beet juice

Beet Juice and Endurance Athletes

I visited my naturopath the other week to talk nutrition and training. I have never talked about this on the blog before, but I am an endurance athlete with Graves Disease which is an aggressive form of hyperthyroidism. Basically, while everyone else’s thyroid decides to slow down, mine wants to ramp into high gear which causes me to lose weight and muscle mass. I am going to do a full post on what exactly it is and how I manage it this August, but it is the reason I work closely with a naturopath and an endocrinologist to make sure I don’t have a thyroid storm in the middle of a marathon.

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More on that later, for now, my naturopath absolutely floored me when she mentioned that I was doing well with my nutrition. My long time readers know that I have a sister with severe anorexia, so as a result, I am VERY relaxed with my nutrition and probably eat more sugar and fat than the average female runner because my over all goal is balance and positivity towards food of all kinds and well, that whole thyroid thing.

One change that I have made in my nutrition while training is to remove an afternoon coffee which cuts me down to one a day. Hyperthyroidism puts everything into overdrive for me, so inflammation from training will be enhanced. One thing I have added in is beet juice for my long runs and I wanted to talk a bit about that.

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There was a study done by Andy Jones at the University of Exedor which showed that by adding beet juice to training increases the plasma nitrate concentration in the blood, reduces blood pressure, and made exercise feel easier.

Beets are a fabulous source of inorganic nitrate – just make sure you don’t use too much mouthwash before consuming them! The nitrate ends up in your saliva, where bacteria convert it to nitrite. Elsewhere in the body, it is converted to nitric oxide which aids in blood flow, muscle movement and brain transmission.

Here is a graph showing how levels of nitrate in your blood change after increasing amounts of beet juice:

wylie_beet_dose_response_1So the more beet juice you drink, the better the effect. It peaks at about 2-4 hours and tapers off at around 12 hours. As a result of these increases in beet juice, blood pressure dropped and the amount of energy needed to maintain a moderate level of exercise decreased after drinking the beets. Basically, it felt easier to run at the same pace than without the beet juice.

I tried it out myself this past weekend and although I had tired legs after a hard week of marathon training, I was flying for the last 10 KM of my 30 KM run. I am planning on continuing to play with it until my marathon in 3 weeks, but my only caution is to not drink more than 500 mL as beet juice has been proven to be synonymous with portapotty stops.

To make beet juice, take 2 large beets and put them in a blender or juicer. Add water or fruit as desired.

To make beet juice, take 2 large beets and put them in a blender or juicer. Add water or fruit as desired.

If you find it difficult to palate, mix in an apple or pear with water to dilute the mixture and add some sweetness. I will be honest, straight beet juice (which is how I took it down) tasted not unlike alcohol.

How about you? Ever tried beet juice for endurance events? What was the result?

If not, would you try it?

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Track Drills and Beet Juice

Welcome to the first week of August, friends! It was an awesome weekend for me that was a perfect balance of relaxation and hard work! Friday night was kicked off with a nice hard long run, fuelled by beet juice.

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I saw my naturopath last weekend and she suggested that in between my hard cycle and long run, I try a glass of beet juice to load up on nitrate, which helps the blood use oxygen more efficiently. This should work for athletes who have digestive issues as well as making the endurance work seem more effortless. I am going to continue playing with it and keep you posted.

Another thing I switched up this time was instead of chocolate pudding (Ugh), I used Clif shot blocks and instead of chewing them, began letting them dissolve in my mouth after an hour and continued this for the rest of my long run. I am going to experiment with gels next week, but I am thinking this may be the way I chose to go.

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Although this was the tail end of my highest milage week before my marathon, I was able to pull a negative split. Around 15 KM, my legs felt better and I was able to open up and push a bit harder. I always work tempo portions into my long runs and this weekend, I did a 5 KM and a 6 KM at sub marathon goal pace.

I had an awesome sleep in and made a big purchase on Saturday morning (more later), but then I headed to Toronto for Track & Roll. 

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I met up with some of my good runner friends from Toronto, including the Night Terrors run crew. My team was racing as a part of their crew and it was a fabulous day.

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Unfortunately, our fourth team member was delayed and wasn’t able to make it, so I ran two laps of the relay. It was a fun experience and I can’t wait to try it next year!

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We may have crashed a beer mile in the city afterwards. I chose to be the photographer because I have gut issues with running with pizza and pudding – I can’t imagine beer. My team mates were champs though and it was amazing to do so many events that were just about FUN and running.

