Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Strength and Fueling

Ok. my "Day in the Life of Me" post led to some questions in the comments, so here are my answers.

Jamie in Arkansas asked - "Tell me more about your core strengthening routine! I'd love to know details! Seems like my core strengthening is always at the END of my weight training and not very intense."

Jolene asked- "Can you do a post on those killer arms of yours? I can get my legs/buttocks toned up but the arms I just can't seem to get to cooperate. How did you get such killer arms? Any suggestions for those who have no access to the gym?"

First of all, thanks Jolene for calling them killer arms. :) I do not have access to a gym (I am lacking the time and funds to get a gym membership), and I do all of my core/strength training at home. At this time I am not using any weights either. I started seeing a lot more muscle definition in my arms/shoulders (and everywhere else) when I lost weight and increased my running mileage, but adding in my strength and core training definitely helped in this area a lot, and I believe has helped keep injuries away as well.

 I wrote a very detailed post back in December outlining what exercises I do and how often, and you can find that post here. I know lots of people do lots of different things when it comes to strength training but this is what has worked for me the past six months or so.

Jill in Oklahoma City asked, "I was curious about your eating habits. How do you "fuel" yourself with so much running each week? Three meals? Six smaller meals? Snacks? I know you've mentioned you don't count calories, so how do you make sure you have enough energy for running? (And sleeping only 6 hours - yikes!!!)

Fueling and eating is an area I am constantly working on. Just over three years ago I was eating HORRIBLY. Then I started to get rid of bad eating habits and adding in some healthier eating habits, with the focus being on weight loss. Then my weight leveled out and I got serious about this running stuff, and I had to shift my focus away from weight loss and on to fueling my body as a high-mileage runner.

I did not count calories when I was working towards losing weight, however I do often count calories now. Most days I eat 1,900-2,200 calories, which I am guessing is about right because I haven't lost or gained any weight in a few months, and at my last check up my doctor said my BMI and body fat were on the low side of normal, which he was happy with. Maybe I could/should lose a few more pounds to get faster, but I haven't made that decision yet.

So what do I eat? I warn you, I am not very exciting. I don't love to cook and I don't have a lot of time to cook, so I try to keep things pretty simple. I am lactose intolerant, so I avoid dairy. (Please note that I am not a dietician or anything, this is just what works for me).

I like breakfast. I like to eat a big breakfast. Then I usually have a mid-morning snack, a medium-sized lunch, an afternoon snack, and a small dinner.

Pre-run - nothing. I run so early and my stomach gets so cranky with solid food in it when I run that I don't eat anything before I run.

During the run - If my run is less than 13 miles or so, I don't take anything (except water if it is warm). If I am doing a long run, then I use Hammer gels every five miles generally, sometimes with water, sometimes with Hammer Perpetuem (depending on how long I am running and how hard).

Post run - as soon as I am done running (before I stretch and foam roll), I drink a bottle of Hammer Recoverite or Neocell Collagen Sport.

Once I have stretched and rolled, I eat breakfast. I eat the same thing every, single morning. It makes me happy. I eat a big bowl of oatmeal (seriously, it's enough for at least two people) and it is loaded with good stuff. Most days I add cinnamon, a banana, sliced strawberries, blueberries, diced almonds or walnuts, and a couple small handful of dark chocolate chips. If I run out of strawberries or blueberries (I have to buy frozen most of the time) I pout a little and then substitute dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, dates).

Morning snack - Some mornings I skip it, but usually I have an apple and peanut butter. Honeycrisp apples are my most favorite, and Adam's Peanut Butter is wonderful.

Lunch - I like big salads. A typical salad for me is lettuce, a whole tomato cut up, half of a cucumber cut up, two celery stalks cut up, some broccoli cut up, half an avocado (when we have them), and then either some tuna fish (plain), chicken, or turkey added. Sometimes I will fry an egg or two and put that on top instead of tuna, chicken or turkey. I don't use salad dressing but sometimes I add some salsa to it.

If I don't do a salad I have a variety of sandwiches and pastas that I like. Again, nothing too exciting. 

Snack - My favorite snack is dry cereal. Right now cinnamon chex mixed with some plain chex varieties is my favorite, but I also love Life cereal and pretty much any kind of cereal. I also love plain popcorn and any kind of bread, and I usually eat an orange or another banana with my snack.

Dinner - I usually keep dinner pretty small, and it varies depending on what I had for lunch. Josh is almost never home for dinner so I don't make anything fancy. Since I can't have dairy, I often can't eat what I make for the kids, so I usually just make myself a wrap, a peanut butter and jam sandwich on good wheat bread, a baked potato with something healthy on top, pasta and veggies, rice and beans, etc.

