Why do we move?
Have you ever wondered why we have the ability to run? I mean why do we move? What is the mechanism behind it? Well, it turns out that to make the slightest movement hundreds of chemical reactions and muscle contractions are done.
Muscles are the ones that are attached and connected to our bones with tendons and ligaments and other supportive tissues and are the ones that move our bones to the desirable direction.
When you are using your vacuum cleaner to dust off your carpets, it uses electricity which then transforms into energy to function.
When you are driving your car, and you see that the gas indicator is near empty you make sure you fill your tank with gas because the car needs gas to transform it into any kind of energy it will need to function properly. Our body is of course much more complicated than a vacuum cleaner or a car, well some of us are, (smile) so that too needs energy so our muscles will be able to contract and apply the movements our brain is asking for them. Our muscles to be able to contract and to be able to make the necessary changes need a form of chemical energy which they produce.
The chemical energy our muscles need is called Adenosine Triphosphate or otherwise ATP in short.
In previous articles here I mention ways that our body is using to propel itself forward or basically doing any other kind of exercise. The two processes I am referring are aerobic and anaerobic. In the aerobic state the muscles are using oxygen to work and in anaerobic they don’t.
Our muscles use Carbs, fat and in a little degree protein to manufacture ATP. If you are a runner, and you are going to participate in a marathon or a race more than 26.2 miles then getting carbs and fat during your race is paramount. It doesn’t really matter what kind of carbs, the simplest the better. This is a short-range solution to be able to feed your muscles enough glucose which then will be stored in your muscles and then the muscles will use it to create ATP which is the energy that powers them.
Now long term range solution should not only be centered on providing your body with simple carbs but make sure you eat the right kind of carbs. My opinion is unrefined, unprocessed complex carbs like legumes (beans, lentils, etc.), starch (brown rice, potatoes, etc.) and fruits (even they are simple carbs they provide massive amount of minerals, vitamins, and water).
The reason you should consume this kind of carbs and not simple, refined carbs like sweets and heavily processed juices and other packaged items is because our body except carbs, fat, and protein to work optimum needs another three basic and fundamental nutritional elements. We need minerals (zinc, iron, etc.) we need Vitamins (B12, C, D, etc.) and lastly but in no way the least necessary water.
All the unrefined carbs contain much higher and much better quality of vitamins, minerals and also they contain water than simple carbs.
So for long-standing health and also long standing improvement of your training you need to have your muscles and liver storage full with glycogen (series of chained glucose molecules to save space in storage)
Most of the ATP is made from carbs and fat, protein does not ordinarily being used for the production of ATP. Protein paramount role is to build, repair and maintain our muscle mass and also bone recovery, after all, that pounding our body is subjected from the accumulated mileage of our training.
There are two places where glucose is stored after every meal we take, in our liver in the form of glycogen which is used primarily to keep the blood glucose level (our blood sugar) in normal values and also to keep our nervous system and brain functioning optimum since both of this entities by glucose.
Also, our muscle system is controlled by our nervous system, a nervous system that does not function well will have as a result of a malfunctioning muscle system.
Creation of ATP
The whole procedure goes like this, we eat complex or simple carbs, the body breaks them into glucose if they are complex or use the glucose immediately if they are simple. The liver and our muscles are stored with glucose which they use to create ATP which will allow them to work.
We can store around 1500 to 2000 calories of glycogen in our body which is not a lot if you compare with the thousands of calories we have stored as fat.
The general rule is if your exercise is moderate to high intensity your body uses more carbs than fat to create ATP. If your activity is slow and average, then your body uses more fat then carbs to produce ATP. From all that 1500 to 2000 calories stored as glycogen not all of them can be utilised for running because most of the calories are stored in muscles that are not primarily used for running.
The glycogen stored in the biceps can only be utilised by the biceps, the glutes or the quadriceps cannot use the biceps glycogen only the glycogen they have themselves stored and vice versa of course. That’s why it’s important to train ourselves and reach the best fitness level we can have because the fittest you are the most fat you burn to create ATP, and you become more economically and efficient in saving your stored glycogen.
