Newsletter Archives: Volume16, April 2000
Why do I need to run a 26-mile
training run before the marathon?
I get a lot of feedback on this one. My name is used in vain, they
tell me, during the 26-mile training run. But within 24 hours, the
wonderful realization and confidence takes hold: "I'm a marathoner!"
On each long run, including the 26-miler, most who are training
for their first marathon are running farther than they have ever
gone in their lives, by two to three miles. After running the 26-mile
training run, the training is complete. You won't have to push your
wall back during the marathon itself. You have arrived.
The confidence bestowed by that 26-mile achievement will take away
many of the nervous anxieties leading up to the marathon itself.
You're going to have some negative messages from that left side
of the brain anytime you attempt a challenge like this. You'll reduce
them down to a manageable level after the completion of this, the
ultimate long training run.
reprinted from Jeff Galloway's new Marathon! (Phidippides Publication,
2000), p. 7
Why Do Walk Breaks Work?
By Using Muscles in Different Ways - From the Beginning - Your
Legs Keep Their Bounce As They Conserve Resources
Walk breaks keep you from using up your resources early. By alternating
the exertion level and the way you're using your running muscles,
these prime movers have a chance to recover before they accumulate
fatigue. On each successive walk, most or all of the fatigue is
erased, bestowing strength at the end. This reduces the damage to
the muscle dramatically, allowing you to carry on your life activities
even after a marathon.
Walk breaks force you to slow down early in the run so that you
don't start too fast. This reduction of the intensity of muscle
use from the beginning conserves your energy, fluids and muscle
capacity. On each walk break, the running muscles make internal
adaptations, which give you the option to finish under control,
increase the pace, or go even further.
When a muscle group, such as your calf, is used continuously step
by step, it fatigues relatively soon. The weak areas get overused
and force you to slow down later or scream at you in pain afterward.
By shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles,
you distribute the workload among a variety of muscles, increasing
your overall performance capacity. For veteran marathoners, this
is often the difference between achieving a time goal . . .or not.
Walk breaks will significantly speed up recovery because there
is less damage to repair. The early walk breaks erase fatigue, and
the later walk breaks will reduce or eliminate overuse muscle breakdown.
reprinted from Jeff Galloway's new Marathon! (Phidippides Publication,
2000), p. 37
The Athlete's Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark, MS, RD 4/2000
Protein Shakes: Do they add power to your sports diet?
"Which brand of protein shake is best to gain weight?"
"How many protein shakes should I drink in a day?"
"Is designer protein better than, let's say, chicken...???"
Active people have lots of questions about protein, protein shakes,
and their role in an exercise program. Do these engineered foods
provide superior sports nutrition? By looking around the health
food store, the abundance of protein shakes suggests they are a
popular item. They are promoted as a simple way to eat well without
cooking. Ads also suggest these "designer foods" are better than,
let's say, chicken and tuna.
If you are wondering about the role of protein shakes in your sports
diet, keep reading. The following information can help you evaluate
the best ways to optimize your protein intake--as well as spend
your food budget wisely.
Question: "I want to bulk up and gain weight.
I've started drinking three protein shakes per day as between meal
snacks. (This is what the manufacturer recommends.) Is this enough
or too much?
Answer: To determine how many protein shakes you
need, you first should determine how much protein your body actually
can use. While adequate protein is important to enhance muscle growth,
more may not be better. Excess protein will not convert Joe Wimp
into Mr. Muscle. To bulk up, you need extra calories, adequate protein,
and hard training--plus good genetics.
Most exercise scientists agree 1 gram of protein/pound of body
weight is a very generous protein allowance for athletes building
muscle mass. (More likely, 0.5 to 0.75 gms protein/ pound will do
the job just fine, but let's be generous.) This means a novice 180
pound body builder gets more than enough protein with 180 grams
of protein/day. He can easily consume that much in one quart of
skim milk, two cans of tuna, and 8 ounces (two small breasts) of
chicken. Because you can get more than enough protein from your
diet, you have no need to consume shakes on top of this. You simply
need more wholesome calories-easily consumed by drinking extra juice
and lowfat milk.
