increase your run cadence. We don't need to reference the laws of thermodynamics to understand this. It’s also about increasing your running cadence.
Another mistake I read on forums is that, while running in Newtons, your heel may not contact the ground at all; that you should run on your toes. That's a complete misunderstanding of how these shoes work. It's no problem to have a slight contact at the heel, rather you don't want to have an aggressive heel strike. If you shorten your stride this almost instantly happens with most people so it's a natural way of running. This is what Newton Running is all about.
If you’re currently a heel striker you might argue that this is your natural gait, so, why change it? Well, your “natural” style will disappear if you run barefoot for 50 yards. You’ll notice that without your shoes you don't make a heel strike. Your body doesn't like a heel strike, but, we developed this style since we wear shoes almost from the day we learn to walk. That's way a heel-strike gait may feel natural to you, but, it really isn't.
When you take a look at how the Kenyans, Ethiopians or other African runners run, not one of them is running with a heel strike. They run naturally.
So don't try these shoes unless you are willing to jettison heel-striking. Newton shoes won't work for you.
And with the leg more under your hips instead of in front of your hips the upper leg muscles can help to absorb the impact of each stride. But you will use your calves a bit more, and your Achilles tendons that attach your calves to your heels. At first you can and probably will feel this, hence Newton’s admonition to slowly adapt to its shoes.
For most new Newton users I would recommend alternating with a standard pair of running shoes. After a few weeks maybe two runs in your Newtons and one with your other shoes. And so on. You will see that this different running style is demanding on your connective tissue. I, for example felt it in my calves for the first serious runs. But I confess I didn’t ease into my new Newtons as I’m suggesting you do
Nevertheless, as our store’s guinea pig I run in so many different shoes. So, alternating in the beginning will let your gradually adjust to a more natural way of running.
But: Are they faster?
I was wrong in my article earlier this year. If you run in them the way you should, I believe they are faster than standard training and racing shoes.
My evidence: For the last 4 months I've been doing 10K training runs on the same course on a regular base; almost every week at least once on this same course. Every third time I ran in Newton shoes. I did these runs all with the same average heart rate. Yes, weather conditions varied, and my fitness increased steadily during the season, but, without exception I was always faster in the Newtons.
I also noted I was faster when running the Newton “style” in regular shoes versus the standard way in standard training shoes. So based on this you could say that this more natural running form is always better than the standard way.
Other notes: When I started training longer distances in the Newtons I noticed that my calves were getting stronger, but I also had a lot less stress the day after a long run (more than 15 miles). I recuperated a lot faster. Was it the Newtons, or my newly-developed running technique? In any case, it is certainly not my experience the Newtons are ill-advised for longer runs.
Mileage per pair: I wore two pairs throughout the last six months, a trainer and a racer. I’ve got significant mileage on both and the wear on the outsole (which is primarily wear on the lug) is appropriate, in my opinion.
Are there no negative points to mention on the Newton running shoes? In my view there are some.
Both racers and performance trainers feel a bit slippery on wet surfaces. They tackled this problem with the All-Weather shoe. They placed a non-slippery rubber on the lugs so you feel there is more grip; this rubber is also placed on the outsole of the new Isaac.
The second—and this is what concerns me the most—is that I found that the upper is so flexible that it stretches out. After only after a handful of runs I had to tighten the laces to get the same fit. During the first few runs they fitted snug and nice but a few runs later they tend to get a bit looser and wider. Now I have to tighten my first pair much tighter than when new and they tend to wrinkle a bit at the base of the tongue. I'm looking forward to comments from other Newton users, to see if my experience with the upper is unique.
But overall I have to say I'm impressed with the shoes, and more yet about the attempt to educate runners in how to run, and that there is a shoe made for this technique. Let’s see how adroitly Newton develops new models; maybe even a tri-specific shoe.
The Newton website has some good info on improving your running form.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Beginner Triathlete - www.beginnertriathlete.com
Obviously geared towards the beginner triathlete, but I have many accomplished triathlete friends who love this website! They have a training log, race log (where you can write up race reports), forum, gear reviews, articles, routes and more! Good information!