Also if you are consuming in your diet more carbs than fat you be burning more carbs than fat all the time, if you eat more fat than carbs then you be burning more fat than carbs all the time. Of course eating too much fat is not good for your health, and it’s a good tactic to have less than 30% of your calories from fat and also aim to consume unsaturated fat and not saturated fat. Unsaturated fat is primarily found in plants and saturated fats in animal products. Unsaturated fats are proven that promote health and on the other hand, unsaturated fats are the cause of many chronic diseases like heart attacks, strokes, diabetes II to name a few!
If your run is long and the duration is more than 1 hour then at some point regardless of your intensity, you will start to create more ATP from fat because the glycogen storage of the liver and skeletal muscles depleted. Also because the carbs you are receiving during the exercise do not cover your energy needs.
If you want to lose weight while training for a marathon or any longer distance it is not a good idea because the training will open your appetite for more food because you are burning a lot of calories. To lose weight, you need to do calorie restriction which is not a good idea especially for this kind of heavy training. What you can do, though, and it will help you lose weight without risking losing performance because of lack of calories is to eat a lot of fruits, vegetable legumes, and starches. The reason is because they are packed and are rich in minerals, vitamins, and water but also they provide bulk (fibre) which will keep you satiated longer and also with fewer calories than animal products. The food I mentioned is high in carbs and low in fat so these way you be using and burning your stored fat during training thus noticing weight loss. Basically, you be eating more food with fewer calories.
Aim for 60 to 80% of your calorie intake to be from unrefined complex and simple (namely fruits and veggies) carbs, 10 to 25% fat and 10 to 15% protein. I personally am following 85% carbs (complex like legumes and starch and simple like fruits), 9% fat (unsaturated, mostly from seeds like hemp, chia, flax etc) and 6% protein (plant based- I supplement 8 grams of rice protein and 5 grams of chlorella before heavy lifting or long runs).
I hope I helped.
Have a happy and healthy day.
I am off to eat some kidney beans (yummy!)
My warmest Regards
Prevention is the best practice, good warm up and good cooling down period, increase the intensity of the training gradually and always have as guide your body as I mentioned in my previous article “When to change your training’s Status Quo.”
I am not an expert on running, but I learned a lot through a series of minor injuries and one big injury. The way I used to run was not excellent for my body, my form was all bad, I promise I will write an article in the future for the proper form of running. I was abusing my body to achieve other goals, which was to lose weight, the shift from losing weight and rethinking my running goals towards making better personal records took its time. It was in that transition period where I had my most injuries, and that’s because I didn’t know how to train properly, everybody can run, training is another elephant in the room.
So below I am describing practices that helped me with my injuries, I hope some of them help you, I am sure some of them you already use, and I am certain there are much more elements you can incorporate into your training which will help you deal, prevent and heal your running related injuries.
One thing when I first started running back in 2010 was that I did not do a proper warm up I would never stretch, to tell you the truth if I am going to participate in a long run, and this is my little hidden sinful secret, well not secret anymore, I don’t warm up or stretch at all. I know big mistake; I am still relying on my good genes for that! Hey, nobody is perfect.
Now when I am doing hill repeats, or track repeats or tempo runs that will only last 1 hour tops, I do some seriously warm-up, sometimes my warm up and stretching exercises are longer than the actual training time itself.
The reason I am doing that is that all the training activities I mentioned earlier are high in intensity and hard to do, and usually, injuries occur when you are doing there kind of energy demanding efforts.
One of the reasons that I still don’t get injuries while doing my long runs is because the intensity at the begging of the run is slow and not so intense and it gives my body adequate time to warm up “properly” so to speak resulting in me not getting injured.
Another thing I do which helps me maintain my injury-free status is that I run on dirt trails and dirt roads, also the high school track where I train still has soil track, not tartan track. These surfaces are softer and do not afflict the same level of intensity on our body as concrete and pavements do.
If you are a runner in the city, it might be better for you to invest some time going to a place like a park that has dirt roads or if you live near a wooded area do your training there.
It might seem for you now a waste of time but as an injury is a concern is a life saver especially if you're training for a marathon or longer distances. The long runs start to become longer and you will want that extra security blanket that you won't get a serious injury a week just before the marathon race!!! That would suck big time.
