Starting the day with power – the runner’s breakfast

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In our series #RUNNINGFOOD we give you practical tips for runners’ meals; we’d like to start with a few breakfast inputs. Proteins, carbohydrates and good fatty acids: a good breakfast includes all three main nutrients. Depending on the goal, point of time and taste, you can choose your favourite version. 

Two categories, two priorities

Breakfast is the most important meal oft the day. Thus, you should not skip it. It has even been shown in studies that people who skip breakfast eat more during the day than people who had had scrambled eggs for breakfast. Breakfast haters could for example prepare a shake instead.

High-protein breakfast

A high-protein start of the day keeps you full in the long run and covers a good share of the daily protein requirements. Those versions are appropriate on rest days or after a run. Combine them with whole grain bread or cooked potatoes.

Breakfast shake

Ingredients:

150 g lowfat quark

100 ml milk/ soy milk/ natural joghurt

1 banana

100 g fresh or frozen berries, ex. raspberries, blueberries, strawberries

1 teaspoon of cocoa

3 tablespoons of oatmeal

1 tablespoon of flaxseed

2 teaspoons of chia seeds

Optionally: agave syrup to sweeten the shake and/or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Preparation:

Put the chia seeds and flaxseed into a glass, add triple the amount hot water, let it rest for 10min. Then, put all ingredients into a mixer, mix – done!

 

Mediterranean scrambled eggs

Ingredients:

2 eggs

a little bit of milk

½ onion

½ zucchini

50 g feta cheese

a handful of fresh herbs, like rosemary, chives, thyme, oregano, basil

sea salt, pepper

a bit of butter

Preparation:

Whisk the eggs with some of the milk. Chop up the onion and the zucchini. Heat up some butter in a pan. Brown the onion and the zucchini and then pour the egg/milk blend over it. Add the feta cheese. Season with the herbs, salt and pepper. Let it thicken at a low temperature. Turn over with a spatula and let it brown a little on both sides. Serve with a bit of whole grain bread, if required.

 

Breakfast quark base mixture

(can be prepared for several portions and then stored in the fridge)

Ingredients:

500 g lowfat quark

500 g natural joghurt, 1.5%

200 g grainy cream cheese

½ TL teaspoon of fresh vanilla powder

agave syrup to sweeten, if required

Preparation:

Blend all ingredients, sweeten if required and store in a bowl or jar in the fridge.

For a delicious breakfast, jazz up this blend with fresh fruit and grains/seeds, ex.

* flexseed

* pumpkin seeds

* hempseed

* buckwheat

* chia seeds

* almonds

* oatmeal

Carbo breakfast

Before a competition or an exhausting day: With carbohydrates you can start the day fully loaded. Before a competition or an intense training session, you should reduce the proteins or skip them completely, as they can cause an upset stomach. Porridge or bread with butter and honey are ideal in those cases. Either is a good choice, everyone has to decide for themselves which one they prefer. In all other cases, however, a combination out of carbohydrates and proteins is recommended, as it keeps you full longer. Furthermore, proteins provide you with an important dosis of amino acids needed for recovery and muscle building.

Porridge

Ingredients for 1 portion:

200 ml milk (or half milk/ half water)

ca. 50 g oatmeal

one pinch of salt

1 piece of fruit

Optionally: cinnamon, honey

Preparation:

Pour the milk into a pot, add the oatmeal, make it cook. Add a pinch of salt. Let it simmer for a little while, jazz it up with a piece of fruit of your choice, and a little cinnemon or honey, if required.

 

Spelt semolina with glazed apples and natural joghurt

Ingredients for 4 portions:

500 ml Spelt drink or milk

125 g Spelt/whole grain semolina or wholemeal spelt flour

2 tablespoons of cocoa

30-50 g agave syrup

2 pinches of vanille powder

2 apples chopped up in thin slices

2 tablespoons of raisins

2 tablespoons of chipped almonds

2 tablespoons of honey

Optionally: 2 tablespoons of cinnamon

500 g joghurt or soy joghurt (unsweetened)

Preparation:

Make the spelt drink boil in a pot. Add the semolina and the cocoa, stir with a whisk. Add the vanilla powder and sweeten with the agave syrup, if required.

Heat up some water in a pan. Sauté the apple slices in the pan for a little while. As soon as the water has evaporated a bit, add the raisins, almonds and honey and brown the mixture. Put it on top of the prepared semolina, add the natural joghurt to finish off with.

