Monday, August 31, 2009

Easy Snack Foods and Side Dishes for Runners

I’ll first suggest the easiest foods that every runner knows – banana, apple, hard boiled egg, instant bean soup, handful of nuts (I keep a big container of almonds on my desk). Pictured is a container of sliced orange and yellow bell peppers with a single serve container of hummus.

I am in love with Oikos Greek yogurt. 5 ounces contains 80 calories, 20% of the calcium I need, 15 grams protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates and no fat. I mix in fresh berries.

I also love plain fat free organic yogurt. I will buy a large container and portion it out with frozen berries for an anytime snack.

I am enjoying the loaf of hemp bread I got from Uncle Sam’s Health Food, a natural foods store in Troy. It is a mouthful to eat and not sweet, but works well in a PBJ with a glass of soymilk. Jewish Rye is another bread I enjoy, it is low on the glycemic index.

Especially since I have started training for the half marathon, I feel lousy if I eat a “bad” meal on a running day. To make staying on the training diet easier for me, I do the majority of my week’s cooking on Sunday, so I have lunches and snacks for the week.

I am a big fan of eating low on the glycemic index. I picked up a recipe for
Bean Salad from one of Dr. Perricone’s books a few years ago. I combine kidney beans, garbanzo beans, garlic, red onion and scallions and dress it with apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Yummy, healthful and a convenient food to go in a smaller plastic container for a snack at work. I made a big bowl of this on Sunday and will portion it out for use during the week.

What are your favorite snack foods?

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Friday, August 28, 2009

How to Run Long Distances - motivational advice from a teenage runner

I felt motivated to continue training for my upcoming Marine Corps Reserve Half Marathon when I watched a video from Runner’s World – the story ofMacKenzie Riford, 13, and her mom running the JFK 50-miler. MacKenzie ’s advice throughout the video is profound, but her last words are the best – “just get over yourself.”

I have found that much of my boundaries in running are self inflicted – I am too tired, too weak, it’s not possible to run that far, etc, etc.

Luckily for me, training has erased many of those thoughts. I can’t run two miles becomes I can’t run five miles and then my mind opens to maybe I CAN run ten miles, 13.1 miles, and more…

My body is capable of much more than I expect.

What is your best piece of long distance running motivational advice?

Most Read Posts:

How to use a running log
- Click Here

Healthful At Work Snacks for Runners - Click Here

How to Find New Running Routes in your Community - Click Here

Are you training to run a half marathon? Click here to get free nutrition and training tips by email.

Clove Run 15K Race Report

Last weekend’s Clove Run in Castleton, NY was my first encounter with running a race in hot, humid conditions.

I started off slow and made sure to walk through the water stops, drinking at each one, but still found myself dealing with cramping under my ribcage. Walking for 15 – 30 seconds allowed the cramp to resolve, but cramping returned if I ran at a sub 10 minute mile pace.

I was also distracted by the sloshing sound of water in my stomach. I missed the sign for mile 9 so the last mile of the race was confusing and a mental battle of the will. I came in 52nd, with a time of 1:35:34 and a pace of 10:16 minutes per mile. This time was a full 5 minutes off of my Boilermaker PR.

What do you do when a race is in hot, humid conditions?

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Monday, August 24, 2009

What should half marathon runners eat? Recommended ratios of fat, carbohydrate and protein

I am getting serious about my nutrition because I have just committed to running a half marathon. I will be competing in the U.S. Marine Corps Half Marathon on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at Colonie Town Park.

Christine Luff of gives some basic diet information in the article, ‘Diet and Nutrition for Runners; Eat well for good health and running performance.’ Luff says that 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 20% fats is a good balance for a long distance runner’s diet.

I have to keep a close eye on my calcium intake, which Luff says should be 1,000 mg per day. I take a 600 mg calcium pill, drinksoymilk and eat yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese.

I have never had a problem with my weight and I eat what I consider to be a very healthful, simple diet, so I never really looked at the foods I eat before today.

Here is my basic diet:

Breakfast –

1 glass water as I wake up, I am always so thirsty!

Breakfast smoothie:
1 cup water
½ cup frozen blueberries
½ scoop soy spirulina powder
½ apple
½ banana

½ cup slow cook oatmeal
½ cup blueberries
dash cinnamon

Mid Morning meal

Egg Whites
Cheddar Cheese
Whole Wheat Pita

2 Fish oil pills, one now and one at lunch
3 cups green tea or Echinacea tea throughout the day

Lunch – Indian food
½ cup brown rice
2/3 cup Palak Paneer (a half a package)
1/2 cup frozen vegetables
1 Oikos yogurt

¾ cup cottage cheese
½ cup pineapple

Second Snack
¼ cup almonds

Barilla Spaghetti
Vodka Sauce

Third Snack
1 cup vegetable juice

This daily food intake is 2110 calories, 88 grams of fat, 286 grams of carbohydrates, 34 grams of fiber and 120 grams of protein.

Fat: 1 gram = 9 Calories Protein: 1 gram = 4 Calories Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 Calories

According to Luff, my ideal diet should be: 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 20% fats is a good balance for a long distance runner’s diet.

I entered all my foods in Antonio Zamora’s Macronutrient calculator and I am eating a diet that is 49 percent carbohydrates, 22 percent protein and 30 percent fat. My big “bad” fat intake is at lunch, with the cheese in the Palak Paneer and at dinner with the creamy Vodka sauce. I also have fat in my cheddar cheese on the egg pita. I will try to find a lower fat substitute for the prepared foods as well.

Other fats I consume are “good fats” – the avocado, flax seed, and almonds. I want to keep those.

