Author: TaraDell

First of Four Part Series on Getting High: Nutrition Considerations at Altitude.

Anyone attempting to train at sea level and, also loves mountain running has probably experienced the challenges of  a high-elevation race. What is the challenge? Well, let me put it this way, my first attempt at climbing mountains in a race felt like being pregnant while also having a big pile of bricks on my chest.  In was difficult. But, as challenges are, also a great opportunity to learn. Mountain running used to just be me going on a run in the mountains. That however, was when I lived IN the mountains adapted to elevation. Now a seasoned sea level dweller,  mountain running requires more attention to nutrition to feel good and have fun. Why? Consider the dry climate, potentially abrupt temperature swings, and the exposed climbs.  In conditions like these, even the most fit and altitude adapted athletes suffer many of the same effects of altitude. There are four key nutrition considerations that I take into account to help me ascend new heights above tree line. Here is the first consideration I will be …

What worked for you in treating and preventing blisters?

Blisters are a big deal! I have made the mistake of thinking otherwise but, blisters can impede the ability to train and participate in athletic adventures as much as an injury or illness. My advice is to take blisters seriously especially of you feeling one heating up under foot. Here are a few of my go-to treatments and prevention tools: When have blisters  bust: https://www.amazon.com/Spenco-Skin-Blister-Sports-Count/dp/B004UOTUXK/ref=sr_1_8_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1493240870&sr=8-8&keywords=blister+pads I used this and made it through Ragnar Trail Relays with blisters that had popped before the event even started. I also added these where needed https://www.amazon.com/Band-Aid-Advanced-Protection-Adhesive-Bandages/dp/B000Y8W50G/ref=sr_1_4_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1493244021&sr=8-4&keywords=blister%2Bprevention&th=1 Super awesome for blister prevention that I use to reduce friction on new shoes and with my orthotics is this ease, simple solution https://www.amazon.com/Blister-Prevention-Patches-Runners-Athletes/dp/B003URZNW0/ref=sr_1_6_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1493243976&sr=8-6&keywords=blister+prevention  

World Ski & Snowboard Festival, Whistler, and Smoothies

Whistler, British Columbia is a magical place in summer and winter. I have delighted in experiencing both seasons at their best. In April I returned from an event inspired once again to explore wild places both outside and within myself – adding the Spearhead Traverse to the list of places I want to run. This event was the World Ski & Snowbird Festival. This celebration brings together people who love to hang out in the snow and the mountains.  From roller derby competition to skiing powder along side back country snowboarding wonder Tamo Campos, this event had just the right amount of quirk, inspiration, and beauty all wrapped into one. As part of this event, I  hosted “wake-up and get-after-it” nutrition talks with Canadian journalists and entrepreneurs. What did we talk about? We talked about rethinking our approach to food. Instead of over thinking food, I encouraged them to focus on “that thing you set out to do or accomplish”. In this case it was a day of chasing after patches of untouched powder over …

Mother’s Days. Adventures Are On!

Mother’s Day doesn’t seem right unless I am on the Northern California Coastline unplugged and with my dudes soaking up all the outdoor adventures we can squeeze into a long weekend of car camping. Some moms long for breakfast in bed, pampering of the nails, or brunching fine-dining style.  Those things are great but, me? Nah, I ask for a family adventure. Even car camping is an adventure when you add kids and a new puppy to the mix! I wouldn’t have Mother’s Day any other way right now. Last year we opted for a Mother’s Day of regularly scheduled little league and a nice home cooked dinner. It was great but, we all longed to be under the oak tree near the stream hiking, biking, trail running and roasting s’mores. So this year we went back to the tent. This time of year Mama is usually training for some kind of mountain running/scramble race. My sights are on running the  Broken Arrow 26km which, covers some of Squaw Valley’s  famous terrain ascending to elevation of 8750 …

Three Principles to Rethinking the Workout to Get It Done

I have four full-time jobs.  I am mom to two beautiful boys, I am in a committed relationship, and I have a career in nutrition. Each one of these things requires my full attention. How on earth do I have time to train for trail races in the mountains? This isn’t a question of why I feel compelled to add one more “thing to do” into the mix of overwhelm that sometimes spins around me. It is about prioritizing  self-care, soul care, to diffuse the overwhelm so I can properly prioritize my attentions. Adventures in the mountains, kicking up dirt on the trails, breathing in that low-oxygen air, and moving in whatever silly ways my legs will take me feeds me so that I am able to show up to “work” each day. I must train and prepare to adventure out in the wilds. How do I possibly squeeze it in? I re-think my workouts, which also brings a little urban adventure into my day! Three key principles to rethinking a workout: Get creative. For example, I …

