Women’s Guide to Running and Menopause

In my role as an AURA Committee member I have had the privilege to sit on a few Webinar panels last year. One of our topic discussions was ‘Women in Ultra Running’. The topic is obviously very broad and we had many questions from our participants and could not cover off everything in one webinar! So afterwards we looked back through our notes to see what was one of the most asked questions and topics that women really wanted to discuss more. One of the biggest topics of interest we found was how menopause affected your running, and maybe your goals, and what what possible limitations you may encounter during this period of your life.

So here is an article that will hopefully give you some more insight in to what happens when you go through menopause and how Running, whether it be recreational, or ultra running, can really benefit women as they age and especially as we go through sometimes challenging period in our lives. We also look at how to overcome many of the symptoms of this very natural occurrence that women go through.

I will count up the amazing number of benefits running during the ‘Change’ provides throughout this article by placing the number in a bracket, so look out for them!

Please note, this is a pretty broad topic so it won’t cover it all however, it will give you some confidence to continue your running if you are experiencing peri-menopausal/menopause symptoms, help you understand more about what is happening to your body, explain why you may feel like crap, and also confirm how continuing to run is going to help alleviate many of your symptoms!

The ‘Change’

Around 40 years of age our bodies wind down from wanting to make babies to going through peri-menopause and finally menopause. Your ovaries start producing less oestrogen and progesterone, therefore menstruation becomes irregular until it eventually stops. Besides this pain in the butt process, the drop in these hormones effect more than just your reproductive system.

Oestrogen strengthens bones, so this drop will have an effect in your bone density which is something running, as a weight bearing exercise, can help conquer. Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the first 5-7 years post menopause! The 3 years leading up to menopause is when your bone density drop escalates and sometimes you may not even know you are going through ‘the change’ (if you are lucky!). This rate of bone density loss does slow post menopause. Weight bearing exercise such as running can really halt or drastically slow this decline (1).

Strength Training

Strength training is important to maintain lean muscle mass, support bones and joints as we age and should be an important part of your running program if in your 40s or beyond.

Muscle strength loss is well documented and we can lose up to 8% of muscle strength per decade from the age of 30 if steps are not taken to counteract it. A decline in oestrogen and testosterone can decrease your ability to build and maintain muscle – another reason running into your older years can be a great help (2). Trail runners especially, engage in a good strength session every time they tackle steep climbs or stairs as this has a lower impact on the joints. I advise to get off the roads occasionally and go bush! Find some steep climbs you are forced to hike up and get those quads and glutes working hard (3).

Further to this, the more lean muscle your body has the faster your metabolism will work, and therefore the easier it is to burn fat at rest (4). Get climbing and lift some weights!

Changes in Body Fat and Dietary Requirements

Lower oestrogen triggers your body to store fat more easily. The old ‘middle age spread’ can be in part attributed to menopause however, it is more common that many women become less active as they get older. Peri-menopause can make you feel tired and lethargic, so getting out for a run may feel harder and your activity levels feel like they are dropping off. If you can fight this and push through, you will definitely feel better in the long term. Exercise gives you more energy (5). Running burns a lot of fat and calories so will help combat this unwanted change (6).

Luckily for the people reading this article, this probably isn’t an issue as you are a motivated bunch.

So, besides consistency and trying to just keep going to combat fat gain, what we may need to consider is changing our diet! As we get older, we don’t need as many carbs as we become less sensitive to insulin and tend to store carbohydrates as fat more easily.

Runners typically eat more carbs to provide energy to cope with the demands of training and racing, however your body requires less as you get older. Overdoing it on the carbs can be a big contributor to weight gain around our middles. We need to look at eating less refined carbs in our eating in general and more protein to help maintain our muscle mass.

You may also get away with less gels and sports drinks in your long runs. Try eating real food instead such as a banana, aiming for less of the simple sugars which are in the gels and lollies. Running with a few less carbs on board will help your body burn more fat when you are doing your long easy runs.

Try cutting back on breads and pastas and focus more on vegetables, legumes and fruits. Add more dairy to your diet, which will assist in maintaining bone density with its calcium content and muscle mass with its protein component.

Increase your protein intake to help maintain lean muscle that you are working hard to achieve. Lean meats and whey powder have high levels of leucine which is an amino acid essential to building muscle.

All these changes will not only help you feel better and give you more energy, but they will help to feel a bit lighter around the middle.

