Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Eat More Protein

This is my favorite nutritional topic for the year, so I was excited to read another article on it. How much protein should we eat???? This was in Runner's World online today. - L

Runners skimp on this key nutrient--but you need more than you think

By Christopher Percy Collier
PUBLISHED 03/28/2008

Go to any prerace party or postrun potluck and you'll see legions of runners twirling forks in huge plates of spaghetti. And why not? Carbs are king, right? Except you may be missing out on another essential running nutrient, especially if you've been following the government's dietary guidelines. In September, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) released a position paper by nine researchers in the field of protein and exercise. Their message? People who engage in regular exercise, like runners, don't just need more calories than desk jockeys, they need more protein.

"With every footstrike, a runner carries two to seven times his or her body weight," says Douglas Kalman, Ph.D., R.D., who has done extensive research on the effects of protein in athletes. "Protein is what keeps your body healthy under all that strain." Adequate protein intake accelerates muscle growth and speeds recovery by helping rebuild muscle fibers stressed during a run. Since protein helps muscles heal faster, runners who consume the right amount are less likely to get injured. The reverse is also true, according to the authors of the ISSN paper: Athletes who get insufficient amounts of protein are at a higher risk of injury.

What's more, high-protein intake has been shown to help maintain a strong immune system. "After an intense bout of exercise, your immune system is weakened for about four to five hours," says Richard Kreider, Ph.D., one of the ISSN study's authors and head of the Exercise and Nutrition Laboratory at Baylor University. "Protein stimulates white blood cells, which helps shield against upper-respiratory problems." Military research studies show that Marines who ingested high amounts of protein had fewer medical visits than those with lower protein intake.

Just How Much?

The USDA's Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is .8 grams per kilogram (or .36 grams per pound) of body weight. But that's not enough for athletes, according to the ISSN, which says endurance athletes like runners need 1.0 to 1.6 grams per kilogram a day (or .45 to .72 grams per pound). That translates into 75 to 120 grams of protein daily for a 165-pound runner. Don't worry about "overdosing" on protein. While some reports claim that high-protein intake is linked with kidney problems and calcium loss, the ISSN says it's not a concern for healthy athletes.

Lean meats and other animal products, like eggs, milk, and whey (a by-product of milk), pack a lot of protein. Four ounces of chicken breast, for example, contain about 32 grams of protein. The fat in food interferes with the rate of protein absorption, so limit your intake of high-fat foods, such as rib eye or prime rib. Vegetable-based sources, such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy, aren't as protein-dense--a half cup of black beans, for example, has about eight grams--and they fall short on all nine essential amino acids, the chemical building blocks of protein (the exception is soy). Runners who avoid animal products can make up for this deficit by eating a variety of the most protein-rich vegetables and grains, such as soybeans, oats, and quinoa. "Not all the protein in a food is easily absorbed by your body," says Kalman. "But you'll probably get enough as long as you eat a lot of different kinds of food."

So before you get in line for another serving of spaghetti, take a hard look at your plate. Chances are you should add some grilled chicken.

[Here's] an example of protein intake for one day:

A Powerful Day

A 165-pound runner needs between 75 and 120 grams of protein daily. Spread intake throughout the day, eating some at each meal, to ensure your body has a steady supply.

7 a.m.
3/4 cup oatmeal + two scrambled eggs + six ounces orange juice + cup of coffee with skim milk = 25 grams

10 a.m.
Banana + two tablespoons peanut butter = 8 grams

11 a.m. (prerun)
Half a bottle of protein sports drink (about four grams of protein per serving) + 12 p.m. (postrun)Second half of the sports drink = 8 grams

1 p.m.
Two slices whole-wheat bread, four ounces sliced turkey, one ounce sliced reduced-fat cheese, lettuce, tomato, mustard + six ounces fat-free yogurt = 40 grams