SLOWTWITCH.COM - www.slowtwitch.com
Lots and lots and lots of articles! Good detailed information with articles seeming more for Ironman athletes/fans and total gear heads! Perhaps more for the experienced triathlete. Lots of articles on professional triathletes and pro races. I've found their forum very helpful when I'm looking into buying a particular product and want people's opinion on it. Also has sections on training, products, bike fit, and more.
trifuel - www.trifuel.com
I have not spent very much time on this site. But now that I look at it closer it looks pretty good! They focus on training articles and triathlon gear reviews. They also offer a forum, training plans, a training log and more.
Respond with a comment and let me know your opinions on these site and if there are any I missed!
Monday, December 21, 2009
The five stages of getting over a bad race experience—and running better next time.By Kelly Pate Dwyer
From the December 2009 issue of Runner's World
You've trained for months, logging scores, or even hundreds of miles to prepare for your goal race. Then the big day arrives and something disastrous happens: You get the flu. You wake up to a freak hailstorm, heat wave, or blizzard. A killer muscle cramp stops you in your tracks. And with that, your dreams of running a PR or qualifying for Boston evaporate. Maybe you don't even reach the finish line. You're disappointed, maybe even devastated. Was all that hard work really worth it?
Of course it was, as long as you heed what went wrong. "Not meeting a race goal doesn't mean that the race is a failure," says Mark Wallis, a running coach and marathoner from Tucson. "If you can learn something from it, a bad race could be a stepping stone to a breakthrough performance. Also, when you work through a challenging experience, you develop mental strength and perseverance that will help you on your next tough run."
Getting into that mind-set and being able to learn from the past and refocus on the future isn't an easy task. So we've broken the process down into five stages that'll help you recover from the initial letdown and plan your comeback.
1. Immediately After WALLOW (A BIT)
"When you invest so much into your training and don't get the results you want, you have a right to be upset," says sports psychologist Karen Cogan of Denton, Texas. "Expressing your frustration should be part of your recovery process." Cry, mope, blog, vent to a fellow runner who can empathize. Do what you need to for a day or two (a week tops)—it'll help you move on.
2. The Morning After FIND A POSITIVE
Jane Buck's first marathon in 2008 seemed doomed from the get-go: She woke up feeling sick, a punctured gel oozed all over her hands at the start, her heart-rate monitor fell apart, and then it began to rain. At mile 19, she vomited. Still, she finished, which made her realize "I can do anything I set my mind to," she says. "Now when I'm having a tough time on a run, I think back to that race and I can keep going." Wallis says finding the silver lining will help you get over a bad day. "If you were able to adapt and work through, consider the race a success," he says. "Redirect your energy to something positive that came out of it, whether it's getting to run through a new city or getting a new race T-shirt for your collection."
3. A Week Later ANALYZE IT
Once your emotions settle, review your training plan, your diet, and your race-day strategy to see if there is anything you can improve upon. "Every race is a puzzle," says coach Jeff Horowitz, author of My First 100 Marathons. "Look for clues to solve the puzzle." Did you rest enough during your taper? Did you go out too fast? Did you drink enough leading up to—and during—the race? "What went wrong is sometimes within your control," says Horowitz, who is proof that mistakes can happen to experienced runners. In March, at his 141st marathon, he was on pace for a 3:15 finish. But 22 miles in, his energy tanked and his calf muscle cramped. He eventually finished in 3:35. "I pieced together what went wrong," he says. "I wasn't taking in enough electrolytes." He tweaked his nutrition strategy for his next race and finished strong, cramp-free—and 10 minutes faster.
4. Two Weeks Later SET NEW GOALS
Every athlete has bad races—even the ones who do this for a living. Britain's Paula Radcliffe dropped out of the 2004 Olympic Marathon, but three months later, staged an impressive comeback by winning the New York City Marathon. Elites like Radcliffe are able to bounce back because they have to, says sports psychologist Neal Bowes, of McLean, Virginia. If they allowed themselves to get caught up in a single bad race, they'd be out of work. You may not get paid to run, but you can adopt this mind-set. "Your running career isn't about one race," Bowes says. "Use your disappointment to fuel your next success." When setting your next goal, though, make it manageable. If you struggled to put in training miles for your last marathon, you might want to target a shorter distance. Also, to increase your chances of reaching your ultimate goal, set smaller goals along the way. If prerace jitters threw you off, race a few 5-Ks before your next big race so you learn to calm those butterflies. "Small victories help rebuild confidence after a disappointing experience," Cogan says.