As long as you are getting carbs through the mentioned food changes, you will have plenty of energy to fuel your training. Eating better to fuel your running will help with this annoying side effect of menopause (7)! Keep running and keep eating well!

Hot Flushes

Hot flushes are one of the main issues women suffer with, and exercising can exacerbate these due to less oestrogen. This affects the way your blood vessels expand and constrict, so blood pressure and a shift in temperature can affect your running. Normally your blood vessels expand as you warm up which sends blood closer to your skin for cooling, however menopause can blunt this response which traps more heat inside your core. The hypothalamus also experiences a change and this is your brains own thermostat which also contributes to hot flushes.

The good news is, research suggests that women who exercise regularly have less hot flushes, so we have ticked off yet another good reason to keep running (8).

Runners are used to feeling hot and sweaty anyway, however if you find you are overheating more than usual on a run, try having ice cold drinks with you (freeze the night before – great to drink but also good in your running vest pockets to keep you cool), ice bandanas (if you have ice available ) or cooling towels . These work well when wet and are a great addition to your running kit in the hotter seasons. Having something wet around your neck or head and/or wiping yourself down with a wet cloth can have an amazing cooling effect as you run. A Buff is always a great option to quickly wet along a run, and all of us ultra runners have plenty of these floating around.

Sleep (or lack of)

Sleep can be a problem with peri-menopause and this in turn can affect your recovery. As we know, sleep is crucial to recover from tough training sessions.

If you are a runner and exercising regularly, this can help with the interrupted sleep pattern by simply making you more tired to assist with improving sleep overall. (9)

Morning runs are better for you as it will have you energised for the day and tired ready for bed at night so you can crash into a nice (but maybe occasionally sweaty ) slumber. Night runs will elevate your temperature and make sleep harder to come by!

If you are still struggling, Melatonin is a great natural supplement to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. Try a slow release tablet if staying asleep is the issue, or a fast release tablet if getting to sleep is harder. Melatonin is now available without a script over the counter for over 55s, but if you are younger than that you will still need a script (or ask your mum to get it).

Make sure you power down your phones and devices at least 30 minutes before bed for the Melatonin to work effectively and keep your bedroom nice and cool too.

Racing and Training

A big question is, what about speed and racing? Will I lose my speed as I age?

This depends on your training age ie. how long you have been running for, your running history and where you are currently sitting with your training in general. Sure, we will all slow down as we age but that is not a bad thing as we are all mostly ultra runners.

Women tend to be stronger and their endurance tends to improve as they age. Sometimes a change in focus on the type of races you are planning will have you enjoying running much more. You may never get your parkrun time from 5 years ago, but girl you can run for days!

The main issue with speed is the decline in oestrogen and testosterone which, as mentioned above, hinders your ability to build and maintain muscle. Your fast twitch muscles (the speedy ones) also decline, therefore you may not be able to be as fast as you were in your teens and 20’s.

However, if you were never fast to start with, you still have room for improvement through menopause and beyond.

If you are new to running, at least two strength sessions a week is advisable to maintain muscle mass and reduce your risk of osteoporosis along with aid in injury prevention. Strong muscles can better absorb the impact and demand of running which protects your bones and connective tissue.

Menopause and Depression

Hormone fluctuations can definitely have an impact on our moods, and for some it can turn into a more serious depression.

If this happens, please speak to your doctor as there are ways to help you through this time, which is often temporary. Luckily for us runners, physical activity is a mood booster and running releases happy hormones and improves our moods! Yet another reason why you need to keep on running (10). If you are feeling really low, and even a run cannot lift your spirits, then it’s time to chat to the GP.

In a nutshell, menopause isn’t fun but it doesn’t have to be the end of your running career. In fact, running to alleviate your symptoms can be the catalyst to really kick start your running journey. The majority of your symptoms can definitely be managed by staying active and making a few changes to your training routine, eating plan, reassessing your goals and refocusing on the enjoyment running gives you rather than how much speed you have lost or how hard it feels.

Remember that consistency is key and if you continue to keep running regularly, it will ultimately get easier no matter what stage of life you are in.

Intermittent Fasting – The Pro’s & Con’s

Intermittent Fasting – The Pro’s & Con’s

There is always a new fad diet around the corner promising to be the next best thing to help you lose weight – forget the rest, this is best, blah blah blah. Sound familiar?

