Posts Tagged ‘Triathlon’

How to Prevent Running Injuries

Having a well-programmed training plan and taking some precautions can greatly minimize risks to these injuries and ailments.

Here are some tips to prevent running injuries.

– Don’t Ignore Pain: From my experience as a sports therapist, most runners (and other athletes) who come to the sports clinic and complain with unbearable pain are usually those who have been ignoring the pain and discomfort for some time and waited for the pain to worsen before going to be checked and treated. Muscle soreness is natural and it is sometimes okay to ‘run through the pain‘ especially if you only feel slight soreness from your legs, but if the pain has been consistent and increasing, then it’s a sign that what you are feeling is more than just regular DOMS. If you run with sore legs, it might also mean that other muscles will be compensating for the effort. So if you feel sore but you need to add mileage, run at a slower pace.

Read about the difference between “Chronic” and “Acute” Injury here.

Rest Adequately: Most of these running injuries result from lack of enough recovery time for the body to repair and strengthen itself for your next run. At the slight feeling of unusual discomfort or pain, lessen your running load or activity and rest adequately.

Warm up and Stretch: Tightness of muscles causes an imbalance in your body. Make sure that you stretch especially after you run, holding the stretch for each area for at least 20 seconds. Before you run, warm-up properly and try to do dynamic stretching and reach the muscles ROM to ensure that they are ready. Some people and websites advice focusing the stretch for the calves, hamstring, groin and quadriceps, but a whole body stretching routine which includes other body parts that are involved with running (shins, hips, low back, abdominals, and even chest and shoulders) will ensure that your body is well-balanced and ready for your run. A good warm-up routine lasts for 5 to 10 minutes and conditions the whole body, not just the legs.

Lift those weights: Resistance or strength training can help you develop muscle strength and endurance for your runs. Resistance training also adds to your core strength. Don’t worry about bulking up from weight training – having a balanced training program will ensure that you reach your goals without adding extra weight.

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Cross train: Doing other activities or sports will develop your body in different aspects and may help you improve your agility, stamina, and coordination. This helps prevent injuries because your body becomes prepared to react to different kinds of stresses. Don’t just run – try swimming, biking, basketball, football, even wall climbing! Cross-training also minimizes risk for overuse injuries which occurs especially when you repeat the same activity (i.e., running) over and over again.

Dress appropriately: Make sure that your shoes fit right. If you have flat feet or high arc, wear appropriate shoes that meets your specific needs. Check the soles of your running shoes – running shoes are usually good after 400 to 500 kilometers. If possible, wear a separate pair for every day walking and running to prevent your shoes from wearing out quickly.

Patience is a virtue: Don’t force yourself to run longer distances too soon. A safe range for increasing distance is 10% per week. Do not try to run uphill or downhill if your body is not ready for it. It is commonly thought that running downhill is easier because you get gravity to lessen your effort, but running downhill can actually be more stressful to your joints and muscles as the body tries to ‘brake’ and control the fall.

Stay hydrated: Long duration physical activities like running may require additional 1 1/2 to 2 /12 cups of water on running days. drink 150 to 250ml of water 15 to 30 minutes prior to your run. Try to drink at least 150ml of water after every 15 minutes during your run. Hydrate with a sports drink after your long run to replenish lost liquids and electrolytes.

Talk to a coach or trainer: If you are serious about wanting to improve your performance and adding up to your mileage, talking to a professional is the best thing to do. Reading about training programs and running regimens may not be enough. Doing what other seasoned runners in your club may not even be beneficial. Individualization of your running program is very important not only because it will significantly improve your performance, but it will also decrease risks for injuries.

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Have you experienced any running injuries? How did you recover?

Do you find these tips helpful?
What else do you want to know about running injuries and ailments?
Let me know in the comments?

Check out these ebooks for your Kindle and iPad:

Running Injuries: Treatment and Prevention by Jeff Galloway

Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running




Get Ripped in 90 Days


10 Minute Trainer - Workout for the Busiest People

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The Boston Marathon is undoubtedly one of the well-known marathons and serious runners from all over the world dream to take part in this prestigious marathon. It is held yearly and it attracts at least 500,000 spectators and participants each year. Both amateur and professionals run in this most-sought-after event and this year, the first american man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 crossed the finish line. It was Meb Keflezighi, 38 years old, who finished and won the men’s division with a time of 2:08:37 (which is technically a 2-hour “sprint” for most people).