5. Before Your Next Race MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
"I go into a race knowing full well that part of running is taking the chance that something will not go right," says Kim Maxwell, a coach in Stillwater, Minnesota. Also, before you toe the line again, remind yourself that your performance—good or bad—doesn't define you (see "Embrace the Process," below). Running is part of a healthy lifestyle; it can make you feel stronger, happier, and saner. Those benefits outshine any postrace glow.
If you're still mopey weeks after a race, consult a sports psychologist. Red flags of depression include lack of energy and motivation, appetite loss or overeating.
Embrace the Process
To enjoy your racing, sports psychologist Neal Bowes recommends being process-focused rather than outcome-focused. This allows you to see ups and downs as part of becoming a stronger athlete, rather than tying your self-worth to a time goal.
OUTCOME-FOCUSED: You focus on a highly ambitious, perhaps unrealistic, time goal.
PROCESS-FOCUSED: Your time goal is based on training runs and recent races. You also focus on mind-set, pacing, fueling, nutrition.
OUTCOME-FOCUSED: Your confidence as a runner is based on race times. You're driven by how people will view your achievements. [LF - ugh, this is so me! I think this is why I get so stressed out before the race!]
PROCESS-FOCUSED: Your confidence is based on your ability to execute a race plan, your development as a runner, and the role running plays in your life.
OUTCOME-FOCUSED: Your routine is strict—you train through pain and risk injury.
PROCESS-FOCUSED: When you notice a potential sign of trouble, you back off and give your body time to rest.
OUTCOME-FOCUSED: You measure race-day success in terms of times and placing. If you miss a goal time, you feel like a failure. [LF - ack! This is me again!]
PROCESS-FOCUSED: You measure race-day success based partly on times and placing, but also on the experience—what you can learn and how you can apply it to future races.
One person online made a comment about this article that I really liked, and applies to the paragraph above:
Sunday, December 20, 2009
This was interesting for me to read. I've been trying to figure out what my body needs as far as protein and carbohydrates. What percentage should you get? 70% carbs? 50% carbs? I don't know what's right, so I've been reading a bit, that's how I came across this article. And now I can't remember where I got this from - sorry! I'm pretty sure it's from Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint Insider.
Apart from maintaining social conventions in certain situations and obtaining cheap sugar calories, there is absolutely no reason to eat grains. Believe me – I’ve searched far and wide and asked everyone I can for just one good reason to eat cereal grains, but no one can do it. They may have answers, but they just aren’t good enough. For fun, though, let’s see take a look at some of the assertions:
“You need the fiber!”
Okay, for one: no, I don’t. If you’re referring to its oft-touted ability to move things along in the inner sanctum, fiber has some unintended consequences. A few years back, scientists found that high-fiber foods “bang up against the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, rupturing their outer covering” which “increases the level of lubricating mucus.” Err, that sounds positively awful. Banging and tearing? Rupturing? These are not the words I like to hear. But wait! The study’s authors say, “It’s a good thing.” Fantastic! So when all those sticks and twigs rub up against my fleshy interior and literally rupture my intestinal lining, I’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s all part of the plan, right?
Somehow, I’m not convinced that a massive daily infusion of insoluble grain fiber is all that essential. And that “lubricating mucus” sounds an awful like the mucus people with irritable bowel syndrome complain about. From personal experience I can tell you that once I completed my exodus from grains, the IBS completely stopped. If you’re not yet convinced on the fiber issue I’ll refer you to Konstantin Monastyrsky’s Fiber Menace. Anyway, there’s plenty of fiber in the vegetables and fruit I eat. Which takes me to the next claim:
“You need the vitamins and minerals!”
You got me. I do need vitamins and minerals, like B1 and B2, magnesium and iron, zinc and potassium. But do I need to obtain them by eating a carb-heavy, bulky grain? No, no I don’t. You show me a serving of “healthy whole grains” that can compete – nutrient, vitamin, and mineral-wise – with a Big Ass Salad. What’s that? Can’t do it? Thought so.
“But it forms the foundation of the governmental food pyramid!”
You know, I should have just started the entire post with this one. I could have saved my fingers the trouble of typing and your eyes the trouble of reading. Governmental endorsements are not points in your favor, grain-eater; they are strikes against you. An appeal to authority (unless that “authority” is actually a preponderance of scientific evidence, of course) does not an effective argument make. Conventional Wisdom requires consistent, steady dissection and criticism if it is to be of any value.
