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Monday, January 28, 2008

Supplementing Your Triathlon Diet

We might think that since we are triathletes and workout at least 5 times a week that we are healthy. We might think that we get enough nutrients from our diet alone, getting enough fruits and vegetables and ingesting the leanest, cleanest protein out there. We might think that we don’t drink as much alcohol on the weekends as our non-triathlete or non-runner friends. But, I have news for you- we are wrong.

There is not one human on the planet that eats a perfect diet simply by food alone. If they say they do, they are probably lying to you, and to themselves. You might eat a very healthy, balanced diet, but sometimes, we are lacking in some nutrients that our bodies can’t absorb so readily from food alone. That is why there are supplements. And, if you can understand the benefits of these supplements (in that they “supplement” the deficiencies in our current nutritional plan), you will definitely benefit from them in both health and performance.

There are a series of Supplements that I will report on that will benefit triathletes in ways such as increases in strength and power, sustainability of lean body mass, and decreases in inflammation. The first of these supplements that I want to report on is Beta-Alanine.



I was at a National Strength and Conditioning Association Sports Nutrition Seminar a month ago when Jose Antonio, the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, was speaking. I had the chance to talk to him after

What is it?

Beta-Alanine is a non-essential Amino Acid obtained through protein containing foods.
Recent research (The effects of 10 weeks of resistance training combined with beta-alanine supplementation on whole body strength, force production, muscular endurance and body composition, Kendrick IP, et al.) has shown that Beta-Alanine (6 g/day on average) can increase skeletal muscle Carnosine concentrations. In 2006, a study appears to improve submax cycle ergometry performance and TTE in young women, perhaps as a result of an increased buffering capacity due to elevated muscle carnosine concentrations (Amino Acids. 2007; 32(3): 381-6. Epub 2006 Nov. 30, Stout et al.)


Why should Triathletes use Beta-Alanine?

Essentially, Beta-Alanine can benefit you the most by increase strength, lean muscle mass, muscular power and muscular endurance. My goal this year is to get stronger on the bike- ride harder for a longer period of time. So, Beta-Alanine is a supplement that I was dying to try to see if I could keep that lactic acid-heavy leg feeling from happening after a hard ride, and still run as hard as I could after the bike. A good summary of the benefits of B-A include:
• Boost Explosive Muscular Strength & Power Output
• Boosts Muscular Anaerobic Endurance
• Increases Aerobic Endurance
• Increase Exercise Capacity so You Can Train Harder & Longer


Where do I get Beta-Alanine?


The best Beta-Alanine that is out on the market right now is the one that I am taking, which is put out by Biotest. They have great products that are of the highest quality and are known for their customers who trust their supplements. Visit Biotest at: http://www.biotest.net to get your B-A today!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Don't Use the "Weather Excuse"



This entire week, we have had rain in the typically sunny Santa Clarita Valley. Rain to the extent that we have been wet, non-stop, for the last 3 days. My training plan has included everything from my longest brick of the week (2.5 hours ride/45 mins run) tomorrow, swim tonight, and then yesterday- a 1.5 hour ride/30 mins run. The rain is not going to end until MAYBE Sunday.

So, needless to say, these have all be inside or will be inside workouts. Today was the absolute best workout, though- as I ran 10 miles in the rain- torrential rain. I mean, it even started hailing on me, and my feet were soaked at the first 1/4 mile. I have a great rain jacket that I wear, which keeps me wet and from getting too cold. It was a brisk 40 degrees F, so it wasn't like it was a comfortable rain, had I gotten too wet. The cars would drive by and splash me- completely soaked! It was fun, though. I couldn't help but smile and enjoy all that I was experiencing. Even the brief periods of hail was enjoyable. Not at first, but after the first minute- it was fun.

I spent 9 years of my life through college/grad school and then 3 years after in the Midwest. I would wake up at 5am, 3x's a week, to meet our running group at the Y, year-round, and can remember -30 degree wind chill factor days, and that would never stop us. So, I promised myself that when I moved back to SoCal, I would never use weather as an excuse. And, today- I proved that promise to myself to be true. Unless it is unsafe (especially when it comes to the bike), get outside and enjoy some less than perfect conditions sometimes. It will make you a stronger athlete- and, honestly- it is a lot of fun. Plus, it will prepare you for that race day when conditions are less than ideal.

Have a great training day!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Get Into High Gear

So, have you ever wondered what it takes to swim/bike/run faster in a race? Well, of course, you must swim/bike/run. But, what makes you faster is if you do all of these activities at an intense pace- at least once a week. In order to run fast in a race, you must practice running fast outside of the race (i.e. Lactate Threshold or VO2 Max workouts). If you are just simply swimming/biking/running "junk miles"- as I call them, miles without a focus- then you will not wake up on race day and with the added adrenaline of the day itself be able to race your best. You must practice what you aspire to do in a race in your training, and too often, I see athletes reside in a comfort zone that will never get them to a higher phase in their training. Simply because they don't train hard enough.

That being said, I pushed myself today- on the bike. Which is my focus for this year FOR SURE. That is where I am going to cut the most time off of my IM times. I have added some speed focus and an LT workout at least once a week. So, my workout today:

FYI: My max HR is around 190
15 min warm-up: HR steady, up to 150 HR before the beginning of my first Set.

1st Set: 14 mins total: Set a Gear that would be difficult to hold at your fastest cadence for 2 mins. Then, slowly increase every 2 mins by 2-3 RPM. So, I started at 150 HR and by the 7th 2-mins, I was pushing 180. Actually, by the 6th, I was at 180, at 95 RPM.

1 min rest (HR only dropped to 162 after that minute...and I am very in shape :)

2nd Set: 14 mins total: Same as the first set, but I finished the 6th and 7th 2-min RPM increases at a higher gear, and pushed to max HR- or at least to 185 and held that for the final 3 mins.

