Category Archives: Nutrition

4 Ways to Wreck Recovery

All athletes know their next workout is only as good as their recovery from the last one.  If you’re not able to bounce back from a tough session the next one will certainly suffer.  No matter what type of event you’re training for, proper recovery is key to continuing progress.  While we can’t always be perfect, here are four pitfalls you’ll want to avoid if improvement is your goal.

Starve.  Eat!  Eat something as soon as you can.  Waiting too long will lead your body to breakdown rather than rebuild mode.  Protein bars, chocolate milk, your favorite protein powder or a nut buttered bagel can get you through in a pinch but you’ll definitely want some protein, carb and fat within 30 minutes of wrapping up.  Next be sure to get a full, well-rounded and nutritious meal within two hours.

Get cold.  An ice bath might feel good but it’s not always the best idea.  Dropping your core temperature too soon after a session shuts down the body’s all important inflammation response and prevents damaged muscles from getting the nutrients they need.  This study found that heating muscles improved post recovery performance more than cooling them with a few exceptions.  When working out multiple times a day cooling can speed the recovery process between sessions.  Cooling can also aid in lowering core temperature before bed time, leading to higher quality sleep.  So go ahead and take that hot shower, it won’t hurt.recovery

Booze it up.  That’s not to say you should skip the post race party.  The entire list of pros and cons for a post run beer are covered here but if you’ve just finished a marathon, focus on giving your body something good for it first.  It wants it!  On the other hand, if all you were accomplishing was an easy fun run with pals, you can probably get away with a cold one along side your glass of water.

Skip the Nap.  If you’re not planning a nap after your long run you’re going to miss out.  Sleep is paramount to proper recovery.  There are big benefits to a little snooze.  Those include muscles being repaired, blood pressure dropping and your brain being recharged.  The best idea is always to get a good, full night’s rest with 8+ hours of sleep but a nap is a great way to kick off the process.

Focus on recovering properly from every single workout and you’ll see progress.

Coach Meredith

5 Important Nutrients Runners Need

All runners know that to perform well you have to eat well.  Unfortunately when they try to eat the right things, or cut some bad things, they can restrict important nutrients, too.  Beware of grabbing the supplement bottle, however.  Too much of a good thing can cause stress on organs so focus on getting them from your food.  Here are five nutrients all runners need to have adequately represented in their diets.

Iron:  Iron provides tons of benefits to runners.  It’s a main ingredient in hemoglobin that takes oxygen to working muscles.  If your iron is low, you’ll feel sluggish and fatigued while recovery nutrientswill take longer than normal.  Get it from foods like lean cuts of beef, peas and broccoli, oysters and kidney or black beans.

Calcium:  We all know calcium builds healthy bones.  Running beats those bones up.  Keep them strong and avoid stress fractures by taking enough in.  Do so with dairy, kale, almonds and calcium fortified foods.

Potassium:  Like sodium, this is one very important electrolyte.  It helps those powerful running muscles contract and relax as well as maintaining fluid balance.  You can get your fill from one baked potato, bananas and dried fruit.

Vitamin E:  This immune booster is a must have.  It’s an antioxidant that also keeps blood vessels wide open and soft.  Good sources are olive oil, sunflower seeds, sweet potato and almonds.

Magnesium:  Fueling about 300 chemical reactions in the body, helping energy production and protein synthesis make magnesium incredibly important.  Most people are deficient but can remedy this by munching on a few magnesium rich foods.  Leafy green vegetables, pumpkin seeds, peas and whole grains are good sources.

Make sure your grocery list includes some of the foods listed above.  You’ll get plenty of these essential nutrients and some tasty meals.

Coach Meredith

The Lowdown: Beer and Running

Beer and running naturally go together.  Runners love a post run cold one, right?  Races are sponsored by beer companies, we get complimentary ones after we cross the finish line, group runs meet at bars.  The list goes on but does that mean you should be throwing them back?  Check out these pros and cons to the post workout beer.beer and running

Socializing.  There’s one thing runners love as much as running and that’s talking about running.  Post race recaps in real time with your friends is something everyone looks forward to and they’re fueled by booze.  Isn’t that why running clubs were invented in the first place?  It’s true.  Downing a cold one is a great way to connect with connect with other runners.

