Category Archives: Diet

Beginner’s Guide to Running Race Nutrition, Hydration and Carrying-it-all – Part 2

Recently we started a 3 part series on nutrition, hydration and carrying it all for beginner runners. Hopefully I can share some of my ill-begotten “knowledge” with the community and help someone out…and avoid embarrassing myself at the same time. Here goes:


Part 2 – Hydration
Hydration and nutrition are tightly linked and and, as with nutrition, you will need to find out if your body can process sports drink (sugars) while under duress or if you’ll have to stick to water only.

For my first 2 marathons I suffered from “Racer Belly”, not during the race mind you but certainly afterward. For a long time I attributed it to processing sports drink while racing but eventually discovered that my body was reacting to the adrenalin in my system (think extreme butterflies in your stomach). Since then, not only can I drink Gatorade/Poweraid, but the additional calories actually helps/prevents me from bonking.

Another thing to consider is that digestion requires water.  Your stomach can pull water from your body when it needs to process any nutrition you are ingesting, this can lead to cramping and a truly painful race. I alternate my intake of sports drink and water and time my nutrition ingestion to coincide with water stations; take a cup, move off to the side, eat/drink, and then get back to work.

If your body can’t handle sports drinks and you have to stick to water, you need to be mindful of your electrolyte levels. By drinking too much water exclusively you risk developing Hyponatremia which is essentially “watered down” blood sodium levels. Electrolytes (including sodium) aid the body in transferring water/waste across cell membranes; if you levels are out of whack you can get yourself in trouble. One thing to look into is whether you are a potassium or sodium sweater, this way you can look into specific drinks/gels that cater to replacing those elements in higher ratios. That being said there are discussions out now showing that the body should possess enough sodium that supplemental sodium intake shouldn’t be needed, the caveat being that you drink to thirst and not simply because “you should”.

Next you need to think about how to get that hydration into you. Marathons are usually well stocked and have hydration stations every 5km (3mi) or so. If you can use the race’s liquid, then you don’t have to carry it.  The risk with this being; if you want fluid while between stations, you’ll have to simply wait.  Also, since drinking while running is a messy endeavour, I choose to use the stations as an impromptu walking break, even if it’s only for a few steps get to drink into you then get moving again.  Your body will appreciate the minute break and you will appreciate not having sticky hands for the next 3 hours.


In conclusion, hydration (or lack of) has ruined many runner’s race, don’t let it happen to you.  Experiment with all the options BEFORE race day, and you’ll give yourself the best shot at success.

Come back soon for Part 3 – How do I carry all this crap?


Beginner’s Guide to Running Race Nutrition, Hydration and Carrying-it-all – Part 1

Today I’m starting a 3 part series on nutrition, hydration and carrying it all for beginner runners.  Hopefully I can share some of my ill-begotten “knowledge” with the community and help someone out…and avoid embarrassing myself at the same time.  Here goes:


Part 1 – Nutrition
Nutrition is so completely individual that it’s almost comical to hear people talk about (so why not write about it?).  There do seem to be a few trends though that can help you hedge your bets: a.) how does your system handle refined sugars?  If you don’t have a problem than you have more options (i.e. – gels, gummies/chews, sports drinks), if you do have issues then you need to get creative, b.) do you require something solid for your stomach to munch on while you run?  If so then you need to look into things like granola bars, Honey Stinger Waffles, sports beans.  Each item has it’s own benefits/drawbacks (i.e. – sugar(s) content, size, format etc.), experimentation is your friend.  Also, volume of calories is completely personal.  I know some marathoners that take 1 gel with them, meanwhile if I don’t take a handful of nutrition options I’m ready to eat my left arm by km 32.  One thing that’s really helped me recently is eating often and eating early, that way if my stomach decides to revolt on me I already have calories in my body being processed instead of being depleted and hungry.

except the coffee…maybe

Sample Options:

– gels

– sports beans

– waffles/bars

– pretzels/chips

– PB&J sandwiches (seriously…)

– bananas/apples/fruit slices

– whatever works for you

Once you figure out what your stomach can handle during a long run, you should look into what sugars are used as ingredients. The stomach processes Fructose and Glucose using two different/independent processes. If you dump a bunch of glucose-based food into your stomach, the glucose is processed at a set rate no matter how much excess glucose is present in your stomach. Doing this you can end up with a stomach full of food that is simply waiting to be processed into fuel, all the while sloshing around inside your gut. So how can we maximize this dual processing mechanism? By ingesting foods that either contain a fructose/glucose mix or manually combining your race nutrition so you end up with a mix in your stomach you engage both processes simultaneously. Your stomach is pulling “double-duty” processing both sugars at the same time. Twice the work at the same time…double uptake for the win!