I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, bread, pasta, rice, nuts, beans, potatoes, waffles, etc. and I try to think about what I am eating and choose things that nourish my body and gives it the fuel it needs to do all that I ask of it.

Josh recently brought home some frozen sweet potato tots, and while they are definitely not a health food, whoever created them must have looked directly into my soul. I really love sweet potato everything. I do try to eat "real food" and don't eat a lot of nutrition bars or things like that (although I like them when I travel). I try not to eat "junk", but when I do, I don't feel guilty about it. My friend (who ran the half at Disney) made these AMAZING caramel/chocolate covered apples shaped like Micky Mouse for me last week and you better believe I had some! (The "ears" are marshmallows. Genius!) Life is too short not to have sweets sometimes.

I don't drink coffee, soda, or alcohol. (After a marathon I do sometimes treat myself to a real Dr. Pepper at the first sit down meal).  I would rather eat my calories than drink them. :) I have two insulated water bottles that I always have filled up. I usually have one in the fridge and one with me and I drink lots of water during the day.

I do the best when I don't let myself get too hungry (which can happen pretty quickly). I like to have the house stocked with healthy/easy foods so when I get hungry it's not hard to find something. I do take a multi-vitamin and extra calcium since I don't eat dairy.

And that is how I fuel! I am a work in progress and I am sure there are things I could do better (feel free to leave suggestions in the comments), but my energy level is good and I am not losing or gaining weight, so it seems to be working.

And, to answer my own question about what I was watching on the treadmill, a couple of you guessed it! Hell's Kitchen! While I don't love to cook, I do love cooking shows (especially Chopped) and right now I am watching the old seasons of Hell's Kitchen on my treadmill runs (I did not watch this show when it was on TV).  Previously I have watched all of the seasons of 24, Alias (my most favorite), and Chuck.

What do you watch when you are running long miles on the treadmill?

Do you have any strength training or fueling tips for us?

Happy Wednesday!


Jen said...

This was educational for me! I need to ditch my everyday protein/energy is an easy go-to for meal replacement when I don't take the time to so something different. I'm a very boring eater, too :) One good thing about running for me is that I find I don't crave or want greasy foods at all. I do still crave (and have) ice cream and chocolate though...but the days of really craving loaded french fries or loaded fried potato skins are thankfully over :). I do have a 2 a day Diet Coke habit (down from 6-8 a day two years ago!) and am drinking lots more water now. I don't drink alcohol very often but do enjoy a piƱa colada or margarita after a long race :)

giraffy said...

I am the same with drinking calories - I drink coffee, but anything else is water, or maybe powerade zero. Except after a race, I can destroy a giant coke.

Alias is maybe my favorite show ever ever EVER.

On the Right Track said...

Erin, it's so funny that you wrote about your core/strength program today. My good friend and I have been following it during our lunch break for the past few weeks...mine modified as per what I'm allowed right now.

She has seen an improvement in her quad strength while running from
the lunges/squats etc...however, we have been a bit skimpy on the core...oops!

Sounds like you have a good plan down for yourself in terms of fueling your body appropriately.

Question...As a very seasoned, well disciplined runner at this point...have you switched up, varied or increased these daily exercised in your routine? And, as someone just starting out...or getting "back into the game" how would you you modify it or wouldn't you?

Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

Sounds great! Don't drink my calories either although I think I indulge in a few more sweet skinny cow! Question- You don't eat/fuel with anything on runs 13 or less??? Just wondering if you did that from the very beginning or just as you got better? I feel famished 6 miles in lol!

LBTEPA said...

no tops - just thanks for the strength/core program you posted in Decemeber as I am using a slightly modified version as the basis of my hip rehab! So glad you had such a great run at Disney - now bring on Boston!

Jolene said...

Thanks for the shout-out and answering my questions!

When I make a salad I have to use my largest mixing bowl to hold it! I started with the smallest and have worked my way up to the largest! Love a salad for lunch!

L.A. Runner said...

You and I are pretty much spot-on with our fueling. I love oatmeal, too! My favorite is PB with oatmeal and blueberries. Yummo!

Katie @ Will Race for Carbs said...

My husband loves Hell's Kitchen. I will watch it with him but all the yelling kinda gets to me. Can't we be nice?? I guess the answer is no in a kitchen!

Run Nai Run said...

I have a hard time with oatmeal - I'm all about textures! So breakfast for me is hard. I'm going to have to work on distances in the mornings and fueling, this morning I ran to work (8.3 miles) and while that distance isn't hard for me, after not eating since about 6 pm last night, I definately felt like I was literally running on empty! I don't use most of the gels/blocks/shots/goop for fueling due to stomach issues, either, so I'll play around with it since I'm still this afternoon riding the endorphin high!