Sunday, July 31, 2011

Running Blog Q&A: 10 Ways to recover/refuel/re-hydrate during summer training.

A FAST running acquaintance of mine messaged me today requesting some tips on recovering, rehydrating and refueling after hard sessions. I was very flattered by this, and though I am not a nutrition expert, I think I had some decent advice to pass on. Below is the Q&A. Thanks again!

The Question:

I noticed that you were training for marathons and I just had a question about recovery and nutrition. As I start to add miles to my long run and keep up a speed workout and maybe a tempo per week I just do not recover well right now.I don't know if it is a nutrition and fueling issue, but I suspect it has something to do with it. Do you have any advice about what to have after harder workouts and after and during longer runs? I would value any advice you have on the topic. I am also not a small runner (5'8, 140) and so I do have to be careful about what I eat somewhat...I have to start really adding miles but this slow recovery process each week is really holding me back (forcing me to cut runs short sometimes and taking extra, annoying rest days). I take a day off right now, but sometimes have to take 2 days off due to soreness. Frustrating!

Thanks so much! I appreciate any advice!!

My Answers:

I have had a major problem with fluids and the nutrition part in the past. This year, I am doing a few things differently and I think they are really helping me....

1.) I do my recovery mileage a lot slower than I used to and cut down to one workout and one long run a week if I am having trouble. My long runs are at a pretty fast pace though...I don't crawl. I don't run twice a day and just focus on one quality run. But your goals may be different then mine.

2.) I don't try to empty the tank during workouts like I used to. This is hard for me because I have a 100% or nothing attitude when it comes to workouts. I have been a lot more careful.

3.) I take saltstick (you can buy it on amazon) as a supplement and during a long run or race. I take one about every 30 minutes with water or gatorade. There are other brands, too.

4.) I take a powerbar gel every 4-6 miles. During a 20 miler I will take up to four.

5.) We take water and gatorade every 3 miles during our long runs. The group I run with sets it out. If I don't run with them, I will have 3-4 places that I will stop and take a gel and my salt...

6.) I have major cramping issues usually...and my legs start to feel heavy so I have been taking iron since having Maddy last year, I will take it for 3 weeks then take a week off. I also take B complex and B-12 everyday. I find this helps a lot. I don't recommend taking iron if you have not had any sort of iron issues in the past. Iron overload is dangerous.

7.) I have had major success taking brewers yeast also.

8.) Make sure you are getting water, but also replacing the electrolytes lost. I suck back beverages all day, but I take my salt and my B's to replenish.

8. 1/2) I eat chocolate in large amounts everyday. I don't know what this has to do with anything but I felt I should mention it.

9.) Don't concern yourself with not being a "small" runner. I believe the body will find out where it wants to be. Runners should not diet because a diet is not a lifestyle. I'm sure you know this though.

10.) I have bought HEED and cytomax had success with both. I'm not taking them now, though.

Thanks for the question! Hope this helps!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rally cap kind of week.

Monday: 12 mile (85 minutes) w/ 4 miles in the middle at 6:35 pace, 4 attempts at strides.
Tuesday: 8 miles (60minutes)
Wednesday: 2 mile w/u, 3X2mile on "campus 5"-measured w/ car- @ 11:33, 11:34, 11:13 w/ 800m in between, 1 mile c/d (10 miles)
Thursday: 65 minutes recovery (8+)
Friday:75 minutes (10+)
Saturday:17 miles in 1:55:50 (6:48 avg, last 14 at 6:39 avg)
7:49, 7:20, 7:22, 6:56, 6:48, 6:46, 6:37, 6:31, 6:50, 6:39, 6:37, 6:38, 6:27, 6:44, 6:17, 6:42, 6:38
Sunday: Planned 8 miles

Total miles for the week: 74 in singles
Total dove chocolates for the week: 96 (or 4224 calories)

I woke up Monday and told myself this would be a rally cap kind of week. The stomach flu had left me super dehydrated for the first few days but didn't destroy me.
I made a comment Wednesday that I don't yet think my body has completely recovered from Winnipeg.

Ha, wrong!

I did a great job taking my salt, gatorade, and water late in the week because I had some chest cramping Wednesday (my sign that I need to hit the fluids). Though I didn't sleep much, Saturday morning I woke up feeling confident I could finish my long run.

The plan was to run 17 miles at a decent pace with a few legs at Mpace (according to coach Houston) but after 3 miles at a warm-up effort, I felt fabulous...I wanted to test the waters a little bit.