10 min cool down


It felt great and I was feeling pretty strong after it. I have a day off tomorrow, so I am hoping that I can rest my legs and have some good recovery for these next 6 days after. I have an important brick on Wednesday, going into a 10 miler on Thursday. But, all at a good clip- I am not putting in junk miles this year. Up the intensity for a higher quality workout!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Think of Food As Fuel




Eating a healthy, or clean diet is more important than the exercise put in by an individual when it comes to losing weight or body fat. Think of your body as a well-working machine. If you feed your machine the cleanest fuel, it will perform better - faster, stronger, and more efficient. I tell my clients to think about the food that they are putting into their mouth, and if their choices are not getting them closer to their fitness goal, then don't consume it: simple as that. I would venture to say that diet is almost 70% of the weight loss battle, where as exercise is 30%. You should have a good idea about what types of food are considered "clean" foods for which to fuel your body and which ones are unhealthy foods. (If not, there is probably a good chance that you are not losing weight because of this reason.) Remember that it is human nature to overestimate the amount of "good" food that a person eats and underestimate the number of total calories that a person eats in a day. You can try out this theory by keeping a food journal for a week. You might be amazed at just how many calories you are eating in a day, or how few you are consuming. One of the biggest problems that people have is that they don't eat enough, or frequently enough.

Most of my clients don't eat enough of the food that is going to get them lean or they are uneducated about the nutritional value of most foods. Some big tips for how to eat clean is to keep a balanced diet of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. A good split in a 2000 calorie diet would include a breakdown of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. If you want to lose 1lb a week, you must eat 500 calories less than you burn for 7 days and a total of a 3500 calorie deficit equals 1lb lost. You must always eat breakfast, and if you are going to eat carbs, try! to eat them at this time of day, and around the time of your workout.

Try to eat 5 to 6 small meals a day, each meal consisting of 200-300 calories. Increase the consumption of high density, low calorie foods such as vegetables. I always have some lean protein and veggies for dinner, which is completely filling and satisfying. Limit the amount of sugars you eat, while also watching your consumption of alcohol. When I say limit, I mean keep these servings to about 1-2 a week. Trust me, if you cut them out, after a week or two your body will not crave them anymore. Increase the amount of water that you drink and, the biggest thing of all; you don't need to starve yourself in order to lose weight. The best 'diet' is one that is not called a diet, but that is seen as an overall healthy food menu that includes all your fuel types in moderation and in proper proportions. Moderation is key and yes, there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing"- so, watch your portions!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Prep for Oceanside Half-Ironman...



I have now seriously started to train for the Half-Ironman in Oceanside, CA, which is now only 10 weeks away. Last year, I finished 14th in my Age Group in one of the most competitive races of the season. Part of what makes this race so competitive (at least last year) was that it was the first qualifier for Kona. They had Kona slots- only if you took 1st in your AG- for Kona at the World Championships. It was nice to think I had a chance to qualify there- I raced like I did. But, after I finished, and realized that I did (in fact) better my 1/2 Ironman time by over 20 minutes, I was happy and set my sights onto Wisconsin (IM). This year, I am going in with the same fervor and excitement, but my focus is a bit further away- looking to peak at Ironman UK and Ironman AZ(II).

I had 2 weeks of fairly solid base training, coupled with some speed/tempo workouts. I am going into my 3rd week and feel pretty good. I am taking today off (Tuesday) as it is my busiest day at work. I plan on using Mondays/Thursdays/Fridays as my long days for riding/bricks, Saturday as my speed day for running, Wednesday as my longer tempo run day, and then Sunday as solid brick focused day. I am swimming 3x/s a week, along with strength training 2 x/s. It feels good to get back into it thus far. Today, however- no training. Only massage- at 3pm. Gotta run!

Have a great workout today!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Don't Have Time...

That is the fattest excuse that I have ever heard, so don't give it to me. One of my biggest pet peeves is that people do not have enough time to workout or eat right or spend quality time for themselves to get themselves in shape. Truth is, there are only 24 hours in a day. Everyone has that much. It is what you do with those 24 hours that makes the difference. And if you learn to PRIORITIZE, you can get the stuff done that you want to get done. If you didn't have time to work out, it is because you didn't prioritize it that day. If your car broke down, do you think you would rush over and get it fixed- drop everything to make that appointment and get that car ready to run again? I am pretty sure you would. If you are fat, but don't take the time to workout during the day (mind you, your body is more important than your car), I have no sympathy for you being the way you are. So, I don't want to hear the time excuse. It will never work with me. Make working out a priority in your life and figure out a way to put it into a regular schedule!

Have a great workout!

Erika

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Enjoy Life Now

Stop right this minute and, if you are one of the five people reading this, make a list- #1-#5. I want you to write down 5 things that are going right for you in your life- right now. Today. Write them down. You can think in a broad and/or narrow sense. I listed health as #1, but then I listed the fact that I finished swim practice tonight in 50 degree weather at #4. List 5 things, though.



Then, after you listed them, take a hard look at them. Ask yourself- how did you get these things right? Why are these things working in your life? Will you keep them up? Should you be more thankful for them? Take a step back and truly, truly understand that life is a one-day-at-a-time occurrance and tomorrow is not guaranteed for everyone. Stop complaining about the little things and truly recognize how valuable you are to yourself right now- in this moment.

A great quote that puts this into perspective that I thought I would share:

"Be Where You Are: Otherwise, You Will Miss Your Life"

Don't miss a second of it. Make each second count and don't regret anything you have or have not done.

Here's to 2008!

Clancy, Mike and I

Clancy, Mike and I
SB Tri Finishers- Nice Tiles!