Health benefits.  Beer can help you turn carbs into energy with its B vitamins and chromium while the flavonoids in dark beer counter cell damage to help prevent heart disease and cancer.  It can also help you relax and that’s all good news for pairing beer and running together.

Hydration.  Beer is alcoholic and alcohol is a diuretic.  That means it helps take water out of you without replacing it.  That’s bad news when your body is trying to work hard or repair itself.

Sleep.  Since beer dehydrates you, it makes you use the restroom more.  That means disrupted sleep and less quality recovery as you fail to reach deeper sleep states.  It might also make you snore, which only serves to make your sleep even lower in quality.  Poor sleep leaves us grumpy in the morning, too, making it harder to get a good workout in the next day.

Gains.  Human growth hormone is what makes us stronger and faster.  It is produced when we’re in those deep sleep states alcohol keeps us out of.  Alcohol will also delay almost any healing process so backing off when you’re injured is key for getting back in action.  The carbs in beer are automatically stored as fat since the sugar raises our blood sugar levels.  That leads to major potential for weight gain.

In the end it depends what your goals are.  Was it a recovery run just to get your legs moving?  Go ahead, drink that delicious post run beer but have a water with it.  Did you just destroy a brutal strength and speed session?  That beer might not be the best idea.  Knowing the effects of alcohol on your can help you might the right beer and running choices.

Coach Meredith

Running Books for Your Reading List

There’s only one thing runners like to do more than run.  That’s talk about running but unfortunately our vocal cords occasionally need a break.  At that time, break out this reading list featuring some of Team ECRP‘s favorite, and most useful, running related books.

Pre (Jordan) – The story of America’s most fabled tracklete, Pre is a biography of Steve Prefontaine.  Well crafted and uncomplicated this exciting tale lends itself to page turning.  reading listWhile also providing a bit of education on the history of track and field, this short novel should be on every runner’s shelf.

Eat & Run (Jurek) – This chronicle of Scott Jurek’s ‘unlikely journey’ to ultramarathon greatness is peppered with lots of smiles and tasty recipes.  With a main focus on how nutrition effects performance, Eat & Run is a great resource for vegetarian and vegan athletes.  Even for meat eaters these recipes are worth a try.

Anatomy for Runners (Dicharry) – Get ready to learn.  Chock full of knowledge, Jay Dicharry’s guide will lead you to happier and healthier running.  Doesn’t the subtitle ‘Unlocking Your Potential for Health, Speed and Injury Prevention’ sound enticing?  Anatomy features exercises and explanations that are easy to understand and process.  A must read for runners serious about improving.

Born to Run (McDougall) – This massive best seller should definitely be on your reading list.  Even if you’ve already covered it, consider cracking it open again.  This epic tale of one runner’s desire to end foot pain started the minimalist movement.  No matter how you feel about zero drop shoes, the story of Mexico’s Tarahumara will inspire you and that next marathon registration.

Ready to Run (Starrett) – ‘Unlocking your potential to run naturally’ is Dr. Kelly Starrett’s goal with this big book.  So get ready.  This guide will teach you more about movement that you likely care to know but it’s 100% worth it.  The founder of MobilityWOD.com has worked with professional athletes from all fields of play and wants you to become a stronger, more efficient runner.

Build Your Running Body (MacGill/Swartz/Breyer) – Bob Anderson, the founder of Runner’s World, calls this the ‘best running book ever’ and there’s no arguing with that.  Yes, it’s full of physiology and science however it’s easy to understand and digest.  Following the guidelines in this book will help you run faster, reduce injury risk and have more fun.