Invest some time to learn about what kind of foot you have, do you have over-pronation or supination. A good footwear shop always has equipment and experience personnel to guide you on the purchase of your shoes. Also, there is a ton of info about shoes and feet and running, do a little research it won’t kill you it will make you wiser and prevent a series of injuries that are shoes related.
It is important not to ignore pain, and sayings like: “no pain no gain” for me is just plain stupid. Pain is one of the early warnings of your body telling you, informing you that something is not right and you should investigate immediately and not run through it and hope will go away. I admit I used to do that in the past, and I end up being home sitting on my butt more time that I was out running especially when in 2012 after running my first 50k without proper training end up getting injured with ITBS (iliotibial Band Syndrome). That Injury kept me away from serious training for a good five months, and it was one of the worst times of my life. All of these happened because I was ignorant and not proper prepared.
So with the first sign of the tiniest discomfort not even pain, investigate, check it out and also you can always do something that the running community calls R.I.C.E. no I am not going to argue about which rice is more nutritious than the other, brown or white, brown of course (smile).
R.I.C.E. is an acronym of the words
Apply Ice on the injured area 3 to 4 times during the day. Try to ice the area 10 to 15 minutes every time you apply the ice.
I usually get a towel and ice cubes; I put the ice cubes into the cloth use the towel where I hurt and just leave it there for about 10 minutes.
Also skipping a few training sessions until the pain or the discomfort goes away is a sound tactic and don’t feel you are missing out on training, well you are, but it is better to deal with now when the situation is small and not later when it be out of control. Rest for goodness sake indulge yourself with something else, see it as a break from running and trust me if you are hooked as I am a few days away running make your comeback a fat more pleasurable event.
The elevation is not always possible since you need to raise the affected area above heart level so blood will flow back to the heart decreasing thus the swelling.
Always warm up and do your stretches before running.
Always have a proper cooling down period after running.
Increase Intensity of Training gradually.
Buy shoes that are suitable for your feet.
Do not ignore mild discomforts.
Do not for the love of what you consider holy or not run through pain!
Apply RICE after any pain.
I hope I helped.
Have a healthy and happy day.
My warmest Regards
When to change your training’s Status Quo?
Have you ever finished a long run that lasted a few hours! And when you cross your imaginary finish line you felt that you had the strength to run more? Why were you doing your track repeats you felt that you could go faster? Or when you are on tempo training, you had this gut feeling that you can increase the rhythm for longer period something that was not scheduled on your plan? Have you felt that your hill repeats are not challenging anymore?
All the above feelings and signals are strong indications from your body that you reached a fitness level which for the sake of this article we call it Status Quo. You reach a Status quo which is an immediate result of your training.
One of my biggest fears and sources of anxiety when I first started running was when and how to upgrade my training program either in mileage or intensity without getting injuries. Let me tell you something and I am saying this from experience, training plan upgrading should be thoughtful and considered. You should experiment and be patient see what works and don’t work for you. DO not I repeat Do not blindly follow a training program that you find online or in a book, take the philosophy behind the program but never follow it to the letter. You are YOU, and you are unique, take the program and make it yours, do not let the program to make you it’s own to turn you into a stressful runner enslaved by his commands.
I used to do that when I first started running I would find a running training plan and follow it to the letter, the result was numerous injuries and added psychological stress and feelings or disappointment and let myself down. SO how do you upgrade your training program, well it’s quite elementary dear Watson as Sherlock homes will listen to your body, it is that easy.
When you just finished a long run in a nice relaxed tempo and with a beautiful form and as I mentioned at the start of the article you feel that you can run more then its time to upgrade your long run either run distance or intensity or both. When your hill repeats are starting to seem like a piece of cake then its time to upgrade, either find a hill that steeper or increase the intensity of the run, or add some weights to you.
Now all these theories I just said are beautiful and dandy but let me give you some numbers and practical tips.
1. Do not make more than two upgrades a week. I only do one update per week.
Usually, the first thing I improve when I feel its time it is my long run, and I will add more mileage.
2. Do not add more than 15 to 30 seconds onto an interval
3. Do not add more than 10% additional mileage to a long run each week, most of you must know it by now it is like a gold rule.