Overall, there will have to be a certain amount of experimentation in your approach.  Even if you know you have pre-existing limitations (health, taste aversions, illness, etc.) you will soon realize that almost anything CAN be fuel, it’s more a matter of IF it should be used as fuel.

Finally, when you find something that works for you, heed these 3 words: STICK WITH IT!

Come back soon for Part 2 – Hydration


Ugggg, how did I use to do this?

When I started running, there was a period of 3 months where I did mainly stair climbing at an outdoor set of steel steps (300+ of them).  I’d trot to the stairs, and trot home, occasionally adding a few extra kms here or there generally building my strength base before tackling any major mileage.  At one point (to break the monotony of the continual up & down) I started having a beer (or three) before I left the house, then hit the stairs grinning like the Cheshire Cat at my private joke. Eventually I started running seriously and practice fell by the way-side…mostly.

Last night we had a few friends over for dinner, and to be honest I had no idea how long the evening would last. I had 6 easy kms on the schedule but whether or not I’d actually get to run them was still up in the air.  Fortunately everyone had things they needed to do and everyone left in a timely manner, UNfortunately though, after a few drink over dinner I decided it’d be a REALLY good idea to finish all the “left over” beer before I went for my run…after all,  it was just an “easy 6km” …(I’ll take “drunk logic” for 200 please Alex).

The run itself went fine, albeit slow, but this morning was a different story.  I don’t know how I used to do this on a regular basis and enjoy it, but I can tell you that surprisingly (or maybe not); it sucks now.  Live and learn, live and learn…

Now I’m off to run some lunchtime trails and hopefully sweat the poisons out of my body, and clear my aching head. Why do I constantly have to be the example of what NOT to do?

Use your brain kids 😉

Makin’ Chili


Double batch o’ goodness. Used Every vegetable we had, local ground beef, and BACON…mmmm, can’t wait.  For running content:  I’m wearing my VFF Komodos while cooking 😉

VFF Komodos

VFF Komodos

Eat well and enjoy life kids!

23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

Now that we’ve all indulged on copious amounts of glorious food, and with the inevitable New Year Resolutions on the door step, I leave you with a video that should put a few things into perspective:

23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

A Doctor-Professor answers the old question “What is the single best thing we can do for our health” in a completely new way.
Dr. Mike Evans is founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, and a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Conceived, written, and presented by Dr. Mike Evans
Illustrated by Liisa Sorsa
Produced, directed, and filmed by Nick De Pencier
Picture and sound edit by David Schmidt
Gaffer, Martin Wojtunik
Whiteboard construction by James Vanderkleyn
Production assistant, Chris Niesing
©2011 Michael Evans and Mercury Films Inc.

Have a good one kids, and take care out there 😉

Progress Report – Week 7

Fitness: Overall was pretty good, but I came up short on the running part ironically. I missed one run due to weather, and the other I swapped for an hour long skate with my son which was a worthwhile trade. Weight workouts were good, in fact I put in 3 sets of hotel room pushups while away from home on Sunday night.

Extended Fitness Goals: I decided on a local Half Marathon in February, and a local trail race in April for 2012. Considering we haven’t even looked at our vacation schedule for next year, and most races haven’t even opened for sign up yet, I feel this is a good compromise.

Diet: I nailed the diet portion of the challenge this week. The only blips were a few beers while watching the hockey game at home and another one at home on Sunday. The volume was low so that’s a plus.

Life goals: I had a really good 45 minute session of guitar practice mid-week, unfortunately there wasn’t much more than that. I did whip out the electric guitar which really helped keep the playing fun.

Challenge summary coming soon!

Progress Report – Week 6

Progress Report - Week 6

I took the start of the week off to rest/rehab my back and rotator cuff which hurt my numbers this week (no pun intended), but they are acceptable losses all things considered.  I probably could have/should have done more this weekend, but it simply didn’t happen. I did manage to get out rock climbing this week though and the RC/back felt pretty good throughout the night; anytime I felt any pain or awkwardness I stopped what I was doing and took it easy.  Score!