Read more about Meb here.

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Boston 2013 Through the Eyes
of the Runners

The Boston Marathon has encountered lots of issues and controversies through the years, unfortunately including the Boston Marathon 2013 bombing, but did you know that women were not allowed to run in this race until 1967? Women were barred from running the famed Boston Marathon for over 70 years!

History tells us that women were generally excluded from participating in sports, and this includes running the Boston Marathon. However, a woman named Kathrine Switzer made the first attempt to run over this barrier and succeeded. Kathrine was a student from Syracuse University and she was only 20-years old when she registered for the Boston Marathon  using her initials K.V. Switzer. No one realized that she registered a woman and she was able to officially sign up for the race and was given a race entry number.

During the race, a marathon official (balding guy in the photos) realized that a lone woman was running the Boston Marathon among hordes of men. This official tried to stop Kathrine and physically forced her to run the marathon when he discovered K.V. was a female runner. Other runners including Kathrine’s boyfriend helped Kathrine continue running and blocked the official from stopping her. The lone female runner in the 1967 Boston Marathon made headlines around the world and proved that anything can be done in spite of hindrances.

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After running the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer engaged in promoting sports participation among girls and women. With the help of other passionate women, the Boston Athletic Association  finally was convinced to drop their discrimination against women and allowed them to participate in the race in 1972.

Because of Kathrine’s dream and perseverance, the Boston Marathon opened its starting line to women, and by 2011, almost 43% of the Boston Marathon runners were female! Apart from the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer also helped lead the drive to include women’s marathon in the Olympic Games which was achieved at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

To know more about this trail-blazing woman read her biography, Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports by Switzer, Kathrine (2009)

Kathrine also has a book entitled Running and Walking for Women Over 40 : The Road to Sanity and Vanity by Switzer, Kathrine [1998] which is very inspiring for people over this age. It’s never too late to run!

Also check out 26.2 Marathon Stories written by Kathrine Switzer and Roger Robinson, an elite international runner for thirty years (1966-1995)!

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Continuation from my post “Common Running Injuries and Ailments, Treatment and Prevention (Part 1)”

6.) Muscle Pull/Muscle Strain

Muscle pulls can occur to your hamstrings (back of thigh), quadriceps (front of thigh), gastrocnemius (calves), or adductors (groin muscle/inside of thighs). A muscle pull is a small tear on a muscle that is caused by overstretching. Pulling a muscle sometimes produces a popping sensation when the muscle tears. It is an acute injury that can be very painful upon onset.

How to treat muscle pulls: Like any other acute injury, stop from your activity and rest. Immediately put ice on the muscle for 10 to 20 minutes, until the swelling has lessened. Seek medical attention to determine how much your muscle is damaged. For muscle pulls, you need to undergo physiotherapy treatments so that your muscles will heal properly. If you just let the injury pass, the fibers in your muscles will develop scar tissues which may hinder movement or increase risk for future injuries.

How to prevent muscle pulls: Muscle pulls happen on shocked muscles either because they are not properly warmed up or because you made your muscles do something heavy that they have not done before, or both. Make sure that your body especially your legs are warmed up properly before you run. Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes, doing both metabolic movements to facilitate blood flow to working muscles and dynamic stretching.

Read about the difference between “Chronic” and “Acute” Injury here.

7.) Runner’s Knee/Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or PFPS is obviously a common injury to runners that its layman’s term is called “runner’s knee.” However, this may happen to other athletes as well. Runners knee occurs when the kneecap is out of alignment and stress is continuously placed on this misaligned joint. It is a chronic injury that results from wearing down of knee cartilage. Runners knee or PFPS can be recognized with pain around the kneecap when going up or down stairs, squatting, or sitting with knee bent for a long time. Some people may be more susceptible tight to this injury because of their anatomical structure (flat feet or misaligned knees turning inward), but tight and under-developed hamstrings and quadriceps are usually the main culprits.