6 p.m.
Mixed-greens salad with peppers, cucumber, and tomato; one tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette dressing + four ounces grilled salmon + 1 1/2 cups steamed broccoli and cauliflower + one medium baked sweet potato = 33 grams

Protein Total=114 grams

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mastering Downhill Running

Running downhill is something I've been working on mastering this season. Typically I can get uphill pretty quickly, but people blaze by me on the dowhills. I'm braking and not using gravity to help me along. I've experimented with long strides, short strides, squatting more, leaning foward, etc. I just came upon this blog post from Bobby McGee, posted on March 11, 2010. Happy Running! - LaVonne

This week I am delving into downhill running. There’s so much to say about this topic & so many struggle to gain the full advantage of gravity in races. 1stly I used to agree that “letting go” was a good idea in short races, but now I think down hills need to be “run” to gain full advantage. It helps to push the arms out a little wider during descents for balance & stability & also to open the elbow angle somewhat, lengthening the arm lever to keep the kinetic chain intact while taking longer strides. BUT I THINK A HIGHER STRIDE RATE IS THE ANSWER – this provides more control & less fatigue.

Lean off the line of gravity as the vertical, rather than off 90* being vertical on the level.
Mid foot strikers are able to brake with the foot & shoe, while heel strikers have to control descents with the shin (decelerating the lowering of the forefoot) & quad. This accelerated eccentric contraction massively fatigues the legs & does micro damage as well. Some studies have shown for example that some 70% of quad power is lost in the 1st 6 miles of the Boston Marathon due to the extreme nature of that descent. Heel strikers tend to step out from a slope & therefore “fall” much further to impact, while a good mid foot runner (still putting the heel down after the mid foot or at the same time), steps down the hill, a more kinesthetic move, with far less quad demand & dissipation requirements.

I remember in the 90s when I was running altitude camps for Olympic hopefuls in South Africa how we used to encourage the athletes to keep their heart rates up on descents by running down as hard as they could. Just this weekend some top long course triathlon pros were telling me how high they got their heart rates when descending on the bike – working against resistance down the hills to attain maximum speed.

Now, unlike the bike, bad form/lack of skill when running down can be ruinous to back, knees, shins & quads. To become a master runner on the downs requires an assessment of your current ability – do others kick your butt on the downs & are you really uncomfortable when running down & are you really beat up afterwards? If so assess your foot strike, body alignment & the other factors I have mentioned. Then practice in a number of ways – strengthen your legs through progressively building eccentric strength with lunges, squats, static & then linear plyometrics like hops & bounds. Then gradually, with short duration, shallow, well-cushioned (read grass) hills slowly develop both your technique & functional strength. Add one progressively longer run per week on a course that goes predominantly up on the way out & down on the way back. Eventually run some unidirectional runs; some faster & others longer, downhill. Progression rates with this skill & conditioning will be slower than for normal running as is indicated by the fact that a taper for a race with a lot of downhill running requires about a week longer to taper effectively.

So learn to actually run downhill rather than hang on & survive – turn descents into a weapon in your arsenal.

Till next time.
Bobby McGee

PS: My new DVD on running form & run drills (with plenty of extras) is now available, either order from my website ( or from Endurance Films at

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Build the Perfect Training Week

Last year, Tom Ryan, 52, ran a 5K in 16:10—less than a minute slower than his personal best, which he set a quarter century ago. Just as impressive: He achieved it with an average of just 30 miles per week.

"I have guys my age writing to me asking about my training," says Ryan, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. "Once I accepted that my body just can't hold up to 60 to 80 miles a week, I realized the key was to get the most out of the mileage I could do."

Ryan may not spend a lot of time working out, but he plans carefully. Each week includes a mix of workouts—each with a purpose—to build the fitness he'll need for his 5K goals. He'll do some 400s one day, easy five-milers for the next two days, some eight- to nine-mile long runs, and a day off each week to rest. He credits the mix to his injury-free successes of the last three years.

