Fueling for Optimal Performance

I’m excited to announce that I am a now an Ignite Naturals Ambassador and Athlete.  Why Team Ignite?  It comes down to my desire to fuel for optimal performance, and to do it with healthy, natural ingredients!

One principal that I have adopted in my training philosophy is that to achieve premium performance the body requires premium fuel!  Now, there has been a lot of studies done about fueling and nutrition for marathon training, and while I am not a scientist, nutritionist, or dietitian, I think most will agree that what a person / athlete puts in their body has an affect on their training, performance, etc.  My personal experience using the Nutribullet showed me what I was capable of when properly fueled.  More quality training miles led to fitness gains, those fitness gains led to better performance.  My experience training with Team Nutribullet helped me to achieve one of my major goals as a runner, one that was always elusive and seemingly unattainable for me, qualifying for The Boston Marathon!

There is something about reaching a difficult goal that helps to build confidence.  After the LA Marathon I decided to try for a new 5k PR, and in the process try for another goal that has been elusive to me, running a sub 18.  Though I finished shy of my ‘A’ Goal (18:07), I came close enough that I shattered any notion that I cannot achieve a goal that I have in my mind.  I believe I can, and will go further!  While I have come closer than ever to performing to my full potential, I don’t think I’m anywhere close to hitting my limits.  In fact, one saying that I share with others, and truly believe is that the only limits we have, are the ones we put upon ourselves!

As a member of Team Ignite Naturals, I’m joining a group of founding endurance athletes, nutrition specialists and doctors who are obsessed with revolutionizing sports nutrition using real food ingredients.  Ignite Naturals products include everything from hydration products, pre-workout nutrition, energy gels, recovery products and so much more.  I can chalk up my recent successes to my training and key workouts.  In a given training week I run hills, track repeats and speed work, tempo runs, progressive paced and long slow distance runs.  Quality workouts takes energy, it also takes its toll on the body and this is where nutrition, hydration, fueling and recovery products come in.

For sure my daily Nutribullet blasts have played a huge part, but experiencing the benefits of proper nutrition has led me to make other changes in my diet as well, being more conscious about the things I put into my body and strategic about fueling.  I don’t want to neglect anything that will allow me to train my hardest, perform my best, and be ready to do it again the next day.  I also don’t want to put just anything in my body.  Honestly, I have been reluctant in the past to use supplements.  It seems that just as often as there’s a new magic supplement, there is a new harmful ingredient discovered.  I much rather use a product with Natural Ingredients!

From here on out, I will continue to push my limits, strive to set new PR’s and break down more barriers to redefine what’s possible for me!

 

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Strategic Focus or Taper Madness?

The LA Marathon weekend is 2 Weeks away and if reality has not kicked in for runners, it will very soon!  For me, this LA Marathon is about taking the next step!  I have, during the past few months, stepped up my efforts in training and nutrition in an attempt to finally get over the hurdle and qualify for The Boston Marathon.

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A Boston Qualifier has been a target of mine since I finished my first Marathon in 2009, although back then it didn’t quite seem possible!  In 2010 it was something I was striving for, and when I completed The Philadelphia Marathon only 2 minutes shy of this goal it was a full on obsession!  I came way shy in my BQ attempt when I ran The Pasadena Marathon in 2011.  To be honest, although I was telling myself I wanted to qualify for Boston I was not training like a runner who really wanted to qualify for Boston.

Boston Marathon 2014 Qualifying Times

My training schedule was a mess, with holes all over and no consistency whatsoever.  I thought I’d make it because I had some speed, but I didn’t respect what it really takes to reach that goal! There were other factors as well including a Vitamin D deficiency that I didn’t know about until before the 2012 Malibu Half Marathon.

Ventura Marathon Official Pic2

Fast forward to 2013, I ran my first marathon in 2 years at The Ventura Marathon.  At the time I needed to run a 3:05, a tall order for sure, but I was up for the task.  I didn’t have a Garmin during my training only a stop watch, which was both good and bad.  Good: I learned how run by feel!  Bad: Running by feel concept didn’t work during the race when I got swept up with Half Marathoners and went out too fast.  Despite my horrible execution on race strategy, I still managed to run a 3:16 which gave me a lot of confidence for not having run a marathon in 2 years!

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There are a lot of factors in play that, I hope will lead to me reaching my goal at the 2014 LA Marathon.  I’ve posted about my experience with Team NutriBullet, and while I won’t get into all of those details again, I will say it is this training experience and change of mindset that has put me in the position to reach my goals.  Training, proper running form, proper nutrition, in addition to a smart / balanced training strategy has all paid off in a big way!