 

Whole grain bread with grainy cream cheese

Ingredients:

2 slices of whole grain bread (spelt or rye)

200 g grainy cream cheese

6 basil leaves

fresh chives

2 tomatoes

4 slices of cucumber

salt and pepper

Preparation:

Spice up the grainy cream cheese with salt, pepper and finely chopped herbs. Spread it on the bread, add cucumber and tomato on top.

This blog entry was written by Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck, running.COACH Gold prescription coach, sports scientist and German champion (2010) in half marathon.

Meet our Gold Coach Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck

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Do you need some motivation at the beginning of the year? You will surely find that in our interview with Gold coach Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck. The certified sports scientist and nutritionist is a mother now. However, being a former high performance athlete (German champion in marathon 2010), she is still constantly on the move.

ingalena

What reputation and importance does running have in the country that you live in? 

Running is very popular in Germany and city runs are getting more and more popular, too. Running is a national sport – that’s great!

Tell us your personal running story.

Running has always be a part of my life. As a child, I played handball and football, I was a member of a tennis squad and I would always go for runs with my neighbor. When I was as fast as the ”big ones” already as a ”little one”, I was approached by a club. At the age of 14 I took up running guided by a coach. Well, and with success came specialisation. I decided to focus more specifically on running, I became German champion several times and I participated in international cross-country running competitions. After an injury in 2013, I quit my career as a professional runner, but enjoy running even more intensely now being a coach.

What has been your favourite running experience so far?

Oh, there are so many. Actually, every run. An especially memorable experience, however, was the Wings for Life run, which I won in 2015. Out of the blue, I had decided to take part and I originally only wanted to run 30km, but then I got all euphoric and I suddenly ended up in the leading group. The interesting thing with this competiton is that the finish is not fixed but decided by the moment when the so called «catcher car» catches the runners. So, I was being chased the whole way and I did not know for how long I would be running. In the end it was about 50km and I was totally surprised. Awesome feeling.

wings_for_life_2015

What is your next goal? How do you prepare for that? 

At the moment, I just run according to intuition, as my son Frederik is only nine months old. But this is nice for a change. My goal is to feel good having a break from running.

What is your favourite type of training?

I’ve come to love short, intense sessions, such as for example the «running Tabata-training », comprising 10 min warm-up, then 4×4 min Tabata (20s fast running, 10s easy jogging, repeated 8 times) with 2 min easy jogging in between. Then cool-down. Great!

Which is your personal piece of training advice that you can share with us? 

Qualitiy over quantity. Have the courage to push yourself a little sometimes and don’t simply take it easy all the time.

Do you have any ritual which you do before a competition? 

Not anymore. What is always important though: your meals should be standardised. I would not experiment there!

What is your personal tipp for competitions? 

Relaxed in your head, relaxed (à fast) in your legs. Easier said than done. Try to always remind yourself of why you are doing this. For yourself!

Do you mind your nutrition?

Of course. Without nutrition training is only half as efficient and good, balanced food is essential for your health. I surely nibble, but I love eating healthy, it’s just good for me.

What is your favourite running brand? 

Odlo. Easy one! Odlo has an excellent quality. The products last forever, they fit perfectly and they feel great. Furthermore, Odlo is very conscious of sustainability and they for example produce a collection with shares of yarn residues. They are also a member of the « Fair Wear Foundation », so, the working conditions are monitored. I find that extremely important.

odlo-anzeige-2015

What was a special moment for you as a running coach/ Gold coach? 

When my runner Andreas achieved his marathon goal brilliantly!

Why should a customer book you as a Gold coach?

A coach who is always there for you as a runner, who gives you feedback and sometimes also gently drives you is just «worth a mint». This way, you can achieve your running goals more easily, you get to know more about nutrition, recovery, alternative training etc. – just an ideal and complete running training package!

Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck has got her own category on our blog – new entries will follow.

GoldCoaches_E-min

All You Need to Know About Calf Cramps

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Who doesn’t know them, those nasty leg cramps? During the night or towards the end of longer endurance exercise the muscle contracts. This often happens completely unexpectedly for the athlete. But why?

The reasons for cramps as well as the ways to prevent them are manifold. Consequently, we need to differentiate between cramps during performance and cramps occurring while resting. Today’s blog is going to provide you with all you have always wanted to know about cramps in your calves.

