You see them everywhere - GU, CLIF Shot, Hammer Products, Luna Sport Moons, etc. But, when do you really NEED to use these products? Marketing tells new runners you need to use them often. However, science may say otherwise. Could these products actually make you slower and be counterproductive to your weight-loss goals when used in the wrong context? Let's take a look.
We all know that word of mouth is a powerful tool, and according to an article authored by Gretchen Voss and published by Fitness Magazine," it's been vital in growing the interest among everyday exercisers, especially women, who go to their local health stores looking for a performance edge. In the past few years the mainstreaming of sports nutrition products has transformed a once-niche market into a $25 billion industry — one that's grown more than 10 percent since 2006, according to experts at the Nutrition Business Journal."
So, how well do these sports nutrition supplements work? These products are loosely regulated by the FDA, and they leave a vast majority of the nutritional navigating up to the consumer. "A company can put a garbage product out on the shelves without a drop of science behind it, but use the most buzzwords — doctor recommended, clinically proven, 30 pounds in 30 days — and that's often the one that sells the most," says Will Brink, author of Fat Loss Revealed, who has been reporting on the supplement industry for two decades. "It's problematic because it overshadows those companies that do actually pay for sound research." That is exactly what some businesses are doing - trying to distinguish themselves in an overcrowded and ever-growing marketplace by publishing study findings in reputable medical journals and eliminating any stigma that consumers, women in particular, might link with an industry once considered to be for bodybuilders only. At the same time, marketers are shifting the language from big and buff to strong and healthy.
Guess what? This marketing is totally working for companies such as GNC whose 2009 second-quarter consolidated earnings of $432.4 million represented more than a 2 percent increase from the same quarter the year before, even in the down economy. Part of this increase can be attributed to GNC's effort to target its products toward women.
Next, let me ask you this. Do you know what is in your energy product? Next, do you know what each ingredient does for you? Have a look, and be mindful of which ingredients are listed first:
Did you know that some of these substances (in high concentrations) are banned by anti-doping agencies? If professional endurance athletes don't need these substances to perform, neither do you.
So now let's look at when you really need these products. We already know that companies put millions into marketing. In endurance sports such as running and cycling, "hitting the wall" or "bonking" lovingly refers to a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles. The result? Fatigue. It's like your brain keeps telling your legs to go, but they just won't.
Now, gels can be very useful when used for the right event - say the marathon or ultra races. We’ll touch on this a bit more later. However, when you're using gels or energy drinks and supplements during every run, science shows you can actually be harming your body and hindering your training process. The slower we go, the more fat we burn and the more glycogen we preserve. The faster we go, the more carbohydrates we burn relative to our fat stores. At our marathon pace, most of us have about 2 hours before we run out of glycogen and only have fat left to burn. The good news is, at easy pace (approximately 1 minute per mile slower than marathon race pace), the majority of us can go MUCH longer without running out of glycogen, so there is no need to take gels when running that easy. If running at marathon race pace for a training run, you don't need gels or energy supplements/drinks when running for 2 hours or less. In fact, some studies show that you don't need any additional supplements on easy (not race pace) runs of 3-3.5 hours (note: water is not included as an additional supplement in this study). The science doesn't support the idea that anything bad will happen to a runner who doesn't ingest carbs during their runs.
So, is this a no harm no foul situation? Nope. Taking an occasional gel likely isn't going to hurt you, but if you make a practice of using them too often, it will likely be to your detriment. An over reliance on gels/energy supplements will make you relatively slower, fatter, and poorer(this stuff isn't cheap).
Why would it make me slower, you ask? Well, by taking so many gels your body always has glycogen at the ready will never allow it to learn how to use fat efficiently. So, you'll put yourself at the risk of bonking and running slower than you otherwise could.
Fatter? Really? Hopefully it doesn't come as a surprise to you that you're ingesting a lot of unnecessary calories if you're using the supplements when they're not needed. Most energy supplements/gels pack about 74 calories per ounce. The average runner burns 85 calories per mile. You can do the math.
As for the broke comment - well, we all know this stuff isn't cheap. Let's take a look. Let's say you run 30 miles per week and take a gel every 3 miles. That is 10 gels per week. We'll be conservative and say that the cost is $1/gel. At best you're spending $45/month or $540/year on gels, aka fake food. Think of all the gear and shoes you could buy!