TNB Group Pic3

The final part of the puzzle is race strategy, and this is where I have been obsessing a bit!  (Okay, maybe a lot!)  Since I attribute my “blow up” at the Ventura Marathon to poor race strategy, I refused to let that be the case once again!  I have a Garmin now, so that should help me from going out “Too fast”, but what about after?  Do I just wing it from there?  No, I refuse to leave it to chance for my big race!  I just had to break down the miles, not to mention I’m also taking a college math class so I’ve been manipulating numbers for weeks!

The rough plan: Run the 1st 3 miles at 7:30 pace; the next 3 miles at 7:15 pace; the bulk of my miles at 7:00 pace, and the final 4+ miles at 6:45 pace if I’m feeling good!  I broke it down and it puts me under 3:05 (about 3:04:36), and if I cant run 6:45 for the final 4+?  I’d still come in about 3:07, still sub 3:10.

So then the question is, can I actually execute this plan?  According to my training its feasible!  I’ve been able to hold a 6:30 pace pretty well on my tempo runs so the 7 min/mile pace should be very manageable.  7:30 for the early miles is slower, but not that slow, it averages out pretty nicely after running all of them 7 minute miles.  (Does it sound like I’m obsessing?)

LAM Course Map

So then there’s the part about negative splits.  According to my plan I’ll run the first half at about 1:33:15 and my second half at about 1:31:21 (Obviously numbers are never exact)  a 2 minute negative split is not a huge stretch right?  After all I have run a lot of progressive paced runs during my training to prepare for just that!  As I continue to crunch these numbers it may be easy to second guess myself, or try to alter the strategy.  I mean even as I type this I was thinking of ways to modify the plan.  With 2 weeks left is this just another form of Taper Madness, or is it the type of Strategic Focus that I’ve been missing for my previous races.

To be honest my training has been very solid and focused, my mileage has been the highest, and most consistent that it has been since, ever? And once again the x-factor is my nutrition!  All of my previous marathon successes have come despite my training shortcomings, now its time to see what I can do when I’m doing things the right way!  Who knows maybe writing all this in my blog will get it all out my system.  Yep, then I can move onto obsessing about other things, like the the race day weather! 😉

LAM Weather Forecast!

Happy Running!

How Team NutriBullet is changing me as a Runner – A 4 Week Retrospective

I posted early this month about my new adventure with TeamNutribullet, training with 70+ runners for the 2014 LA Marathon. Only 4 weeks later and this amazing group is already 1/3 of the way through our training!  Starting off the first Saturday at Joes Gym in West LA, the team completed an indoctrination process which included a medical screening, mini form clinic and a short session with a strength coach before moving forward with our 6 mile run.  Our run locations have rotated between the West Side (running on San Vincente) and the Valley (climbing Dixie Canyon); they have become longer each Saturday extending as far as 10 miles so far!

Team NutriBullet

Team NutriBullet has, at our disposal some very knowledgeable coaches who have shared with us their instruction, tips, advice, and best practices in order to make us the best we can be, and be the best equipped to conquer the LA Marathon.  This includes:

  • Running Coach John LaPointe whose ABC’s of running have become extremely popular, and effective with the group!  He leads the Saturday group runs, and the Monday recovery runs.
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach/Trainer Monique Richardson who is whipping us into shape and ensuring we develop the core strength that will carry us through our training and the 26.2 mile LA Marthon!  Having Joes Gym at our disposal doesn’t hurt either!
  • Dietitian / Nutrition Coach Sarah Lefkowitz who has been tending to all of our nutrition needs and questions.  No matter how good a vehicle is, it won’t take you very far without fuel!  Proper nutrition is the fuel that carries runners through a long training program and through a Marathon.  Having a NutriBullet to make daily NutriBlasts have been a huge benefit to all of the runners on Team NutriBullet and Sarah has been fantastic about giving instruction and answering all of our questions!

In addition to being lucky enough to run with Team NutriBullet, I was also selected to be a pace group leader!  This is an honor for me and something I don’t take lightly.  Thus far I have paced both 9 minute and 8 minute pace groups.  I try to keep the group on target pace, share some advice, re-iterate proper form, keep everyone motivated, etc.  There are lots of runners with different goals and its a pleasure and honor for me to help in any way I can!

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While this will be my 7th Marathon over all, and 3rd LA Marathon, I have learned a lot so far through these weeks of training.  Things that are making me a better runner, for sure!  Here are the things I’ve learned so far!