Research continues into the best ways to lose weight and fasting is the latest buzz diet. However, does it really work? Yes and no – like all diets. Any diet will work if you can stick it out, but for me, the best diet is always the one that you can sustain long term and is nutritionally sound and supports your daily activity requirements. I also advocate learning about good foods, knowing whats on your nutritional panel, and even better, buying more foods without a nutritional panel ie eating real foods more often which means no packaging is required. Make sure you are eating well, not just less.

Intermittent Fasting (IF) works this way – You simply eat within a certain block of time, usually a window of 8–10 hours. In the other big block of time, about 14–16 hours, including when you’re asleep, you don’t eat anything, not even snacks. You can drink water, coffee, tea or any other beverage that doesn’t have calories. For example, if you like having a late dinner, you might skip breakfast and have your first meal at midday and your last meal of the day at 8 p.m., and then not eat until midday again the next day.

When you’re fasting, you’re not consuming calories, so it makes sense to assume that with eating less than you normally would, you’re going to lose weight. Fasting allows you to use up all of your stored sugars as fuel, and to then tap into fat stores. When we begin to burn fat stores, we begin to lose body fat, and as the research is now pointing to, gives us a a positive effect on our metabolism and hormones (which if course is contradictory to other research that says never skip breakfast, keep your metabolism revving by not fasting…). Everyone reacts differently, the trick is to find out what works for you and stick to it.

Other forms of IF are the “5:2 eating plan,” which means two nonconsecutive days of a strict 500 calorie a day diet, and five days of a normal, healthy food. This can be tweaked to 7:1 or 1:1, depending on how you want to implement it into your daily life. You can choose the strategy which best suits you. However, give yourself at least a few days, ideally longer, when you try each strategy so that you can determine how it is working for you. Look out for signs of improvements in  non-food areas such as more energy, deeper sleep, happier mood and better digestion/less bloating. Try logging changes like these in a food diary so you can track what works best for you. To really see that you are making improvements you need to give it around 4 weeks and measure your success with a tape measure, not just the scales.

Like any major eating and fitness change, it can take time to find the perfect fit, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different options — including ditching intermittent fasting altogether if it’s simply not your thing. If dieting messes with your head then it will never work.

I’ve put together some pro’s and con’s to intermittent fasting so you can see if it may or may not work for you.

Pro’s

  • It can be easier as it doesn’t involve specific foods, but rather a strict schedule about when you eat.
  • Its flexible in that you can manipulate the fasting times to suits your lifestyle to some extent.
  • Calorie counting isn’t required, you just need to eat your regular sized meals within the time frame (within reason – 3 Big Mac’s a day won’t leave you looking svelte no matter what time of the day you eat). Alcohol is yet another issue.
  • Research also suggests it may be beneficial for glucose tolerance, hormone regulation, better muscle mass and lower body fat – you can double the effects when you add regular exercise.
  • It can be added to any diet you are following (Paleo, Keto, Low Carb, Vegan etc)
  • Research with animals has shown that fasting may reduce cancer risks and slow aging by activating cellular mechanisms that help boost immune function and reduce inflammation associated with chronic disease (due to not having to constantly process food and allowing your system to heal). However, a reduction in body fat will also do this, so any way you can achieve lower body fat results is good.

Con’s

  • Individuals all react to fasting in different ways – its not for everyone. Some people get ‘hangry’ if they don’t eat small regular meals, their bodies just can’t cope.
  • Can encourage ‘binge eating’. Once you allow yourself to eat you go overboard and consume excess calories because you are starving, negating any positive effects from the fast and calorie deficit.
  • In women, fasting has been shown to disrupt hormones and menstrual cycles and alter their ability conceive easily. Women’s hormonal balance is particularly sensitive to how much, how often, and what we eat. Read more here. 
  • We know from extensive research that those who eat breakfast have better metabolic outcomes than those who skip it, and eating at night can be detrimental to cardio metabolic health.
  • It may not work with your work, sport or activity levels.
  • If you train early in the morning you may be way too hungry to wait until 11am to eat as well as missing out on much needed recovery meals.
  • The research on IF is still new and the jury is still out.
  • Its has a high drop out rate, as people find they are too hungry
  • May not fit with your social life.
  • You may struggle with not being able to ‘reward’ yourself with that healthy plate of poached eggs as soon as you get home from training. Kill me now if I can’t eat after a run!