Cramps while running

Symptoms

Sometimes, upcoming cramps announce themselves by slight contraction in the muscle. If you feel that, you should see it as a signal and react. Unfortunately, for many runners cramps do not announce themselves but they occur seemingly out of nowhere. For longer endurance performances, such as a marathon, there’s often a strong contraction in the calf area, so that, temporarily, continuing to run seems impossible.

muscle cramps 580
Running seems to be impossible when your calves are cramping

Reasons

The reason for cramps during performances often lies in a lack in sodium (as opposed to magnesium, which is often assumed). This mineral is mostly lost through the process of sweating. Especially on hot days, when peoples’ sweat production is on its top, cramps are common. Depending on both the outside temperature and the individual and his/ her shape, the amount of sweat produced per hour can be as large as 1liter. 400 to 1,000 mg sodium are lost with each liter.

Prevention

Cramps occurring during an endurance performance are best prevented by regular consummation of liquids and electrolytes. Depending on duration, on external circumstances and on the individual, the recommended dosage is between 400 and 800ml liquid, in combination with 600 to 800mg sodium/liter. Liquids free of added minerals are less easily absorbed by your body. If consumed in large amounts, such liquids can even constitute a hazard to your health and lead to a so-called hyponatremia.

Thus, for long and intense endurance performances, it is important that you either take some isotonic drink or that you, in addition to water, regularly provide your body with minerals in the form of gels, bars or salt pills.

In case of acute cramps you should lower your pace or even stand still, stretch the muscle in question, or even massage it with your hand a little. In most cases, however, providing your body with minerals will be the only way for you to continue running.

lenipb
Isotonic drinks are suited to prevent muscle cramps

Night cramps

Symptoms

Night cramps often occur completely out of nowhere and they can happen in various intensities. Sometimes the sole lifting of the tip of the toe is enough to provoke a cramp.

Reasons

The reasons for night cramps are manifold. For athletes, cramps at night mostly correlate with a lack in magnesium or with an overloaded muscle.

Prevention

In case of night cramps you should pay attention to an increased consumption of magnesium. Especially rich in magnesium are walnuts and wholegrain products and oats. If this is not enough, try magnesium supplements over a certain period of time. However, contact a doctor first and have a blood test done. It is best to take the magnesium after training or in the evening before going to bed. Magnesium can have laxative effects, so do not in any case take it immediately before or during training.

 

LeniThis blog was written by Ingalena Heuck, sports scientist, former German Champion in half marathon and running.COACH Gold Coach.

Five Golden Tips for a Successful New Year

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Yet another year has passed. It’s time to look back and to look ahead. When it comes to running, there are a lot of challenges to be mastered in order to be able to conduct our passion healthily and successfully on a long term basis. I would like to introduce to you the five points that lead to problems the most frequently, so that you can avoid the latter in 2016, in case you are affected.

1. The off season produces the champions

The off season is the time for base work. A lot of runners miss to train variedly in these months and to work on their weaknesses. Laying the foundations on the one hand means training primarily in the area of 70-90% of your maximum. During this period, a lot of your running can easily be replaced with cross-country skiing, biking or spinning, swimming, ski touring, ice skating etc. On the other hand, you should work on your muscular stability. Take yoga classes or join group trainings with TRX or some other varied muscular training. This provides new stimuli for your body and you will be able to start your season on a next level.

l1
© Oliver Farys

2. Stay ambitious, but don’t forget to enjoy

Set yourself clear goals that are achievable, motivating and that you are looking forward to already. However, always keep in mind: you are doing it for yourself! Don’t put pressure on yourself, because if you do, the “good” in running, can turn into something negative. Running should assist your relaxation and it should always be enjoyable. If you realise that it has been a burden rather than a relief for a longer period of time, you should think about adjusting your goal. The circumstances in your life can change so quickly. If in doubt, you should adapt your running goals accordingly.

3. Find the right balance

Running is a great settlement and it is ideal to realise your individual dreams and aspirations. It’s good for your health and it revitalises your body and mind. However, remember that it is only positive in an adequate measure. A “too much” can cause your system to break down. Too intense or excessive training can weaken your immune system, it can increase risk of injury or it can simply exhaust you. Try to live consciously and to rather take a step back if close to the limit. A healthy balance between stress and relaxation will get you the furthest.

l2
© Oliver Farys

4. Running is easier with an appropriately nourished body

The basis for healthy running and life is a balanced nutrition. Remember: Follow your intuition instead of some fixed nutrition guidelines. Try to eat as natural and varied food as possible. Plan your eating, as it gives you a structure and something to hold on to. Fresh foods should form the basis of your nutrition. In the context of sports it is important to know what is good for you. Especially for long runs and long competitions such as marathons, plan exactly how to manage your nutrition on the way. That way, you can avoid a lot of problems such as deteriorating performance or cramps.

