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Here We Are, Ready For Race Day Information…..

This week, stay hydrated, be cautious about what you eat (think healthy), and stay healthy with lots of hand washing and avoiding sick people. Later in the week, lay out every item you need for race morning (shoes, shorts, socks, gels, hydration pack, etc. etc). Pin your bib to the front of your shirt after visiting the Expo.

RACE DAY!!

The half and full marathon start at 7am. Arrive at least one hour prior to the race.

Wake up early enough to take care of everything you must do (eat and drink, visit the bathroom, dress, etc.).

Make a plan to meet your family members and friends at a designated time and place after the race.

Depart for the race site with plenty of time to spare, arrive early enough to park, use the porta-potty, and take care of any last minute details.

Stay off your feet as much as possible prior to the race.

During the Marathon

Don’t start too fast. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and leave the chute at a pace faster than what you’re accustomed to.

Aid Stations

Do not pass up any aid stations on the marathon race course. While it’s acceptable to drink just water in the early miles, runners MUST consume sports beverages no later than 60 minutes of running (and earlier if possible).  At the aid stations, positioned about every 2 miles, water and GU Brew is offered. If you’re not sure what’s in the cup (water or sports drink), politely ask. If necessary, walk through the aid stations to be sure that you are able to consume the entire contents of the cup. If you choose to stop and drink, please stay out of path of approaching runners.  The aid stations will have salt caps as well.  Ask for one if you need it (you can take one about every hour).   Some runners will throw their cups on the ground at the aid station. This is acceptable.  It’s NOT acceptable to throw the cup on the ground past the aid station!  This goes for gel wrappers and other trash as well.  The volunteers appreciate a smile and a simple thank you from runners; we can’t do this without their time and energy.

Take time to enjoy the spectators, participants, and the scenery of the course.

Stop negative thoughts dead in their tracks.  Repeat your mantra over and over.

Think about how proud family members and friends will be of you and your accomplishment.

Immediately Following the Race

Visit the VIP Tent to get something to eat and drink.   If you plan to celebrate with a little alcohol, wait until you’ve had a nutritious meal.  Stretch and keep moving to minimize muscle soreness. Resist the urge to lay down or take a LONG nap. Soaking your legs in cold water aids recovery.  Take time to celebrate your huge accomplishment!
Take it all in!  You’ve accomplished something very few people in the general population have ever done!  Your final race time is less important than the medal you’ll adorn yourself with upon crossing the finish line, not to mention the lifetime of memories. I once heard this…”The real troopers are those who are out on the course far longer than the front runners, they are on their feet longer and may even have more determination to keep moving forward!”
Enjoy the race! You’ve worked hard and whether know it or not, you’ve inspired others along the way.
The finish line isn’t the end.  This journey has no end! I’ve enjoyed being a part of this with you.

Boston Contest winner is Vicky King of Salida……

Vicky-King-2012Vicky King of Salida wasn’t supposed to be running the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon on March 18. She was supposed to be home with her hubby, celebrating 34 years of wedded bliss. But when she couldn’t find a marathon she wanted to do about the same time, she got the blessings she needed from her husband, she ran, and boy is she thankful. King is the winner of the SAMM first-time Boston qualifier contest! She wins $1,000 toward her dream trip to compete in the 2013 Boston Marathon.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” said a stunned King. “What news! Oh my goodness!”

King did the SAMM half marathon last year. “Modesto just kept tugging at me (this year), for many reasons. It’s local. My family could come watch me. … It’s a fast course. I really, really enjoyed it. This is my backyard. … The orchards and the fields were just beautiful. And the people out there were amazing!”

King qualified for Boston in only her second marathon. Her first was the inaugural Santa Barbara Marathon in 2010, where she ran well at 4:11:10, with her only goal to complete the course. But in Modesto, she had the “ultimate dream” of qualifying for the prestigious Boston Marathon. “My friends kept urging me to enter the contest.” This is the second year SAMM has sponsored the contest.

“I was trying to do under 4 (hours) on the clock,” she said. “Actually, I wanted to do 3:59:59. But when the 4-hour pacer went by me and started getting out of sight, I thought, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.” King said her quads were cramping for half the race and she felt like she was all over the place, literally kicking herself in the ankles. But she persevered and when she turned the corner to head toward the finish line, she knew she could qualify for Boston.

King has been running since 2005, when she was undergoing some stressful times in her life. She entered her first race at age 49 — the 5K Lodi Easter run —  to “celebrate God and what He had done” in helping her get past her struggles.

Now the biggest struggle King has to face is finding airfare and a place to stay in Boston, while navigating the rules of applying for the Boston Marathon … all new territory for her. “This is monumental,” she exclaimed.

And by the way, while King was traversing the Modesto Marathon course, her husband, a massage therapist, was busy in the finish line area giving out free massages to runners. And they had plenty to celebrate that evening.

Congratulations, Vicky!

Congratulations! And, What’s Next?

Congratulations!

Whether you realize it or not, you have inspired people with your commitment to you marathon goal!

What’s next for you? We hope your commitment to a healthy and active lifestyle is just beginning.

First, you get to rest for a bit. By Wednesday or Thursday, you can start with light, easy running–about 1-3 miles.  Walking and stretching are great too. You can gradually increase the amount of miles you run as the days go by.  Generally speaking, your body needs one day for every mile you ran for recovery.   Feeling a little sad that it’s over?  It helps to set some goals so that  you have a reason to maintain your current level of commitment and fitness. Everyone’s goals vary.  Some suggestions include:  run a certain amount of miles each week, run a designated number of days per week, cross train more,  train for another race, etc. Check out shadowchase.org-we always have upcoming events posted there.  You don’t have to hurry to train for a full marathon again. Consider other distances. Think about trail running (a group of us go often!).  Or, just go out and run for fun, you certainly don’t have to sign up for a race to have a reason to run.   Consider volunteering at an upcoming race.  You experienced, first hand, the value of volunteers at the Modesto Marathon.

Ongoing– Every Tuesday:  There is always a Shadowchase group at the track every Tuesday night.  The workout is posted weekly on the yahoo group.  (Join the yahoo group!).  You don’t need to be intimiated by the “fast” runners.  Do what you can on the track.  A weekly speed workout is beneficial for you and your continued progress.

Every Sunday:  Runners and walkers meet at Save Mart (corner of Oakdale and Scenic in Modesto) at 8am.  We run in the park and meet afterwards for coffee.  These informal meetings are informative, fun, and you can ask questions too. You’re sure to meet some new friends in the group too.   Look in your Shadowchase monthly newsletter.  There are groups that meet at 5am at Mr. T’s in Modesto and at Starbucks in Escalon.  Remain in touch with your new running friends and plan runs together.  We have a run of the month in various locations, all info is in the newsletter.

Finally, we hope that you’ll join us again for our next Modesto Marathon Training group this fall.  Choose a different race or do the same distance and work toward a specific goal time.  Encourage a friend to join you and impart all of your new found knowledge on them; mentor a buddy!   We are working on a celebration to acknowledge your amazing efforts.  More info to follow on this event.   Even though the “official training” is over, you’re part of a world class running club now, and any of us welcome your questions and would love to continue to support you.  So, it’s never over!   Please email anytime.  And, I’ll look for you out there. It’s been a pleasure to join you on this part of your journey.  Susan
P.S. I have attached the instructions for getting connected with the ShadowChase Yahoo group.  It’s for members only and people post questions, comments, info about new products, upcoming runs, etc. etc.  Please join if you haven’t already.

It’s Taper Time!!!

With just 20 days until the Modesto Marathon, it’s finally time to “taper.”  I want to share the following article with you so that you’d understand just exactly what tapering means. (source: www.runnersworld.com)

 The final 3 weeks are the most important in any marathon-training program. Here’s everything you need to know and do leading up to race day.