How to treat Runners Knee or PFPS: Runners knee is an injury that will heal given its own time. But this doesn’t mean that you can run it off. Take an appropriate time to rest and avoid putting weight on your knees. While resting, you can do cross-training such as cycling or swimming to relieve your knees of the stressful loads of running and strengthen the muscles around them. Put ice around the area of your knee if you experience swelling, for 10 to 20 minutes every other day or until the swelling is gone.

How to prevent Runners Knee or PFPS: Your knees will thank you for doing resistance exercises. Do other activities apart from running like Pilates. Have your feet and knees checked – wear orthotics for your feet if you are flat footed. You can also wear a fitting knee support if pain comes back after treatment. Be strict about increasing your mileage to 10% per week. Run on level roads and limit your downhill or uphill runs.

Read about “How to Stretch” here.

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8.) Iliotibial Band Syndrome/IT Band Syndrome

The Iliotibial Band or ITB Syndrome causes pain felt on the outside of the knee. The Iliotibial band (ITB) is a long tendon that connects the top of the hip to the knee at the side of the thigh. It is commonly believed that ITB syndrome occurs when the ITB tightens and rubs against the knee cap. However, new studies suggest that Iliotibial band pain can be caused by tightness from hip muscles pulling the knee. This syndrome can be mistaken for knee pain since pain is felt almost on the same area. You can determine if you have Iliotibial band syndrome by bending your knee to a 45 degree angle and you feel pain on the outside of your knee. Getting an MRI may be the most accurate way to know if you have ITBS since it will show any thickening of the band.

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How to treat Iliotibial Band Syndrome: The best way to treat this syndrome is to decrease your mileage or not run at all. Rest is very important to lessen the load on your knees and give time for them to heal. Get a massage to loosen up the muscles around the hips and thighs. Stretch your hips and thighs regularly. Foam rollers are starting to be popular, but you need to know how to use them properly to gain the most benefits.

How to prevent Iliotibial Band Syndrome: Warm-up properly for 5 to 10 minutes before you run, ensuring that your leg muscles are ready for the run. When you start to feel pain around the knee while running, slow down and refrain from running uphill or downhill. Decrease your mileage for the week or cross-train. Make sure that your shoes are not worn out on the sides of the sole and replace your shoes as soon as you can if they are worn out. Another thing you can do if you regularly run on a track is to change the direction of your run.

Have you experienced any of these conditions before? How did you recover?
Do you find these tips helpful?
What else do you want to know about running injuries and ailments?
Let me know in the comments!

Check out these ebooks for your Kindle and iPad:

Running Injuries: Treatment and Prevention by Jeff Galloway

Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running




Get Ripped in 90 Days


10 Minute Trainer - Workout for the Busiest People

 

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Every runner needs to have the perfect running shoe that fits well and works well for them. Specific footwear characteristics should match the individual needs of a runner. Also, each training type – endurance, strength, or speed – that runners undergo have different demands on their bodies and also their running shoes. Thus, it is important to know which kind of running shoes match your specific goals and individual needs.

With the wide developments in running technology today, it can sometimes be confusing and even intimidating when choosing your new pair inside a running shoes store. How will you choose what’s best for you and your training when there are different categories, shoe types and shapes within the standard Neutral, Stability, and Motion Control?

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The design and technology of shoes varies depending on the brand and type of shoes. As a general guide for running shoe categories, here are brief definitions for the 3 major categories of running shoes and some tips when buying your new pair:

NEUTRAL
The shoes under the neutral category are usually designed with a flexible forefoot and soft but firm midsole. These are the best types of shoes when you tend to land on the outside of your foot. You can determine where your foot lands by checking the soles of your old shoes – if the outside of the sole is worn out, then you tend to land more on the outside of your shoes. This may also be the running shoes for people with a high foot arc. Check if the arc of the shoes you’re planning to buy has enough support or rigid especially if you have a high foot arc. These kinds of shoes support the arc of your foot more than your ankle or your knees. You can observe that this type of running shoe often has a curved sole.

When buying a shoe, observe the arc and check the heels.

When buying a shoe, observe the arc and check the heels.