I felt light and fast...and was rather surprised when I was already cracking the 6:30's by the second water stop. Even though I did stop to take my gels (3 gels, 3 saltsticks) I didn't waste time, we got back on it as soon as everyone was hydrated. After all, its about to be August in Mississippi.....we were baking out there.

Aside from some hip cramping at mile 11 and 16, and my shoe strings coming completely untied 3 mimes (they kept slipping in the sweat) I had no issues. At one point I ran a 6:17 to catch back up after tying my shoes...and realized I had a lot left in the tank. I am not sure how long I can keep riding this fitness train, but heck, I'm going to keep riding it until it runs out of gas.

Hopefully it doesn't.

We had a great group out at the Whites being that Jan Morgan was visiting. For those that don't know, Jan was hit by a vehicle while riding in late May. She has made an amazing recovery and it was emotional for everyone to see her walking, talking, and in good spirits! Truly amazing!

At this point I still don't know what I am training for. I want to run NOLA next year and Canadian Marathon Champs, I want to crack the top five, I want to move up my ranking from 9th to 5th. But I'm not sure what to do from here to December. At one point I wanted to do Toronto...but I'm fairly certain I didn't make the cut. But that's ok. I understand. I need to have a little better performances under my belt before that can happen.

Don't judge a book by its cover. Yes I am slightly bitter. But hey, I can respect the decision.

In the end, its just running. My Maddy is almost ready to walk so I spend most of the day trying to keep her out of everything, as does Houston. Trying to find a good race to run has been put on the back burner.
9 1/2 months!!

As for the running skirt, it hasn't come in yet. Don't worry, I have not forgotten...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I bought a running skirt.


So my post about the Fastinista made me realize I needed to try one out--a running skirt. On WomenTalkSports I received a comment that made me order one.

Anyway, I only think it is fair that I order a skirt, wear it, review it on my blog. Based on the feedback, it seems I am missing out.

So here it is:,default,pd.html?start=20&cgid=womens-sale

Kinda excited about it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Training Update: New Orleans Trip w/ Stomach Flu (for the whole family)

This week was suppose to be a big week for me. 3 runs of 80 minutes, a long run of 17 miles, and two medium workouts. Unfortunately, it just didn't end up that way.

The beginning of this week, Maddy got sick with stomach flu. It was awful to watch but she took it like a champ and was completely her normal self the next morning. Wednesday night Houston and Maddy drove down to New Orleans with me, as I had a few meetings at Tulane Thursday and Friday. Maddy slept the whole way and was in a great mood on arrival at "Park View" bed and breakfast, a small historic hotel that neighbored Audubon Park (right next to Tulane).
Audubon Park, NOLA

Waking up early Thursday morning to run, Houston an I both felt tired and leg heavy. I had done two medium workouts in a row so it was expected, therefore I cut my run from 80 minutes to 70 minutes.

That afternoon when I returned to the hotel Houston let me know he also had stomach flu. By that evening, so did I. We spent the night battling hot/cold flashes along with other symptoms while Maddy caught up on her beauty sleep.

Friday morning, I knew I probably should have taken the day off, but instead I struggled through one loop of Audubon park before cleaning up and heading back to Tulane. That afternoon I was super exhausted and still not feeling up to anything, so Houston, Maddy, and I walked half a mile to a crepe restaurant and ordered three crepes to-go. After one or two bites we were completely full, and spent the rest of the evening hanging out with Maddy on the porch of the hotel.
Veggie Crepe. No appetite for it.

Maddy and her big baby blues getting dinner Friday night.

Saturday morning I had planned on running 17 miles. Since coffee didn't brew until 7am at this hotel, I went out sans caffeine and figured my legs would wake up after a mile or two.

The lack of fluids and food was very evident in my body from the first step, and after 35 minutes I was completely spent. I had planned on breaking up the 10 mile portion I had at marathon pace anyway, but now I opted out of it completely. After one lap of the park at 6:30 pace (about 1.8 miles) I called it a day (7.5 miles in). I was too weak and tired. The old Meggan would have ran 2 1/2 hours versus the 2 I had scheduled. This Meggan is a little bit more rational.