By Bob Cooper    Published 12/09/2003

Every good marathon-training plan should “taper” during those final 21 days. That means you run less and rest more. For some people, the idea of backing off on their training just before the big race seems counterintuitive. “So many runners train hard right up to the day of the marathon because they’re desperately afraid of losing fitness if they don’t,” says Patti Finke, who coaches 250 marathoners a year as co-director of the Portland (Oregon) Marathon Clinic. “What they don’t realize is that in those last few weeks it’s the rest more than the work that makes you strong. And you don’t lose fitness in 3 weeks of tapering. In fact, studies show that your aerobic capacity, the best gauge of fitness, doesn’t change at all.”

Research reveals a lot more than that. A review of 50 studies on tapering published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones–all depleted by high mileage–return to optimal ranges during a taper. The muscle damage that occurs during sustained training is also repaired. And if that isn’t enough, immune function and muscle strength improve, as well, which reduces the odds you’ll catch a cold or get injured just before the race. And get this: The average performance improvement by the subjects who tapered in these studies was 3 percent. That works out to 5 to 10 minutes in a marathon.

The review’s main conclusion: “The primary aim of the taper should be to minimize accumulated fatigue, rather than to attain additional physiological adaptations or fitness gains.” In other words, it’s time to chill.

Proper Clothing & Shoes

Clothing…

There’s a saying…”Cotton is rotten.” It applies to your running clothes (even your socks)! No cotton! For your
clothing, look for items that are marked “dri-fit,” or “moisture wicking.” The fabric is NOT cotton. These types
of fabric pull moisture away from your body and then it dries quickly. While you won’t be absolutely dry you
will be much more comfortable and less likely to chafe. Chaffing is a condition that some people deal with, and
it’s painful. The right fabric can help. If you find that you’re chaffing even while wearing dri-fit items, you can
purchase a product called Body Glide at any sporting goods store. It looks like a container of deodorant, and can
make a big difference.

Shoes…

Why are running shoes sooo important? Running shoes are the most important piece of equipment a runner
has! A shoe that’s perfect for one person may not work for another. Everybody has different shaped feet, strides,
and body mechanics. Running in improperly fitted shoes is a leading cause of injuries! So, it’s much more than just
making your feet happy!

Why do I need to be “fitted”? The professionals at On the Run are some of the few around that will take the time to
fit your properly! They stand behind their recommendation.

How much can I expect to spend on a pair of running shoes? Between $100-$130. This may sound like a
significant amount of money…however, it’s a relatively small price to pay if you take into account that doctor bills
for injuries cost far greater than well fitted shoes!

Running shoes aren’t in my budget right now, should I still go? Please go get your feet measured.

Jon Olsen Successfully Defends His 2010 SAMM Title

jonolsen2011

Were you confident you’d repeat as winner this year?

Absolutely not! I knew of three competitors that had faster PR’s than me. My training was ahead of last year but I thought at best I would run 2:40. I thought the winning time would be a few minutes faster, 2:37 or so. I am glad I had reserved myself to running my race and placing as high as I could because that strategy paid off in the end. If I had tried to run with the leaders, I don’t think I would have won. I would like to add one other thing. There was a part of me that was very nervous about being the defending champion. I wanted to prove to everyone that last year wasn’t a fluke. I wanted to prove that I belonged at the top of the podium. I think this nervousness helped me train harder and in turn focus on speed. Knowing there was a handful of fast runners in the race, helped me relax and run my race. As they say, “It’s easy getting to the top, the hard part is staying there.”

Did the weather help or hinder your race strategy?

I really felt the difficult conditions would help me because over my ultra running career I had seen it all. Hot, cold, rainy, windy, you name it. I have seen it. It didn’t make me nervous. It gave me confidence that I might get lucky and the front runners would wear each other out. I don’t know if that is what happened but I was able to pick up the pieces.

What is your marathon PR? How long have you been running?

This race was my marathon PR.(2:39:42). I know it wasn’t ideal marathon conditions, but I benefited from a well thought out race strategy, solid training, and a little (a lot) bit of luck sprinkled in.

How many marathons have you run? Ultras?

Nine marathons and 32 ultras.

Are you training for any race in particular?

I am currently training for the Ruth Anderson 100k April 23rd, which is also on roads. My training leading up to the Modesto marathon was to prepare myself for the 100k but with an emphasis on speed tempo runs. I have no plans after this. I am considering training for another marathon in late August or run 100 mile road race in late August or middle of September.

What are your future running goals?

I want to dedicate the next four years to see how fast I can run the marathon. I have plenty of ultra years after that (age 41 by then) but I have only so many “speed” years left. Breaking 2:30 in the marathon would be nice, but I don’t know if it is realistic. I’m going to give it a shot though. My short term goal … is to run sub 7:20 for 100k on road. I ran 7:32 last year, but I went into that race a little banged up and tired. This year my body feels good and I think if things go my way, it is a possible to break 7:20.

What did you think of the Modesto Marathon? The course?

There are a couple of things I like about this course. The first thing is the “flatness.” You can really get into a rhythm out there and living here, my training is primarily on flat surfaces like the Modesto Marathon. I also like the out and back format as a front runner. You can see your competition and all the other competitors on the course that you generally might not see. The marathon is well run. The volunteers are friendly and ready to help and that helps for a smooth race for everyone in the race.

You are a TRM coach. What do you have to say about that program and your students this year?

It is a major success! Our group size increased from 14 in 2010 to 40 in 2011. When you can get 12 to 14 year old kids to train for six months, four days a week, to do anything not only a half/full marathon, that is amazing! We are reaching at-risk kids along with academically socially economically gifted kids. One of the joys of this program is to see these students, that would normally not hang out together, overcome those obstacles to become friends.

Where is your favorite training route?

A boring 16 to 17 mile recovery run on the canal near my house out to Waterford. I typically will do this run on Sunday afternoons while my kids are taking a nap. I love looking out into fields and see the changes as the seasons change. I can just get in a rhythm and just enjoy the day. The run seems to always feel effortless.

Do you train with someone or mostly solo?

I train with John Souza a couple days a week when both of us are healthy. That is a rarity these days however. So, I mainly train by myself. I don’t mind it but after a while it can become wearing.

Advice for new runners and future TRM runners?

Don’t run too much too early when you are just getting started. You will open yourself up to injury and a lot of soreness. Incorporate some walking into each workout. This will give your body the needed time to adapt to your new activity. Those running muscles need time to grow and heal. But overall, just have fun! Don’t get caught up in the competitiveness of running that sometimes can monopolize the sport. Enjoy the thrill of completing the distance and the time spent with friends. Life is too short.

San Franciscan Michelle Meyer Captures the 2011 Women’s Crown

michellemeyer2011What made you enter the Modesto Marathon? How did you hear about it?

I discovered the Modesto Marathon online on http://www.runningintheusa.com/ and saw that it was a fast, flat course that was relatively close to my home in San Francisco. I thought that this marathon would be a perfect final long training run for the Boston Marathon, so I signed up!

What is your marathon PR?

My marathon PR is actually what I ran at the Modesto Marathon this year: 2:52:25.

How long have you been running?

I began running as part of gymnastics training when I was about ten years old. I was a competitive gymnast during elementary and middle school, but when I grew too tall for the sport, I switched to volleyball, basketball, and track in high school. I raced the 1600m and 3200m for Carmel High School (2001-2005), occasionally competing in the 800m and 4x400m relay as well. At Stanford, I trained on my own and ran several marathons (Napa in 2006 and Boston in 2007), but didn’t really start running in many races until graduating from Stanford in 2009. Since moving to San Francisco in the fall of ‘09, I have run in 40 races, ranging in distance from 5Ks to marathons. I love running and racing, and I hope to continue running for as long as possible.

How many marathons have you run? Is that your specialty? Are there different distances you prefer?

The Modesto Marathon was my 7th marathon (so far!) I enjoy running both marathons and half-marathons – I’m currently training with the goal of improving my marathon time, but the half-marathon might be my favorite distance because it doesn’t take quite as much of a toll on your body.