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STABILITY
Running shoes that are under the stability category are designed to control your feet from turning outwards when you run, balances your heel, and supports the arcs of your feet. These types of running shoes provide extra cushioning and excellent stability for your feet when you run. These shoes are for runners who lands on the outside of their heels and slightly turns their foot inward (pronates) when running. The arc of these shoes are not as rigid and may have varying degrees of support.

MOTION CONTROL
The soles of running shoes under the motion control category are usually straight or flat. Some designs have slightly curved soles but the main goal of these running shoes is to keep the heel secure and minimize the rate of pronation when you run. These shoes usually have a wider landing base for your heels, and a strong, rigid heel counter. These running shoes are good for runners who have flat feet or low arches. Runners who tend pronate their feet and have unstable knees when running can benefit more from these types of running shoes. Check the soles of your old shoes – if they are worn out on the midsole, then this running shoe category is for you.

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How to choose running shoes? Here are some tips when buying your running shoes:
1. Walk and Run in the store. Spend time with the pair of shoes before buying it. I know lots of people who buys specific kind of shoes just because they discovered that some great runner used it to finish first place in a race. You have different needs and what works for others may not work well with you. Test out the running shoes in the store. Don’t be afraid to take a few steps on them and even run a couple of meters if possible. Some good running stores even have treadmills for you to run on!

2. Don’t throw your old pair – yet. Bring your old pair of running shoes to the store where you’re going to buy your new shoes. If the place where you are shopping for a new running shoes is specifically a running shoe store, they may have staff who knows about shoes and can analyze the wear pattern of your old shoes. Because you will want to try on walking and running on your new shoes, bring your socks with you and any orthotics if you have one. If the running store have equipment for foot analysis, do not hesitate to have your gait analyzed even if you already know your foot arc or foot type. Let the staff know your running history, goals, injuries and what type of training you usually do.

3. Know your soft spots. One of the main reasons why we need to wear shoes is comfort. Your feet should be comfortable enough while you walk or run in your new running shoes. Pressure spots or loose fitting shoes often leads to blisters.

stock-footage-closeup-of-woman-tying-running-shoe-at-beach4. Perfect Fit for your Feet. If your running shoes are too loose and your feet slides inside your shoes, you will lose energy on every push off that your feet makes when you run. It is okay to adjust and re-adjust the laces of the running shoes while inside a store. Tie your laces so that you have a feeling of security without discomfort.

5. Running shoes are special. Running shoes are designed specifically for forward motion (i.e., running forward), heel cushioning and arc support. If you have time to observe the soles of different types of shoes, you can see that running shoes have horizontal line patterns on their sole. If you plan on using running shoes for other sports or physical activity, you will wear your running shoes out faster and you may even risk yourself injury. Cross-training shoes are designed for more lateral support (moving sideways, etc.) and toe flexibility. Buying a different pair of shoes like a cross-trainer for other activities is a good investment because your running shoes will last longer and you will reduce risk of injury.

Buy your cross-training shoe from Amazon. Click here.

When to buy your running shoes
You may ask yourself, “When do I need to buy a new pair of running shoes?” Usually, the top part or the body of your running shoes looks like they are still in great shape but the cushioning and motion control may have already been lost. Check the soles of your shoes if they are worn out too much. It is helpful to mark the date that you bought your running shoes. If you keep a record of your runs, compare it with the date that you bought your running shoes. When you reach around 800 kilometers or 500 miles, you may need to buy a new pair.
Getting a new pair of running shoes is an investment since your feet are the only parts of your body that touches another surface and absorbs all the impact when you run. Your legs and feet are your main engine for running so you need the excellent tools for support, stability, and comfort for them all the time. One of the keys to reducing risk of injury is to replace your shoes once they break down or wear out.

Choose the GPS watch that fits you. Read an overview of Garmin watches here.

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Running Injuries happen when you push yourself too hard too soon. Your body should have enough time to recover and adapt to training stress. Most runners want to run through the pain which often leads to worse injuries. It is important to be familiar with these running injuries and ailments and know how to prevent them. In this three-part series, I will go through the common running injuries and ailments and show some ways how to treat and prevent those conditions.