5. Plan your running year

Many runners miss to be on top of their performance at the highlight of the season, because they train or compete too much beforehand. Although running.COACH helps you to plan recovery phases, the rough structure you prepare for yourself. Normally, you should plan one or maximum two highlights for a season, after the first of which you should do a running phase of about 2-4 weeks. In addition to those two highlights, you can do preparatory races. However, do not expect to perform at your best in those. So, take your planner, write down when you are doing what and figure out whether this will be compatible with everything else happening in your life. Don’t forget to plan recovery phases, too.

LeniThis blog was written by Ingalena Heuck, sports scientist, former German Champion in half marathon and running.COACH Gold Coach.

Avoid overtraining

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Running is good for body, mind and soul. But too much running (as is often the case with just about everything else in life) is not. The right balance of running, active rest (or cross training) and recovery is crucial to effective and efficient training. You must pay attention and adjust your training accordingly when factors such as family, job, sleep, illness and diet affect your ability to exercise.

Training + Recovery = Increased Efficiency

Training is one very important component to becoming a more efficient runner. Yet, optimal performance occurs only when the training stimuli is balanced with a solid recovery plan. Each workout leads to fatigue and a dwindling of the energy sources. After the workout, it is imperative that an athlete replenish those energy sources and recuperate to receive the full benefit of that workout. By continually breaking down the body with workouts and then recovering from those workouts you experience an ‘overcompensation’phase and you’ll see a boost in performance. On the other hand, training too soon without adequate recovery can lead to overtraining which can manifest itself in fatigue, performance degradation, increased heart rate and a weakened immune system.

Sufficient recovery leads to over-compensation and an improvement in performance.
Sufficient recovery leads to over-compensation and an improvement in performance.

 

Training Balance

The right balance between the intensity and the duration of the sessions should be monitored. Typically, a rest or recovery day follows an intense run day. This easy day can include very light running, or, better yet, an alternative activity like swimming, biking or nordic skiing. Also, the long run day should be well planned and worked around. If a training session must be moved, other training during the week may need to be modified or skipped. Your running.COACH training plan will adapt to external circumstances.

Don’t try to fit everything in if it’s just not going to work. To avoid overtraining, it’s best to err on the side of caution. With that said, your running.COACH plan has been laid out to maximize the training effect, so try your best to stick to the plan.

Your running.COACH plan, which is tailored to the days you can train, ensures the correct sequence of training stimuli.
Your running.COACH plan, which is tailored to the days you can train, ensures the correct sequence of training stimuli.

 

Nutrition and Body Signals

Your diet plays a significant role in your ability to handle the training stimuli. Your everyday food choices play a large role in your overall performance. The food you eat before, during and after your workout help with both today’s as well as tomorrow’s workout. As important as anything else, keep the fun in your training and listen to your body’s signals constantly. If you’re feeling tired and worn out, it’ll be counterproductive to do a hard workout. Your body’s signals or feelings should overrule ‘what’s today’s workout’in your calendar. This way, you’ll reduce the risk of overtraining, and in the long term, get more joy from your running.

Lots of success and fun with your training!

This blog was written by Ingalena Heuck, sports scientist and German Champion (2010) in the half-marathon.

The Basics of Sports Nutrition

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Your diet has a significant impact on your performance. It’s important for everyone to eat a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats, and athletes should make sure that every meal contains a protein source.

Extra special attention should be paid to your diet immediately before, during and after a competition or an intense workout. With the right supply of nutrients, you’ll be ready for your best effort:

  • Energy Source: Carbohydrates provide energy for your muscles so you’re able to sustain your effort throughout a workout. The body can metabolize carbohydrates fastest, but fats are also used for energy. They’re stored in your body and used at a slower rate, however, they last longer.
  • Minerals: Your body loses minerals through sweat and the metabolic processes going on in your body. Sodium is one of the most important minerals that needs replenishing after the stresses of training or competition. After these efforts, the other minerals that are crucial to your recovery are potassium, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
  • Recovery: To replenish the depleted energy stores, carbohydrates are needed. Proteins are also very important in order to stabilize your immune system and support muscle repair and regeneration.

Dietary supplements such as gels, sports drinks, bars, or other amino acid delivering products and protein shakes are perfectly matched to the needs of athletes. They have the right composition and are rapidly absorbed into your body. In preparing for half marathons and marathons, you should train with these types of products. Experiment during training to see what works best for you. Most of us ‘non-elite’athletes are subject to the on-course nutrition provided by the race organizers. Try to find out ahead of time what these products are and train with them. That way there will be no surprises come race day.