There’s a reason grains are first and foremost on the list of foods to avoid when following the Primal Blueprint: they are completely and utterly pointless in the context of a healthy diet. In fact, if your average unhealthy person were to ask for the top three things to avoid in order to get healthy, I would tell them to stop smoking, to stop drinking their calories (as soda or juice), and to stop eating grains. Period. Full stop. They really are that bad.
I’ve mentioned this time and again, but the fundamental problem with grains is that they are a distinctly Neolithic food that the human animal has yet to adapt to consuming. In fact, cereal grains figured prominently in the commencement of the New Stone Age; grains were right there on the forefront of the agricultural revolution. Hell, they were the agricultural revolution – einkorn wheat, emmer, millet, and spelt formed the backbone of Neolithic farming. They could be stored for months at a time, they were easy enough to grow in massive enough quantities to support a burgeoning population, and they promoted the construction of permanent settlements. Oh, and they were easily hoarded, meaning they were probably an early form of currency (and, by extension, a potential source of income inequality). And here’s the kicker: they were harsh, tough things that probably didn’t even taste very good. It also took a ton of work just to make them edible, thanks to their toxic anti-nutrients.
Toxic anti-nutrients? Do tell.
Living things generally do not want to be consumed by other living things. Being digested, for the most part, tends to interrupt survival, procreation, propagation of the species – you know, standard stuff that fauna and flora consider pretty important. To avoid said consumption, living things employ various self defense mechanisms. Rabbits, for example, with their massive ears, considerable fast-twitch muscle fibers, and nasty claws, can usually hear a predator coming, outrun (out-hop?) nearly anything, and (in a pinch) slash a tender belly to shreds. Blue whales are too big to fit into your mouth, while porcupines are walking reverse pincushions. Point is, animals have active defense mechanisms. They run, fight, jump, climb, fly, sting, bite, and even appeal to our emotions (if you’ve ever seen a puppy beg for a treat with sad eyes, you know that isn’t just accidental cuteness) in order to survive. All the while, predators are constantly evolving and generating adaptations.
Plants, though, are passive organisms without the ability to move, think, and react (for the most part). They must employ different tactics to ensure propagation, and they generally have to rely on outside forces to spread their seed. And so various methods are “devised” to dissuade consumption long enough for the seed to get to where it’s going. Nuts have those tough shells, and grains have the toxic anti-nutrients, lectins, gluten, and phytates. (Of course there are some obvious exceptions. Fruits are tasty, nutritious, and delicious so that animals will eat them whole and poop out the seeds, preferably into some fertile soil. The seed stays intact throughout the digestive process; it is indigestible by design. No seed “wants” to be digested, because this would defeat the purpose. They “want” to be swallowed, or borne by the wind, or carried by a bee to the next flower, but they do not want to be digested.)
Some animals are clearly adapted to grain consumption. Birds, rodents, and some insects can deal with the anti-nutrients. Humans, however, cannot. Perhaps if grains represented a significant portion of our ancestral dietary history, things might be a bit different. Some of us can digest dairy, and we’ve got the amylase enzyme present in our saliva to break down starches if need be, but we simply do not have the wiring necessary to mitigate the harmful effects of lectins, gluten, and phytate.
Lectins are bad. They bind to insulin receptors, attack the stomach lining of insects, bind to human intestinal lining, and they seemingly cause leptin resistance. And leptin resistance predicts a “worsening of the features of the metabolic syndrome independently of obesity”. Fun stuff, huh?
Gluten might be even worse. Gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley, is a composite of the proteins giladin and glutenin. Around 1% of the population are celiacs, people who are completely and utterly intolerant of any gluten. In celiacs, any gluten in the diet can be disastrous. We’re talking compromised calcium and vitamin D3 levels, hyperparathyroidism, bone defects. Really terrible stuff. And it gets worse: just because you’re not celiac doesn’t mean you aren’t susceptible to the ravages of gluten. As Stephan highlights, one study showed that 29% of asymptomatic (read: not celiac) people nonetheless tested positive for anti-gliadin IgA in their stool. Anti-gliadin IgA is an antibody produced by the gut, and it remains there until it’s dispatched to ward off gliadin – a primary component of gluten. Basically, the only reason anti-gliadin IgA ends up in your stool is because your body sensed an impending threat – gluten. If gluten poses no threat, the anti-gliadin IgA stays in your gut. And to think, most Americans eat this stuff on a daily basis.
