You are what you eat

Novice runners can often reach back to their days of high school gym class and remember the odd bit of advice around what to eat while training.

There's the widely-touted idea of eating pasta the night before a big race. That Gatorade - with those magical electrolytes - will keep you hydrated. And PowerBars will provide a needed boost.

But how much of those notions are true?

Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy for running.

So local nutritionist Laura Kalina advises low glycemic index foods.

Glycemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrate-rich foods by how much they raise blood glucose levels compared to glucose or white bread.

"All carbohydrates are not created equal," said Kalina.

Low-glycemic foods are slowly digested and absorbed, she said, which causes gentle rises in blood sugar and insulin levels.

The reason pasta is GI friendly is that it is made from semolina wheat flour that has been more coarsely ground than the flour used to make other edibles.

"Choose a whole grain pasta when possible," said Kalina.

"Lowering your insulin levels is not only a key factor in weight loss, but also the secret to long-term health."

But she recommends having that pasta meal two nights before a competition - otherwise runners could end up feeling sluggish during the race.

The nutrition bar issue is a quagmire. There are such things as healthy protein bars and then there's the candy bar variety.

Check for low calorie count, high fibre, protein and iron, as well as minimal sugar and fat. And avoid those with ingredients you can't pronounce - this is true for most pre-packaged foods.

When it comes to hydration, nutritionists say that outside of long hard workouts when glycogen stores are depleted, sports drinks are of little benefit.

Instead, they advise drinking juice, low-salt vegetable drinks, low-fat milk or good old water.

Training Talk: Gord Cumming


New runners, new trails and new challenges . . .

Spring break in Vancouver meant an adjustment to my training schedule.

I love running in a different city. Seeking out new routes makes the running seem easier. A new view and a different perspective help to make for an exciting run.

The seawall in beautiful Stanley Park presented me with a scenic and serene run. My new shoes finally felt like they belong on my feet and sharing the path with other runners fueled my energy and helped me enjoy some great runs.

Don't let a change in your schedule like a vacation or mild illness affect your running in a negative manner. Acknowledge the shift and make the most of it.

Taking a new path or a shorter run will still allow you to feel the wonderful energy that comes from completing a run. Running brings positive changes; a healthier lifestyle, increased muscle tone, weight loss, stress release and joy.

As the weeks build towards your goal race, keep your focus. If your training schedule has to be adjusted, go with it. Embrace the chance to run on another day, time or at a new location, but do not cheat yourself as you prepare for your goal race by skipping a session.

My goal is to complete at least 90 per cent of my planned training, ensuring that my mental, as well as my physical state will not only get me to my goal, but also allow me to enjoy it.

Training Talk: Jenn Rensch

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry, like having out-of-town family visit and forgetting that you volunteered to take said family to the airport when you're supposed to be participating in RUNclub for the week.

During Week 3 training, I was only able to fit two sessions of running in, but as the RUNclub coaches remind us, if you hit a snag or hiccup on the road to Boogie, "don't sweat it" (pun intended), "tomorrow's a new day. Just keep going."

With that philosophy in mind, my guilt about missing Sunday morning was minimal, plus I got a chance to run with some new people by attending the Tuesday night session.

I also focused on the accomplishments I have achieved in just a short time, the first being that my running partner in crime took vacation and I was able to motivate myself to go out and train.

The second was I tackled a new route that took me over the Overlanders Bridge, and just as I came upon the ramp to head onto the bridge my timer went off indicating it was time to start a running interval. I did it; I ran the entire interval which included the incline.

I'm sure I looked foolish chanting to myself, "You got this," (as looking back I think I was saying it out aloud), as usually Kris is there and we say it to each other when we lose steam.

RUNclub has made me a believer in positive talk.

Training Talk: Neville Flanagan

The weather in Mexico was sunny and humid, so I did a lot of long walks and ran the days between.

I've become so acclimatized to running here that doing it elsewhere is hard.

It is great going away, but gets you out of routine - the backbone to training in any sport - but "you are what you eat" also applies.

Even though exercise burns calories, you cannot fall into the trap of overeating. We tend to overindulge in North America and obesity is on the rise.

I eat lots of fruits and veggies and always have a good breakfast; eating a minimum of three meals a day and grazing between.

When ran the Vancouver Marathon in 1981 (at two hours and 30 minutes, I set a B.C. Masters record), I'd only eaten a piece of toast, but that is how I trained.

I was doing 100-mile weeks then, but there are better training options today like RUNClub's Jo Berry advocates - alternating running and walking.

So if I can give some advice to those training for Boogie, there is more to getting fit and healthy than just running, biking or walking. Eating fruits and veggies, less red meat, but more fish and chicken will help in the long run to keep your weight down.

But have something naughty (I'm talking about food) at least once a week, just don't overdo it.

Enjoy your family and friends and be thankful we live in a great city and have people like Jo to inspire us all.

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