Summary

  • It can work if you need to lose weight in the short term, however the research shows that it works just as well as calorie restriction. You need to do what works best for you.
  • Everyone is different and some people respond much better to IF than others, whether it  is from a psychological view (can’t stick to it, too hard) or from a physiological view (low energy, mood swings, low blood sugar etc). Its not for everyone, however some people will love it.
  • Experiment and see what works for you, but give it time to see if it works.
  • Measure body fat losses, muscle mass gain/loss, energy levels, sleep patterns.
  • Don’t think that because you are eating in a certain time frame that you can eat whatever you like – maintain a balanced and nutritious diet.
  • There have been many studies done on the three types of eating plans – calorie restriction/portion controlled diets, alternating fasting days and normal eating habits. Nearly all studies have shown that the first two groups had lost weight compared to the normal eaters, however the fasters didn’t do any better than the calorie cutters.

Bottom line – to lose weight you need to restrict calories and increase your exercise to create a calorie deficit (doh) so the best way is the way that works for you, and that can take time, and trial and error to work out what that is. But there are options out there to try.

Any weight loss is good (if you need it) as it has the ability to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, help control diabetes and reduce many other health risk, and therefore has a positive effect on your health.

REMEMBER – Without exercise you may still lose weight, however you get no benefits from improved strength, mobility, aerobic fitness or muscle tone. No point having the scales showing the number you like but your heart and lungs are unhealthy and all your bits wobble!

Staying On Track

Staying On Track

OK – our latest challenge is over, the schools holidays are over, and it seems for some people that their will to succeed and desire to be great is also over!

How soon we can hit that slippery slope of laziness and lack of motivation! You think you’ve put in the hard yards for 5 weeks so you’ve earned a rest? Think you’ve lost a couple of kilos so its OK to slip back into your old habits – surely I’ve done enough to keep those kilos at bay? Think again sunshine! You are only as good as the effort you put in NOW.

Fitness is temporary – its not a never ending bowl of giving – you have to keep filling up that bowl day after day, week after week.

Exercise isn’t a punishment for what you ate or drank or how much you sit all day. Fitness is a celebration of the fact that you are alive and can move.

Fitness is for LIFE. It means that you approach your mind and body with respect. Or you can choose to disrespect the gift of your life. Don’t wake up one day and find that every that defines a healthy human being – such as the ability to bend over and pick up a grandchild, going for a walk along the beach, kicking a ball with your kids, going for a bush walk with the girls, swimming with your friends, walking for hours whilst on an overseas holiday exploring – is taken away from you because to CHOSE to lose your fitness now and hit that snooze button instead.

Fitness is a personal choice where you decide to live your life at the fullest because you are fit, strong and healthy, and anything in life seems possible.

Ask yourself this: If you could choose to get an extra 10 healthy years at the end of your life would you take it? If you are 30, this probably doesn’t seem relevant. BUT if you are in your 40’s or 50’s and overweight and don’t move, or have been inactive for way too long, you have made the decision to end your life earlier than those that realise today that FITNESS DETERMINES HOW YOU WILL LIVE YOUR LIFE 20 YEARS FROM NOW.

You, and only you, can determine the quality, and in many cases, the length of your life.

Move to Improve Your Gut, and Improve Your Life

Move to Improve your Gut, and Improve your Life

Our microbes need us to move.

Researchers have discovered that the composition of our gut microbes can be improved by exercise alone. How?

The first experiment compared faecal samples from mice that were sedentary with mice that were active. The diets and living conditions of the two groups of mice were otherwise identical. The only difference was whether or not they engaged in physical exercise.

The mice who exercised had enhanced microbial diversity (one of the keys to a healthy gut and immune system) as well as a higher number of butyrate-producing bacteria. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) known to be vital for colon health and energy production as well as helping to protect against colon cancer. The exercising mice also exhibited less inflammation and a faster recovery when exposed to toxins.

But can these results be translated to humans? Yes! When subjects were put on an exercise program consisting of 3 hours of cardiovascular activities per week for six weeks (walking, running, cycling or swimming), similar changes were seen in their gut flora. Once again, they made no changes in their diet so the effect was due to exercise alone. Note that the exercise was not excessive – an average of half an hour a day. However if they stopped exercising, the positive effects on their microbes started to wear off after six weeks. We need to keep moving for life.

Another simple measure that has been shown to produce a positive shift in our good bacteria is overnight fasting for 12+ hours between dinner and breakfast (it is said that 16 hrs is ideal, however for those of you that are training hard for events this is not practical nor recommended). A species of bacteria called Akkermansia muciniphila lives off the mucous that lines the inside of our gut wall and it needs the gut to be empty in order to feed. The significance of Akkermansia is that lean people have much more of this bacteria than obese people. Experiments have demonstrated that placing Akkermansia into the gut of overweight mice stops them becoming obese and prevents them from developing diabetes. Scientists are therefore madly trying to breed Akkermansia so they can put them into probiotics. But until this happens, leaving as long a gap as you can between dinner and breakfast is your best bet. Some studies suggest that 13-16 hours is ideal but do what fits in with your lifestyle and training.