Read about the difference between “Chronic” and “Acute” Injury here.

1.) Plantar Fascitis

Plantar Fascitis is a chronic injury to the plantar aspect or the bottom part of the foot. Plantar fascitis occurs when the tendon or the thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes gets inflamed. Plantar fascitis is usually caused by tight calf muscles pulling on the heel when running. Also, people with a high arc on their feet are more susceptible to this injury. Although Plantar fascitis is related to stress in the plantar fascia, it can sometimes happen without obvious reasons.

How to treat Plantar Fascitis: When you start feeling pain on your plantar fascia, stop your activity and try to stretch your foot and calf. After your run, you can do trigger point release on your foot by rolling a tennis ball under your foot. Get a foot massage. Rest for at least 48 hours and progressively increase your distance when you run.

How to prevent Plantar Fascitis: Regularly stretch your feet and calves. Make sure that your shoes fit right and are still in good condition. If you have a high arc, wear insoles or arc support. Try to refrain from running uphill.

Check out running shoes and other gears from Amazon.

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2.) Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles Tendinitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon or the tissue that connects the back of your heel to your calf muscle. Achilles Tendinitis produces a burning sensation on the area especially in the morning and with activity. It is usually caused by repetitive stress to the Achilles tendon when you add distance to your runs. Tightness from the calf muscles is also a common culprit to this injury.

How to treat Achilles Tendinitis: Treatment for any running related inflammation is Rest for at least 48 hours and gradual return to running. Upon onset of Achilles tendinitis, you can put ice on your heel or directly on your Achilles tendon for 20 minutes. While recovering from injury, you can regularly put heat on the area for 20 minutes and stretch it. Massage will also help.

How to prevent Achilles Tendinitis: Regularly stretch your calves before and after your runs, and during rest days. Make sure that you are warmed up properly before you run.

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3.) Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprain is a very common acute injury caused by accidentally turning the foot at the ankle joint sideways. The tendon and ligaments of the ankle are overstretched and even torn when the foot twists inwardly.

How to treat Ankle Sprain: Never run through ankle sprains. If you do, more ligaments will get damaged and just worsen the injury. Upon onset of ankle sprain, stop your activity and rest your foot. Put ice on the inflamed area for 20 minutes. Apply elastic bandage around your ankle and foot for compression and help lessen the swelling. Elevate your foot to let the blood flow away from the swollen area. Do not massage sprained ankles. Ankle sprains take up from 3 days to 2 weeks of rest for full recovery depending on the severity of the injury.

How to prevent Ankle Sprains: Do exercises that strengthen your foot and leg muscles. Be aware of your surroundings when you run and try not to run long and fast distances on unfamiliar routes, especially trail roads. If you have a race, go through the race route at least once so that you are familiar with the terrain.

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4.) Stress Fracture

Stress fracture is also a chronic injury that can cause extreme discomfort and pain. Stress fracture is a small crack in the leg bone or foot which occurs when the body works too hard without having enough time for the tissues and bones to repair and recover. It is a chronic injury that may start with minimal pain but gets worse and worse with activity.

How to treat Stress fracture: Rest as soon as you feel extreme pain and discomfort in your legs. Do not run through the pain as the pounding movement from running adds to the injury. Seek help from a medical professional.

How to prevent Stress Fracture: Simply following a well-timed training program will prevent you from developing stress fractures. Make sure that you have enough rest and recovery periods in between training bouts. You can also switch running surfaces once in a while; for example, run on the road today then run on dirt or grass the next day for a softer surface.


5.) Shin Splints

Shin splint is another common running injury that can be felt in the front or inside of the leg along the shin bone (tibia). Shin splints occur when you suddenly run longer distances or when you increase the number of days you run in a week too quickly. Note that people with flat feet are more susceptible to develop shin splints.

How to treat Shin Splints: Rest for at least 48 hours, or until symptoms are absent. Stretch your tibialis anterior and massage the area. Gradually return to activity.

How to prevent Shin Splints: Make sure that you are warmed up properly before you run. Most runners usually stretch the back of the legs, the calves, but neglect the muscles at the front of the legs, the tibialis anterior. Include this muscle in your stretching routine. Make sure that your shoes fit well. Include strengthening exercises in your training program like toe-up walks, backpedals, and foot mobilization exercises.