  1. The importance of slowing it down on long runs – Anyone who trained with us on Saturday may roll their eyes at this comment as they watched my pace group FLY down the hill coming back down on Dixie Cyn from Mulholland (I gave the group some liberty after a tough climb!).  However I have begun to harp on the importance of reeling it in, both uphill and downhills, these are areas that will absolutely KILL your legs during a race so why not train as such?  Aside from hills though, it’s good practice to run at a slower pace during your long runs.This serves a few different purposes.  First, it establishes a clear change of pace from your tempo runs, making the speedier runs more effective.  Second, it allows you to use the run for what it’s intended for, to build endurance!  Third, it saves your legs for your training during the rest of the week.  Finally, it allows you to stay with others in your group and actually have a conversation, which leads me to…
  2. I miss running with others – a lot! – I do most of my training runs on my own during the week.  Occasionally someone will reach out to me and ask me to run, and I’ll usually join them.  However at this point I can’t COMMIT to group runs during the week.  While running on my own allows me to focus on the workouts that I want to do, it can also get a bit lonely.  I committed to the Saturday runs and I’m glad I did!The energy I get from all of the other runners is absolutely wonderful!  I learn so much and continue to be inspired!  Being a part of something bigger, a united effort, just makes me want to give my best, and so I do!  Now more than ever, I’m convinced that Runners are just the nicest people!  No matter what pace group I may run with this is just an amazing benefit to me and I’m sure it is to others!
  3. The importance of proper nutrition! – I have a confession to make, I have not had the best nutrition as a runner.  As a runner I always thought one of the benefits was being able to take liberties with my diet!  “Well, I just ran 10 miles today so I’m going to eat whatever I want!” right?… wrong!!!  While I would say that its okay to treat yourself and indulge now and then, unhealthy eating is not a pattern that is beneficial for optimal running performance!  Proper diet and nutrition, however can go a LONG way in providing useful energy and simply making a runner feel better!  I can say that using the NutriBullet every morning has absolutely provided me energy for my morning runs and then some!Still, I’m not completely there yet.  I am motivated to making a change in my overall diet!  I have already started making healthier choices, but I will have some work to do!  Coming into the training I was taking supplements to help with a Vitamin D deficiency, and my Total Cholesterol (TC) count was borderline high.  I am expecting that by the end of this training program those will be 2 non issues!
  4. Commitment and discipline is key to success! – Like most runners out there, I have personal goals.  I have reached some, and have missed others.  In 2010 I ran the Philadelphia Marathon (3:12) and came within 2 minutes of my main goal – qualify for the Boston Marathon.  After that race I wasn’t disappointed – nope, not at all (after all I had just ran a huge PR that race)!  Rather I was determined to qualify for Boston on my next race.  I convinced myself that I still had the fitness, and as long as I ran regularly and followed some sort of training program, I would get even better.My next training “program” was full of holes.  It was patch work, and not consistent!  I didn’t care that Pasadena was a tougher course with more hills than Philadelphia, and less than ideal weather.  I didn’t consider that, while I never struggled during the Philadelphia Marathon, there were other factors that helped.  Nope!  I ran the 2011 Pasadena Marathon under prepared, but with a false sense of confidence that would be my downfall.  My time (3:21) was respectable, but it wasn’t what I wanted, or expected, so I became a bit angry, depressed, and unmotivated.  My training got better but still no where near consistent.  I ran the Ventura Marathon in September, aiming for a tougher BQ (3:05) and again falling short (3:16).  I ran the early miles way too fast, throwing strategy out of the window!For the LA Marathon, I am taking all of those lessons, applying best practices and introducing all of the things I’ve learned with Team Nutribullet.  My mileage is up, I’m training smarter and I’m incorporating speed work and different types of training runs to mix it up. Most of all, I am committed to this training program and am applying discipline in following through with it!  An important element for me in striving for success is that I am Singular Focused.  I have decided that during my LA Marathon training program I am not going to worry about any other races, or events, its all about doing what needs to be done to make sure that the LA Marathon is a success and I am able to reach my goal!  Thankfully I have a fantastic group in Team NutriBullet that is supporting me and the rest of the runners in this great journey!

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I am so excited to be on this journey!  Every runner has goals that they are striving to reach, and I’m hoping that I will achieve mine through my training with Team NutriBullet.  More important than that, is learning lessons that will carry with me throughout my life, and throughout my running endeavors!  I would be blessed to continue to run for many years.  I read stories about Masters runners who are accomplishing amazing feats!  You don’t get to that point if you don’t run smart and take care of yourself!  So my MAIN goal for 2014 and beyond, is to sew the seeds of lifelong running!

Happy New Year!