As a distance runner, I still keep track a regular part of my training and considering I did so many track events this weekend, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite track warm ups for a competition.

High Knees: Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest and quickly place it back on the ground. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as you can.

A-Skips: This drill is great for sprint mechanics and to prime your system to be explosive. As one leg skips, the other leg will bring the knee up to a 90-degree angle with the foot dorsiflexed. You will bring that bent leg down quickly and drive with the ball of your foot to the ground. Your upper body is straight and your arms move in a running motion.

Strides: In your best running form, run across the field at at a moderate to high effort.

For additional drills, check out this article. 

What did you do this weekend?

What are your favourite warm up drills?

 

6 ways to stay injury-free in marathon

6 Ways to Stay Injury-Free In Marathon Training

Welcome to FRIDAY! I am really excited for this weekend. I am competing at the Lululemon Track & Roll and spending some time with Toronto friends as well as putting in another solid long run, this time WITHOUT chocolate pudding!

This week has been my highest mileage week before the marathon and I am HURTING. Some of the key workouts this week were a blistering interval session with 2 KM repeats to prep for my time trail on Monday with some wicked strength training, a 75 minute tempo bike session followed by a 10 KM interval session with 1 KM repeats and I have a 30 KM long run preceded by a one hour hard cycle this evening. [If you are interested in following my training, you can find me on Strava]. At this point, I am forgetting what it feels like to not have something hurting somewhere – when I laugh, my abs are sore, I cannot bound down the stairs two at a time and my feet look like gremlins.

The thing is, this is a key week. I am building strength and muscle for my hard efforts on marathon day. Will it hurt? YES. Will it hurt less because of the work I’m putting in now? Absolutely.

Putting in intensity and high mileage can be risky if you don’t do it correctly, especially for an injury prone runner like me. I thought I would share some tips and tricks on what is keeping me injury-free through this training cycle.
1. Running with People – Believe it or not, this helps me keep my mileage lower. If I were to train alone, I would push myself too far. This week, I cut a 12 KM trail run to 8 KM because I was running with a group and Wednesday night, I felt silly doing laps alone on the track when my team was through even though I was reaching a specific mileage. I communicate my training goals with friends and they are amazing at helping me to reach my goals.

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2. I added in a rest day. I hate to rest. Even on the beach, I will lie on my towel for one second and I pop right back up to go throw a football or go swimming or sun myself vertically.

Vertical Sunning...like a meercat.

Vertical Sunning…like a meercat.

Adding a complete rest day has helped recharge me for my hard weekly workouts and given me time to get into a few good books.
3. I’ve slept. This is and always will be a tricky one for me. I am a very social person with The Fear Of Missing Out (what if something exciting happens when I am sleeping?!) but I have been focused and mindful on getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night and up to 9 if possible. This is probably the biggest one in my books.
4. I have eaten and hydrated well. I have been working with my naturopath over this training cycle and for the first time ever, she is thrilled with me. I take my supplements and my fridge is a scramble of spinach, probiotics and beet juice. I have cut out my afternoon coffee and I eat 6 times a day. Throughout this process, I have not cut out any of my favourite foods but just added in more good stuff (so you could occasionally see me eating a breakfast of sprouted toast with coconut oil……and nutella).
5. I have switched up intensity. Every week, I do two hard interval sessions, one trail run, 2 easy runs and one long run with built in tempo efforts. It allows me to strengthen as a runner but also recover on easier trail days.
6. I switch up surfaces that I run on. I had mentioned that I run pavement, gravel and trail an almost equal amount during the week, but this also applies to shoes. I will run any type of shoe and rotate through with everything from minimalist to mid cushion to maximalist. Over the last couple weeks, I have added a new pair into my rotation that I have never tried before from Topo Athletic. Because of the huge variance in terrain that I cover, I chose the Trail//MT , a hybrid shoe that is described as ” super-light, versatile, performing well on and off road with the traction and protection of trail runner paired with the weight and flexibility of a road shoe.” As a Prius driver, I am all about hybrids so I was thrilled with this one.

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I dealt directly with the company and there was a bit of a mix-up with the delivery and I was unsure of how it was going to work out. The customer service was a dream: super responsive and had everything sorted within 24 hours. It is the most roomy fit of all of the Topo shoes and it is stylin’ enough that I would wear it to the grocery store. I took it on three test runs – one was on the streets of down town Toronto, one on the trails and one on the gravel road that I train on near my house. Each and every time, the shoe felt amazing, but considering I am not exclusively a minimalist runner, I did not run longer than 15 KM while wearing the shoes, just to ease into them.

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The shoes retail for $100 and I would order them again – they are good looking, light and I love the versatility. Topo stands behind a mandate of developing products for athletes, by athletes. If nothing else, I love this company for their mission statement.

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A quick look at their staff page shows they are all athletes and it was refreshing to do some back and forthing with someone who GETS it and was genuinely interested in my sport and training. In her words, “The shoes won’t make you better – YOU make you better. We are just here to help.”

What are your tips for remaining injury-free in high volume training?
What was the latest pair of shoes added to your collection?

 

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Recovery Popsicles

I am so excited about this week. It had been fairly rainy and temperate here the past week or so, which is fabulous for training, but I am a bit of an outlier in the fact that I love training in the heat. Humidity doesn’t bother me, in fact, I welcome it because I love to get a good, solid, disgusting sweat on. My speed and energy levels are rarely affected by the heat, but it often goes the other way in the winter – I just want to crawl in a warm corner, eat my winter hatred away in the form of warm carbs and not move. Ever.

Funny Seasonal Ecard- I hope my complaints about the weather have made the weather seem comparatively less annoying
Monday of this week was an exceptionally humid day that began with a heavy fog and ended with me doing interval sprints in the local park. I was with my team, Health + Performance as we prepared for the time trial next week. (If you are a local runner, come on out! I think today is the last day to sign up).

Anyways, I arrived home, absolutely drenched with the biggest smile on my face and headed straight in the kitchen to make another one of my incredibly complex recipes.

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I believe the word is Sweaty Betty…

Jessica’s Recovery Popsicles

1 cup of chocolate milk
1 scoop of North Coast Naturals l-glutamine

Mix and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze. Loosen the mold with running hot water over the mold. Enjoy.

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I know a lot of runners are skeptical about milk or are sensitive to consuming it, but every person reacts differently and I have a fairly relaxed approach to nutrition. That being said, chocolate milk has been shown to be a perfect post-workout drink because of the balance of carbs and proteins with that amazing 4:1 ratio that helps to rock recovery.

Also, I use North Coast Naturals L-Glutamine liberally in my training and recovery because it assists with muscle growth, enhances cell volume which increases recovery and supports gastrointestional health. You can read another post I wrote on it here. 

So basically, even though it is the simplest recipe ever, it is packed full of goodness to ensure you recover quickly and are ready to rock your next workout in no time.

How about you? What is your FASTEST go-to recovery snack?

What weather do you prefer running in, hot or cold?

Weekend on the Water (1)

Weekend on the Water

Just saying, I may have to try this whole not racing thing again sometime. I had such a fantastic weekend full of friends, adventures and a really solid workout.

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I headed to Hamilton on Friday night and spent some time with two of my best friends from university. We grabbed pizza and ate it by the river and spent the evening catching up and seeing how life has changed our little days in class together.

Saturday, I helped out at the Amish auction in Perth County. Let me explain. I live in an unusual corner of the world with a very specific culture of the Mennonites. This is the most unique event I know that involves them raising funds for their school system. There are hundreds of people that come out to check out the auction which features everything from livestock and antiques to farm equipment. My father’s Home Hardware store puts in a booth every year and I helped out and went to check out some of the culture!

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Watching a horse being sold in the auction ring. SO fascinating.

Athletics-wise, it was my second last big volume weekend before my marathon. I had mentioned that I had worked out a system with my coach where I would do an hour long cycle before my long run to get my legs good and tired for the run to simulate a marathon without pushing my milage too high, too fast.

Of course, it was POURING rain for me, but my cycle went quickly.

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It was hard to mentally wrap my mind around the fact that I would be out there for 3 and a half hours, but that is all a part of the training. I also experimented with a new form of fuelling, experiment being the operating word.

I had heard that chocolate pudding was a similar nutritional profile as gel and it works fabulously for fuelling training. Typical me, I was all into using myself for an experiment so I filled a couple plastic bags with chocolate pudding and took off for my run. Didn’t google the validity of it or ANYTHING because I am unusually optimistic about using incorrect foods for fuelling. 

Well. I kind of wish I would have. Firstly, my legs felt like junk the first 6 KM off the bike but it magically disappeared after my first tempo portion, despite the rain. I took my pudding(I grimace even writing that) at around 15 km or half way.