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These are the first five injuries for this series. Next on the list will be Muscle strain, Runner’s knee, IT Band Syndrome, Piriformis Syndrome and Low back pain which I will post next week! The 3rd and last part will be some other ailments and additional tips to prevent running injuries.

Have you experienced any of these conditions before? How did you recover?
Do you find these tips helpful?
What else do you want to know about running injuries and ailments?
Let me know in the comments?

Check out these ebooks for your Kindle and iPad:

Running Injuries: Treatment and Prevention by Jeff Galloway

Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running




Get Ripped in 90 Days


10 Minute Trainer - Workout for the Busiest People

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If you are an office worker who is dedicated to running but your low back pain from long hours of sitting keeps you from achieving more, then read ahead!

How do you run with pain?

You don’t have to!

The sacroiliac joints – the bones that connect the lowest tip of your spine (sacrum) to your hip bones (iliac) – are considered a source of most lower back pain when your hip becomes compressed, or if there is asymmetry or misalignment of the hips which leads to joint dysfunction and subsequent pain. Compression of the pelvis occurs when seated for a long time, and rotation of the hips occurs in both cycling and running, and combining these two factors can be the cause of low back pain. An especially significant correlation can be seen between low back pain and lack of internal hip rotation mobility.

The development of asymmetry in the hips and improper muscle lengths in the hip rotator muscles can be caused by frequently assumed postures, like sitting for long periods or time or being bent over on a bicycle for hours in the saddle.

This was important to know, and a key to the secret of eliminating the low back pain.

The book “Run With No Pain” is the official, easy and practical step-by-step exercise routine for eliminating low back pain in athletes and includes over 30 exercise videos that teach you exactly how to implement each section of the program.

If you’ve been going to Physiotherapist or a Chiropractor for your pain, then this eBook is definitely much cheaper!

Download it from amazon to your kindle or iPad for only $7.66!

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SHOP

If you’re training for a Triathlon, Marathon, or any endurance event for that matter, what should you eat to fuel your training?
 

 

Your diet can make or break your goals. The Low Carbohydrate Diet For Triathletes by Ben Greenfield shows the committed Triathlete which are the best low-carbohydrate food to eat. Remember that what you eat while you train is just as important as how you’re training. Training for a triathlon will push your body to the max, so you have to make sure that your body gets enough energy to sustain your training until race day while maintaining your target weight.

Ben Greenfield summed it up this way:

In a nutshell, pun intended, as you begin to increase carbohydrate consumption above the levels that you need for survival or periods of intense physical activity, you lose your ability to rely on fat burning mechanisms, and you experience the damaging effects of chronically elevated blood sugars, including neuropathy (nerve damage), nephropathy (kidney damage), retinnopathy (eye damage), increased cardiovascular disease risk, potential for cancer progression (tumor cells feed on sugar) and bacterial or fungal infection.

So if the dangers of a low carb diet that I talked about didn’t deter you, and you’re bent on banning bread, take heart. There is a way to do a The Low Carbohydrate Diet For Triathletes
low carbohydrate diet the right way. Here are 10 ways to eat a low carbohydrate diet while avoiding common mistakes.

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1. Time Carbohydrates Wisely.

This one is a biggie, so we’ll start with it. One of the main reasons for eating a low carbohydrate diet is because your blood sugar levels stay far more stabilized. But there is a time that you can consume carbohydrate without causing your blood sugar levels to go on a roller coaster ride – and that time is immediately before, during, or after exercise.

So if you are on a low carbohydrate diet, I highly recommend carbohydrate intake for exercise sessions that are 1) intense; 2) involve weight training; 3) are longer than 2 hours in duration.

Although many folks use this as an excuse to eat more carbs than they should there is certainly truth to the fact that “fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate” – meaning if you are constantly carb depleted due to zero calories of glucose intake, you can shut down your body’s natural fat burning capabilities. So if you’re planning on exercising, try get at least 500-600 calories of carbohydrate per day, and eat them before, during or after your exercise session if you want them to not affect your blood sugars levels in a potentially damaging way.