I also need to add more vegetables into my diet. I do enjoy drinking vegetable juice, but do not enjoy plain steamed vegetables unless that have a sauce covering them. The American Cancer Society offers tips on getting 5 fruits and vegetables a day in the article, Fruits and Vegetables: Do You Get Enough?

I will lower the fat in my diet and see if eating a diet with the recommended ratios of fat, carbohydrate and protein improves my performance.

Free training tips for running a half marathon. Click here to get free nutrition tips by email.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Best Protein Powder for runners without cancer causing ingredients?

Mens Health Magazine offers a guide for eliminating cancer causing food additives from your diet with their article entitled, SLIDESHOW: The Ultimate Food Additive Glossary.

The article states that Acesulfame Potassium (Acesulfame-K) is a calorie-free artificial sweetener often used with other artificial sweeteners to mask bitterness. The FDA has approved it for use in most foods, but some health groups claim that the decision was based on flawed tests. Mens Health states that animal studies have linked it to lung and breast tumors.

I have found Acesulfame Potassium in many brands of protein powder available at Target and Wal-Mart. I love adding protein powder to my morning post-run smoothie and I am looking for a brand without dangerous ingredients.

I am now using a soy protein powder with spirulina from the Honest Weight Food Coop in Albany. It tastes fine but all my smoothies are green colored.

If you use a protein powder without any ingredients on the list of cancer causing food additives, please let me know in the comments section!

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Cambridge Valley Cycling Fall Benefit Bicycle Ride

I have started cycling as a form of crosstraining for my 15K training plan. I love it! I got my old, rusty bike with a flat tire tuned up at the Downtube Cycle Shop on Madison Avenue in Albany. I usually ride down to the Corning Preserve bike path and ride for about an hour and a half.

I am thinking of doing this ride in September:


CAMBRIDGE, NY – Historic covered bridges, picturesque farmland, and quaint villages create an unparalleled backdrop for the fifth annual Cambridge Valley Cycling Fall Benefit Bicycle Ride on Saturday, September 19, organized by Cambridge Valley Cycling. Choose from three distance options originating in beautiful Washington County, NY, home to the famous Tour of the Battenkill and Balloon Festival Classic races. The 100 mile ride begins at 8 am, with a 50 mile ride at 9 am, and a 25 mile ride at 10 am. The pre-registration fee is $20 for individuals and $30 for families (add $5 for day-of-event registrations). To register, go to (search: Cambridge) or contact Cambridge Valley Cycling’s Jana King at (518) 677-3530.

Taking in three covered bridges, the 25 mile route passes into Vermont, providing a two state experience. The 50 mile route, possibly the most perfect “two state half century” anywhere, passes through Salem, NY, Rupert, VT, West Pawlet, VT, and Hebron, NY, with moderate climbing and the reward of unsurpassed scenery. Century riders will tour Arlington, Manchester, Rupert, and West Pawlet, in Vermont, and Argyle, NY with difficult climbs along the scenic Hudson Valley. Routes include unique country stores and water stops.

Rides originate at the Washington County Park, Lake Lauderdale Facility on Route 22, four miles north of the village of Cambridge. Arrive early as the famous Cambridge-based Double K Farms will provide pre-ride donuts and refreshments. Enjoy lunch and pie-a-la-mode at the conclusion of the ride. Proceeds will benefit Road to Recovery (an American Cancer Society program providing cancer patients transportation to and from treatments) and Cambridge Valley Cycling.

All riders must sign a release form, wear helmets, obey traffic laws, and check in at the end of each ride. Support vehicles are provided. Riders under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Registration fees are non-refundable. Registration will be limited to 200 participants.

For more information visit or call 518-677-3530.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Best Advice on Using Ice to Heal Sore Muscles and Stop Muscle Pain for Athletes

I visited William J. Smith, C-PED, M.S.P.T. at General Orthopedic in Colonie for a tune-up of my sport specific orthotics. I have been running injury free since I started wearing the orthotic in my running shoes, but I still get blisters on my arches. Mr. Smith adjuested the arch again and recoated the bottom of the orthotic. He said I will get about two years of wear on my orthotic before I will need a replacement.

I felt very proud to show him my finishing time in the Utica Boilermaker 15K race. I would have never been able to run and finish the race without my orthotics.

Mr. Smith asked if I had any more ilio-tibial pain. I smiled and said no, but my ice pack has sure been my best friend in recuperating from my iliotibial band injury earlier this year.

The folks at have published ‘The best advice on the use of ice,’ an article with several tips on how to effectively use ice to heal sore muscles. I agree with their advice on using shorter duration repeated ice treatments instead of one continuous treatment. I did this by moving the ice pack around to different spots on my ilio tibial band.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Running in the Sahara movie review

I had a great time visiting my dad in Sparks, NV but felt like I hadn't exercised in a month when it came time for my 5 mile run last Tuesday. I knew to drink plenty of water but my good physical condition had prevented me from being affected by the altitude - until I laced up my running shoes.

On the run my muscles worked fine but I felt like I was struggling for breath. I kept running (slowly) and came back breathing hard. My dad confirmed that it indeed was the altitude affecting my performance; his house was 4,600 feet above sea level!

Now that I can say I have run in the high desert, I was in the mood for a movie like this:

Fellow blogger Tim Wilson has posted a review of the movie Running the Sahara at his 26.2 Quest blog.

Netflix describes it as follows – “America's Charlie Engle, Canada's Ray Zahab and Taiwan's Kevin Lin embark on an unprecedented quest to traverse the entire Sahara desert -- on foot. Along the way, the runners encounter the beauties and hardships that accompany modern African life. Narrated by Matt Damon, the heart-pumping documentary tracks the athletes on their unbelievable journey through Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Egypt.

Read Wilson’s review HERE.

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