Question: Is the protein in designer shakes more
effective than the egg whites, tuna, and chicken I eat with my meals?"
Answer: With names like Lean Mass, N-large, Pure
Protein, Lean Protein, and Protein Revolution, the scientifically
engineered products can leave you wondering if mundane chicken,
tuna, and eggs are an equal match. Plus, ads that rave "extremely
bioavailable whey protein isolate", "no cheap protein blends" and
"highest quality protein" also leave the impression that tuna doesn't
quite make the grade. Doubtful.
The protein from natural foods works perfectly fine, despite having
no labels that claim "premium protein," "hydrolyzed protein," or
"ion-exchanged whey." Any animal protein is "high quality" and contains
all the essential amino acids you need to build muscles. Eating
balanced meals and then drinking protein shakes for "high quality
protein" is an outrageous concept--and expensive. Don't bother!
For the $26 you spend on a box with 12 MetRx packets, you can buy
lots of dried milk powder--the least expensive protein power around.
And you'll get not only high quality protein, but also a whole package
of balanced nutrition--perfectly designed by Nature.
Question: I get confused when I read the ads in
muscle magazines. They are filled with terms like "protein digestibility"
and "bioavailability." Does this make them better?
Answer: In an overall well balanced diet, engineered
protein offers no advantages over standard protein-rich foods. As
long as you are healthy and have a functioning digestive tract (as
opposed to patients in the hospital with intestinal disease), you
need not worry about your ability to digest or utilize protein.
Digestibility and bioavailability are an issue in third-world countries
where protein and calorie intakes are inadequate and every amino
acid counts--but not in America where protein and calorie excesses
are more common than deficiencies. (Adequate calories are needed
to spare protein from being burned for fuel.)
Question: I'm lazy and have started to drink a
protein shake for breakfast instead of eat cereal. Is that OK?
Answer: As an athlete, your body needs a foundation
of carbohydrates at each meal to fuel your muscles. Some protein
is important to build, protect, and maintain muscles, but too much
protein displaces carbs. That is, by having a protein shake instead
of cereal, you may consume only 20 to 30 grams of carbs as compared
to 100+ grams with your cereal, milk and banana. Athletes should
target 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. That's
at least 450 grams for the 150 pound athlete. Protein shakes fail
to help you reach your carb quota--and can leave you feeling easily
Cereals also offer more fiber and other health-protective nutrients
than do engineered foods. Hence, I recommend you be responsible
instead of lazy. You have taken on the responsibility to train;
you can also take on the responsibility to eat whole foods that
fuel well. No engineered food can match the complex balance of nutrients
designed by Nature. Sure you can save the protein shake for "emergency
food" on hectic days, but keep the cereal as part of your standard
Question: I eat very little protein at the college
dining hall. I think I should supplement my diet with protein powder,
but I don't have much money to spend on protein shakes. How can
I make my own?
Answer: Packaged protein shakes are indeed expensive.
You can either spend $2.30 for a packet of MetRx ($0.06/gram of
protein) or you easily make your own version for less than $0.03/gm
protein. Here's my favorite: In a blender, mix 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup
milk powder, 2 tablespoons instant pudding mix (any flavor; this
thickens the shake to a pleasant consistency) and 4 ice cubes. Blend
for a minute ot two, until the ice is gone. Optional: add banana,
berries, and/or sweetener as desired. This shake offers 16 grams
of protein. Also eat some canned tuna and cottage cheese, and you've
succeeded at boosting your protein easily--without cooking and within
a reasonable budget.
Nancy Clark, MS, RD is nutrition counselor at Boston-area's SportsMedicine
Brookline. She is author of the best selling Nancy Clark's Sports
Nutrition Guidebook, Second Edition. It is available by sending
$20 to Sports Nutrition Services, 830 Boylston St., #205, Brookline
MA 02467 or via www.nancyclarkrd.com
Stay Healthy, Go Nuts
Help your heart can cap your cholesterol: Eat walnuts. According
to a survey of more than 800 farmers in France, people who eat the
most walnuts and walnut oil have the highest levels of heart-friendly
HDL cholesterol, as well as another beneficial cholesterol subfraction
called APO A1. Researchers speculate that walnuts' protective effect
may come from its high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
from Rodale Report, March/April 2000, Vol.19 No.2, p. 2 quoting
from Fitness Swimmer, January/February 2000
Injury of the Month: Burnout
Too Much of a Good Thing
As I've mentioned, running is an addictive activity. Once you've
run long enough to experience the stimulating effects of endurance
exercise, it's hard to turn back. You feel so good, you never want
to let it slide. Your body is used to its daily fix of oxygen, increased
circulation and calming endorphins.