Like we said before, gels certainly do serve a purpose. They're great for when you actually NEED to replace the glycogen depleted on the run. They are beneficial for races like the marathon distance or longer. Think of it this way - in marathons and ultras, glycogen reserves are the equivalent of a fuel tank. It's possible you can run your tank completely dry without something like GU in an event where you're working at maximum effort for more than 2-3+ hours. So, they certainly serve an important purpose. We also recommend getting your body used to them if you're going to race with them. If you're planning to use a supplement on your marathon race day, use it during your longer long runs (runs that are at least 2+ hours) to get your stomach and GI tract used to the product. If you don't, you'll be sorry on race day as you very impatiently wait in line for the port-a-potty or your body seizes the second you take your first swallow.
All we ask is that you consider how you are treating your body. Are you doing what is beneficial to you and your training, or are you buying into the media hype? Delve into the science and you'll find that you likely don't need your energy supplements as often as you may think. Is there anything wrong with grabbing a water or some Gatorade during your run? No - especially if it's hot or you plan to drink during your race. In fact, we encourage you to drink as much water as your body can handle as soon after every single one of your runs as possible. Just be mindful of how you're caring for yourself and what your nutrition may be doing to your training.
See you Wednesday morning at Harke Park.
You've heard the old adage, "quality over quantity" and this statement applies to speed work as well.
We write the workouts the way we do for a reason - and when you're done, you should've worked hard enough that running additional miles outside of your cool down isn't an option. Your body has worked hard, so do your cool down and relax.
A few of you are so focused on your weekly/monthly mileage numbers, that you're forgetting something important - a quality workout can be just as beneficial (if not more), than simply logging mileage at an average pace.
But, "I just want to run a slow marathon. You know, just finish" you say. So, don't I need to be logging miles and miles and more miles? Well, speed, strength, and endurance are closely related. If you are little bit faster, then you're a little bit stronger. If you're a little bit stronger, it becomes a little bit easier to run longer. Make sense? It has to do with muscle. When you have more muscle fibers, then the impact of your weight in running is distributed over more muscle. This makes the job of each muscle fiber a little easier. So, if each muscle fiber has to work a little less with each step, then enduring a longer distance becomes just a little easier. Therefore, building muscles through speedwork increases both strength and endurance.
Now, maybe you're the type that really wants to train - you know, the type that likes those kick butt workouts. You're the "the best pace is suicide pace" racer. You're the type that wants to run a fast time in your next half or full and you're dedicated to making it happen. You have a goal that is more than to just finish. Obviously, speedwork helps with your increased need for speed. Of course you need some long distances - that's a given. But, what happens when we replace some of our basic, average paced mileage with a smaller number of miles that is faster and harder? Well, basically, we see results and we're just as prepared for our race. In fact, we may be even more mentally prepared.
Now, we know that each person is built differently. Some of you have more slow-twitch muscle fibers (ex: Jamie and Nick), and some of you have more fast-twitch muscle fibers (ex: Joy and Nicole). Those of you with more slow-twitch muscle fibers benefit from higher mileage. But, that doesn't mean that you don't need that speedwork. It also doesn't mean that you MUST log 10 miles per day. Don't go out and run extra miles after speedwork just because you think you have to do so.
Not sure what slow-twitch v. fast-twitch means? Well, fast-twitch muscle fibers are larger than slow-twitch. They actually look different. Those larger fibers are capable of more power and velocity, but are not particularly efficient. They mostly utilize sugar for energy and the super fast-twitch fibers use a solely anaerobic energy process. Slow-twitch fibers are not nearly as powerful, but are more efficient. They're very beneficial for long distances (think, 26.2) as they primarily burn fat aerobically - meaning they require oxygen to create energy.
Now, the point of this post is not to discourage high mileage weeks. After all, as aforementioned, some runners truly benefit from high mileage weeks. For example, look at Nick and Joy. When Nick trained for his half marathon, he (on average) ran 60-70+ mile weeks as that is what his body needed. Joy, when training hard, peaks out at 45-50 miles per week. It's simply a difference in what works for each of their bodies. It doesn’t mean that one training plan is better, it's simply what works for each individual.