Coach Meredith

5 Ways to Stay Fit When You Travel

Spring break, summer vacation, holiday visits to family, all mean time on the road, in airports and away from home.  It can be very easy to get away from your home based training plan while you travel and that might spell trouble for your next goal.  Luckily, there are five simple things you can do to stay on track no matter where you are.travel

Keep a food journal.  Remember the 80-20 rule and find healthy choices while you travel.  There’s nothing wrong with an indulgence now and then, we’re only human after all, but remember that too much can set your training back.  Keeping a diary of what you’re eating can help you realize if you’ve gone too far off track.

Pack for activity.  DVDs, resistance bands and tubes are small enough to fit in any carry on and can help you workout anywhere.  If your bulky running shoes won’t fit in that carry on, wear them.  Same goes for a heavy cold weather coat.  Check out these additional recommendations for help with your travel fitness strategy.

Schedule activities.  Find out what there is to do in your destination.  If you’re in a new place, there’s no excuse not to try something.  You might check out a new class in vibrant New York City, go for a horseback ride in Wyoming, walk through wine country in Napa or scuba dive in Honolulu.  Canoeing, skiing, dancing and even a long sight seeing walk will keep you moving forward.  Even if it’s not your preferred mode of working on your fitness, any athletic activity will help you perform at a higher level when you get home.

Use your hotel.  Yes, they’re usually small, but hotel gyms give you a little space to move around.  Most hold stationary bikes, treadmills, ellipticals and weight machines and some have quite modern, state of the art facilities.  If there’s a pool big enough for laps or pool running, dive in.  Any hotel that’s more than one story features a set of stairs, don’t be afraid to use them.

Expect to have a tough first few days back.  Your body might still be recovering from jet lag or overindulging in food and drink.  Your muscles need a chance to get back in gear, too.  Stay hydrated, especially if you’re flying and try to plan for a recovery day once you’ve arrived back at home.

Coach Meredith

5 Tips for Faster Recovery

Recovery is almost as important as your actual workout.  If you aren’t recovering from today’s workout how are you going to be ready to perform tomorrow?  The right answer is you won’t be.  Your body needs certain things pre-, post and hours after a good sweat session to get back in working order.  Here are five tips from Team ECRP that will help you feel great after today’s workout and fresh for tomorrow’s.

Eat right away.  Workouts burn through energy reserves.  If you want your body to build those stores back up, you’re going to have to feed it.  Proper nutrition after a session will help your tissues recoveryrepair. and muscles clean out any waste.  Post workout fueling should include complex carbohydrates, hydration and quality protein and occur within 30 minutes of a session.

Drink up.  Drinking fluids is important during a workout, especially for endurance athletes, but you’ll need even more when you’re finished.  Luckily, good old fashioned water is all most people need to help their muscles start the repair process.  Water helps the body get started with recovery by supporting all metabolic functions, most importantly flushing out the things that build up while you exercise and allowing much needed blood and oxygen back into torn up muscles.

Keep moving.  Beating your body up for an hour during a workout then slamming it to a stop when you fall down on the ground is asking for trouble.  It’s like crashing into a brick wall.  Cooling down properly is paramount to starting the recovery process.  Gentle movement, like walking, stretching or light yoga, is known as active recovery and are great choices.  Staying in motion promotes circulation, moving nutrients into needy muscles and waste from your workout out.  More nutrients and less waste lead to faster repair, less recoverysoreness and a better next session.

Relax.  Breathe deeply and go over your workout in your head.  If it was good, take note but if it wasn’t, learn something and move on.  While you recap, foam roll, stretch, or sit in an ice bath if you’re really in need.  If you’re lucky, you might even get a massage.  Like performing active recovery, massaging muscles promotes circulation and tissue repair.  An additional bonus:  you can do this while you eat that high quality post workout food!

Go to bed.  Sleep is the best time to recover.  When you’re snoozing the body produces essential Growth Hormone to repair and build muscles.  Getting plenty of quality sleep can lead to stronger muscles, better performance and more endurance.  You’ll also wake up with a more effectively working brain, in a better mood and a happy body.  In contrast, sleep deprivation has been shown to lead to decreases in performance, increases in recovery times and general grumpiness.

