Tag: health

Stepping Up The Nutrition Game

Recently I followed an online course at Shaw Academy called ‘Sports and Exercise Nutrition – What Fuels Energy Systems’.
I had the luck that I found out about it through an online action, so I paid €5 instead of €395.
If you would happen to stumble upon it through Groupon or whatever, I’d say go for it, because I learned a lot from it in function of my long distance running.
There’s a lot of trivial info, but seeing it all aligned and being able to adapt it for yourself helps a lot.
Just to show what I’ve learned I’ll show you the calculation I did for myself and some conclusions I’ve made because of it.

Some sideinfo:

  • I weigh ~72kg
  • 1g CHO (carbohydrates) = 4 calories
  • 1g PRO(teΓ―nes) = 4 calories
  • 1g fat = 9 calories

First step: finding my CHO intake

I’ve put myself in the ‘Competitive – moderate’ because I do 3-5 training sessions between 1 & 3h.
This means 6-8g carbs/kg

Second was my PRO intake

A bit harder to find
I chose ‘Moderate intensity endurance athletes’ with a range of 1.2-1.5g/kg so I had some room to manoeuver…
The course went into length about the PRO intake and said you can safely up it to 1.8g/kg without side-effects, …
They give a fuller feeling when eaten, so I figured, if I eat too much of one of the macronutrients, it might as well be my protein.

Total Calorie intake = RMR (Resting Metabolic rate) * PAL (Physical Activity Level)

I’m 28 & male ==> (15.3*72)+679

Chose Moderate ==> 1.7-1.9

I averaged everything out, soooo …

RMR * PAL = ((15.3*72)+679)*1.8 = 1780.6*1.8=3205.08 calories/day (before I ate about 2500)

CHO average = 7*72 = 504g ==> 2016 calories
PRO av g= 1.35*72 = 97.2g ==> 388.8 calories
CHO+PRO = 2016+388.8 = 2404.8 ==> 800.28 remaining ==> 88.92g vet

At running days I try to go higher on the low-fat/high-carb ratio than on non-running days.

This is all very theoretic of course, but I’m roughly a month into this new calorie regime and have noticed that:

  • I run better
  • I’ve lost a bit of tummy fat (my hardest region)
  • crave less junk food (I eat/ate too much crisps in front of the TV)
  • I get to eat more, because it’s “better” food and do not need to starve myself.

If you happen to have questions about this, feel free to hit me up in the comments.

My Lactic Acid Test

About 2 years ago I went running on a treadmill and had my ear pricked every 3 minutes.
What I learned there was that my base could be a lot better and that the shape I was in at that time did not offer a good breeding ground to do a sub 3:30 marathon.

I proved the advice wrong (barely), yet I feel I could not have achieved it without the test itself.
Running on heart rate is golden for me, it gives me a sense of security and supports me on a day-to-day basis.

About 2 months ago I went for an update, this time “in the field” (on a track is more correct).

The general idea was the same: run at a specific intensity, pause, prick some blood, put down the timings and go running at a somewhat heavier intensity.
Difference was at treadmill they crank up the speed, here I needed to watch my heart rate constantly.

So I managed 6 times 2k and shortly after that I had to push it all out over 600m to find my max HR.

For the number minded people: a comparison. My take on these numbers are underneath.

2013 2015
Recovery 134-143 <140
Z1 144-155 140-155
Z2 156-161 155-162
Z3 162-167 162-169
Z4 168-173 16-17.5km/h*
Z5 174-182 >17.5km/h*
Anaerobic threshold 168 @ 14.2km/h 168 @ 15.15km/h
Max HR 182 @ 16.8km/h 183 @ unknown (didn’t press my Garmin button properly)

* The 2 tests were with a different firm, the second one opts to only give speeds at intensity levels as HR can fluctuate too much in their opinion.

So after 2 years it turned out that:

  • The last year or so I did my long runs too slow
  • My speed really picked up
  • I have consistent zones once above my threshold.
  • There is still room for improvement on my total capacity, which means I should be able to get even faster.

Good times coming πŸ™‚

Any of you ever did some test like this?
Did you think it upped your trainings?


Running 100k A Week

In order to optimally prepare for my 6h race that’s coming up I felt I had to step up my game and run more distance per week.
Feeling comfortable with 100k a week was the goal to achieve, but never before having run 100k in one week, this was somewhat challenging.

For me it was a somewhat magical line, that’s why I want to share my experiences with you all.

Make sure you do it in enough runs

Don’t go out as a madman and keep on running until you practically collapse so you only have to do three runs for making it to 100k.
There are seven days in a week and with the rule of thumb of ‘the long run = 1/3 of your total week’ you can even have a rest day (or two) if you plan properly.
I commuted by run to work and easily could go for a 20k a day without really tapping into my family time.