The point here is to allow you to understand that, no matter your body type, the quality of your workout is what is important. Just because your speed workout only came out to be 4 miles, doesn't mean it was worthless mileage-wise. Sometimes, we hear something like, "Well my plan says I need 6 miles today and I only got 4 from the workout, and I HAVE TO hit 6 so I HAVE TO go run more" - just keep in mind that it's okay to run a few less miles if your miles are high quality. Make every workout and every run count.
Great job yesterday. We'll see you next week for 30/30s (aka 200m repeats).
Yesterday I was reading an article that delved into the topic of body image. The article discussed why shaming fit people seems to be okay, but shaming obese people is not. Stay with me here.
The author, a visibly fit and healthy person, discussed how she has had people come up to her, grab her bicep, and say "Wow you must work out" and then continue bashing her about how women who lift are gross or people who are fit are disgusting. She goes on to discuss how no one would ever go up to an overweight or obese person, grab their stomach and say "Wow you must eat a lot" - nope. That would probably result in a lawsuit.
Political correctness and general manners dictate that one of the worst things you can do is make fun of someone who is overweight. However, there is a new type of shaming going on - fit shaming.
So what exactly is shaming? Brene Brown, a shame researcher, defines shame as "the intense painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging." We are somewhat hardwired to feel shame as it keeps us in line within society. Think about it. Adults shame children to teach a lesson. But remember this as well - shaming is very effective unless the person being shamed truly could not care less what other people think of him.
The current trend in our mainstream social media is overflowing with attacks against healthy, fit people and is filled with support of "big and body confident" without ANY mention of the health issues (both physical and mental) associated with being overweight. Are we entering a period in time where health and a healthy lifestyle is frowned upon? For the safety of our children and families, and for the longevity of our species, we better hope not. Don't believe me? Here are a few statistics:
So, all of this got me thinking about a few things.
1. You don't have to be skinny to be fit, in the same way many skinny people actually are not truly fit (aka "skinny fat").
2. People who are not fit, sometimes tend to be jealous of those who have a healthy and fit lifestyle
3. Comments made toward your healthy lifestyle aren't necessarily meant to tear you down, but rather to make the person commenting feel better about their own lifestyle choices
4. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and not everyone will be a 00-2. This doesn't mean you cannot be fit and healthy. We all want to change something about ourselves. Maybe we want a different nose, better hair, flatter abs, a better booty, stronger calves - whatever it is, everyone struggles with something about their image. You're not alone.
5. Love yourself, but always strive to be better.
Have you even been put down or "shamed" because of your fitness lifestyle? I'm sure you have. I know I have - more than once. You know who the culprit usually was? Someone who wished they could be at my fitness level. Someone who wished they had the same drive and determination. Someone who was jealous. You know what? Go ahead - throw those mean comments, because I'm happy with my lifestyle and I'm proud of the body I've built.
Maybe you've heard something like one of the following:
1. Gross. I wouldn't want that much muscle. That chick is probably a dude.
2. He's disgusting. I don't like guys who are that muscular.
3. Ugh. She's so skinny. Does she even eat? Get her a cheeseburger. She's disgusting.
4. That guy must be an a-hole. He thinks he's so great because he's fast. Who cares.
5. She thinks she's so awesome because she ran a marathon. What a loser.
6. Seriously? Why would we want to be like that couple? Do races on the weekend? Spend time outdoors? They're so stuck on themselves and they're so materialistic. Why would they spend money on races or gear or a new bike? Geez. No thanks. We'll see you at the bar.
7. Look at her quads. That's disgusting. I bet she can't even wear jeans. I can't stand girls who lift. They're freaks and no guy would ever want that.
8. I bet he can't stand being married to a woman like that. She's always in the gym and her place is at home in the kitchen. I'd be so annoyed if I were him. She's probably a crappy mom too since she spends so much time on herself.
9. She just had a baby. She must be starving herself to look that good. There is no way she did that in the gym. She obviously has some issues and isn't focusing on her kids like she should be.
10. Your commitment is impressive. I mean, I'd never want to spend that much time in the gym or look like you, but hey - good for you.
11. You ran 6 miles today? Why? You're training for one of those 5k marathon things? That's dumb.
12. He/she is so self absorbed. They only care about how they look.
13. Does his girl seriously like the way he looks? I bet she thinks he's a total meathead.
14. Lifting weights is not lady like. Men will not like that.
Fit shaming shouldn't happen. We should be building each other up and celebrating the goals and accomplishments of our fellow athletes. Of course, sometimes unhealthy habits develop, and in those cases, we should reach out and do what we can to ensure our friends are kept safe and healthy. But, in general, let's celebrate each other and grow our culture of health and happiness.