4. If you increase the number of Intervals, do the first ones with a slower tempo.
5. If you increase the speed, you run your intervals then decrease the number of the intervals and as you get fitter increase the number for the intervals back its original number. For example, if you had 12 repeats of 400 meters, and you decided you want to do them faster, then run faster six repeats instead of 12 and gradually build until you reach 12 or whatever your lucky number is.
6. When you just finished a training session as you felt safe and healthy and you feel like you can go forever, do not upgrade immediate, wait for a week and if next week you have the same input from your body then proceed to the update.
Now let’s see what kind of upgrades you can do.
1. You and increase the number of your weekly runs, if for example, you are running three times a week you can start running four times a week. This upgrade though should not be taken lightly and should be done after you 're 100% sure that your body is ready to accept the added physical stress and combined energy output that it will be asked for.
2. As I mentioned earlier, you can increase the steepness of a hill or the length the distance of a hill repeat.
3. You can increase the total time of a run, long run for example, if you were running for 2 hours every Sunday you can go for 2 hours and 12 minutes (apply the 10% increase rule)
4. You can increase the distance the length of each interval
5. You can increase the number of intervals repeats, or you can do the opposite reduce the number of interval repeats.
6. Increase the speed and the intensity of a specific run, either is hill repeat, track repeat, tempo run or long run.
I want to leave you with this today. Listen to your body, this fantastic machine that holds our soul; it is always speaking to us; we just need to relax and start listening to it. I know it’s not easy, I know I was oblivious to its callings a few years ago. Now I am more in tune with it, and the secret here is to start training your ego and your brain to be more sensitive to what your body is trying to tell you every second of your life.
I know a lot of you will say I am mad, but hey why don’t you try it and be crazy together.
Have a healthy and happy day.
My warmest Regards
Dom mentala aspekterna spelar en mycket stor roll i ett lopp som Cypern Ultra
I detta här blogg inlägget tänkte jag belysa lite mer om dom mentala aspekterna för att lyckas så bra som möjligt inför ett så krävande lopp som Cypern Ultra är. Att bara träna löpning och tro att du har loppet under kontroll kommer inte ta dig speciellt långt.
Vad jag tycker är viktigt är vilken typ av mentalt underhåll du lyckats bygga upp under din träning och i dina förberedelser. Den mentala delen är nästan den viktigaste, för du kommer utsättas för djupa svackor och påfrestningar mycket på grund av
Dessa punkter behöver du fundera över. Jämför inte med vad du gjort innan, för det kommer inte kunna jämföras med loppet på Cypern Ultra. 100 km på den banan är som ett krävande 100 miles lopp. Ett 50 km lopp är som ett tufft 80 km lopp. Banan gör så att du kommer nötas av värmen, stigningen inklusive hur väl du lyckas hantera det hela.
Jag kan omöjligen ge några exakta tips, men delar gärna min erfarenhet, med en enkel grund filosofi som är;
Under mina förberedelser tränar jag mindfulness och yoga för att hålla mig både närvarande och fokuserad inför mina äventyr. Det hjälper mig otroligt mycket.
Mindfulness är en uppmärksamhets träning, för att öka närvaron men även ett sätt att hantera olika förnimmelser och upplevelser i kroppen och sinnet. Jag kan därför varmt rekommendera mindfulness som ett komplement för att höja ditt fokus och din närvaro och även få en god återhämtning mellan dina träningspass. Yoga använder jag dels för att stärka kroppens balans men även för rörligheten och inte minst balansen mellan min kropp och mitt sinne.
Jag vill verkligen inte skrämma någon av er, men jag vill heller inte ljuga om att Cypern Ultra är ett enkelt lopp för det är det inte.
Cypern Ultra är exakt det jag sökte och söker, ett extremt lopp som utmanar mina gränser.
Och på den vägen är det ännu.
Lycka till med din träning, så hoppas jag att få träffa många nya ansikten under 2017.
Fundamental number 1
When I first started running I did not know anything about training, the why’s and the how’s and even six years after running I am still finding myself not knowing stuff. That’s why I love running I learn new bits of information’s every day. One of the things I did not know about was the fact that you need to increase the intensity and your training load gradually. I thought that’s stress was only psychological, it turns out my friends we have a lot of different kind of stresses! We have mental as I mentioned, emotional, complementary, supplementary and of course physical stress.
