I’ve written many posts over the years on nutrition and one of main questions I get is regarding breakfast. I am asked about once a week, ‘What, if anything, should I eat for breakfast when I workout early in the morning?” Well, the answer isn't as simple as it may seem as it really depends on lots of factors, including workout type, intensity, duration, and food tolerability. There are many approaches to how we ‘break (our) fast’, with all ends of the spectrum represented when it comes to this question. Some swear by fasted workouts, others absolutely have to eat a solid breakfast before getting into it, others just grab what they can. Most of us fall somewhere in between these extremes.
So let's address what actually happens when we sleep, when we eat, and when we exercise.
Keeping up with the Changing Seasons: How to Keep on Track when the Clock Rolls Back (or Falls Forward)
With the change of the seasons, many of us find it challenging to maintain our fitness routine. Whether it be the shorter days, the colder weather, or the inevitable hiatus from athletic competition we can fall into the trap of struggling to keep our exercise regimen going strong into the Fall and Winter months. Combine that with the Holiday season and its onslaught of office parties, family gatherings, and the food temptations that come along with them, it can be a recipe for health and fitness backsliding of epic proportions. In fact, most Americans gain 10 lbs. over the winter months.
However, bulging waistlines and failed fitness goals don’t have to be the norm when the seasons change. Here are 6 tips to help keep up our momentum as the seasons change:
On a recent trip to visit family in Utah, I went on an early morning recovery run and wound up in the ER. After a long day of travel and a poor night’s sleep, I arose early to run and found myself struggling to maintain an 11:00/mi pace (for me, that’s very, very easy under normal conditions). Initially, I rationalized that I was probably dehydrated from the flight, and that I was now running at 5,000 ft elevation when I live and train at sea level, and that I was tired from not sleeping well. All of those factors were valid reasons as to why I’d struggle, so I pushed on, trying to shake off the extreme fatigue. However, I only made it around the block before deciding to stop and walk back. During that 5 minute run, my heart rate had skyrocketed and I had to sit down on the curb 3 different times just to catch my breath.
Something wasn’t right. And I knew it.
With the heat and humidity of summer quickly approaching, and the race season well under way, I’ve had some athletes and clients ask me why their heart rate tends to climb, even when their perceived effort remains the same. This is commonly known as ‘Cardiac Drift’ or the slightly more technical name, ‘Aerobic Decoupling’. Whether you are a seasoned athlete or an ‘average Joe or Jill’ looking to get outside and enjoy some exercise, it’s helpful to know what this sensation means and how we can avoid it.
It's hard to stress enough how important fueling is for endurance events. This includes every day nutrition, training days, and race day. Many times it’s tempting to go out and run poorly fueled, rationalizing that “it’s only a 2 hour bike ride'' or “I don’t need to eat anything for a long run as I’m going slow”. I also see variations of these two poorly informed thought processes: “I’m not trying to win the race, just finish, so I don’t need to pay attention to all that nutrition stuff”, or the worst of the bunch, “I’m trying to lose a few pounds so I’m not going to eat prior or during my workout”.
All of these are wrong- for all sorts of reasons.
Last month at Ironman Maryland, I raced in the most humid conditions I’ve ever been in. It was 99% humidity at the race start, and dropped off to 90% at the end of the day. It was warm, muggy, and all together pretty painful, with the conditions wreaking havoc on the field of the almost 200 athletes in my division. In the end, I was 5th in my division, but I was only a few minutes off second place, and 83 seconds off 3rd place. 83 seconds over the course of an almost 10 hour race!
Over several weeks, I’ve thought back many times to that race, assessing where I could have made up those seconds. Had I done a few things differently, I could have been second in my division on the day (the first place guy in my division won the entire race outright- an example of how competitive it is in my group).
Over the course of almost 10 hours, there are dozens of choices to make, and any number of details that can contribute to either success or failure.
Usually when a personal trainer, coach, or fitness expert starts talking about nutrition, our eyes glaze over as we conjure images in our mind of exhausting meal prep, weighing our food, and force feeding ourselves bland, ‘healthy food’. I myself have been guilty of droning on and on with clients about macros, carbohydrate periodization, and the pitfalls of fad diets. What I’ve come to find is that most people want a few simple ‘go to’s’ in the kitchen. Simple, tasty, healthy meal options that work for them and their families.
So, in the spirit of summer, I want to share with you my top 3 summertime healthy favorites: an appetizer, main dish, and dessert.
In the dead of summer, running- or working out in general- can be a struggle to say the least. Getting out to fight the heat and humidity, especially when the sun is beating down can be a big ask. Running, cycling, hiking, paddling, swimming, or any other outdoor activity is that much harder in the heat. In fact, at times, even indoor workouts at home, at the gym or in the pool can be a struggle when the temperature is high and the motivation is low.
So what can we do to stay motivated to run (or exercise in any fashion) during the peak of summer? That was a question asked of me by one of my runners earlier in the month, as she was struggling to find the desire to get out and run in the heat. Here’s 6 suggestions I gave her to help keep her motivated:
With the world slowly opening back up, many of us have the chance to start doing things we haven’t done for a while. With the availability of the vaccine and more restrictions being lifted, you may be heading back to the pool, the gym, or the office again. For triathletes, races are starting to happen after an 18 month hiatus, and it’s safe to say some of us are a bit rusty when it comes to racing triathlons (or many other things for that matter). As such, I’ve put together a race timeline and checklist for triathletes and runners to help us dust off the cobwebs and avoid rolling up to the race start without a critical piece of equipment.
Recently, my client Kate (a Southern California grandmother of 9) summitted Kilimanjaro. There were months of preparation, both physically and logistically, just to get to Tanzania. Once there, the hard part began and she had to put on foot in front of the other and push on for 7 days straight. After she arrived back in LA where she lives, she and I discussed her adventure. I asked Kate what was the biggest factor in her success on the trip (some in her group didn’t make it up). She answered without hesitation: The guides.