Rest afterwards

Afterwards being the week after.
Especially after breaking the barrier a first time you’ll feel tired. No problem, take a calm week and go back to your comfortable week distance.

Don’t overdo your long run

Sort of covered this in the first point, but don’t go out and suddenly do a long run that’s double as long as your normal long run. Your system, joints, muscles just won’t take it…

Skip the interval/high intensity for a while

70% of my runs were in my lowest heart rate zone (~60% max heart rate), the rest was one zone higher (~70% max HR).
I steered clear of intervals and high intensity for a while, because tomorrow and the day after and the day after … I needed to go running again πŸ™‚

Listen to your body, as always!

I cannot repeat this enough in all of my “advice” posts.
Listen to your body! Always!
Pain is bad, not just an annoyance.
It’s normal to feel stiff or sore, but pain (stabbing, constant, …) pain is a clear signal that you’re not ready yet.Trim down for a while and try again.

It’s more than running alone.

Once you’re at the point of 100k a week you should know that your body benefits from more than running alone.
Clean, healthy eating and a decent amount of sleep (~+1h per week for every 10km) is paramount if you run distances and as frequent as this.

Make it your new comfort zone

This was my goal, feel comfortable running this much so it doesn’t feel like “having to”
At some point I ran 300k in three weeks and yes my body needed rest after that, but every day I went for “just another run”, which felt nice.


Did you break 100k a week? Was it as much planning for you as it was for me?
Or do you have another ‘mental barrier’ that you want to break in one week someday?

Start tips for running

Running: how to start?

As my friends know I’m an avid runner I often get asked how to start running.

I cannot claim I’m a running expert nor that I tell The Running Truth about everything, but there are some tips I give to everyone when asked this question.

1. Start running 3 times a week or look for a training plan

If you’re serious about running, start running 3 times a week.
My own rule of thumb is: 2x a week is maintaining condition, 3x a week is building condition.

You can just go out and start running the same lap for weeks on end and gradually build up the distance or you can search for a training plan online (see below)

2. Run-walking does not mean you are weak.

Depending on how much in shape you are or how much you weigh, it can be a challenge to go out and instantly run 5km.
In Belgium we have the ‘start ro run’ app and I know there are ‘couch to 5k’ apps out there as well.
The goal is the same, get to 5k of running in about 10-12 weeks.

If getting there means walking-running-walking-… during this process, this is no problem at all. When you keep on running this will get upgraded to running-running faster with interval training, so this is the start of speed work.
“But I’ve gone running for 20minutes and I barely broke a sweat” – Trust me: this will change πŸ™‚

3. Don’t want too much too fast.

This follows up on my last sentence from tip #2.
It can be that you go running and barely broke a sweat, this does not mean you can skip a week in your training, they are designed like this with a reason.

If you do not follow a specific training plan, don’t just double your distance without thinking it through.
Your body (joints, muscles, lungs, …) needs to adapt to distance and impact. So build up slowly if you don’t want to get injured.

4. If you feel some joints struggling in your legs it might be time to buy proper running shoes

Proper running have an average high cost (it’s soon about €120) and that’s quite an investment if you’re not sure if you’re serious about running. The advantage is high though! If you can find a store where they can check your gait and do a funded proposition of running shoes it’s worth every cent.

Your joints will thank you, the chance of injury is much smaller and you will feel like you walk on clouds. Bear in mind that this is about the only investment you need to make. Clothing, water bags, … can be bought very cheap at the start of your running career, once you know what you like/dislike you can do some investments there as well.

5. Next investment should be a heart rate monitor.

I swear with running in heart rate zones. So once you kept up with running a month or two I usually say people need to buy a heart rate monitor.

A person’s natural pace is around his turning point (the point where you start producing lactic acid). During the start of your training that’s not a big problem. You come from “nowhere” and will automatically gain condition.
If you’re about 3-4 months further however you should start mixing up your training and do trainings at different heart rates, hence: you need something to be able to check this: a heart rate monitor.


What I usually don’t tell is the ground people need to run on.

I live near the beach and people often ask me if it’s better or not to run on the beach. I just cannot give a short answer to that.
For some it’s better, for most it’s not. Yes it’s softer and your joints will benefit, but that’s about the only advantage.
The beach is seldom flat or all proper hard sand.

Mentally it can be very hard because you won’t run consistent laps at all.
Especially if you have proper shoes,I’d say you’re better of with a flat stroke of asphalt.

Do you agree/disagree with this starting tips?
Do you have anything to add?