No additional races added to my schedule yet, and I’m finding this goal pretty hard to complete as I’m not really sure what I’m going to want to do at this time next year.  To overcome this obstacle I’m going to have to set 3-4 key races as goals and then signup closer to race day contingent on training time/injury etc.

All areas were up this week, much better with the water intake especially. One thing I should note; the booze goal was simply to curb my alcohol intake not annihilate it. I don’t need to drink like a frat boy and my consumption during this challenge has definitely ebbed, but it’s still something to keep my eye on.

Only one day of playing guitar this week.  One thing I noticed this week though, I’m not having fun with it. I really enjoy playing with friends, and if I don’t practice I won’t be able to do it in the first place but playing on my own is becoming less and less enjoyable.  In the future, I’ll either have to find some mojo or move onto something else. Maybe it’s time to break out my Strat and crank it up?

This is the last week of my 7-week Challenge, and I think I’ve set some good practices in motion.  I’ll probably continue pursuing this after the official 7 Week window is closed, but since you are probably sick of reading about (I’m not sure how you could get sick of it though) I’ll move on to more interesting subject matter…I’m sure it’s out there…somewhere…Anyway, there’s still a lot of work to do, so I’d better get on it.

Have a good one kids!

Progress Report – Week 5


Frustrating week last week!  I was able to put in two decent runs, but while doing some pushups Thursday night I re-injured my rotator cuff.  On top of that, while playing hockey that night I somehow wrenched my lower back (SI joint area) and have been unable to do much exercise since.  It makes it a little difficult to hit weekly work out goals when you can barely bend over.  After a few easy hockey practices with the kids my back loosened up quite a bit, but even now I have stiffness when leaning/bending in certain directions.

I’m going to try an easy run tonight, but I won’t be doing pushups or shoulder related exercises for a while. Weight workouts will be focused on injury prevention, but limited by pain indicators.

As for the longer-term fitness goals, I decided on & signed up for the 2012 running of the Around the Bay 30km.  This will be my 3rd running of the race, and I’m feeling pretty good about it…in fact I’m leaning towards actually racing this one!  I’ve got a decent plan from an online coach, I’ve been maintaining a decent base and the speed work I’ve been doing has shown some really positive paybacks.

More goal race planning to come in another post.


As for diet it pretty much mirrored last week…AGAIN!


Played some, but again, not a lot.


2 weeks left, I really need to pull up my socks, Any suggestions?

Have a good one kids!

Progress Report – Week 4

3 Solid runs last week, still on target.  I gave myself a partial workout on Saturday but in reality all I managed was a set of 10 hammer grip chinups at the park with my kids and a short bike ride.  I could have/should have done a full work out, but failed.  No swimming or climbing this week as I was on solo daddy duty all weekend.

My diet goals were still poor this week. My water consumption was ok, but the other metrics were off again.  My daily diet is pretty good, lots of veggies & good cuts of protein, so overall things aren’t bad but for my goals in this challenge I’ve been off the mark.

Better on the guitar front, but I’m sure I could be more productive.

Week 3 Progress Report

This will be a quick report for two reasons: 1.) My behaviour this week was awful (Bad Dog, BAD!!), 2.) I have a race report coming for Special K’s half marathon debut.

So, without further delay, here’s the craptastic news:

After I pulled up my boots last Tuesday, I did alright hitting my fitness goals.  I was 1 run short on my tally, however I held off on a Saturday’s run to prepare for Sunday’s half marathon.  It was either hit the goal, or prep for the race.  Since I had made the commitment way before this challenge came along I don’t feel too bad about my choice.  I missed a workout Monday night with Halloween and all, so I was a weight session short this week as well.  Another Friday night climbing session with the wife was an awesome addition, but again no swimming this week (another good trade-off).

My diet goals were almost non-existent this week.  My water consumption was ok, but my alcohol consumption was daily so I’m probably on the down side of things here.

I don’t think I played my guitar once this week.  It seemed like every time I planned to do it, something else came up.  Truth be told, I probably didn’t make the effort.

As you can tell I’m working my way out of a small hole right now in “7 Week Challenge” land.  I was concerned this might happen after having such a good week 2 as I tend to compensate good behaviour with self-destruction on a regular basis.  Regardless, this wouldn’t be a challenge if it was easy, so it’s time to buck up chum, cheerio and all that.

Have a good one kids, stay tuned for the Road2Hope half marathon report coming soon!