serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Is Gatorade good for Trail Running Hydration?

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

gatorade-hydrationHydration and energy are essential for successful Trails Runs, but is yours being sabotaged by sports drinks?

Sports drinks were originally developed by scientists at the University of Florida in 1965 to help the school’s football players perform better during their 3-hour long games in 100-degree heat. Sound like your Trail Runs? Didn’t think so. Most of us have trail runs that last from 1 to 1 ½ hours at a moderate pace. The American Dietetic Association explains that unless you are an elite athlete or engaged in vigorous activity for more than 1 hour, plain water works perfectly for hydration.

There are two main components of sports drinks that aid in performance and hydration: carbohydrates and sodium. The carbohydrates come in the form of sugar to sweeten the drink and to add calories for energy. The sodium works to replace the sodium lost in sweat. However, neither of the components are necessary in drinks used for thirst and hydration for moderate runs that last less than 1 hour. In fact, drinking sports drinks when they are not necessary can add extra calories to your diet. The usual size 20-ounce bottle of a sports drink has an average of 140 calories, which means that you will have to run an extra 15 minutes just to burn it off!

Instead of drinking regular sports drinks, here are some healthy options:

- Flavor regular water with lemon, lime or orange slices

- Use lower calorie versions of sports drinks such as Gatorade G2 (71 calories per 20-ounce bottle), Propel Fitness Water (25 calories per 20-ounce bottle) or Powerade Zero (0 calories per 20-ounce bottle)

- Dilute your favorite sports drink with regular water

I know what you are thinking. “But I always drink Gatorade during races. It makes me feel better.” And you are right! There are instances when you do need to replace needed calories and energy during or after trail runs. I know that when I am training for half marathons, I tend to get leg cramps at night. What does that say to me? I am losing too much potassium through my sweat and need to replace it better. Ways to do that are through potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, oranges, or sports drinks! Consequently, I usually end my long runs with a large glass of Propel, berry flavor to be exact. The 45 minutes directly after your run is the best time to replenish the body’s losses.

Essentially, think of your body as a night club. As the night goes on, more and more cabs line up to take people home. Just like as your muscles work, they need to be replaced by what they lose, so transporters in your body line up to bring those lost elements from your bloodstream to your muscles and tissues. After the night club closes, people linger for awhile, so the cabs stick around for another 45 minutes or so to assure that everybody is brought home safely. Similarly, in your body, those transporters stick around for about 45 minutes to bring every needed mineral and nutrient available to replenish the muscles and tissues, which help to prevent soreness and cramping.

Moral of the story: Sports drinks work magnificently to replace your body’s losses if you are trail running for longer than 1 1/2 hours, hit that wall during a trail race when you feel your energy bottoms out, or are in need of extra calories and electrolytes. Otherwise, water is your best bet. It will quench your thirst without adding excess calories that you just worked so hard to burn off.

Happy Trail Running and Hydration!

-Lanier Thompson, M.S.

GNC Amplified Maxertion N.O. Supplement

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

I normally don’t take supplements, how can you supplement someone who already has everything?  Not very easily.  However, I have taken supplements before.  When I was deployed to Iraq I drank a protein shake everyday and it definitely increased my body mass.  I accomplished my goal of the deployment, being able to bench press 300 pounds.  I even named my weightlifting activities as a phase of “Operation Get Sexy” which I began about 2 months before returning home.  Probably the most successful operation of the whole deployment.  Note:  The haircut in the picture below was not a part of “Operation Get Sexy.”


Since then I’ve been running more and lifting less weights, but still lifting 5 days a week, 5 different exercises, with high reps and lightweight.  This is the best type of weight training for a long distance runner.  You want to have a strong upper body to help you pump your arms at the finish line, but you don’t want to put on too much extra muscle mass to carry while running long distances.  GNC just came out with a new product line called AMP.  They boast being good for the heavy weight lifter to the avid runner.  I chose to go with the Amplified N.O. (Nitric Oxide Enhancer) to help with my pre-workout weight lifting and because GNC says, “Clinical results for the first and only nitric oxide product, Amplified Maxertion N.O., proven to demonstrate a delay in the onset of neuromuscular fatilinical results for the first and only nitric oxide product, Amplified Maxertion N.O., proven to demonstrate a delay in the onset of neuromuscular fatigue.”  That’s a pretty big claim.  I also went with the Maxertion N.O. because I’m already a good runner, I want to be able to improve the rest of my running body.  They have the Amplified Whey Protein, Amplified Whybolic Extreme 60, Amplified Muscle Meal, and Amplified Muscle Ignitor 4x, all for endurance athletes if you are looking to supplement your distance running.

This is what GNC says about the product:

“GNC’s Amplified Maxertion N.O. was shown to increase power output at the onset of neuromuscular fatigue by an average of 20% and improve physical performance by helping athletes push past their normal point of exhaustion. This product is designed to increase nitric oxide levels in the body causing a hemodilation effect which expands blood vessels, allowing more blood, oxygen and nutrients to flow to muscles.

‘This is truly groundbreaking research that has resulted in the delivery of a truly novel and clinically-validated product to the industry,’ said Guru Ramanathan, SVP Technology and Product Innovation for GNC. ‘Using advanced technology and ingredients, this is the first Nitric Oxide enhancing product to demonstrate significant athletic performance effects that are relevant and meaningful to all types of athletes.’”

Anything that will increase my output by 20% is intriguing.  I’m going to take a bottle of this and see how it effects my overall muscle mass and my running.  Like I said, I don’t usually take any supplements so by taking just this one, I’ll be able to accurately gauge the effects it is having on my body.  I wish my body came with gauges like my SUV did.

Running to Lose Weight or Running to Not Gain Weight? That is the Question.

Friday, February 6th, 2009

fast-foodThe other night a friend of mine was hungry after a late night at work where she hadn’t eaten dinner so she ordered a plate of french fries.  The time of the order was actually at 1 in the morning.  My first reaction was, “that sounds great!  I wonder if they have any honey mustard here?”  But then I thought, “wait, a meal of just fries?  Aren’t fries supposed to be a side?….of course they have honey mustard, it’s a restaurant.”  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for breaking the social norms when it comes to eating; I used to put sprite or orange juice on my rice checks cereal when I a kid, but a fried side as a meal?  That was a bit too much for me to swallow…literally.  Ok, so it wasn’t that hard to swallow.  I had some of them without being offered any at all.  No honey mustard though.

I have found that there are two types of eating habits of runners.  There are those who run to be able to eat whatever they want and those that eat whatever they want and THEN decide to lose weight so they start running.  The first group is typically the more serious runners.  I am a member of the first group.  That doesn’t mean I can eat any type of food after a long run, it’s just that I don’t have to worry about the portions and can cheat a little bit on the types of food I eat.  A good treat after a long run would be a humongous burrito, chips and salsa, and a couple of Dos Equis.  However, although I have always been a runner, I haven’t always been a runner of the first group.  I haven’t ever run to necessarily lose weight either, I just didn’t coincide my eating habits with my running calorie burn.  About 2 years ago I weighed 30 more pounds than I do now.  Although I was still running, and doing about the same distances  that I run today, I was doing all of the other things that would immensely offset my intense workouts, helping me maintain a more roundish figure.  Now I’m more like a V!  I’m thinking of changing my middle initial to “V” but keeping my same middle name; which doesn’t have a V in it at all.  Don’t think that’s impossible.  Let’s just say it wouldn’t be the first time that I have successfully had everyone refer to me as a name other than my legal one.  I am the proud owner of a successful alias!

I used to eat fast food at least 10 times a week.  It was good, cheap, and convenient.  I don’t cook.  I still don’t cook but I don’t eat fast food either.  I eat meals out about 2-3 times per week, depending on what my coupon situation is.  When I eat at home, I eat mostly cereal, soup, Spaghetti O’s, tuna and other items that come out of a can or box and you can eat in a bowl.  I honestly have not had one plate in my dishwasher in the past month.  Not one.  I’m thinking about investing in some more bowls.  I’m a simple man, that’s probably why I enjoy the simplicity of running.

So I decided I needed to shed the extra weight I was carrying around.  It actually wasn’t as fun being large as I thought it would be.   I thought I would be a lot more jolly.  So what did I do about it?  How have I been able to lose 30 pounds and keep it off?  Well, I took my simple style to my diet.  I don’t eat fast food and I don’t drink soft drinks that are not diet.  Plus I keep running.  Same distances, same schedule, same speed as I did before; the difference is what I put into my body.  If you are seeking to lose weight, running or other exercise won’t do it alone.  That is why runners who are looking to merely maintain their size, running and eating unhealthy becomes a zero sum game and you remain the same size.  So, if you want to decrease your size, you MUST eat healthy.

I’m not a nutritionist, so I can’t tell you want to eat, but I can tell you to eat healthy if you want to lose weight.  From my experience, if you are tired after you eat, you either ate too much or ate a lot of fat.  Wake up and eat a carrot!  Then go for a run and burn that carrot plus some!

Let’s do lunch! Healthy Socializing and Running!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

It’s girl’s night out, a first date, a holiday with the family…what do we all do? Gather, chat, love and EAT! It’s the American way, after all.

Most of us have the tendency to socialize around food. Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong believer in food. I have my Master’s Degree in Nutrition and will be a Registered Dietitian in just a few months and I got into this profession because I love food! However, (I hold my breath as I type this) there is more to life and socializing than food.

Chris, who writes a bulk of this BLOG, has encouraged so many of us to get out there and run to get in touch with ourselves again in this all-too “plugged in” world. And I fully agree with what he points out, but I am going to offer yet another advantage to running: socializing!

Instead of meeting your friend for coffee on Saturday morning, throw on your running shoes, say adios to the $5 cup of coffee and calorie-laden danish and go for a run with him or her instead. I assure that you will find yourself just as awake as after your double-shot mocha latte with extra foam and you won’t feel quite as guilty buying those skinny jeans that you found on sale!

The Serious Running website offers some wonderful trails around the United States to go and discover with friends. You’d be surprised at what lies just around the corner and behind some trees! Sometimes it’s fun to just go explore and see what you find. And if you find something worthwhile, post it on Serious Running!

Ordinary tasks like window shopping, browsing the menus of local restaurants or even house hunting can all be done with a little rubber on your feet, a bounce in your step and a friend at your side.

So, the next time that a friend wants to meet up, throw out the idea of exploring the city and catching up on a little run, then going to grab a bite to eat (you gotta eat sometime!). Plus, there is a 45-minute window after a workout when you can refuel your body’s muscles and tissues and prevent soreness. In other words, running not only offers you a way to stay in shape, but it offers a social outlet and allows you to feel good about your fish tacos and beer!


A little about me:  My name is Lanier Thompson and I will be posting mainly about nutrition and food as it pertains to exercise and running.   Recipes, cooking (and eating) ideas, and hydration tips specifically for runners will all be  included. I will be focused on easy and great-tasting recipes, mainly because that’s what I like! Please post any comments or questions that you might have about food and nutrition. Happy running and eating!