My digestive system was less than thrilled. Let’s just say, it was a good solid effort and I will never use pudding on a training run again. Full stop. The run can be seen here.

Sunday, I took a complete rest day and spent the day with my cousin. He is a paramedic and is constantly inundated with health questions from me. (Hey Chris – when you run a hard workout and are violently ill 4 hours later, what causes that? What does hogweed burn look like? What does…)

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He clearly loves every second of it.

My sport for July is kayaking and we met up with a friend for a fantastic day on the water.

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We were rained on for a portion of our 5 hour session, but it didn’t matter. I absolutely loved the change of pace and working on my upper body strength and perfecting my technique. I love being on the water and it was the perfect recovery day.

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Don’t forget to enter my Genuine Health giveaway! Winner is drawn on Wednesday. Just leave a comment on this post to enter.

What did you do this weekend?

What is the newest sport you have tried lately?

5Peaks - RattleSnake

Race Report: 5 Peaks Rattlesnake Course

Hey guys. Guess what I’m not doing this weekend?

Racing!

Instead, I will be spending some time in Hamilton with some of my best friends from university, sneaking in a long run and spending some time on the open water learning how to kayak.

Last weekend, I had a fabulous race at the Rattle Snake Conservation area with the 5 Peaks series. It was an interesting event for me, because I had 26 KM to fit in, so I did a longer warm up than usual, treated the race as a tempo portion of a long run and finished up with a 10 km “cool down.”

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A little bit about the course: This race is known as one of the series favourites as it is by far the most technical. It’s situated along the Niagara Escarpment and not too far of a drive for me, which obviously wins for me when it means I get an extra hour of sleep.

I have to say it is my favourite so far simply for the incredible variety of terrain the course offers. You begin in a simple path that quickly turns into some fun and pretty intense single track. This turns into some rocky limestone that has you doing some fancy footwork and high knees to scramble over them. Patched throughout are fun little boardwalks to break up swampy bits and grassy stretches that were fun for pushing hard.

The final 2 KM were hurt. There is a burning vertical up the escarpment and at one point I turned and yelled at the guy behind me that it felt like an obstacle course. I definitely used plenty of plyometrics on this course!

I was really happy with my performance. I kept it in a lower gear and ran a decent tempo pace and was able to rock the 10 KM following the race. I placed 5th woman OA and 1st in my age group. You can see my Movescount data here.

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The volunteers were amazing and the water stations were placed intuitively throughout.

What I learned: That I have a weakness when it comes to really technical bits. I am fine with leaping over logs and roots (in fact, this one guy behind me yelled out that I was a gazelle at the beginning of the race and kind of made my day), but I really was slowed down by the lime stone. It was a bit slippery and I just wasn’t mentally game to pound over it, very similar with how I used to be with steep, technical down hills. It just means I need to get out there and train on limestone and rocky surfaces to increase my comfort levels on going fast over rocks.

What I ate: [Pre-race] Banana, coffee, sprouted toast with nutella and peanut butter.
[Post-race/long run] Chocolate milk, bagel with almond butter and an apple.

What I wore: 2XU racing hat, Salomon 5 Peaks tank, Sears shorts, Saucony Peregrine’s, Suunto Ambit 2 Watch. (Hoping to have a review on this up next week!)

It was a lot of fun to spend time with some of my trail buddies and fellow ambassadors.

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One of my best friend’s from university came and ran it as well and it was so much fun to catch up with her during the awards ceremony. Another awesome 5 Peaks race!

The next one is Albion Hills on August 9. Message me at lacesandlattes[a]gmail.com for a discount code; looking forward to seeing you there!

Did you race last weekend? How did it go?!

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Supplements for Runners and a Genuine Health Giveaway!

Seriously. How are we at Wednesday, guys?

It may feel so unusual because I treated my Monday night like another weekend evening. I headed up to Toronto to speak at Allegra’s running clinic at the Running Room.

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The chat was on staying motivated in your training. From there, I headed to meet some fellow Digital Champions for the Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon for an evening run with the Toronto run crew, Night Terrors.

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night terrors

It was a late night and on Tuesday morning, I headed to work in a mad rush to make it on time, but not without grabbing two of my morning mainstays – coffee and omegas.

Coffee to keep me alive. Omegas to keep me moving.