Sports drinks and gels (always with water) are perfect supplements during longer distance competitions.
Sports drinks and gels (always with water) are perfect supplements during longer distance competitions.

These foods can also be beneficial for training when taken during the following times:

Before training (120 to 30 minutes before):

  • Ripe Banana
  • Mineral water with a pinch of salt (NaCl)
  • A handful of trail mix
  • Bread or roll with honey

During training (from 60 minutes to 120 minutes):

  • Dried fruit (if your stomach can tolerate it)
  • Water with salt and dextrose (important: note the concentration!)
  • Granola bars

After training (best within the first 30 minutes):

  • Rice pudding with cinnamon
  • Spelt with applesauce and raisins
  • Banana smoothie (1 banana with 150 ml of milk (soy or rice milk is great too!), vanilla or chocolate protein powder and 1 handful of oats)
  • A handful of pretzel sticks
  • Non-alcoholic wheat beer
  • 200 ml of grape juice with 400-600 ml of mineral water
A banana is a perfect snack and great before, during and after training. The more ripe, the more beneficial!
A banana is a perfect snack and great before, during and after training. The more ripe, the more beneficial!

During ‘light’workouts of less than one hour you should refrain from carbohydrate supplements and focus more on proteins. This is especially true after a workout. This helps promote the growth of mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell). Test different products during training and try to keep a log of what you eat and when you eat it to try to determine what works best for your individual needs.

This blog was written by Inga Lena Heuck, a sports scientist and German Champion (2010) in the half marathon.

A Strong Immune System = More Power

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In the late fall and winter, the risk of catching a viral infection increases substantially. Sports in cold weather, rooms with forced air heating, and coughing and sniffling people are just a couple of the contributing factors during this time of year. While, in the long run, regular aerobic exercise strengthens your immune system, in the short term, long or difficult workouts weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. With the following behavior and nutrition tips, you’ll help to keep yourself healthy throughout the winter.

 

Running in cold weather simultaneously strengthens (long term) and weakens (short term) the immune system.
Running in cold weather simultaneously strengthens (long term) and weakens (short term) the immune system.

 

Clothing and Behavior

1. Three Layer Principle:  

Carefully choose your running clothes based on the weather and how long you plan to run. Is it windy? What’s the temperature? Are you going for a long run? Dressing in layers is the key to staying comfortable in inclement weather. Each of these layers should be made of a functional fiber that wicks the moisture away from your skin and moves that moisture to the outside of the fabric. Your first, or base, layer, must be this type of material. Cotton, on the other hand, holds moisture and is a poor choice. A running vest is my favorite piece of clothing in winter. As a second layer, it really helps to keep your core warm. In windy and colder conditions, make sure to wear a high quality jacket with ‘windstopper’functionality. For more on the 3-layer principle and other clothing tips > runningCOACH in the infobox > How it Works > What to Wear

2. Keep a Warm Head

Most of your body’s heat escapes right out the top of your head. Keep it covered. If you’re not a hat fan, you should at least wear a headband or ear-muffs.

3. After training

As soon as possible you need to get out of your wet clothes. After that, it helps to relax with easy stretching in a warm environment.

4. Bath and Sauna

After a cold weather workout, heat feels good and is very relaxing. A hot tub or sauna can help with recovery and promote blood circulation. A short cold shower, or ice bath after the heat also can aid in your recovery.

A hot bath relaxes the muscles.
A hot bath relaxes the muscles.

Nutrition

1. A carbohydrate deficiency affects the body and makes it more susceptible to infections. After long workouts, you should consume about 1gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. For example, you can prepare the correct amount of PowerBar Recovery Drink with milk. As an additional ‘immune booster’you can add 1tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp cocoa powder.

2. Sharp, or hot, spices and fresh herbs should be eaten every day, especially in winter. They support the immune system and stimulate your metabolism. Of particular note are:

Chili, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and ginger , and all green herbs, such as oregano, parsley, chives, sage, thyme, rosemary, lovage, basil, coriander, and dill.

3. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. To help strengthen your immune system, you should eat a variety of different vegetables and fruits as raw as possible (or lightly cooked). At least two pieces of fruit and three servings of vegetables should be your daily goal. Consuming beverages high in vitamin C is also very good for you. (Acerola juice is not something that is available in the U.S.)

Here is a great post workout recipe for the winter months:

Double Hot Spice Cocoa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp low fat cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • 1 tsp honey

Preparation: Heat the milk. Add the cocoa and then the spices. Sweeten with the honey.

This blog was designed by Inga Lena Heuck, a sports scientist and German Champion (2010) in the half marathon.