All posts filed under: Nutrition

Practice Discipline in these Three Areas to Support Athletic Performance

Speaking on a panel at the Spartan World Championships in Squaw Valley, California may be one of the most interesting angles I have come at nutrition from yet. The panel topic is discipline. Learning to eat in a way that supports what you set out to achieve – in this case completing thirty plus obstacles, over thirteen or more miles while running up and down mountain peaks at elevation – requires discipline to change from eating behaviors that do not support what you hope to achieve. For many non-competitive athletes who want to improve and achieve in sport as a hobby they first have to shift in mindset from exercising to burn calories to then be rewarded with food  to that of an athlete who exercises to train and who eats to train for the reward of achieving something more than the calorie credit to eat lots of pizza after a race. How does someone begin to change the mindset? Well, in my experience as an athlete and working with the pros I have found applying discipline  …

Third in a Four Part Series on Getting High: Nutrition Considerations at Altitude

Planning to spend fourteen to twenty one days at altitude before competing is not directly a nutrition consideration. It is however, worth mentioning because adjustment time can indirectly impact nutrition by altering appetite and, how the body feels overall. Unfortunately, before some of my biggest mountain races I haven’t had the extra time to hang out high up. So I searched for clean short cuts of which I learned, are limited. In short,  there are not short cuts for adapting your body at altitude. It takes the time it takes. How much time it takes specifically will vary because, as with nutrition, how the body responds is individualized.  Everything I have read says get to your altitude twenty-one days ahead of your race. With work, kids, and other obligations it just isn’t realistic to get that kind of time at elevation (unless I move there!).  So here are some the strategies that helped when time at elevation is limited: Go up the night before if you can’t do two-three weeks! So save the PTO and …

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

While I am a back at sea level for the moment, my attitude remains elevated post adventures above tree line.  My Broken Arrow Sky Race  experience has my giddy weeks later. The run started off slow for me as one can expect going up a mountain at elevation. The air, however, was crisp, sky clear, and snow (in June) slushy for bombing down the mountain without wiping out on jagged rocks! Toeing the starting-line a running friend asked me for last minute nutrition advice for running at elevation. Scanning my mind for tidbits that would be useful to her on short notice, I opted for this piece of intel:   Eat early and often! Experience (aka fails) has confirmed for me that the body indeed runs at a higher intensity at altitude (as if there is room to doubt) due to the stress of less oxygen. This stress results in an increase basal metabolic rate, respiration, and heart rate creating increase demand for energy (food with carbohydrate calories). The trick is to remain conscious of …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …