Nutritional Thoughts

As a competitive person (yes, I admit that I’m competitive … very competitive) I am always looking for an edge.  I remember when I used to power lift I was always looking for an edge, but one that was legal.  I refused to do anything that was illegal, so steroids were out of the question.  But still, that left a lot of legal vitamins and other over the counter nutrition supplements that I tried.   Did they work?  I don’t know, but I know that I was willing to try anything to get stronger.

Now I run, swim, bike … I’ve ran a couple of half marathons, and I will be doing a marathon in January.  I will also be doing a triathlon early next year as well.  The difference between now and when I power lifted is that I’m older.  I started power lifting when I was playing football, and I continued to power lift until I ended up undergoing shoulder surgery (both shoulders on multiple occasions) and knee surgery (both knees on multiple occasions), and then my lifting career was over. 

Not only was my lifting career over at the ripe old age of 35, but I got lazy.  I put on weight, did very little exercising, and became a physical wreck.  I did exercise, and I started exercising again on a regular basis about 3 years ago.  I didn’t do a whole lot, and I didn’t do anything seriously until around January of 2008.  I made a promise to myself that I would get healthy … again.

I made some progress, but I did not watch what I was eating, and I was not doing anything serious.  Then in 2009, I decided that I needed to get a little more serious.  Then in February of 2010, I really got serious about my training.  I was bitten by the half marathon bug after I completed my first half marathon on November 15th of 2009.  I wanted to do another one, and I wanted to do better.  So I signed up for the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Chicago in August.  Now I had a couple of goals to work toward.

First, I started to eat better.  I bought Cooking Light and Clean Eating magazines.  I also took recipes that I had, and cut back on the amount of fat and other “bad” things in them.  Luckily I had a great partner to train with, and we really pushed each other.  We made sure that we went to the gym every day … no matter how tired we may have been, we went to the gym.  It was nice because Jacqui and I looked out for each other and we both made significant changes in our diets and our exercise.  As a result, we both lost significant amounts of weight.  I know that I have dropped about 90lbs total since I started exercising and eating right.  But I wanted more …

I used to make fun of Jacqui because she was always taking supplements.  I know that I used to take them, but I felt that I would be able to get what I needed in my diet.  Then one day, she talked me into starting a daily vitamin … I was hooked.  But it was a good thing since even though I was eating better; I may not have been getting all of the nutrition that I needed.  That was my first step … I took a daily multi-vitamin, and a Vitamin D3 supplement as well.

I also got hooked on watching Dr. Oz … I know, but he is really good and provides a lot of useful information.  One of his shows focused on supplements.  I was already taking a multi-vitamin, and the D3, but he also suggested taking a B complex, and fish oil.  So I started taking those.  And again, I don’t know if they helped, but I know they did not hurt, so I continued to take these supplements.

About two weeks ago, I started to get a cold.  That scared the crap out of me, because the last thing that I need is to get sick with only 5 weeks to go before the half marathon, so I started taking vitamin C and Zinc.  I’m a firm believer in anything when I’m sick … I hate being sick, and I got better.

I’ve also been doing other nutrition type foods, and I was first hooked on Clif Bars.  These things are just awesome, and I eat one every morning about 1 hour before I go to the gym.  This has really helped me since I don’t feel hungry in the middle of my work out like I used to.  So I am a huge believer in getting a little something in your stomach before you work out. 

I’ve been keeping track of my caloric intake, including fat, carbohydrates, and protein.  I’ve noticed that I was not getting enough protein in my daily diet.  I was getting in 20% of fat, over 50% carbohydrates, but I was not getting in 30% protein in my 2,400 calorie a day diet.  So I added a protein bar to my daily food list.  I’ve been doing the “Eat Good. Look Great.” pure protein bars.  These provide 20 grams of additional protein in my daily diet.  As such, I’ve been able to get my protein up, and now run right around 30%.  My fats are still around 20%, carbohydrates right at 50%, and now my protein is up.  So I feel better about my diet.  Plus, these bars give me something every day that is sweet … and chocolate.

Next, I noticed that I was getting killed on long runs.  What I mean by long runs, these are runs that last over 60 minutes.  Once I started to hit the 60 minute mark, I felt like I was getting my butt kicked.  And on more than one occasion, I needed to stop.  That is not good if you want to run a decent time in a half marathon.  So I needed something during my run.  I added Cytomax to my long runs, and I take 20 ounces with me in two 10 ounce bottles.  The half marathons that I run have a water and Cytomax station about every one and a half miles (1 and 1/2 miles).  So I figured that what I would do is to take in at about 2 ounces of Cytomax every 1 and 1/2 miles.  This will do two things, first it will keep me hydrated and provide some energy, and it is also the same product that is used in the half marathons that I run (and I hope in the marathon that I will be running).  And this made a huge difference on my first run of 8 miles.  And now I am hooked, and I also drink this during my every day work outs as well.

Now I wanted to add in a pre-workout and post-workout energy booster / recovery drink in my routine.  I ended up caving to the masses and I am taking the Gatorade G1 and G3 (pre-exercise fuel and recovery).  But I only do this on my long runs …

Between the vitamins, the Clif Bars, the protein bars, the Cytomax and the Gatorade, I’m almost there, and they made a significant difference on my long runs.  The first two long runs that I did with this combination were amazing.  I really felt like I made significant gains, and I did not feel as “beat” during the runs.  So this combination I will keep and continue to modify, which I did already.

Reading another article, I saw that I had just about all bases covered as far as supplements go … but I was missing one, creatine monohydrate, so I now take one teaspoon of this every day, after my workout.  Does it make a difference?  Again, I don’t know, but I know that I have not gotten worse, and I still feel like I am continuing to make gains. 

But I needed something else in my long runs … and that was Gu or the Clif Shots (I used both).  Now I only really need these during the run, so I take one every four miles in my long run.  Since I’m not a fast runner, this is a pretty good time for me to take them.  Now as I get faster, I will have to change the interval, but right now it seems to work.

So today’s run, consisting of all of the items that I previously mentioned … I started out the morning with a Clif Bar about 1 hour before my run.  Then 15 minutes prior to the run, I took the Gatorade G1.  Once I started running, I drank 2 ounces of my Cytomax every 2 miles (my watch reminds me of the time since it lets me know when I hit a mile), then at the 4 mile mark, I took my Clif Shot, and drank my 2 ounces of the Cytomax.  I did this for my run, and then when I got home, I drank the Gatorade G3 with one teaspoon of the creatine monohydrate.  As soon as I drank that, I ate my protein bar. 

So what does all of this mean?  I don’t know, but I can tell you that I feel better, and that I do feel like I am making huge strides in my training.  I really feel good, and I hope that I will be able to hit my goal time for the half marathon.  To know that answer, check back in three weeks.  Oh and Jacqui, I’m sorry that I made fun of you with all of the vitamins and supplements that you were taking … I know think I have you beat.

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~ by Greg Vick on November 14, 2010.

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