We finally squeezed our vacation into the rest of the day, going to the French Market and Cafe du Monde that morning, doing some drive-by site-seeing, then driving out to the middle of swamp country (nowhere) around lunch time and driving back along the coast. I slept a good portion of the way back. I think Maddy was more excited than anyone to be home.
Cafe au Lait & Beignets from Cafe Du Monde

Monday: 80 minutes w. strides
Tuesday: 60 minutes w/ 25 minutes of short fartlek (30-70 seconds)
Wednesday: 80 minutes w/ 5 miles in the middle at half marathon race pace (6:12) (added on afterwards on the treadmill)
Thursday: 70 minutes with Houston (he was pushing Maddy in the jogger)
Friday: 20 minutes (stomach flu)
Saturday: 55 minutes w/ 2 miles at 6:30 pace in the middle (stomach flu)
Sunday: 60 minutes at 7:08 pace (treadmill) abs & back

I'll be back on it next week.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What is a Fastinista? Are they ruining my sport?

I picked up an issue of Runner's World yesterday. On the front was a photograph of a female triathlete wearing a pink and white patterned skirt (running skirt for those who don't know) with a matching spaghetti strapped sports bra, patterned arm warmers, and pink Nike flats. My first thought was "What in the world?", "Have I missed something?" Eventually I flipped open the magazine to see what all this ridiculousness was about.

They call the Fastinistas. It's like a Fashionista, only that you are "Fast" and "Fashionable". These are the new females of the running community. Putting in the miles and setting PRs wearing running skirts, bright/colorful racing flats with matching hats, running tops, arm warmers and knee socks. It seems that women want to look good, get noticed, and running companies are up to the challenge- making everything and anything to get these women looking sharp- even running dresses! Oh My!

I have trouble with this. I feel like my sport is being taken-over by those "type" people that care more about the way their makeup looks then how fast they run their mile repeats. I feel like this sort of attitude is one of the reasons why female distance running is not always taken seriously. Am I wrong? The article also includes a picture of Kara Goucher wearing black arm warmers in her 2008 marathon debut, and Shalane Flanagan wearing bright white knee socks at NYC 2010. I'm obviously not the expert, but I don't think arm warmers or knee socks make you a Fastinista, if I'm not mistaken Deena Kastor has been wearing arm warmers for years...I think I remember a double at X-Country nationals from way back where she was wearing them. And with knee socks, I don't think Flanagan was wearing them to be fashionable.
Deena Kastor at Chicago in 09. Photo courtesy of
Paula Radcliffe wearing knee socks almost 10 years ago. I think it would be safe to assume she was not trying to make a fashion statement.

Don't get me wrong, there are days where I go out for a run and I do like to match, and I am lucky that most of my running clothes do look good. And fashion will (and should) belong in women's sports because society really cares how we look, and we care because it is something (I believe) that is ingrained in us just because we are female....
But a sports bra and shorts is about as far as I go. In the end, the only thing that really matters is how far and how fast I train or race. I have never wore a running skirt. My brooks shorts have pockets that allow me to carry my gels, my sports bras are comfortable and do the job they were designed to.

I will also say, I have seen a lightning fast half-marathon won by a women that was wearing a running skirt and matching sports bra. If I was in that race, I would have got my butt handed to me. Maybe she was a "Fastinista?"
A true "Fastinista" Sally Meyerhoff is pictured here winning More Magazine's Women's Half-Marathon (in a running skirt). Sally died in a cycling accident early in 2011. Sally was a two-time Olympic Trials qualifier and two-time All-American at Duke.

Last but not least, I must admit that the rise in women's running skirts has left me wanted to try one and see what the craze is all about. Good thing is that I run at 4:30 in the morning, so no one will see me!! Although, Brooks makes some super cute ones. Maybe, just maybe, there is something to all this "Fastinista" talk after all.

Training week in Review:

I still don't know what I am racing yet.

Monday:10 miles
Tuesday: 9 miles
Wednesday:8-9 miles w/ 8x800m at 2:39-2:43 w/ 2 rest
Thursday: 45 minutes recovery
Friday: 8-9 miles
Saturday: 16 miles in 1:51 w/ some good miles thrown in there
Sunday: 55 minutes super easy

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bad habits never go away

I know I eat a lot of chocolate, I am open about this. I "monitored" my intake over the last two weeks and realized I eat, on average, half a bag of dove chocolate promises a day. This is roughly 750 calories and 45 grams of fat...I'm not going to mention saturated fats.

This is a terrible habit, but it is one that I really don't have a desire to give up right now...I'm not sure I can.

I will start tomorrow. *wink* *wink*

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I have issues.

With my back, obviously.