Previous marathons:

  • California International Marathon (2010): 2:53:19 (2nd place for 20-24 age group)
  • Nike Women’s Marathon (2010): 2:56:25 (2nd woman overall)
  • Oakland Marathon (2010): 2:59:25 (1st woman overall)
  • California International Marathon (2009): 2:59:27 (4th place for 20-24 age group)
  • Boston Marathon (2007): 3:14:51 (2nd place for 19-and-under age group)
  • Napa Valley Marathon (2006): 3:16:14 (8th woman overall, 1st place for 19-and-under age group)

Are you training for any race in particular?

I’m currently training for the Boston Marathon in April and for Grandma’s Marathon in June. I hope to run a variety of shorter-distance races over the next few months as well, including Bay to Breakers in May, but I haven’t set any other firm racing plans yet.

What are your future running goals?

My long-term running goal is to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon! The current “B” standard is 2:46:00, so I still have quite a bit of work to do before making this cutoff, but I would love to give it my best shot. In the short term, I hope to break 2:50 in the marathon and 1:20 in the half marathon. I haven’t really trained strategically before for a specific race – I’ve been running mostly on my own, just for fun without a specific training schedule. However, I recently joined the Impalas, an all-women racing team in San Francisco, and I hope to improve my running times while training with this amazing group of women.

What did you think of the Modesto Marathon? The course? Our weather?

The marathon course itself was very fast and flat, though the headwind on the way back was pretty brutal! It would be great to run this course on a beautiful day.

Are you originally from SF? What do you do for a living?

I grew up in Carmel, Calif., studied Human Biology at Stanford; then moved to San Francisco after graduating from college in 2009. I work as a clinical research coordinator in the obstetrics and gynecology department at UCSF and am currently applying to medical school. I’m very excited to have been accepted to several medical schools, but I am waiting until the application process is over before making a final decision.

Where do you train in SF? Best routes?

I love to run everywhere in San Francisco – I feel that running is the best way to get to know a place and to see parts of a city that you would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. Some of my favorite longer running routes are:

  1. Starting from the Marina, run along Crissy Field, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito and back. Great views and relatively flat.
  2. Starting from Kezar Stadium, run through Golden Gate Park, along the Great Highway, around Lake Merced and back. This is actually part of the Nike Women’s Marathon course.
  3. Starting from the Marina, run along Crissy Field, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge to Land’s End and back. This run has stunning views of the ocean on a clear day, and the trails in Land’s End are fantastic.
  4. Running along Embarcadero in the early morning – fast, flat, and the tourists aren’t out yet!
  5. Running up Twin Peaks and Mount Davidson – these are some great hills and offer some terrific views of the city.
  6. Running in the Marin Headlands or Mount Tamalpais. There are some stunning views of San Francisco from the Headlands, and Mount Tam offers some great hills and trail runs.

Do you train with a club or group or do you mostly solo?

Although I have been training mostly by myself for the past few years, I recently joined an awesome racing all-women racing team, the Impalas, and have begun training with them as well.

Advice for new runners?

Congratulations on finishing your first marathon! (or half-marathon!) It’s an amazing accomplishment, and hopefully you have been inspired to do another one (or two, or twenty…) If you ever find yourself getting bored with running, think about what motivates you – do you love to run because of the “runner’s high”? The people you train with? The excitement of racing? The challenge of setting and meeting new goals? It helps to know what motivates you and to use these motivators to give yourself an extra push if and when you need it. It’s also good to keep your running exciting by changing up your current routine – if you run by yourself, try running with a group; if you run the same route every day, explore a completely new place; if you run on mostly flat terrain, challenge yourself with some hills; if you run with music, leave the iPod at home for a few days; if you run on roads, get out on some trails, etc. If you love to race, try different types of races, distances, and locations – each race definitely has its own unique character and different appeal. Just keep running!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for putting on such a well-run event! Everything was great, from the pre-race expo to the flat course to the awesome spectators cheering in the rain (thank you so, so much for your support in that weather!)

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We have launched our website!

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Motivating Kids in Physical Activity

Motivation is defined as behavioral choice, effort, persistence, and performance.

It can be characterized by frequency, intensity, time (F.I.T.), and level of physical activity.