Running coach Greg McMillan, whose athletes range from beginners to Olympic hopefuls, says this focused approach is a smart way to train. "Determine how much you can run, based on the rest of your life and the need to stay healthy," says McMillan, who is based in Flagstaff, Arizona. Then, "make your training as race-specific as you can with that time."

Putting It Together

No matter what distance you're training for or how much time you have, each week should include a mix of tempo runs, intervals, cross-training, distance, and rest. The steady doses of speed improve range of motion, leg strength, and turnover while helping you get more relaxed at a faster pace. Long runs build endurance—for 3.1 to 26.2 miles (or longer). Cross-training and rest give the body a break. "When you pull all the pieces together," says Toby Tanser, a New York City-based running coach, "your body and your mind will be race ready." Here's what every perfect week of training should include:

TEMPO RUNS: Running at a "comfortably hard" pace at least once per week trains your body to run at a faster speed before lactic acid builds up. Tempo runs shouldn't be more than 2 miles for a 5K, eight miles for a half-marathon, or 15 miles for a marathon.

INTERVALS: Intervals help increase speed, strength, and turnover. Runners targeting 5Ks may do 400s, while marathoners might do mile repeats.

CROSS-TRAINING: Non-impact workouts like cycling and stairclimbing help cardiovascular fitness and give your body a break. Yoga and Pilates help strengthen your core and stabilize your body.

DISTANCE: Long runs build endurance and help you learn to maintain a steady pace without running all out. Cap long runs at eight miles if you're training for a 5K, 16 miles for a half-marathon, and 20 to 22 miles for a marathon, Tanser says.

REST: It's critical to let your body recover so that it's fresh for the next workout. A day off will help you avoid injury.

The Perfect Week

How to combine fast, slow, hard, and easy:

These schedules, developed with running coach Greg McMillan, include tempo runs, cross-training, long runs, and rest needed for strong results. Try them halfway through training.

5K Five runs per week

Day 1: Rest or cross-train
Day 2: 2- to 3-mile warmup; 4 x 1200 meters, with 600-meter jog between; 1- to 2-mile cooldown
Day 3: Run 30 to 40 min. at conversational pace
Day 4: Run 30 to 40 min.; start at conversational pace, finish last 10 min. 1 min./mile slower than 5K pace
Day 5: Rest or cross-train
Day 6: Run 30 min. at conversational pace, followed by 8 x 100-meter strides
Day 7: Run 45 to 60 min. at conversational pace

Half-Marathon and Marathon Five runs per week

Day 1: Rest or cross-train
Day 2: 2-mile warm-up; 20 min. continuous @ half-marathon pace (for half-marathon, add 10-min. jog and 1600 meters @ 10-K pace); 1- to 2-mile cooldown
Day 3: Run 30 to 60 min. at conversational pace
Day 4: Run 35 to 60 min.; start at conversational pace. For half-marathon, run last 20 min. 45 sec./mile slower than half-marathon pace. For marathon, do last 30 min. at marathon pace.
Day 5: Rest or cross-train
Day 6: Run 30 to 50 min., followed by 8 x 100-meter strides
Day 7: Run for 75 to 100 percent of predicted race finish time at conversational pace


Cross-Train Aerobic activities, such as cycling or stairclimbing, at easy effort OR strength/flexibility work, such as yoga or Pilates

Strides Short, fast runs at the pace you could hold for one to two minutes

Predicted Times Instead of a mileage goal, practice running for a certain amount of time. If your predicted half-marathon time is two hours, you'd do your distance run that week at 90 minutes to two hours.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New LUNA Bar Flavors!

LUNA has two new bar flavors that rock! Now, I am a total chocaholic. As a matter of fact, just writing that word is making me get up a get a piece, so excuse me a second....

Seriously, thanks to the Madison Cycling LUNA Chix for giving me fabulous chocolate that allowed that to just happen...