So, to those outside of the fitness community who feel the need to call a fast runner an "elite a-hole who thinks he's better than everyone" or say that a girl who lifts heavy is probably really a dude - please think about your comments. Do you know why that person started focusing on their fitness goals and working hard? How many people turned to fitness in general as a way out of a tough time or perhaps even depression? Sure, some people grew up in a fitness oriented home and carried the torch from there, but before you judge, make sure you know the story. Also remember that people who work out frequently receive the benefit of extra serotonin for mood stability, thus leading to happier and more productive days. People who live a healthy and active lifestyle tend to get more promotions at work, are able to maintain a better work/life balance, make quicker and better decisions on their feet, and are able to better motivate and care for co-workers and family. Keep that in mind as you decide if you want to throw your stone.
Look at the number of newly deemed "lifestyle diseases" that are developing everywhere. Health professionals and drug companies cannot even begin to keep up. Social media perpetuates the image that if you're a very fit woman you must be a bad mother, or if you're a very fit man you must be a lousy husband. This couldn't be farther from the truth.
So, instead of spending an hour or more per day watching mindless television, why not spend that hour on ourselves? Why not go out for a bike ride as family, hit the gym as a couple, spend some time doing sun salutations, or swimming laps at the local pool. Maybe we should spend that time in the garden with our children, taking a hike at the nature center, or watching the sunset from our kayak. When we take care of our mental and physical health, we can better care for our family and friends.
I believe in being confident in your own skin. I believe in loving the person you are, yet continually trying to make that person better and stronger, both inside and out. Just because someone doesn't look like you, or your cannot look like them doesn't make them wrong.
Remember this: you cannot control what other people think and you will never be able to please everyone. There will always be people who don't like you solely based on jealously. Maybe they are jealous of your healthy lifestyle, your fitness capabilities, your intelligence level, your education, your family, your looks, your career, your car/home/possessions, or all of the above. While you can't control how they choose to feel about you, you can control how you react to people who choose to put you down based on your lifestyle choices. Remember, you'll never run out of energy if you use criticism from your haters as fuel for your fire. There is an old quote that says "people only rain on your parade because they are jealous of your sunshine and tired of their shade" - this couldn't be more true. Just control your reactions to those who criticize you and remain positive.
Keep working hard, loving yourself, bettering yourself, and loving others. Take time each day to make this world a happier, healthier, and more beautiful place for everyone. Keep shining your light and exuding kindness, peace, and love. It will make a difference. You will see.
See you tomorrow morning for 6x800m repeats. You're going to kill it.
#thefitclub417 #earnednotgiven #wekickbuttat5am #trainharderthanmeIdareyou
I just looked in the refrigerator for my coffee K-Cups. I also looked for my phone for five minutes which ended up being in my pocket. Then, I started the laundry using fabric softener instead of detergent. Happy Wednesday to me!
My point here is, I'm tired. I bet I'm not the only one. 5:00am is rough enough, but if you hadn't noticed, we have upped the intensity of the workouts. That being said, we think you're loving it. Know why? You all seem to be the kind of people who enjoy getting your butt kicked during your workout. Not to mention, you're really doing a great job.
Here's the deal - we have placed you into groups based on your goal race pace. Remember, these aren't goals we have given you - they're goals you have set for yourself. Some workouts will be harder for you than others - you will just feel defeated. Don't let it get you down. Then there will be the workouts where you feel like you're a rockstar! Also, please know that if we move you around into a different group, it doesn't mean you are failing or doing poorly. If we bump you down a group, maybe it means we are giving you a chance to build back up or check in with yourself mentally. If we bump you up, maybe it's because you indicated your goal pace has changed or because you're ready to go faster. Just know that we intend to push you, but we will do our best to ensure you stay healthy and don't overdo it.
If we tell you to sit out a repeat/hill/etc, it's not because we don't think you can do it, it's because we want your body to adequately recover and be able to complete the rest of the workout. When we ask to check your heart rate, it's for the same reason. Why check your heart rate? This helps us know if the workout is too hard, too easy, or just right. It also lets us see how you are recovering.