Why children and adolescents participate in physical activity (leisure time activity, organized sports) — 3 major motives:

  1. Youths want to develop and demonstrate physical competence/adequacy, such as athletic skills, physical fitness, and physical appearance.
  2. Gaining social acceptance and support, including friendships, peer group acceptance, and approval, reinforcement, and encouragement by significant adults (parents, teachers, coaches) is important to initiating and continuing participation.
  3. Fun derived from participation maximizes positive and minimizes negative experiences related to physical activity.

The first 2 motives improve self-esteem, which enhances enjoyment and in turn promotes physical activity/motivated behavior.

Principles for maximizing motivation:

  1. Focus on teaching and practicing skills:  maximize equipment, facilities, instructors; don’t introduce competitive play too early; make sure it’s fun — provide variety.
  2. Modify skills and activities:  sequential progressions; modify space, equipment, rules; match the activity to the child, not the child to the activity.
  3. Realistic expectations for each child:  individual learning rates and goals.
  4. Become an excellent demonstrator:  lots of “show and tell”; repeated demonstrations; multiple angles.
  5. Catch kids doing things correctly:  complement, instruct, and encourage; provide optimal challenge as a follow-up.
  6. Reduce kids’ fears of trying skills:  provide an encouraging atmosphere — performance errors are part of the learning process; reduce fears of getting hurt — show how you’ve ensured   safety; show empathy.
  7. KISS:  keep instructions short and simple; maximize practice and playing time.
  8. Be enthusiastic:  it’s contagious!  Smile, interact, listen.
  9. Build character:  be a role model; identify and take advantage of teachable moments.
  10. Let children make some choices: involve them in the decision-making process; ask questions.

Sports Nutrition

Introduction

Physical performance depends on multiple factors:

  1. Endurance: length of time a given level of activity can be maintained, or resistance to fatigue;
  2. Aerobic capacity: ability to perform despite symptoms of shortness of breath;
  3. Pain threshold;
  4. Body hydration;
  5. Temperature control.

Physical training maximizes physical performance, and quality practice equals improvement. To achieve maximum benefit of training, proper diet is required. A high-quality sports diet must:

  1. Fuel the muscles for top performance;
  2. Nourish the body;
  3. Contribute to current health and future of longevity.

To satisfy these requirements, the body must have energy, provided by:

  1. Calories and healing capacity, in the form of carbohydrate, protein, fat;
  2. Other nutrient/enzyme systems, in the form of minerals and vitamins;
  3. Circulation to muscles (for nutrients, water, and oxygen).

Carbohydrates

Athletes should eat a 60-70% carbohydrate diet daily for both training and competing. These carbohydrates get stored as muscle glycogen, needed to perform exercise (for faster use), and as liver glycogen, needed to maintain normal blood glucose level (for slower energy use).

The carbohydrates in sugary soda or sports drinks get stored as glycogen but provide little or no vitamins or minerals. The carbohydrates in wholesome fruits, vegetables, and grains also get stored as glycogen plus provide vitamins and minerals, which are the spark plugs that help the athlete’s “engine” to perform at its best.

The average 150 pound active man has about 1800 calories of carbohydrates stored in his liver, muscles, and blood, in the following proportions: muscle glycogen about 1400 calories; liver glycogen, 320 calories; blood glucose, 80 calories.

These carbohydrate stores determine how long an athlete can exercise, although with endurance exercise our bodies also burn fat for fuel, with training enabling us to burn more fat than less fit individuals. Depleted muscle glycogen results in “hitting the wall” and the associated painful muscles and difficulty moving. Depleted liver glycogen results in low blood sugar and causes the athlete to “bonk” or “crash”, feeling extremely fatigued, lightheaded, uncoordinated, and unable to concentrate. Proper daily and pre-exercise nutrition can significantly reduce the development of these problems.

Carbohydrates are important for all athletes regardless of the sport; both runners and weightlifters/body builders need carbohydrate as important fuel.

Protein

For adults the requirement for protein is 0.8-1.5 g/kilograms body weight per day (0.5-0.8 g/pound body weight for active adults; 0.8-1 g/lb. body wt. for the growing athlete). Approximately 5% of the energy cost of exercise is derived from protein.  Excess protein does not build muscle, exercise does. To have adequate energy to perform the muscle building exercise, and recovery, the diet should be approximately 15 to 20% protein.