Anyway, as much as I love chocolate LUNA Bar has two new flavors that do not have any chocolate in them that I am addicted to. Blueberry Bliss and Vanilla Almond. Blueberry Bliss has a layer of jam on the top, and Vanilla Almond has chunks of almonds. Both are a great bar to have in the morning to start your day. So check them out!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fit Bottomed Girls

You have to check out their website, their blog is awesome! The name itself should give you an idea of what it is like. And I love their tagline, "keeping a lid on the junk in the trunk."!!! They have a lot of good information about fitness, food, life, etc. Plus it's motivational to follow their training journeys.

I had a chance to meet two of the fit butts this weekend at the LUNA Summit (which I will blog about later when I have a spare few hours, but this video will give you an idea). They talk about fitness, food, life, etc. I chatted with Jenn and Tish, and these are two women that you would want to be your girlfriends. So check them out!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quote for the Day

We run because it makes us feel like winners, no matter how slow or how fast we go.

Florence Griffith Joyner and John Hanc, Running for Dummies

I love this quote! We are winners because we're getting off our butts and getting out there and doing something great for our mind and bodies! We need to take time for ourselves. - L

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Routine Matters

Simple measures will keep you calm on race day.

By Ed Eyestone
From the April 2010 issue of Runner's World

The night before the Olympic Trials Marathon in 1988, I was so wired I stayed awake all night tossing and turning in frustration. Part of that stress came from uncertainty: No matter how prepared I was, there were elements I could not control. Over the years, I've learned that a prerace ritual helps establish a sense of order and settles my nerves. Practicing a pre-event routine during training makes it feel more natural on race day. These simple steps can help you maximize your racing potential.


REVIEW YOUR PLAN Before 6 p.m., think about your race strategy and pacing, and use positive mental imagery to envision yourself running strong and finishing fast. But after six o'clock, give it a rest. Rehashing scenarios late into the night can trigger the sympathetic nervous system and make sleep more difficult.

CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT Lay out your gear, pin the number on your singlet, and thread the timing chip onto your shoe.

FUEL UP Eat a typical-size dinner complete with complex carbohydrates to top off your glycogen stores and activate the sleep centers of the brain. Although carbo-loading isn't necessary for races under an hour, carbohydrates digest easily and tend to serve as comfort foods. Eat slowly and avoid gorging yourself.

SET MULTIPLE ALARMS If I don't set at least two alarms, I wake up every couple of hours afraid that I've overslept. Don't depend solely on hotel wake-up calls—they're notoriously unreliable.

KEEP YOUR NORMAL BEDTIME If you knock off and hit the sack too early, you may end up staring at the ceiling and inviting more stress when you don't immediately pass out. That stress can further delay sleep.


TAKE A HOT SHOWER A shower helps wake you up for an early start time, and passively warms your muscles, improving flexibility.

EAT LIGHT After eight hours of sleep, your blood sugar is low. Two hours before your race, eat a breakfast that will take the edge off your hunger without leaving you bloated.

STAY LOOSE, THINK POSITIVE As I wait for the start, I keep my muscles loose by shaking out my arms and legs. I review my race plan, remember all the awesome, consistent training I've logged, and wait for the gun.

The Perfect Warmup

Do just enough to get ready for any race distance

JOG SLOWLY For 15 minutes, jog at a pace that is three minutes slower than race pace.

STRETCH LIGHTLY Complete the same stretching routine you do prior to track or tempo workouts.

JOG FASTER Run for five to 10 minutes at a pace that is within one minute of race pace.

ADD STRIDES Run several strides at a pace slightly faster than your expected start pace.

Quote for the Day

You should not be flying down the home straight. Most of your efforts should have been put forth earlier.

John Treacy, Silver medalist in the 1984 Olympic marathon

Friday, April 2, 2010

my 40th birthday

Here's a picture from my 40th birthday party. Originally I was depressed and didn't want to celebrate at all, but then we my BFF's decided to throw me a birthday party with a 70's theme, I was all over that!