Phytates are a problem, too, because they make minerals bio-unavailable (so much for all those healthy vitamins and minerals we need from whole grains!), thus rendering null and void the last, remaining argument for cereal grain consumption.
What, then, is the point to all this grain madness? Is there a good reason for anyone (with access to meat, fruit, and vegetables, that is) to rely on cereal grains for a significant portion of their caloric intake?
The answer is unequivocally, undeniably no. We do not need grains to survive, let alone thrive. In fact, they are naturally selected to ward off pests, whether they be insects or hominids. I suggest we take the hint and stop eating them.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
"Gifts for the runner who has everything"
For the runner who is
* a beginner or has friends/family who want to start a fitness program: Getting Started, Walking, Women's Complete Guide to Walking
* often injured: Injuries-Treatment and Prevention
* a parent (or grandparent) who runs: Fit Kids/Smarter Kids
* coaching others: Injuries-Treatment and Prevention & Year Round Plan
* in Military/law enforcement and needs to pass the PT test: Testing Yourself
For the runner who needs
* answers to many questions and needs direction: Galloway Running Schools
* a coach: Jeff's Ecoaching program
* to enjoy running more: Galloway retreats or Running Schools
* to track their workouts: Jeff's Training Journal
* One mile/two miles/5K runners: Testing Yourself
* Marathoners or future marathoners: Galloway Training Programs
* Those who run many races a year: Year Round Plan
* Half Marathoners or prospects: Half Marathon-You Can Do It
* Gymboss Timer
For ALL runners and walkers
* New - Jeff's Marathon Training DVD, featuring video on "acceleration gliders" & "cadence drills"
* "The best week of running all year" (JG): Tahoe Running Retreat--July 2010
* All you need to know about running: motivation, getting faster, nutrition, building endurance, fatburning - Jeff's Running Schools
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
KOMO 4 News did a video on it for their weekly segment "Eric's Little Heroes".
Watch it here!
That's me in the Super Woman costume! I was a running buddy. When she first saw me in it, she just stared. It was pretty funny. My friend asked her running buddy beforehand if she wanted her to wear her Elastigirl costume. Her running buddy said "NO!". I'm glad I didn't ask mine, because I can guess what the answer would have been! :-)
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
by Matt Fitzgerald
November 20, 2009
A new study finds that static stretching before running reduces running economy and performance.
Whether, when, and how runners should stretch are hotly debated questions lately. A new study by researchers at Florida State University may settle the specific question of whether runners should engage in static stretching (held passive stretches such as toe touches) before running. Ten trained male runners participated in the study. On separate occasions, they ran for one hour on a treadmill, beginning with 30 minutes at a moderate pace and ending with a 30-minute performance test wherein the runners were instructed to cover as much distance as possible. The runners performed 16 minutes of static stretch for the major muscle groups of the lower body before one of the runs and just sat around for 16 minutes before the other.
On average, the runners ran 3.4 percent farther in the non-stretching performance test than they ran in the post-stretching performance test. Yet while they ran farther after not stretching, they burned 5 percent fewer calories, indicating that pre-run static stretching sabotaged running performance by reducing running economy. These results were published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Why would a static stretching warm-up make you run less efficiently? The authors of previous studies have speculated that static stretching warm-ups temporarily reduce musculoskeletal stiffness. While the word “stiffness” generally has negative associations with respect to athletic performance, a certain type of stiffness is beneficial to running performance. When you run, your legs function as springs that repeatedly bouncing off the ground, capturing “free” energy (i.e. energy that the body does not have to generate for itself) from each impact and using it to for forward thrust. Just as a loose mechanical spring (think of a worn automobile shock absorber) is less effective than a stiffer one, a less stiff leg (resulting from laxity at key muscle-tendon junctions) bounces less effectively off the ground during running. Consequently, the leg captures less “free” energy from the round and running economy is reduced.
Monday, December 14, 2009
|How dense are your snacks?|
By Marni Sumbal
Pre-planned, healthy snacks are essential in a balanced and heart-healthy lifelong eating plan. Although some people graze on unhealthy snacks due to poor daily nutrition choices, emotions and/or boredom, you should seize the opportunity to eat nutritious foods between meals for several reasons.
Consuming healthy snacks can help to control blood sugar, prevent overeating and indulging, manage hunger and cravings, maintain energy levels throughout the day, support weight loss or weight maintenance and provide fuel for physical activities.