Endurance athletes need more protein per kilogram than bodybuilders/weightlifters; dieters need more protein than athletes eating their full complement of food; athletes rapidly building muscle have higher protein needs. Vegetarian athletes can obtain adequate protein for their needs, but their diets are still likely to be deficient in iron and zinc, 2 minerals found primarily in animal proteins, particularly in red meats. Iron is important for preventing anemia; zinc is important for healing.

Fat

Fats are also essential for a healthy diet, and besides supplying energy, also supply essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. However, for both cardiovascular health and optimal sports performance, athletes should reduce their intake of fatty, greasy foods such as donuts, pastries, butter, mayonnaise, french fries, and ice cream, which tend to leave the muscles  unfueled, and also may contribute to elevated blood cholesterol and associated heart disease. Dietary goals concerning fat, should provide low cholesterol, minimal saturated and trans fats, in the form of lean meats, and especially fish — fish are beneficial in lowering blood cholesterol and triglycerides. A healthy diet should consist of approximately 25% of these healthy fats.

Minerals and Vitamins

Some minerals important for muscle, nerve, and many bodily functions include: sodium, potassium, calcium, and trace amounts of iron, zinc, magnesium, chromium, and copper.

People at highest risk of suffering from iron deficiency anemia: female athletes (who lose iron through menstruation); athletes who eat no red meats; marathon runners (who may damage red blood cells through “foot strike hemolysis”); endurance athletes (who may lose a significant amount of iron through heavy sweat losses); and teenage athletes (who are growing quickly and may consume inadequate iron to meet their expanded requirements).  Iron from a supplement may be poorly absorbed compared with that found in animal proteins. People who are deficient in iron may also be deficient in zinc because these 2 minerals tend to be found in similar foods.

Vitamins are important for many biological body functions, including muscles, brain and nerves, and other internal organs, but caution should be followed to not take too much vitamins — many authorities believe that vitamin supplementation is not necessary with a proper diet.

Water / Fluids

Fluids transport nutrients to and from the working muscles, dissipate heat (prevent heat exhaustion), and eliminate waste products. Dehydration, when occurring with muscle and/or red blood cell damage, can lead to acute kidney failure. However, excessive intake of water by marathon runners (along with inadequate minerals, mainly sodium and potassium, as well as inadequate calorie intake) has led to water intoxication, which can cause restlessness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, muscle twitching, convulsions, and even death.   Drinking large quantities of water can delay gastric emptying, which can lead to bloating and reduced performance.  Dehydration is much more common of a problem.

To maintain optimal hydration, athletes should follow these guidelines:

1.   Prevent dehydration during training by replacing sweat losses during exercise:  each pound of weight lost equals 2 cups (16 ounces) of sweat. Try to lose no more than 2% of your body weight during a workout (that is, 3 pounds or 3 cups of sweat for a 150 pound athlete). If you become 2% dehydrated, then your work capacity is reduced by 10 to 15%.

2.  Before an event, drink 2 to 3 large glasses of fluid up to two hours before the start. The kidneys require about 90 minutes to process fluids, which allows time to empty the bladder prior to the event. Then 5 to 10 minutes before start time, drink another one or 2 cups of water or sports drink.

3. During hard exercise, or hot weather, ideally drink 8 to 10 ounces every 20 minutes; start drinking early in the event before you are thirsty, to prevent dehydration. 1 cup is 8 ounces, therefore drink 3 to 4 cups per hour, or every 5 to 6 miles if you run a 12 or 10 minute per mile pace, or at least 1 cup every 2 miles.

4. After exercise: the thirst mechanism inadequately indicates whether the body is optimally hydrated; monitoring urination is safer — if several hours passed before an athlete has urinated, or if urine color is dark, then he or she is still dehydrated.

For endurance athletes and those exercising for more than 90 minutes, a sports drink or diluted juice that contains 60 to 100 calories per 8 ounces is best during exercise.