And yes, that means you don’t have to eat breakfast first thing in the morning. I know this goes against everything you’ve ever been taught about healthy eating but it’s OK to skip breakfast! (times change as does the information we receive over years thanks to new research). Have your first meal of the day when you get hungry – be that 6am or 2pm or any time in-between. Your gut will tell you when it’s time for you to eat. It’s called hunger.

 

Why do we need a Healthy Gut?

Digestion – If you have a healthy digestive tract, you can expect to have good digestion. Maintaining a balanced gut bacteria is key for regular bowel movements.

Common digestive issues are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) that affects millions of people. Worse still is and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The two main types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These are both severe and can mean a lifetime of treatment and dietary limitations.

For people with digestive issues, doctors have found unbalanced gut bacteria plays a large role. Proof of that lies in fecal transplants. A fecal transplant is a procedure where stool (a poo) is taken from a healthy poo donor and placed into an ill patient’s colon. It sounds gross… but the point of the procedure is to repopulate the ill patient’s gut with healthy bacteria. According to a study published in the journal of Gastroenterology Hepatology, fecal transplants have a 93 percent success rate in curing and/or healing digestive issues. Within 12 months you will hear a lot more about these ‘poofusions’.

Immunity – Your gut is very closely linked to your immune system. In fact, approximately 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. So if your gut bacteria is properly balanced then your immune system will most likely function properly and help ward off illnesses.

Mood & Mental Health – The gut is often referred to as “the second brain.” In multiple case studies with mice, researchers were able to completely alter the mice’s behavior by changing their gut bacteria. The mice that had balanced gut bacteria were less anxious, more adventurous, and seemed to be in a better mood. Researchers wanted to find out if the same reaction would happen in humans.

In the study healthy women were given a fermented milk beverage. Some women were given milk that had a probiotic supplement in it. Other women were given milk without probiotics. Next, researchers scanned their brains while showing them photos of people with emotional facial expressions. They found the two groups of women had different reactions. The women who were given the probiotics showed a reduced brain response, meaning they weren’t as emotional when viewing emotional expressions. This = a better mood!

Weight – Do you eat healthy and workout, yet still struggle to lose weight? Have you ever wondered why your skinny friend who seems to be able to eat anything and everything can still fit into her skinny jeans? This reason may lie in your gut bacteria.

 

Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

Frequent colds
Autoimmune diseases
Chronic fatigue
Headaches
Food allergies
Acid reflux
Diarrhea
Constipation
Anxiety
Depression
Weight fluctuation
Thyroid disease
Acne
Rosacea
Eczema
Joint pain
White-coated tongue

 

Gut Bacteria, Your Genes (and your Jeans!) and Obesity

A number of studies show that a diverse gut microbiome is key to staying lean. A 2013 study found that thin people have 70 percent more gut bacteria than people who are overweight.

Getting even more in depth, researchers found that the species of bacteria are different in people who are obese compared to those who are slim. A recent study found obese individuals to have about 20 percent more of a bacteria strain called firmicutes. Firmicutes help the body pull calories from complex sugars and turn those calories into fat. When firmicutes microbes were transplanted into normal-weight mice, researchers noticed those mice started gaining twice as much fat.

There’s a growing amount of research that suggests your gut bacteria actually influences food cravings, metabolism, and how many calories your body absorbs from the food you eat. Each person’s microbiome is unique, which means each of us responds differently to carbohydrates and fats and sugar. Our genes also play a huge role in our gut health, and there are now tests (homekits) available to find out how your genes can affect your ability to tolerate and metabolise starch carbohydrates, which can then provide a guide on nutrition and exercise required for your body type. Go to mycarbchoice.com.au to find out more. This new research is fascinating and you will be hearing much more about it and the importance of gut health in the future.

The point here is – if you want to drop a dress size, you should focus on improving your gut health!

For anyone wanting to restore their gut and lose weight, ditching sugar and alcohol is a must to start with for 1-2 weeks to reset your gut, as these stop good bacteria from growing in your gut and feed bad bacteria. By cutting these out you’ll feed better almost immediately in regards to your weight and energy levels. Extremely overweight people may need to start with a detox or intermittent fasting to help remove the toxins that have built up in their microbiome before they will see results. Overweight people are essentially ‘unwell’ people, so they need to get well before they can start to lose weight. But its worth the effort and time isn’t it??