2. Take Into Consideration Your Body Fat Levels.

If you’re fat, you’re going to have more fat to burn. Look down at your waistline. Do you have layers of fat that you can grab? A beer belly? Muffin-tops? All of that is fat that can be mobilized if you are on a low carbohydrate diet. But if your body fat is under 7-8% as a male, or in the low teens as a female, then it is highly likely that you’re going to struggle with a consistently low carbohydrate intake – specifically during exercise sessions.

So if I have a client who is 30% body fat, I have no issues with that client staring at the ceiling awake at night craving carbohydrates as their body mobilizes fat tissue for energy, and I generally continue to advise them to watch their carb intake. But if that person is 6% body fat, it is far more likely that they’re going to need that extra fat for insulation or essential fat stores, in which case it might be a good idea to go slam a bowl of rice.

SHOP3. Don’t Eat Processed Crap.

I mentioned this in my last article that typical “low carbohydrate” meal replacement bars and shakes, ice creams or ice cream sandwiches, and other low carb or sugar-free snacks often contain potentially unhealthy ingredients like maltitol, and are chock full of preservatives and highly processed ingredients. If your low carbohydrate diet involves boxed, wrapped and packaged food, it probably falls into this category.

Get this through your head – whether a food is low carbohydrate or not, if it is something you see advertised on TV, magazines, or newspapers you probably shouldn’t eat it. If it’s something you can easily recognize and identify where it grew and how it go to your plate, it probably is OK to eat.

This means that avocados are cool. Guacamole from your grocery store that has (and this is a popular brand):

Skim Milk, Soybean Oil, Tomatoes, Water, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut Oil, Safflower and/or Corn Oil), Eggs, Distilled Vinegar, Avocado Pulp, Onions, Salt, Nonfat Dry Milk, Egg Yolks, Lactic Acid, Sugar, Whey, Sodium Caseinate, Mono and Diglycerides, Gelatin, Soy Protein Isolate, Xanthan Gum, Corn Starch, Guar Gum, Mustard Flour, Black Pepper, Red Chili Pepper, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (Added to Retard Spoilage), Coriander, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Disodium Phosphate, Cilantro, Gum Arabic, Extractives of Garlic and Black Pepper, Paprika Oil, Oregano, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid, Dextrose, Artificial Color (FD&C Blue No. 1, FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Yellow No. 5, FD&C Yellow No. 6).

is not cool. This is just one example, but I think it gives you a pretty good idea of what I’m getting at. Eat real food – not processed crap.

4. Inject Carbohydrate Loading Days.

This is another biggie. Long term carbohydrate deprivation leads to a complete depletion of your body’s storage glycogen levels, depression of your immune system, decrease in metabolic function, and a host of other issues that you may be able to put up with if you’re content to lie around on the couch, but that you’re guaranteed to get completely destroyed by if you’re planning on regular physical activity or competition like Crossfit, triathlon or marathon.

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Fortunately, there’s an easy fix, and this is a big part of my new book “Low Carbohydrate Guide For Triathletes”: simply inject strategic carbohydrate re-feeding days into your exercise routine, either the day before your biggest workout day of the week or the day of your biggest workout of your week. On this day, you double or triple your normal carbohydrate intake, and eat at or slightly above your total calorie needs.

The disadvantage of doing this the day before your biggest workout of the week is that you’re often resting on that day, and being sedentary while eating a ton of carbohydrates is not that great for your blood sugar levels. The disadvantage of doing it the day of your biggest workout of the week is that sometimes you’re too busy exercising to eat much, but this is only really an issue for someone like an Ironman triathlete.

5. Use Supplements Wisely.

When you begin a low carbohydrate diet, you’re guaranteed to experience intense carbohydrate cravings. There are supplements that can help curb cravings, including chromium and vanadium (such as in Thermofactor), gymnema sylvestre (but you gotta take about 4000+ mg per day of it, which means you’d really want a physician’s brand version), L-tryptophan or amino acids (if the issue is a serotonin deficiency) and even foods like those I demonstrate in my video: 5 Ways To Suppress Your Appetite Without Taking Pills or Capsules.