Pre-Competition Meal (Mostly Carbohydrates)

3-4 hrs. before race time for a large meal to digest;

2-3 hrs. for a smaller meal;

1-2 hrs. for a blended or liquid meal;

less than 1 hr. for a light snack, as tolerated.

Eating During Exercise

Trained athletes can metabolize about 1 gram of carbohydrate per minute, at 4 cal./gram of carb. equals  240 cal./hr. of endurance exercise, or 60 cal. per 15 min. (about 8 oz., or 1 cup, of sports drink).

During intense exercise (>70% of aerobic capacity), the stomach gets only 20% of its normal blood flow;  during moderate-intensity exercise, the blood flow is 60-70% of normal, so digestion may be fairly good (e.g. for recreational marathon and ultra-marathoners).  Be sure to experiment with food and fluids during training to determine your tolerance and what works best for you.

Post-Competition / Recovery Eating

Muscles are most receptive to replacing muscle glycogen within the first 2 hours after a hard workout, therefore 200-400 calories of carbohydrate are recommended, then repeat another 2 hrs. later.  Early intake of protein helps with the muscle repair process.

For estimating caloric needs for weight maintenance, multiply the desired weight by 12-15 cal./lb. for moderate activity;  15-20 cal./lb. for higher levels of activity.

For weight reduction, a gradual weight loss (1/2 -1 lb./wk. for women; 1-2 lbs. for men) offers greater long-term success.  Each 3,500 calories lost = 1 lb. of weight lost; e.g. a combined decreased intake of 250 cal. with increase in exercise of 250 cal. per day, 7 days/wk.

Anti-Flammatory Medications: Use With Caution

Anti-inflammatory medications (also called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, NSAID’s) are used extensively by many athletes both before and during activity, with the belief that they help prevent pain and discomfort during their sport and prevent soreness afterwards. However, studies have shown that NSAID’s did not decrease the athletes’ perception of pain during the activity or decrease muscle soreness later.

There are 3 main considerations pertaining to side effects that runners should be aware of.

(individual response and side effects are variable and may be unpredictable)

  1. Inhibiting kidney function, with possible kidney damage.
  2. Increased risk of developing hypertension with regular use of NSAID’s.
  3. Inhibiting recovery of connective tissue after exercise.

Kidney Function

NSAID’s interfere with kidney function, and especially with dehydration, can limit clearance of myoglobin (a byproduct of muscle tissue breakdown during extreme exertion, such as marathons and ultramarathons), and this large molecule then plugs up the small filtering and drainage tubes in the kidneys, resulting in damage. There have been many cases of runners who require hospitalization and sometimes even dialysis after such cases of acute renal failure, and some with residual chronic renal insufficiency.

Preventing dehydration is essential, and some caffeine can even help boost kidney function a bit, as long as fluid intake is maintained.

Risk of Hypertension

One study (of 16,000 men with no prior history of hypertension) showed those who used NSAID’s 6 or 7 times a week had a 38% increased risk of developing hypertension; aspirin use caused a 26% increased risk. Even those who used acetaminophen 6 -7 times a week had an increased hypertension rate of 34%.

Inhibiting Connective Tissue Healing / Recovery After Exercise

Studies on ibuprofen use in ultramarathoners showed significantly more inflammation and other laboratory markers of high immune system response after races compared with runners who had not taken NSAID’s. Besides the laboratory signs of mild kidney impairment, there was evidence of damage to the lining of the G.I. tract (stomach and colon), indicating bacteria leakage from the colon into the bloodstream. NSAID’s slow the healing of running-injured muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones, by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, which are involved in pain and the creation of collagen. Collagen is the building block of most tissues, and fewer prostaglandins means less collagen, therefore inhibited healing of connective tissue after the micro-tears and other trauma to muscles and tissues that can occur after strenuous exercise. This reaction therefore limits the desirable adaptation to exercise of strengthening tissues, and could increase injuries also.

I recommend limiting the use of anti-inflammatory medications to use with acute muscle and tendon strains, along with the use of ice and other first aid and rehab treatments.