Make sure you're staying hydrated throughout the week and getting enough sleep. I know - easier said than done. Treat your body well by eating healthy, whole foods. You'll notice a difference in your energy level when you rest, hydrate, and eat well. Plus, your body will thank you in other ways as well (think; better, clearer skin, healthier hair, more defined muscle tone, internal health, better intestinal health, etc).
Summer may be almost over, but if you want a tasty, hydrating summer-flavored drink try this: blend watermelon, lime, and coconut water together and enjoy!
If you're a fan of juicing, try this one: cucumber, lemon, apple, and a tad of ginger. Plus, it's great for your skin too.
Not a fan of either of those ideas? Grab some chocolate milk. It's great post-workout.
Of course, you can't beat water. Make sure you're drinking plenty of it daily.
Don't feel bad if you've been struggling a bit. We've upped the intensity, and we expect it to be harder. Don't put yourself down - you're all awesome athletes, and you can do this. You come because you want to push yourself. So what if every workout is perfect for you? Move on and learn from it.
Keep up the good work. If you have questions about anything, please ask us. We are here to help you get better, faster, and stronger. We aren't perfect either, but we will do our best!
See you tomorrow night at Harke (6pm) for the last Poker Run + Yoga in the Park event of the season benefiting Girls on the Run of Southwest Missouri. Bring your family and friends! The money raised helps ensure all girls, no matter their financial status, are able to participate in the program. $15 for run + yoga or $10 for one event. We hope you will join us for a fun evening!
Enjoy your week, and we'll see you next week! Happy running!
#thefitclub417 #earnednotgiven #wekickbuttat5am
Happy Workout Wednesday! Maybe you love Wednesday mornings, or maybe you dread them but love them because you know they do you good. Or maybe you hate them and just come because your friends do. Whichever boat you're currently in, we're glad you're showing up. Keep it up.
We know you all like different types of workouts, so we try to give you some shorter speed (think, 400s or 40/40s) and some longer endurance (think, today's workout or tempo runs). You need both, and in reality, you need the type you hate the most. So, if you realllllly dislike hills, you need to run them. If you just can't stand 400m repeats, do them anyway. They'll do you good.
Today we took it up a notch. We split into three groups based on goal race pace. If you think we just threw you into groups based on where we wanted you, think again. You're in those groups because you have a goal. We're here to help you meet it, and you're going to nail it. How do we know that? Because we have confidence in you. So what if you don't nail it on your first try. Keep trying. You'll get there. Rome wasn't built in a day, and any goal worth having should scare you a little and make you want to work.
Anyway, back to the workout -
Our workout today was as follows:
The paces for each group looked like this:
Group 1: 7:30/8:15; 7:00/8:15; 7:30 (With Nick and Joy)
Group 2: 8:00/9:15; 7:30/9:15; 8:30 (With Jamie)
Group 3: 9:00/10:15; 8:30/10:15; 9:00 (These members were out this week, so they're doing it on their own)
While this workout was quite difficult, it really prepares you for your longer fall races. Most of you are racing half or full marathons, and this workout is a great one to help you build speed and endurance.
One of you told us, "I'm not sure I've ever completed that many miles with that average [pace]." - Well, now you have, and you totally rocked it. Just think of what you can do next.
Someone else told us, "I didn't think I could run that pace. I've been scared of it for a while, but today I did it." Dang right you did, and you kicked that pace's butt.
We also heard, "This workout made me realize how much work I have to do."
Maybe so. Sometimes we need to be reminded of where we currently stand so we can evaluate what we need to do next. It's okay to need to put in more work. No one is perfect, and quite frankly, we all need to keep striving to get better. So, kudos to you.
You can accomplish so much when you give yourself a chance. Remember, your body can push harder than you think. It's your mind you have to convince.
So - you told us you liked this workout despite the fact it was quite difficult. But, that's the point, right? If you wanted easy, you wouldn't come.
See you next Wednesday for hills. Enjoy your day, and keep rocking your runs.
#thefitclub417 #earnednotgiven #wekickbuttat5am
Who Picks the Topics?
Each week, we notice different things. We try to incorporate the questions we are receiving or the training issues we are noticing into our post(s) for the week. If there is something you'd like us to cover, let us know!