Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My second podcast appearance with Vinnie Tortorich, America’s Angriest Trainer

Last week I was a guest on the America’s Angriest Trainer podcast hosted by Vinnie Tortorich and Anna Vochino.  Podcast episode 185 was dedicated as the vegan special.  Vinnie wanted to have a few guests on to talk about their NSNG (No Sugar No Grains) journey without eating any animal products.

Vinnie Tortorich calls himself the “go to guy” in Hollywood for health and fitness and he has been hosting a podcast for over a year now.  I found Vinnie after listening to another one of my favorite podcasts hosted by Rich Roll.  At first, I was a little leery of Vinnie because he is not plant powered, but I soon realized that his approach to health and fitness applied to me as well.  I prefer the plant powered label over vegan because plant powered is a lifestyle that resonates with me and more aligns to my goals…eat mostly plant!
I listen to a lot of podcast these days, I rarely ever turn on the radio or listen to music.  I have found that I can gain valuable information while driving in the car vs. having some bubble gum for the ears.

Vinnie is a Hollywood Fitness Trainer and he recently released his new book, Fitness Confidential, co-authored with Dean Lorey.  It is also available as an audio book.  It is a great read and the story flows nicely as he talks about his own life growing up in Louisiana, his experience helping others as a fitness trainer and discusses his own fight with cancer.  The best part about Vinnie is he cares about helping others.  He is very accessible and I feel lucky to call him a friend now.  He has personally helped me in my fitness and running journey through phone calls and emails.  This is why I believe his popularity has exploded; he is just a regular person with a very big heart.  He engages with his fans and he answers calls, emails and engages with the facebook groups.
How many popular podcast hosts have regular people on their show to share their stories, answer their questions or try to help improve some aspect of their fitness journey?  This was my second appearance on the show.  My first one came back in podcast episode 123 when Vinnie and I discussed my plan to help make changes in my local school district.  There will be more to report on this next month. 

Vinnie’s primary message is eat what you want but avoid sugar and grains; hence his message is #NSNG, No Sugar, No Grains.
Because of listening to Vinnie and joining the Facebook group NSNG, I began to realize that we needed to have a Plant Powered approach to his message.  It became obvious that there was a demand for #PPNSNG, Plant Powered No Sugar No Grains.  Several of us got together (Ciry and Elisa) and launched the PPNSNG group a few months ago.  It has been a huge success with over 350 members now.

My own experience with NSNG has been great, I have lost an additional 10 lbs., I am leaner than I have ever been in my whole life and my running has improved dramatically.  I plan to run three Marathons this season and complete in my first 50K Ultra.  This may sound crazy coming from a person who lived on the couch 2 years ago and had not worked out in over 10 years!  With proper nutrition, you can accomplish anything!
Here is the moral of the story, if you want an easy approach to weight loss, improved health and a way to become more active, then NSNG is right for you.  It is a simple approach, easy to follow and it is a guideline, not a strict diet that is hard to follow.  You will never have to count another calorie, log a meal or use point system to try to lose weight!

We need more people to share this message and that is why I am happy to be a part of getting the message out.
“Put life in to living and do it with enthusiasm!”  Vinnie Tortorich

12/20/2013 Update
As a follow up, I was also a guest on podcast episode 208 where we talk about my 30 day No Sugar challenge and school nutrition updates.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to train for a Marathon

So you think you want to Run a Marathon?  Or maybe you want to run a marathon without a lot of pain, injury or bonking?  Well here is a summary of what I have learned over the years and maybe this will help you!
Much of what I have learned comes from my experience with the Jeff Galloway Training Programs.  Jeff is a great inspiration and his programs have helped thousands of people run their first long distance race and runners use his program year after year.  I have added some of my own experience to help the first timer.

First, you do not have to run a lot of crazy miles or distances to train your body to run long distances races.  It really just takes a slow and steady approach to adding weekly mileage as you ramp up to your race.  I am of the belief that you should run the full 26 miles as a training run before your race.  How else are you going to train your body to go the distance if you have never experienced it first-hand.  Secondly you do not have to run fast, in fact my recommendations is to run slower than you think on your long runs so that your body can adapt to the distances. This is called Zone 2 training and I have already covered this topic in previous blogs along with fat adapted training.
The key to staying injury free is managing your distances and pace.  You should never add more than 10-15% to your weekly runs as you ramp up on your overall weekly mileage.  This slow steady approach is critical to your overall success.

The overall program takes 5-6 months so keep this in mind as you plan your next race.   There are formal guidelines that the Galloway provides so this is just an overview.

Weekday runs should consist of 30-60 minutes of running twice a week.
Weekday workouts should also include 2-3 days of aerobic cross training, 30-60 minutes a day

Long runs usually occur on weekends
1-2 Rest Days, no activity

So how do you calculate your long run distances: 
Long runs are broken down in to two groups.  “Short” long runs are usually half the distance of your long runs.  For me, after I get to 12-14 mile long runs, the short long runs average 10-12 miles.