Portions, calories and nutrients should always be kept in mind when planning and preparing healthy snacks, but factors such as energy density should also be considered. Processed and packaged foods, sweets and fast-food meals are typically energy dense, packing a lot of calories in a relatively small portion. Consequently, energy-dense snacks are generally low in nutritional value. In contrast, fruits and vegetables are viewed as low energy density foods, meaning that you can eat a large quantity without a lot of calories.
Nutrient-dense foods, which are naturally low in calories, are filling because of fiber and water content. Alongside high-fiber vegetables, whole grains and fruits, which provide volume and a subsequent slowing of digestion, protein food choices, such as nuts, yogurt or lean meat, provide healthy fat and/or protein to help fill you up. If adding nuts to your snack repertoire, be sure to monitor the portions because although they are energy-dense, they are also high in calories and fat.
As you make the change to smart, low-energy density snacking, you will learn to choose foods that are low in calories (energy density), yet still high in nutrients (nutrient density). In the long run, you are teaching yourself how to eat more nutritious food throughout the day while feeling satisfied with less total calories.
Hopefully, you choose the second snack. Ultimately, low-density foods will allow you to add more vitamins and minerals into your diet without sacrificing portions. Learn to appreciate the value of natural and wholesome foods as you begin to substitute low density, nutrient-filled foods for calorie- dense, heart-unhealthy foods. As with any healthy diet, planning your portions and food choices will allow you to recognize the most satisfying and nutrient-filled foods for a lifelong, healthy eating plan. .
Marni holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietician degree. She is a 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship finisher and finished the Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlon on Aug. 30, 2009, in less than 11 hours. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to IronGirl.com and Beginnertriathlete.com.
Any questions, Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.trimarni. blogspot.com
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The BEST Granola
3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped raw nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc. Use 1-3 different kinds)
1 cup chopped dried fruit (raisins, dates, cranberries, mixed berries, figs, coconut, etc. Use 1-3 different kinds)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup, molasses, salt, and cinnamon.
- Place the oats in a large bowl and mix in the oil/syrup until oats are thoroughly coated.
- Spread the oats in a think layer on a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Stir the oats on the sheets.
- Add the nuts to the oats on the cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 more minutes (oats will appear a little soft, but they will crisp up as they cool down).
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- In a large bowl, mix the baked oats and nuts with all the copped dried fruit.
- Keep in airtight container.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Ever spot those curious pictographs on fabric-care tags attached to your clothing and wonder what they mean? Wonder no more. Use our interpretive guide:
|Machine wash: |
|Any water temp, any detergent|
|Or||Machine wash: |
|Max water temp: |
|Or||Machine wash: |
|Max water temp: |
|Or||Machine wash: |
|Max water temp: |
Note: Additional hot-temperature symbols include up to 6 dots (200°F/95°C max).
|Machine wash: Permanent press|
|Machine wash: Gentle or delicate|
|Do not wash||Look for dry cleaning instructions|
Note: Dots and underlines are sometimes used in combination with other symbols.
|Bleach (if needed)||Any bleach OK|
|Non-chlorine bleach (if needed)||Only color-safe bleach OK|
|Do not bleach|
|Do not dry clean|
Note: Several special-situation symbols for dry cleaning are not included in this list.
|Tumble dry: Normal|
|Tumble dry: Normal, low heat|
|Tumble dry: Normal, medium heat|
|Tumble dry: Normal, high heat|
|Tumble dry: Normal, no heat|
|Tumble dry: Permanent press|
|Tumble dry: Gentle|
|Do not tumble dry|
|Do not dry|
|Dry in shade|
|Do not wring|
|Iron: Any temp (with or without steam)|
|Iron: Low (with or without steam)|
|Iron: Medium (with or without steam)|
|Iron: High (with or without steam)|
|Do not steam|
|Do not iron|
The following examples are common symbol combinations you might see displayed on care-instruction tags. We interpret each group:
Translation: Machine-wash in warm water on gentle cycle (note the 2 underlines beneath the wash basin; they indicate that the gentle cycle should be used); tumble dry low on gentle cycle (2 underlines again); non-chlorine bleach OK if needed; may be ironed on low heat (with or without steam); do not dry clean.
Translation: Hand-wash in any water temperature; line dry; do not dry clean; no bleach; do not iron.
Translation: Machine-wash in hot water; any bleach OK if needed; tumble dry on medium heat; may be ironed on medium heat (with or without steam); do not dry clean.