Every time you finish a training session you put your body under a lot of physiological stress, you asked for it to supply a certain level of work which never had to deliver in the past, you gave it new information to process and thus putting it in a stressful situation. Our body thank goodness is not stupid and is an incredible machine. After the training is over it will assess of what it asked for it during the raining see where it was lacking and where it was weak. Then at a cellular level will make sure the areas that did not perform satisfactorily will be enhanced and upgrade them so next time while training it will be able to deliver the required payload.
That’s a fundamental truth, now what are we going to do with it? I will tell you now. The secret is to give to the body able time to make the necessary adjustments and repairs so the next time you go out for a new training to benefit from them. In more lame terms, you need to give time to your body to recover well before going out there again stressing it even more. Intensity and increase of training should be something that every runner is battling every time he or she sits down to devise or construct its next training plan or regime.
Fundamental number 2
When I first start running, I would run every day, and as I mentioned in another article of mine I had this philosophy about training back then that a day without running was a day lost. Well, a lot has happened since then, I am more experience as a runner now, I read a lot more books and articles about the importance of resting and also a lot of injuries taught me the hard way the immense severity resting days are. Now I run 3 to 4 times per week, and I learned about specificity. Which means every training session I finish has a specific goal. For example, when I am doing track repeats I am working on my speed, when I am doing tempo runs, I am working on having a real and proper running form and pace. When I am working on my long runs, I make sure I am training my aerobic capacity and also training my ability to use fat as my primary fuel. Be specific on your training and you will see results faster and also better.
Fundamental number 3
As I said numerous times in my first book Thirsty for Health and also in many articles in my blog every person is unique and once you grasp this essential and also paramount realisation, then you be able to set your mind free. You be able to follow the path that is right in front of you but most of the times can’t see it because of all the distractions of everyday life.
You are a snowflake; you will not find two snowflakes alike, so do not compare yourself with others as training is a concern. Some people get into a certain form and shape faster than other people even if all of them use the specific training system and training volume. The secret is to see where you 're now and where were you when you first started, that’s what should matter to you, everything else is not going to help you become a better runner. So vital, individual differences is something an athlete must keep under consideration.
Fundamental number 4
Six years ago when I started running, I did it to lose weight, becoming fit or healthy was the last thing on my mind I just wanted to lose the sick pounds. I noticed that by doing petite running, I would lose much weight and also my fitness level would improve faster. When I reach a stalemate as losing weight is concerned I noticed that I had to run faster, harder and further to even see any noticeable weight loss and also improvement of my fitness level. That’s when I realised that the fittest you become, when you get closer and closer to your optimal performance the harder it is to improve even more. So do not despair if you don’t see great improvements after finishing a hard training, it means you reach your best level at that particular time in your life. Maybe your running regime is fine maybe you need to tweak and check out other aspects of your life, like nutrition or weight strengthening or so on.
Fundamental number 5
One of the biggest lessons running tough me was that if you want to have results, you must be consistent. The saying is you don’t use it you lose it is one f the best advice ever. If you stop training then the fitness level you achieve after all those hard training days it will go away, and you are back to square one. It is that simple. From my experience is you stop training for three weeks then you are back to square one, of course, square one is different for different people, for me, square one is I can run 10k in one-hour others could be less or more. The important thing is that you need to see training as a lifestyle it should be something that you can do for the rest of your life, something that it will not become like a job or at the same time not get bored with it. I think running 3 to 4 times a week, achieves those goals, keeps you in good fitness shape, does;t make you feel you have to go run and also it is not dull.
Fundamental number 6
I left the most important one of the last. All of the above are worthless is you don’t possess this last ability. I know people say it is not right to be selfish, but I think that's wrong. I advocate that you need to be at least a little bit of selfish, have a little bit of an ego to be able to get from bed every day and do the things that matter to you. One of them is running, because running for me is not just a man to achieve something anymore is part of me and I can’t think myself without it.
I hope I helped and made you think.
Have a healthy and happy day
Cyprus Ultra Blog
News, tips and reviews. All things running, fitness, Limassol, Cyprus.