Gut Killers

Antibiotics
Sugar/Preocessed Fods
GMO’s, Pesticides and Chemicals
Gluten
Stress
Alcohol
Dairy
Grains
Legumes
Artificial sweenteners

Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

Frequent colds
Autoimmune diseases
Chronic fatigue
Headaches
Food allergies
Acid reflux
Diarrhea
Constipation
Anxiety
Depression
Weight fluctuation
Thyroid disease
Acne
Rosacea
Eczema
Joint pain
White-coated tongue

Foods To Help Your Gut

Grass Fed Meat
Fatty Fish such as salmon and/or fish oil supplements
Bone Broth
Steamed Vegetable
Non-Dairy Fermented Foods such as unsweetened cocnut milk yoghurt, coconut mil kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi
Daily Probiotic supplements such as Inner Health

 

And most importantly – MOVE!

 

 

Performance Nutrition in Racing & Training & Taking Into Account the Vert

Performance Nutrition in Racing & Training

The 3 primary substances you can ingest before, during and after running to maintain your activity levels are calories, fluids and electrolytes. More specifically it is most important to have Carbohydrate (CHO), Water (H20) and sodium (Na). (I’ve used the chemical symbols here as I’m a lazy typer so they’ll be used from now on!) These make or break your athletic performance. And of course Protein (PRO) is required for recovery. The hard thing is working out how much of each you need, and how you are going to get them.

Most sessions in your week are 1-4 hours long (assuming you are training for marathon+). To make sure you can have a high quality and effective session you need to start out well fuelled and well hydrated. It’s important to master your hydration and nutrition strategies in training, otherwise you won’t be able to nail them come race day. Practice is the key and working out what works best for you.

If you train on low fuel then you may be limiting your ability to train to your potential, and therefore limiting your fitness gains. Think about it – when you race, you constantly pump in gels, CHO and fluids to maintain your pace and intensity levels. You should be doing the same in training as you are asking your body to work harder in preparation for a race. Your quality sessions should feel much harder than the pace you will expect to be running at on race day, so you need to fuel accordingly. The exception can be a long slow easy run, where you can rely more on your fat stores to keep you going and get your body used to utilising fat for energy. However if the demands of that long run include a fair bit of climbing, even if you are hiking, you will still need something more than water if you want a quality session.

Determining your Caloric Burn Rate & Accounting for the Vert

Most of the races we train for here at Energy Fitness contain a considerable amount of vertical climbing. Therefore we need to consider our calorie consumption and expenditure as it is much more demanding to climb than it is to run on the flat. To work out how many calories you consume when running (helpful if you do not have a HR monitor) use the below formulas.

• A standard rule which works well for most is one calorie per kilogram, per kilometre on the flat
• BUT when climbing use a 1:10 ratio between vertical gain and horizontal distance.

1 metre of vert gain equates to the same energy cost as 10 metres of horizontal running. (or 1000m of vert = 10km flat)

EG 70kg runner runs 20km with 1000m vert.

70cals/km (70 x 20) = 1400 cals. Then add the climbing.
10km (70 x 10 = 700) gives you a total of 2100 calories expended.

So say the runner takes 3 hours to run 20km with 1000m vert and expends 2100 cals. They can only ingest roughly 200-300 cals max an hour, so they will be around 400 cals in deficit if they are burning 700cals an hour. This is fine as long as you stay on top of what your body can handle which is 200-300 cals per hour as well as fluids and sodium. Without enough fluid or sodium your body with struggle to absorb the calories into the bloodstream. Don’t ever try to replace what you burn – you’ll end up squatting in a hole somewhere or throwing up over your shoes. Too much will hinder your performance, especially in longer events.

NOTE that this is a pretty good guide but will differ slightly from person to person depending on current fitness levels, body weight and genetics. However it’s a great starting point and you can confidently follow it if you have nothing else to go off.

Another way and probably easier to manage if your HR monitor show calories burned is to consume 30-40% of your hourly energy expenditure. This then takes into account gender, fitness and body weight.

Example: If you burn 750cals per hour you will need 225-300 cals (30-40% of your hourly expenditure).