Use these tips to take your recovery plan to the next level and see the results you want sooner.

Coach Meredith

Simple Tips For Better Eating

There’s a lot to be said for a high quality diet.  Better eating habits are something that every athlete without a full time nutritionist, dietician or chef thinks about.  Putting cleaner, healthier ingredients in our systems can be incredibly beneficial.  But it’s also hard.  While the quality of ingredients can be a factor in how our bodies function, there are a few other contributors as better eatingwell.  Here are some of Team ECRP‘s favorite healthy eating reminders.

Eat Little and Often
Start eating better with your snacks.  A good for you snack provides energy and quality nutrition without causing low, spiking blood sugar levels or tiredness.  Foods like fruit, nuts, granola, protein bars (watch those labels!) and yogurt are great choices.  Snack between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner, but not after.

Remember Main Meals
Proper snacking is important but regular meals are what really count.  Well rounded meals with equal portions of protein, fat and carbohydrate are ideal.  Breakfast should be clean or even Paleo, big enough to fuel your morning but not so large you’re busy digesting it for hours.  Ensure protein and healthy fats make up a good portion of meals.  Both macro nutrients help you feel full longer and can aid in curbing hunger to loose weight.

Drink More Water
Water is the most important nutrient in your body, making up 50 to 60 percent of your bodyweight.  There are several ways to ensure you’re getting enough hydration throughout the day.  Count your fluid and aim to down half your bodyweight in ounces of water.  Weigh 200 pounds and you’ll need 100 ounces of water each day.  Of course, the pee test is always available.  Your urine should be clear, not the color of yellow sports drink and happen 5-8 times a day.  Just chugging water isn’t the answer, though.  If the fluid is going right through your body, it’s not being absorbed.  Add a dash of salt to help your body absorb the water it needs when you’re dehydrated.

Keep Track and Plan
Use a food journal, write a grocery list, and save leftovers for snacks.  Track what you have already eaten and plan future meals to help ensure a healthy and varied diet.  Read labels and know what everything on them means.  Typically, the simpler and more understandable the label, the better choice that food is.

Use these tips for better eating and you’ll have more energy throughout the day while recovering faster and performing better.

Coach Meredith

Tin Foil Chicken and Vegetables

We all know nutrition is an important piece of building a better athlete.  I like to use the 80/20 rule, and this tasty tin foil chicken and vegetables makes it easy to save that 20% for pizza or cookies.  A fantastic week night meal that’s quick and simple, it’s also packed with muscle building protein, good for you fiber and lots of healthy nutrients.  Switching out one or two ingredients makes the dish easy to customize for multiple uses during the week.  With the ingredients below each serving is home to less than 300 calories and quite filling.

Tin Foil Chicken and Vegetables
Servings – 2-4
Prep Time – 10 minutes
Cook Time – 30 minutes
Difficulty – 1

Ingredients
2-4 boneless, skinless (antibiotic free) chicken breasts (to lower cook time, divide into sections)
1 cup frozen corn (thawed)
2/3 cup black beans drained and rinsed
2/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2-4 Tablespoons taco seasoning
2-4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2-4 large squares of tin foil

Instructions
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Add olive oil, peppers and onion to sautee pan and cook until onions start to become clear.
Place each chicken breast in center of one tin foil sheet.
Season chicken with taco and cayenne powders.
Top each chicken breast with tomatoes, corn, black beans, green pepper and onion.
Fold tin foil into packet around chicken with small opening to vent.
Place in oven for 25-20 minutes or until juice runs clear.
Serve by carefully opening foil packets and pouring chicken, vegetables and juice onto a plate.chicken and vegetablesThis simple tin foil chicken and vegetables recipe can be switched up by adding squash and carrots or swapping out taco flavors for basil and thyme.  You can see how the calorie count would change when plug in your choice of ingredients in or add a side of quinoa here.  Use fresh vegetables for a colorful and delicious meal that’s great all year long without pulling you away from family or training time.  Give this tin foil chicken and vegetables recipe a try.
I love it and know you will too!

Coach Meredith