Yet running, like many other pursuits, can be carried too far -
from habit to possession. A highly motivated, hard-driving person
may ride the pendulum swing from an overweight, sedentary lifestyle
to an almost constant preoccupation with running, racing and weight.
The solution soon becomes the problem.
Physical symptoms are obvious early warning signs of burnout. When
activity is increased dramatically or too many races are run, injury
is probably just down the road. There are also mental signs of going
too far. You may not feel like running, you may be depressed, or
you may experience radical behavior changes.
Early Warning Signs: Your body has hormones that
keep you going under periods of stress. Sometimes you may feel even
better than normal when overstressed. Try to be aware of the early
signs of stress so you can back off when they occur and avoid injury
or breakdown. These early signs are:
- Restlessness at night
- Higher pulse rate in the morning. If it's 10% higher, cut back
50% on distance, run each mile one minute slower. If it's 20%
higher, stop running for 3 days.
- Soreness in the feet. If your feet remain sore for a week, stop
running for 2-3 days.
- Pain in your "weak links." If in doubt, take a day or two off
to get the healing process started.
- Change in appetite. If you suddenly feel like eating more, or
less,it may be overstress.
- Lack of desire. Usually your desire to run will be rekindled
during the run, even if things were dragging at first. But if
you have three or more days when the flame is not rekindled, take
a 3-day rest.
- Feeling dead at the beginning and end of a run. Again, take
a 3-day layoff.
- When running is no longer a joy and a release from the pressures
of the world, but a manic pursuit, then family, friends and job
are likely to suffer. Som runners - you probably know a few like
this - jump into it so strongly they let everything else go. Ironically,
they begin to lose the motivation even to run - although they
keep pounding away, day after day. They're miserable, but don't
I've seen many, many burnouts in my running career, with varying
shades of disaster: divorce, separation, friendships ended, social
contacts severed, careers interrupted, etc. The best advice I can
give you to avoid this sad state of affairs is to first, be aware
of the early warning signals - recurring injuries, depression, loss
of motivation, irritability, fixation - and make necessary course
corrections. Secondly, try to keep things balanced and in harmony,
and let running enhance, not rule, your life.
from Galloway's Book on Running, Shelter Publication, 1984, pp.
Erase your inactive past: In the May 2000 Runner's World, "Health
& Fitness Fast Facts," we're told that "The exercise you do later
in life is much more important than the exercise you didn't do earlier
in life, according to a recent study. So if you spent your early
adulthood in a sedentary trance, don't worry. The running you're
doing now matters most." (p. 28) (www.runnersworld.com)
In "10 Tips for Putting Healthful Eating into Practice" (Special
Report section of the April 2000 issue of the Tufts University Health
& Nutrition Letter, pp. 4-5, www.healthletter.tufts.edu),
there are several wonderful reminders on moving to a healthier eating
plan, including getting into the habit of making regular trips to
the grocery store and coming home with lots of fruits and vegetables,
eating some sort of produce at every meal or snack, cooking more
at home so you have more control over ingredients and portions,
eating a healthy breakfast, and remembering to enjoy your eating.
One of the article's great quotes is from Karen Miller Kovach, M.S.,
R.D. of Weight Watchers International in Woodbury, NY, who says
"healthful eating is eating, not not eating." She continues to say
that it's better to focus on what you need more of instead of what
you shouldn't have.
Still Wearing Cotton? The Runner's World staff did some testing
on the new high-tech running shirts and reports the results in the
May 2000 issues, pages 80-83. They give reviews of 10 different
shirts. Basically, there are three good reasons to switch from those
cotton Ts: better wicking, lighter weight and improved cooling.(
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