 

What does 100cals look like?
• One gel
• 3 Perpetuem chews
• Half an energy bar
• Half a banana
• 1 scoop Tailwind or equivalent (check labels of each product you use.)
• 3 GU Chews or Shotbloks
• 1 slice of bread (use only white as its low fibre)
• 2 pieces of watermelon

 

Hydration

Hydration status is more important than fuel availability – fuelling can be easily fixed by popping in some CHO (provided that you are not suffering from gastric distress ie bloating and nausea – as this is then easier said than done!). Dehydration takes a lot longer to recover from as you have had a drop in blood volume. When you stuff up your fuelling you can pop a gel, eat some sugar, let it digest and you bump up your glycogen stores, and then can carry on.

However with dehydration, the mechanisms that regulate blood volume take hours to rectify if you get it wrong, causing nausea and bloating, which generally leads to gastric distress (you need fluids to ingest food properly to get them into your bloodstream – without that is sits in the gut causing issues, and stopping you from eating,  so your dehydration then also becomes a fuelling problem). Worse still, if you stuff up your hydration and sodium intake bad enough you can end up in hospital. It can also be potentially fatal (hyponatremia).

 

A good table showing the effects of increasing dehydration on your physical performance
Body Water Loss % Effects
0.5% Loss  – Increased strain on the heart
1% Loss  – Reduced aerobic endurance
3% Loss – Reduced muscular endurance
4% Loss – Reduced muscle strength, reduced fine motor skills, heat cramps
5% Loss – Heat exhaustion, cramping, fatigue, reduced mental capacity
6% Loss – Physical exhaustion, heatstroke, coma, potential death

 

Sodium (Na)

Combining CHO and Na together when training or racing allows them to move into the bloodstream more quickly, so it’s wise to have a combination of both (eg Tailwind, Heed etc which contains both, or gels AND Endurolytes together). If using commercial sports drinks like Gatorade they normally contain an optimal mix of CHO & Na. When mixing your own make sure you have the concentration right – too weak and it will be useless. Too strong and you will risk overdoing it and feeling sick. A good guide is 2 scoops per 500ml water.
NOTE – don’t use sugar free products when fuelling as they are useless! They contain no CHO which = no energy.

 

Pre Workout Nutrition

In terms of CHO you want to start your sessions and races with full glycogen stores. You can only store around 1600-2000 cals of glycogen in your muscles and liver. While you are burning CHO you also burn a bit of PRO and fat as well, but the substance you want to rely on to get you through the session or event is CHO.
Starting a race (up to 30mins prior) with 100-150cals on board will make sure you have a good 45mins in you to get going. Then you can start sipping or sucking away on your other food.
The night before have something healthy and boring with not too much fibre and not too heavy. I find a plate of roast chicken and veggies nice and simple. Pasta can leave you bloated and feeling too full. As long as you have eaten enough the few days before you will be fine and no need for massive carb loading or it will literally bite you in the bum on race day. Remember that you have also been tapering so you are using less energy. I like to indulge in a hot chocolate the day before, and have a few things I may not normally have, like a bit of choccy with a cup of tea before bed and the bikkies in the motel room…..but also make sure you are drinking enough. I also prefer to try and get my CHO the day before from more liquids than solids, as they seem to not feel as heavy. A Gatorade, pumpkin soup and a bread roll, Milkshake, Up & Go’s etc. That’s pre race – pre training I just eat a normal healthy meal. Again, it’s all about practice and what works for you.

 

Post Workout Nutrition

You can make sure that you have full glycogen stores before your next workout by making sure you replenish them by consuming CHO 30-60 mins post training or race. This is the window when your body is most primed to uptake glycogen. You also need to consume some sodium to replace what you have lost through sweat, but sodium also plays an important role in transporting CHO out of the gut and into the bloodstream.
And don’t forget you also need to replace fluids! A good way to start is to have a CHO rich recovery drink that also contains sodium, such as Gatorade. Flavoured drinks are also easier to get down after a hard session than water. Then in the 4 hour period post workout have another meal containing CHO & PRO.

In the 4 hour period post workout a 70kg runner should aim 1.5g CHO per kilo of body weight (105g). This is a lot, especially when you add protein and fat to these calories, so aim to consume the first 50-60g of CHO in the first 30-60mins, and then slowly take in the rest over the next 3 hours as you can stomach it. This will ensure that you lay down glycogen stores to fuel your next run. A few ideas for meals containing CHO & PRO are eggs & Avo on toast, Protein/Banana Smoothie, chicken and salad wrap, fruit etc.

Don’t forget PRO for muscle recovery – the guide is about 1.2g/kg body weight. Using our 70kg runner again as an example, that equates to 84g PRO. You also need about 1g/kg bw of fat (70g). Good fats include avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil, olives, oily fish.

Good choices to refuel CHO and Na in the first 30-60 mins:
• Gatorade, Staminade, Heed, Gu Brew etc – probably the easiest
• UP & Go
• Banana with peanut butter
• Chocolate milk
• Fruit and yoghurt
• Fruit Bread/vegemite toast or sandwich
Endurolyte capsules
• Scrambled eggs on toast or muffins with salt

Good Choices to replace protein in 4 hours post run:
• Eggs (2)
• Chicken, turkey, pork, red meat
• Cottage cheese
• Skim milk
• Protein powder (use in smoothies)
• Fish
• Low fat plain Greek yoghurt

Weight Loss and Performance

There is no doubt that carrying extra unnecessary kilos will hinder your performance – however trying to lose weight during a heavy training period can have more detrimental effects than racing with an extra kilo or 2.

Runners that try to restrict calories in order to lose weight risk training low on fuel therefore they are not optimising the effectiveness of their training and not getting to the ultimate goal – getting fitter for race day. They also risk losing lean muscle mass as well as body fat which when you are asking your body to perform at its best, not to mention all of the climbing we do, is counterproductive to what we are trying to achieve – strong, fit runners. Training consistently on low fuel and losing too much weight also affects your immunity, your hormones and energy levels – all with dire consequences in respect to your training program. Being ill or constantly tired is no way to achieve your running goals!

I would much rather see a fit runner that is carrying an extra kilo or two race than a runner that has lost weight to the detriment of their fitness – on race day the fitter runner will always beat the runner that has lost too much weight.

Training at the right intensity because you have fuelled well will mean that your weight should take care of itself – you’ll burn more calories and fat in a high intensity, hard session than you will if you just plod through and survive it. And don’t forget the EPOC effect (excess post oxygen consumption). The higher your heart rate, the more oxygen you consume and harder the session, the more fat and calories you will burn for the rest of the day. Burning cals while you rest? Yep!

 

Happy Running!

Simone Hayes is a Level 3 Personal Trainer and  Level 2 Recreational Running Coach. An experienced ultra runner with countless 40km-100km trail events under her belt, she guides runners of all abilities through online coaching and weekly Run Clubs and strength sessions, as well as running her outdoor PT business for the past 13 years.
For more information contact Simone: simone@energyfitnessgymea.com.au

12 Days of Fitness

12 Days of Fitness 2018

The #1 Habit You Should Have to Lose Weight

One great reason here why Group Training works with Weight Loss and Fitness Gains, and how to make it happen for you.
 

The #1 Habit You Should Have to Lose Weight


We can all agree that a habit is anything you do regularly, but according to the definition used in psychology, a habit also needs to be done automatically — as in, without really thinking about it.
All habits need a trigger — a little reminder that says, “Hey, you should do this action now.” You want to be able to just get out of bed and exercise, just as you brush your teeth each morning.
They also need a reward — a little reminder that what you just did was a good thing. “Hey – I nailed that class and feel great” is sometimes all the reward you need.
Habits are hard. But repetition and rewards make actions become habits much more easily.

How to make exercise a HABIT


FIND PEOPLE TO SHARE YOUR WEIGHT LOSS AND FITNESS JOURNEY WITH
Permanent lifestyle changes happen in relationships. Whether they take place with peers, a coach, family, friends, coworkers, the other anonymous people at training sessions, new habits happen when people get together and help each other out.
Finding your own triggers are hard. Seeing other people’s is easy. “I wish I could be as focused and consistent as her”. You can!
Remembering to tell yourself, “Great job!” is hard. Pat yourself on the back for every session you do, even if you came last up that hill. Hey, you were there when many weren’t!
Remembering to tell other people how awesome they are is easy. Try telling yourself sometimes.
Figuring out how to enjoy new foods, new activities, and new steps into your own life is hard. Watching and learning from a whole bunch of other people like you who are trying to get to the same place you are is just so much easier!
That is why Group Training Works!
At Energy Fitness we thrive on working as a supportive community, all with the one goal – to be healthy for a long time and to have fun doing it.
Come along and see for yourself – enjoy a week’s free trial – no contracts or commitments, just try it.
 
Go to www.bioathletic.com.au/training-club/ to sign up for your free week.

Sept 17

Step it up September Challenge 2017