This week was ok, minus the whole relaps in my back/hip. Things were going well and, like always, they just fell apart. Today I am having trouble bending my leg at the knee and the last few days I have been experiencing serious hip and lower back pain. After getting some advice from Caitlyn Clark I contacted Nate Jenkins to see if he had any recommended solutions. It turns out he also experienced the same loss of coordination and ended up with a bulging disc that was fixed with surgery. Though I like to believe that this is not the case with me, I know that I am not cured of this mysterious back problem. Though my P.T has fixed the rotation in my hip and I was able to train without (too much) interruption, I still deal with this crap on a daily basis, just a little better than what it used to be. Thinking back, I have not had an MRI in 7 years and, at the time, everyone was convinced that it was in my hip/knee. I am leaning towards getting another one. Who knows, maybe someday I will be able to sit for more than 20 minutes without pain.

As for training, things were fine until today. This morning was running group and because we didn't have a sitter, I started at 5:30 so I could get 5 miles in before Houston left to run with boardtown. I finished with another 9 miles on the treadmill at 6:40 pace (9.0). I felt fine fitness wise...but I locked up 4 times at the hip. This hour did not go uninteruppted, there was a bathroom break, diaper change, breakfast for Maddy. 

Besides a couple of breaks, Maddy was a champ for me. I appreciate her good mornings. She is such a wonderful child.

Monday: 60 minutes w/ Kelly
Tuesday: 40 minutes
Wednesday: 10 miles (74min)
Thursday: 8 miles w/ 5X(3min/1 min hard) with 60/90 rest. I don't know exactly what I did the whole way but I got down to 5:30's during the 3 minute efforts (on the fast end) and 5:10's on the 1 minutes (on the fast end) I felt fabulous with the exception of my left foot splitting open again.
Friday: 9 miles with D. (67min)
Saturday: 14 miles with 9 miles at 6:40 pace (broken down into about 4x15minutes sections if I had to guess, nice and relaxed, hip was tight)

I still have no idea what I will race next or what I am training for. There is talk of a Marathon in late October. I'm not 100% sure. I change my mind about everytime I change Maddy's diaper.

I also apologize for not be responsive on the comments. I am going to try and go through all of them tomorrow. I hope everyone had a great long run/workout/or race this weekend.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Sacroiliac Joint (S.I. Joint) dysfunction and running. How to deal, what works for me.

I've been getting this question a lot so I thought I would blog about it.

People have been asking me about my "hip" and what it feels like/ what I do about it. In college I was misdiagnosed with piriformis syndrome and ran hurt 75% of the time. It was not until I was out of college that a chiropractor convinced me that this was definitely not the case.

What it feels like: Besides serious hamstring tightness and a bad achilles, about 3 miles into a race or hard tempo run, my hip starts to cramp along the inside of my hamstring down to my knee. I will then have trouble bending the leg at the knee and start to "lose control" of my left leg. My lower back will cramp up. My pace and form will really suffer. Sometimes will get relief after about 4 miles of this awkwardness.

Over the years I have tried everything and anything, and felt that the reduced running schedule while pregnant may help the issue. Of course, pregnancy did not help and the joint pain returned almost immediately. After talking with a few female friends I finally found myself again at physical therapy at OCH (the local hospital).

TO be completely honest, if you suffer from S.I. problems you are probably going to suffer with this problem for life. Everyone I have ever talked to regarding this injury is that you never get over with it, but you can do things to keep it from flaring up.

What is different about this time versus all others is that I finally found a P.T. that deals with her own S.I. problems, and she never twisted, pounded, or pushed to hard. We worked everything slowly and diligently and thus I was able to complete my first marathon successfully.

What worked for me was a combination of my S.I. exercises twice a day on my own, P.T for the S.I. joint problems 3 times a week, and a session with a sports massage therapist on average of once a week. I am not over the S.I problems, but I am able to train without interruption.

Here is a video that describes this problem in great detail:

Here are a few recommended exercises. Please keep in mind that you should not do any of these without discussing your injury with you doctor...and I am not a doctor! Hope this helps.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day! Deciding what my next Canadian Marathon will be.

Even though I am 3000 miles away from my home, I am still going to celebrate Canada Day...being that Maddy and I are Canadian.

People keep asking me what Canada Day is. I keep telling them "Your July 4 is our July 1." Doesn't that make sense?

The game plan is to run either the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16th

The Niagara Falls International Marathon on October 23rd

In Toronto I will get my butt handed to me by a long list of elites..but I have a good chance of running fast. In Niagara Falls I have a good chance of placing top 5.

Either way, the goal is to run 2:55 or under.

Happy running, all.