Monthly Archives: November 2012

Have a Successful Race Weekend

It’s race weekend!  You are pumped up, and ready to run the PR you’ve been training for.  There are quite a few things that can get in your way, regardless of your infinite enthusiasm, so avoiding those pitfalls will help ensure you have a great race.  Before race day, you want to sit down and make a plan.  Having a plan will ease race morning stress and taking these tips into account will help make sure your race day a great one.

Know what to wear.  Check the weather and dress appropriately.  Sweat wicking clothes are ideal, and if you plan on stripping off layers as you run, make sure you aren’t going to dump the one your number’s pinned to.  Speaking of pins and numbers, plan on putting your race number on the night before the race, safety pins can be a pain, and the hassle isn’t worth the energy right before your big run.  Save yourself as much work, and stress, as you can race morning.

Watch what you eat and drink.  Ensure you’ve hydrated properly for the days leading up to the race, and eat things you know you can handle.  Race week isn’t the time to try to Inferno Wings at the local bar.  Dinner the night prior should have plenty of carbs without being acidic or rich.  Acid can cause all sorts of problems, ranging from upset stomachs to heartburn, and nobody wants that on race day.  Breakfast race morning should be what you usually eat before a run, something that provides carbohydrates and you know works, again avoiding rich or fatty foods.

Be early.  Knowing your parking map and how far you might be from the start, while also accounting for traffic can help ease stress.  Part of your planning should account for the time it takes to get into a parking spot, from there to the start, and the lines at the port-a-potty, should you need one.  Arriving with time to spare will help keep you from feeling rushed, give you time to warm up and stretch out, and get your head in race mode.

Get plenty of sleep the night before the race.  Like being early, this too will ease stress while also making sure your body and mind are well rested.  Positive thoughts are incredibly important when you want to run a new PR, so being bright eyed and bushy tailed will keep you in the right frame of mind.

Pace yourself during the race, especially at the start.  With starting line jam ups, your adrenaline pumping, the band rocking, and the crowd cheering, it’s tempting to sprint right out of there, but don’t waste your energy.  Your training provided you with a good knowledge of how you want to pace yourself, so believe in it.  You want to not only finish, but finish well, and burning out in the first two miles just won’t help.

Celebrate that you’ve finished.  You just ran a race, and that’s hard work.  You trained for weeks, probably months, and crossed the line.  Give yourself a pat on the back, be proud of what you’ve accomplished, and be sure to hit the post race party to enjoy your moment.

How to Overcome a Bad Workout

Everybody has bad days.  Sometimes they start when you get out of bed, but others wait until after lunch, or even once you’ve begun to exercise.  Exercise increases the amount of endorphins in your blood stream, lowering the body’s perception of pain and acting as a sedative.  Getting your endorphins flowing with a little hard work can pull you right up out of the dumps, especially if you’re already in the midst of a rough day, because hitting the gym can be a great way to relieve stress and clear your head.  Bad days might mean you tried to take on the wrong kind of workout.  Are you someone who likes group exercise, but was running late and decided to go it on your own, with miserable results?  Are you stressing out about something or feeling rushed?  Is it hot and humid outside?  Are you injured?  The answers to these questions can solve most bad gym day problems.  The last thing you want to have is a bad workout or let it ruin your otherwise lovely day, so here are several surefire ways to deal with a workout that isn’t going your way.

Get enough sleep.  Sleep allows your body time to heal from the last gym session or just daily life.  Having a bad night, or a night without enough sleep, can wreak havoc on your body and suck out tons of the energy you plan on using in the gym.  One great thing about sleep is the human body’s ability to catch up on it.  When skipping a meal, your body misses out, and eating more later won’t make it better.  Losing out on a few hours of sleep during the week, however, can be fixed right up with a night or two of twelve hours of rest.  While this shouldn’t be a regular practice, and seven to eight hours a night are recommended for most people, it’s good to know there’s a reason you want, and are allowed, to sleep in on Sunday morning.

Eat right.  If you read our Balanced Diet Series, you know what and how much to eat on a daily basis.  Giving your body the right type of fuel for the workout you have planned is just as, if not more, important than getting enough sleep.  Whole grains and less sugar will aid in preventing the exhaustion many people face an hour or two after lunch.  Make sure you are properly hydrated before, during and after your session and watch out for caffeine intake, which can wake your body up for a workout, or push it over the limit and cause nausea and shakiness.

Have good goals.  The gym can be intimidating with lots of equipment, free weights, classes going on and people who look like they know what they’re doing much more than you do.  They probably don’t.  Those who have efficient, organized workouts have a plan.  They most likely have a schedule based on the day of the week, a set order they perform exercises in, and a specific goal in mind.  The best way to overcome the fear of workout failure is to have a goal.  Write it down.  Look at it every single day.  Get together with a fitness professional and discuss both your goal and a path to reach it.  Not only will this keep you focused and on track, it prevents boredom and provides a support system in the gym on a daily basis, which is especially nice on those frustrating days.

Beware of over training.  Ensure you use a variety of equipment and styles so your body doesn’t get overloaded.  Try alternating weight lifting days with cardio days, and always leave at least one day per week for complete rest and recovery.  If you start feeling worn down, unusually sore, grouchy, or dreading the gym, it might be time for a few extra days off.  Listen to what your body tells you and take what it’s saying seriously.

Throw in the towel.  An extra day off to let your body recover won’t wreck all the work you’ve already done, and it pays to listen up when your body says ‘no’.  Bounce around, doing one set of a bunch of different exercises, or choose three of your favorites, do a few sets and call it a day.

Now that you’ve used your bad workout to learn things about the best, and most fun, way for you to workout, get going!  Try something new, or take some time to recover.  No matter what you choose, stick with a fitness program that works for you.

Vegetarian Diet

How to Get the Right Nutrition without Meat, Poultry or Seafood.

Vegetarian diets don’t have to consist of all tofu, all the time, because adequate nutrition can be derived from lots of foods that don’t include animal products.  A vegetarian is defined as “a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc.” and bases their diet on these principles.  While animals are a great source of nutrition, including essential amino acids and protein, there are many other ways to get these crucial ingredients in your diet.  Vegetarians do, however, face the biggest possible dietary loss from a lack of protein, which is usually obtained by eating animal protein, and serves as a major source of energy.

Because they cannot include the Meat, Poultry and Fish group in their Food Pyramid, the Vegetarian Food Pyramid looks slightly different than the one most of us grew up seeing.  The base of the Vegetarian Food Pyramid is grains, rather than meats, and legumes and nuts, making it slightly different than the typical Food Pyramid.  The remaining levels of both food pyramids are the same, with fats and oils having the smallest recommended number of servings per day.  Five to twelve servings of whole grains, with one to three servings of legumes and soy are the base of a good vegetarian diet.  Add to that three to four servings of fruit, six to nine servings of vegetables, one to two servings of nuts and seeds, up to three servings of dairy and eggs, with a minimum daily amount of sweets and fats, and you have a wonderfully well rounded and healthy diet providing all the same essential nutrients as a diet with meat.

Vegetarian diets offer a myriad of benefits for those who commit to giving up animal proteins.  Vegetarian diets often feature lower levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, decreasing risk for diabetes and heart disease, while offering higher levels of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and antioxidants.  Because of these features, vegetarian diets can aid with weight loss, though it is important to remember the basis of vegetarian is vegetables.  Not junk.  Animal protein foods have to be replaced with the right types of nutrition, not French fries and cookies, to garner any of the dietary and weight loss benefits.  Being careful not to overload with fats like cheese, and using beans, lentils and rice to replace meat will all maintain proper nutrition and a healthy diet.   Without animal protein, a vegetarian must also make sure their diet includes enough Omega-3s, iron, zinc, calcium and Vitamins D and B-12 to meet daily requirements, and can often add a supplement to their daily routine.  These choices can help vegetarians and vegans live longer and healthier lives with lower body weight, better cholesterol levels and lower risk of diabetes.

If living a longer, healthier life sounds good to you, give vegetarianism a try.  Remember though, a different diet does not mean different rules.  Just like people who eat meat, vegetarians need to read labels and check the ingredients, salt, fat and vitamin content of the foods they choose.  Ensuring healthy eating is hard work no matter what your diet consists of, so take the vegetarian challenge and see how it can benefit you!

For more information, here’s a great source of tips for vegetarian dieting: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/healthy-eating-tips/tips-for-vegetarian.html.