For exercise sessions, I actually recently tried out wasp larvae extract (VESPA), which is supposedly able to increase your ability to utilize free fatty acids as a fuel during exercise. I took two packets of it, and was able to go about 4 hours on 1 gel. The disadvantage was that I was never able to go “above threshold”, or into my carbohydrate burning heart rate zone, so I’m not convinced I’d use it in a race, but it could certainly come in handy if you’re trying to get by on a low carbohydrate diet and also do long exercise sessions.

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6. Be In It For The Long Haul.

When you first start a low carbohydrate diet, your weight will plummet as your body sheds storage glycogen and all the water that the storage carbohydrate sucks up like a sponge. So if your goal is weight loss, life is good for the first couple weeks as you shed anywhere from 3-20 pounds, depending on your starting weight.

And then the weight loss stops. In most cases, this is the point where people throw up their hands in despair, convinced that the plan isn’t working, quit the low carbohydrate diet, and go in search of a pastry shop.

But if you stick with a low carbohydrate diet, the weight loss will gradually and consistently continue, especially if you include strategically implemented days where you allow your body’s storage carbohydrate levels to be re-filled.

7. Be Ready For Discomfort

During the first 7-14 days that you go low carb, you’re going to find that your energy levels plummet, you get grumpy, you feel lethargic, and your body simply does not move or perform the way you’d like it to. This is because you are burning fatty acids (ketones) as a fuel.

So a strict low carbohydrate diet can be uncomfortable, and you need to be mentally prepared for that. Implementing the carbohydrate craving tips I gave earlier will help, but ultimately, you will find that you feel the same way as a marathoner does when they “bonk”, which is what happens during a run when your body runs out of storage carbohydrate and needs to begin burning fat as a fuel. This is also called “hitting the wall”.

If the discomfort does not subside, then I recommend you A) identify nutritional deficiencies and get tested for fatty acids and also for amino acids, and also make sure you’re incorporating carbohydrate re-feed days if you’re an physically active person.

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8. Stay Hydrated.

Not only will adequate water help to reduce the carbohydrate cravings you may experience early in the diet, but A) water is also essential for beta-oxidation, which is how your body burns fat as a fuel and B) you’re going to lose a significant amount of storage water as your body sheds carbohydrate stores, so you’ll need more as a dietary source.

I personally drink and recommend ample amounts of soda water, unsweetened Kombucha, water with effervescent electrolytes dissolved in it, water with deltaE and just plain water. What I don’t drink is anything with added artificial sweeteners or sugars. So check your nutrition labels if you’re drinking fluid from packages or bottles, but stay hydrated when you’re on a diet like this.

9. Get Your Fiber.

When you switch to a low carbohydrate diet, the drop in fruit, vegetables, legume and grain consumption can significantly decrease fiber intake and result in inadequate phytonutrient, antioxidant, vitamin C and potassium intake. There is absolutely no reason that you can’t eat liberal amounts of dark leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables on a low-carbohydrate diet. Just be careful with your total daily intake and timing of starchy vegetables or tubers, such as beets, sweet potatoes or taro.

10. Don’t Judge.

This may seem a bit preachy, but I feel compelled to point out the fact that there are a multitude of successful vegan or vegeterian endurance athletes, including ultra-runner Scott Jureky, pro triathlete and ultra-runner Brendan Brazier, pro triathlete Hilary Biscay, US Master’s Running Champion Tim Van Orden, and top ultraman finisher Rich Roll.

Since most vegan and vegetarian diets are definitely not low carbohydrate, this demonstrates that you can succeed without eating a low carbohydrate diet. However, the low carbohydrate or ketogenic approach can be especially successful for fat loss, for learning to burn fats more efficiently and even for reducing risk of, or managing, chronic diseases such as diabetes or cancer.

 

Download THE LOW CARBOHYDRATE DIET FOR TRIATHLETES and other eBooks by Ben Greenfield:

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Endurance Training Nutrition: Top 20 Fueling Myths Exposed
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Run With No Pain
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The Low Carbohydrate Diet For Triathletes
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Weight Training for Triathlon: The Ultimate Guide
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