Adventure Nutrition for Mountain Projects

  Last Saturday I co-hosted a Adventure Nutrition Workshop at The Mountain Project structured around giving mountain athletes nutrition tools to train and prepare for big days in the mountains. It was day of working out, learning and applying nutrition, and eating! Too often what we eat (or don’t eat), when we eat, and how we eat limits our ability to meet new challenges and achieve goals. The group who joined us on this day was not only motivated by a broad spectrum of mountain projects (from day hikes to ultra-running races), they were also inspiring athletes committed to their quest, open to trying new things, and just plain fun people to spend a Saturday with! We closed the day experimenting with nutritious ingredients in the kitchen to make four varieties of one-of-kind energy snacks! While each group made it their own, here was the basic premise of the recipe. Base Layer Ingredients: ¼ cup chopped flaxseeds 1 cups dates or figs chopped 1 cup steel-cut oats (could substitute with rolled oats or quinoa) 1/4 cup whey …

At the three hour mark of a long run I am always on the edge of cramping. Is cramping more fitness related, nutrition or hydration related?

  The answer is that it could be both. Muscle cramps are general caused by tired muscles, which is inevitable in distance running. They can also be caused by a sodium imbalance and dehydration. Staying hydrated is a tricky proposition because there are so many variables that impact how much fluid and sodium you sweat out during your run. Intensity, fitness, heat, humidity and altitude are some of the things that will impact how sweaty you get. How much any body sweats can vary between ten to eighty ounces per hour! That is a high amount of variability. The concentration of sodium in that sweat also varies greatly with an average concentration of about one-thousand milligrams per thirty-two ounces. In other words if you lose two pounds of sweat you may have also lose around one-thousand milligrams of sodium that needs to be replaced by drinking and eating sodium! Of course these numbers are highly variable with the environment and individuality. Determining your sweat rate can be a useful tool in bench-marking how much sodium …

Performance Nutrition Behavior Number Three: Stop Comparing Your Food Choices with Others

For some people, I get the feeling that eating a meal with their friendly dietitian is like going out with their hair dresser on a “bad hair day”.  Let me set the record straight. I pass no judgement on anyone else’s food choices when we are enjoying a meal together. Just as my hair dresser saves his comments on my hair for the chair; I reserve my comments on the diet of others only when prompted.  I believe in everyone’s right to make their own choices about what best serves them. Their reasons are different from mine. Comparisons of food  choices and habits to anything other than our own intentions leads to mounds of unnecessary shame and guilt over food. Performance nutrition behavior number three is to stop this comparison game with others. Never “yuck someone else’s yum” and never rate the quality of your choices to those of others. Also, “should eats” get you no where. Adopting performance nutrition behavior number two provides a standard worth comparison – your own intentions. It allows for …

Performance Nutrition Behavior Number Two: Determine Your Higher Purpose

Here is something for the next person who tells me “all this running can’t be good for you” to read. It is also an example of a man who truly gets how running is training for life.  Not only that, he does not look his age at all. In this Forbes’ article it says he runs to stay fit for a higher purpose. He doesn’t run to be skinny or prove himself. He runs to stay fit for doing “whatever he wants”, which is also how he defines retirement. Nutrition is no different.  Eating for the purpose of achieving a certain weight, body, or blood lipid level isn’t enough to overcome the barriers keeping so many from eating in a way that they intuitively know is healthy. Eating for a higher purpose  can help. Are you eating in a way that helps you accomplish what it is your want to do?  If not, why not? Maybe it is time to identify a higher purpose to the food you choose. I want to eat in a …

Performance Nutrition Behavior Number One: Eat!

Working along side some of the world’s most talented athletes and athletic adventurers I  see and hear a lot of interesting food-related behaviors. Not all are good.  Some folks seem to have a challenging relationship with food that gets in their way of helping them accomplish their goals. Whether those goals are to pick up running again after having a baby or to traverse the big ridge lines in the mountains, it isn’t just what you eat that is important but, also HOW you eat. Through my work and my  own experimentation with food as fuel for my tara-sized adventures  have identified  three easily stated but, most difficult to accept practices around food. I refer to these behaviors as practices because like a yoga pose, there is always somewhere to realign or let go. Over the next three weeks I will share my food practices. Eat! Yes, just eat. That is practice-pose number one. Eat in a way that helps you achieve what you have in mind for the day. For example, if you plan …