Running To Commute

I really want to run more a week, but between work and family I don’t see it happening soon.
My work lies about 3-3.5km (~2miles) away from my house, so I take the bike to reach it.
Some time ago we were informed that showers are now available to encourage biking to work.
I do not need them, but it gave me the idea to run to work.

It’s not that I’m soaking wet after a So starting this Tuesday (Monday is a day off, hooray) I’ll run to work.
Starting with the most direct route and maybe after some time I’ll add a loop to my route.

But this means a daily workout to my body from now on, which worries me a bit.
It will be low intensity (I’ll jog, not sprint), but a workout none the less.
Which makes me quite curious what effect this will have. I surely hope it won’t get me injured, so wish me luck πŸ˜€

Does anyone else run/bike to commute?
Does it strain your body or is it just enough to be a healthy start to the day?


My Carb Loading Is The Best

So in preparation of my Half Marathon this Sunday I’m carb loading.
Nothing as serious as with my marathons and ultra’s, but carb loading none the less.
Usually I do this with some plain pasta during the day, but I found a recipe on the Alpro site that looked very interesting.

The Recipe for the oatmeal pie, link later

In dutch it was called (roughly) oatmeal pie, but I sure like the English name a whole lot better!
Choc’ Chip Triffin

I had everything I needed except for the peanut butter and I used Chocolate Soy Milk instead of Regular Soy Milk.
It makes it some heavier, but the taste is the best πŸ˜€

Choc chip triffin

So this is my snack for today and tomorrow, if you like it, don’t be shy to let me know.

Do you carb load with some baked goodness? Have some nice recipes to share?
I’d appreciate it if you’d leave them in the comments!


MyFitnessPal Retrospect

Somewhere in December I wrote a post about constantly monitoring my weight and I found an app/site helping me with this.

Seeing this as a ‘game’ it really helped me monitor everything I put in my mouth in an enjoyable way.
The only downside is that my urge to win the game got too strong.
I wanted to have as much calories left as possible at the end of the day.

Although this had a good impact on my weight, it had a negative impact on my running and daily life. I felt tired and weak.
So after a good 2 months, I decided to park it for a while. I have a greater knowledge concerning everything I eat on a daily basis so I should be able to keep my weight at a desired point just like that.

I would recommend it to people who have no idea how much calories certain food contain and want to gain weight without a real diet. Just watch out if you’re a number freak like me πŸ˜‰


Tell me about breathing

There are already a gazillion posts about breathing and the importance of it. Every long time runner knows it, but a reminder now and then is welcome.

I posted earlier this week I went running while reading a map and although it went well, I ran the exact same route the day after on memory and shaved +5 s per km off my time with only 1 avg heart beat higher.

All this because I could focus on my form and especially my breathing.

The first time I often found my heart rate way up when I was looking for the right street, turn or route so the overall graph was a lot more edgy than the second one. Once I focused on my breathing it flattened out again.

Some small pointers from my experience:

  • Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth
  • Breathe with your belly rather than with your chest
  • Try counting your steps and find a nice rhythm, my slow runs it’s 4 steps a breathing in, 4 steps breathing out.
  • If you find yourself gasping, slow down for a second and focus focus focus

Does breathing properly comes naturally to you? Have anything to add?


Weight graph – All the way through the holidays

Short follow-up after this post from halfway through the holidays.

I managed to be back on my pre-holidays on January 3 with the help from MyFitnessPal and common sense πŸ™‚

My running regime will be stricter again now and I plan to up my monthly mileage, so the fixation on my weight will be a little less from now on.

Just wanted to give an update and ensure everyone it is possible to maintain your weight through the holidays with some perseverance.

Happy running all!


I Had My Blood Checked Out

About five years ago my cholesterol was too high.
Being a healthy young man of about 22 years old at the time, this was not a good thing.
Running wasn’t as present in my life as it is now, but I did go for a run now and then and had plenty of exercise every sunday leading a troop in my Scouts.
I didn’t smoke, but could eat more fruit according to the doctor, so I did.

Since then I check my blood on a yearly basis, the cholesterol is no longer an issue, but I do think it’s a good idea to check if my vitamin levels etc. are OK during the winter.

So Tuesday I got pricked and today I called for the results.
Doctor said everything was fine instead of being somewhat low on iron, my iron reserves, vit. B and D and folic acid.
Not daring to ask what ‘Not Fine’ people’s blood looked like I listened to the advice.

Take a multivitamin with added iron everyday and a vit. D supplement weekly.
Should solve everything and even help with the fatigue I’m often feeling.

So cheers to my doctor and off to the pharmacy.
I’m curious if I’ll notice the result soon or at all.

Do you take supplements during the winter? Do you feel the effect? I’m somewhat sceptic, but all I can lose is some money, I guess…