I rarely take medications, but I supplement with a few items:

Omega 3 Joy by Genuine Health –  As an athlete, I search for reasonable and natural ways to reduce inflammation Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation, support the nervous system, clear your skin, give heart health and good vision, provide enhanced cognitive function and effective digestion and nutrient absorption.

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I don’t eat enough fish, so this little supplement keeps me rocking in my training. This is the best fish oil I have taken, and I’ve been trying brands for over 3 years.

Probiotics  – When I am training hard, I eat a lot of food. Probiotics help me digest it well so I can keep racing hard. It also helps me to absorb the nutrients from the food I am eating.

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Iron – I use a low dosage prescribed by my doctor. Female runners are particularly prone to iron deficiency and I try to keep my levels at a healthy amount by taking iron, eating leafy greens and indulging in red meat at least once a week.

Vitamin D – This supplement is vital for health. I dial back my dosage in the summer because I am outside more but during the winter, I take 4,000 IU’s of Vitamin D every day to support my health, boost immunity and keep me smiling.

That’s it! I try to get most of my vitamins from food, but these are a few that my doctors, naturopaths or health professionals have recommended for me.

I would love to share some of my omegas with you because I seriously do think they are the best. I’m giving away a bottle of Omega 3 Joy to a reader. To enter, just leave a comment telling me what you supplement with/why you don’t supplement and I will pick a winner next Wednesday.

Bonus entries for liking:
Laces and Lattes on Facebook
Genuine Health on Facebook
Laces and Lattes on Twitter
Genuine Health on Twitter.

Good luck!

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Why Speed Work, Works

What an awesome weekend, guys! I have no idea how I was able to cram so much in and still feel like I had a restful weekend.

I had the 5 Peaks Rattle Snake race on Saturday morning (recap to come this Friday) and I was struck with an awful migraine that left me cancelling all my evening plans to sleep off my symptoms. I came to around 9:30 and promptly watched Orphan Black until 3 am. (I rarely watch TV, but occasionally I find a show I am addicted to and then it just gets out of hand).

 My Allegra and I. She won first for her age group in the Sport Course!

I spent Sunday with my family, eating lunch at my sister’s house, squeezing in a quick gym session and headed to the beach to watch the sunset.

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This week, it’s back to the grind, including a couple sessions of speed training. I wanted to chat a bit about the how’s and why’s of speed training and it’s benefits to runners.

I will use myself as an example. When I first began running in 2010, I thought you ran by just heading out the door with running shoes on. I was correct, but only to a point. To run WELL, I needed to incorporate intervals. It wasn’t until I seriously made them a part of my regular training that I began seeing serious gains in my performance including PRIng almost every race and seeing the podium more often then not. I have shaved 4 minutes off my 5 KM time in university varsity cross country in the past number of years because of interval training.

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Why Do Intervals Work?

Intervals make you focus on your top end speed which helps allow your body to get used to running at a fast speed, so you will do it more effortlessly in races. For me, the biggest thing that interval training built was STRENGTH. That explosive strength that gave me that extra kick in the last kilometre of a race and the sprints helps to develop stronger core muscles to help me in my distance runs.

You also are able to work HARDER than you ever could if you would try and sustain that speed over a long period of time. The break between your intervals allows your body to recover and it is a great way to monitor fitness.

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How Do You Incorporate Them Into Training? 

  • If you are just starting out, make sure you have a base built up in running. I would suggest being able to run 5 KM without stopping before starting to incorporate speed work into your training.
  • You want to find a local track or flat surface to do them on. Doing speed work on hills is helpful sometimes, but if the course is too steep or technical, it is hard to focus on speed.
  • Make sure you warm up – to reach your top end speed, it is important to not run on cold muscles as there is a much higher chance of injury. I always do a 20 minute run before my speedwork sessions.
  • Focus on your form! It can be easy to be hyperaware of speed and forget form, especially as you get tired, but making sure you are in correct posture will actually help you run faster.
  • Don’t over do it. Start with one speed session a week and work to two. I only do one speed session the weeks I am racing because too much intensity, like everything, can be a bad thing. By mixing it into your regular routine, you will notice huge gains in your racing speed.
  • Cool down. You are working your body hard and it will recover faster with a cool down. I normally run for about 10 minutes after my interval session.

Team Dave

Sample Interval Workout

20 minute warm up run

10 x 1 minute sprints with one minute recovery

10 minute tempo run

10 minute cool down

What is your favourite interval workout?