Your long runs are runs that start at 5-6 miles and ramp up 2 miles every other week until you hit mile 20, then they spread out to 3-week intervals until you reach 26 miles.  After this, you should have 3 weeks to taper before the actual race.  For weekend runs that are not the long run, use the short long run distances.

One other thing Galloway advocates and I personally use is the run/walk method.  This means to take a walk break after 1 mile or 4-5 minutes of running (you can experiment here with what works best for you).  This may seem counter intuitive but it really works.  My overall pace has improved because you can run faster as you get stronger and the walk breaks average out your overall pace.  You do not have to use the Run/Walk method except for training runs, but I have had such positive success that I even run/walk during a race.  For me, I take a 1-minute walk break for every mile that I run.  This also helps the body recover a bit in-between miles.
Jeff also has a lot of information about “magic mile” and race pace.  These articles can be found in his books and training programs if you want to learn more.

I hope this helps and best of luck as you take on new challenges this season.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fat Adapted Training

 I am often asked my by running/cycling friends “What is fat adapted training?” Several of them have seen my success using this approach and want to learn more.

There are several concepts you need to know in order to make this change I your own training strategy. Keep in mind, I am not a training expert, I am just trying to summarize what I have learned and used in my own journey.

The first change you have to make is in your daily diet, if you do not have a clean diet then this style of training may not work very well for you. The overall premise is based on reducing or eliminating grains and sugar from your diet (think NSNG – No Sugar, No Grains). This is certainly not the conventional wisdom of many athletes, especially age groupers like me. Just think of the pre-race meals we all hear about – load up on the carbs!!! Can you imagine….. I also know it is rarely talked about in training magazines such as Runners’ World, so you may be thinking then how do you know it works. Well there are many endurance and ultra-athletes using this training method now and it has worked very well for me. I have been studying up on this subject for over 6 months and it is hard to consolidate everything in to one page, but I will give you the high-level overview and encourage you to explore this for yourself.

Eliminate or reduce most grains and sugar from your diet. I talk about this in my other post so I will not spend much time on it here. Sugar is one of the worst foods to put in our bodies and most of the training products you buy today have sugar in them, they may not be called sugar, but rather one of its close friends, think of the “ose” family – dextrose, sucrose, fructose, HFC etc. Grains are also a problem for our bodies, especially since the grains we eat today are modified and altered through excessive processing. Just realize that if it is in a package, then it is most likely not good to put in your body. A healthy lifestyle is built on whole natural foods as close to their original state as possible.  

Z2 Training: For fat adaptive training to work well, you must build a solid Zone 2 training base to support your event. Zone 2 refers to training at your targeted Z2 heart rate. The standard method for calculating this is 180 minus “your age.” If you are an athlete, then add 5, if you have been sick or overweight, then subtract 5. So for me it is: 180-45, then + 5 = 140. Therefore, for long runs I will not exceed 140 beats per minute (BPM). Your base can take 8-12 weeks to build up. Once you start training in Z2, you will notice your pace increasing while keeping your BPM in Z2, that is where you will see your improvement. Keep in mind that heat, hydration, health and fitness level will have an impact on your pace, adjust accordingly. Your short runs can exceed this HR, but for the long ones it is critical to allow your body to adapt and learn to use fat for fuel not sugar.

The challenge with running faster than Z2 for long runs is your body will burn through its glycogen stores within an hour or so, and then you are wanting/needing to add more sugar to replace it to prevent bonking or extreme fatigue. Using sugar for fuel does not allow the body to use its own fat stores efficiently. Once you have the Z2 base, then you will have a great foundation to build from as you add more miles to your workouts.

Fueling: Your fuel needs to consist of non-sugary products. First, never ever use Gatorade, PowerAde or any other sport drink because they are typically loaded with sugar or fake sugar. Use water for hydration, which is all your body needs! For electrolyte replacement you can use “Salt Sticks” (that is the brand of caplet) or S-Caps. There are several others options on the market that you can also use. Watch for flavored products, flavoring usually means hidden sugar.

If you are fat adapted, you should generally not need fuel for runs/rides lasting 2 hours or less. Here are some fuel options to consider, keep in mind this is a journey and you need to find what works for you. For me personally, I use fruit like bananas or apples. I ran my last marathon on 2 bananas, 6 Salts Stick caplets and lots of water. I had the best race I have ever had and felt great afterwards.

Fuel Options:
UCAN is a great product to use on extended rides/runs (3+ hours)

Protein Powders (be sure it does not have added sugars, this typical comes with flavoring)

Fruit – any will do, find what works for you, bananas have a higher Glycemic Index (GI)

Nuts (roasted are easier to digest)

Fats – Nut butters, avocado, olives

Roasted sweet potatoes

Here are some reference materials you can check out to get more background on this topic.
 Marathon Training Academy Podcast – Vinnie Tortorich Interview

 The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance

 Joe Friel - Paleo Diet for Athletes, the Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing

Endurance Planet Podcast

Vinnie Tortorich Podcast, Episode 177 – Joe Friel, Episode 176 – Dr. Phil Maffetone

Fit, Fat, Fast Podcast

Reference sites: