Friday, 3 June 2016

Ultra Race Nutrition Revisted

With the ultra marathon season upon us I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the idea of ultra race nutrition. Through my own training and racing I tried many approaches to my nutrition and through readings and trial and error I have come to follow the following guidelines. 

At the core of race nutrition is the idea of consuming small amounts of carbs every 15mins and to start each workout or race fully loaded and not getting behind in calories. Also the longer the event the more calories needed. 


In my readings by Trent Stellingwerff and Asker's Jeukendrup, Trent drives home the point of 15grams of carbs every 15mins in 150ml of fluids and Asker has some specific ideas based on distance.

Asker showed some interesting data showing a pronounced trend that faster times were correlated with higher carb intake per hour in ultra events and suggests that ultra-endurance athletes should aim for up to 90 g/hr of carbs, and he showed some data from Ironman triathlete Chrissie Wellington who set a new Ironman world record in 2010 using this approach.

Asker's guidelines with suggestions based on Trent's "Rule of 15"
  • less than 1hr: no carbs needed 
  • 1-2 hr: up to 30 g/hr
    • 10 grams of carbs every 15mins 
  • 2-3 hr: up to 60g/hr
    • 15 grams of carbs every 15mins 
  • 3-20 hrs: up to 90g/hr
    •  20 grams of carbs every 15mins
(Trent's rule of 15 is adjusted slightly when moving to the ultra marathon)

In terms of tolerating high carb intake, it’s definitely an individual thing, but you do get better at tolerating high loads with practice. In his example of triathlete Chrissie Wellington, she was consuming 86 g/hr in 2007 and in 2011 was apparently taking quite a bit more than that, because she’s managed to train her system to tolerate it. 

Another change Wellington made was that she takes just carbs, no protein. In Asker’s opinion he found no benefit from adding protein — so eliminating the protein might make it easier on the gut.

Also he noted that his recent studies have found no difference in absorption rate for bars, gels and  fluids, so you can mix and match to find what your stomach tolerates best. He makes no reference to non sport nutrition products in terms of absorption rate but I would think that certain foods such as cooked sweet potato would also be a good addition to your mix of foods. 

The thing that stands out for me is that when you consume food like soups, potatoes etx in an ultra event be very careful to keep to the rule of 15 in that you do not consume more than 25grams of carbs in 15mins as your body will not be able to tolerate the large increase in calories, i.e. do not come into transition and sit down and consume a pizza, have the pizza cut up into small pieces in a zip lock and consume in small portions as you walk the uphills. 

It takes about an hour for the rate of carb uptake to reach maximum. So if you only start taking carbs after an hour, there will be a delay before those carbs are being fully utilized, so it is best to start right from the start utilizing the rule of 15 deciding how you want to consume the calories utilizing gels, bars, sports drink and in what combination. 

Given all this, the thing that strikes you the most, is how am I going to carry all these calories so that I can consume them in such small amounts throughout the event. This is where a little planning can go a long way and breaking down the legs and deciding how long each leg will take and how many calories  you will need using any number of hydration packs and handhelds.

The take home message in my mind is not so much what you use as fuel but how you consume that fuel and if you can take small sips, small bites and start early you will stay well stocked and energy levels will remain even throughout your event. 

Hope that helps.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Spring Run Technique Refresh

With the snow melting and runners starting to increase their mileage I thought it was a good idea to revisited running technique and check your run specific strength.

Strength Test  
As a runner, overall muscular health is very important, but there are a few areas of specific concern. These include the hip abductors, quads and hamstrings. So it's helpful to be able to get a good snapshot of these areas so you know whether you have adequate strength.

Weakness in any of these areas can lead to injuries and undermine your hard work to improve your running performance. Dr. Adam Reynolds works with many athletes, including runners. He suggests doing a simple strength test for your abductors, quads and hamstrings. This will let you know what you need to work on -- before you get injured.

In this video, Reynolds demonstrates how to do each exercise and how many reps you should be able to do. He also suggests you repeat the test as you train so you can keep tabs on these important areas.


Strength Program
If you have inadequate strength in any or all of these exercises in the video it is a good idea to incorporate them into your weekly strength program with three sets of each exercise for one minute per side, stopping to rest as needed. Once you can complete the three exercises as outlined in the video with good form for the goal repetitions it is a good idea to maintain this strength throughout the year by completing the three exercises once per week as opposed to two times a week when you were building up your strength to the desired level.

Strength Program
  • Hip Abductor exercise - 3 x 1min
  • Quad exercise - 3 x 1min
  • Hamstring exercise - 3 x 1min
Take 30 second rest between sets and 1min rest between exercises and complete two times per week.

Strength Maintenance
  • Hip Abductor exercise - 1 x 1min
  • Quad exercise - 1 x 1min
  • Hamstring exercise - 1 x 1min
Take 30 second rest between sets and 1min rest between exercises and complete one time per week.

Technique Pointers
Running faster, more efficiently, and injury free is what runners strive for, and having good running form is paramount to achieving these goals. 

Foot contact should occur on the outside edge of the foot and depending on speed either at the mid-foot or forefoot. The initial contact on the outside of the foot is generally not felt and instead for practical reasons should be thought of as a simple mid/whole foot landing. By hitting forefoot or mid-foot the braking action is minimized. Additionally, the landing should occur in a neutral position(90 degrees to the ground) at the ankle, as that sets up the calf and Achilles for optimal use of elastic energy. (This also protects the Achilles from being strained) Once landing has occurred, it is important to allow the foot to load up. Loading up the foot means allowing it to move through the cycle of initial contact to fully supporting the body. Since initial contact is on the outside of the foot, the support will move inwardly. With forefoot strikers, the heel has to settle back and touch the ground to allow for proper loading. Holding the heel off the ground and staying on the forefoot will not allow for the stretch-reflex on the Achilles-calf complex to occur. 

After the initial loading phase, propulsion starts to occur and the foot begins to come off the ground. The center of pressure should move towards with the big toe before the foot leaves the ground and once the hip is extended, leave the foot alone whereby insuring that the foot acts as one entire unit, allowing for greater forward propulsion coming from the hip, the foot coming along for the ride.


While foot contact is occurring the extension of the hip is where the power comes from, not from pushing with your toes. The hip should be thought to work in a piston like fashion. This speed and degree of hip extension is what will partially control the speed. A stronger hip extension results in more force application and greater speed. Once the hip is extended, the foot will come off the ground and the recovery cycle will begin.

The lower leg will lift off the ground and fold so that it comes close to your buttocks (how close depends on the speed you are running) then pass under your hips with the knee leading. Once the knee has led through, the lower leg will unfold and it is then the runner’s job to put it down underneath them. Ideal landing is close to the center of your body and directly underneath the knee.

Once the knee has cycled through, the lower leg should drop to the ground so that it hits close to under your center of gravity. When foot contact is made, it should be made where the lower leg is 90 degrees to the ground. This puts the foot in an optimal position for force production. The leg does not extend outwards and there is no reaching for the ground. Reaching out so to paw back with the lower leg results in over striding and creates a braking action and simply engages the hamstrings and other muscles to a greater degree than necessary, thus wasting energy. The leg should simply unfold and drop underneath the runner.

The lower and upper body are linked together as one unit. First, you should run with an upright body posture with a very slight lean forward from having a relaxed flexible ankle, and not from the waist. The arms and legs should work in a coordinated fashion. 

The arm swing occurs from the shoulders, so that the shoulders do not turn or sway. It is a simple pendulum like forward and backward motion without shoulder sway or the crossing of the arms in front of your body. 


Summary of Running Form:
1. Body Position - upright, slight lean from ground
2. Feet - as soon as knee comes through, put the foot down underneath you

  • land mid or forefoot underneath knee, close to center of the body
3. Arm stroke - controls rhythm
  • forward and backwards from the shoulder without side to side rotation
4. Hip extension - extend the hip and then leave it alone
5. Rhythm - Control rhythm and speed through arm stroke and hip extension

Changing mechanics:
Running form should be worked on daily, looking for that sweet spot. Enjoy!


Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Marathon Fueling Strategy

Race Fueling
When planing your nutrition plan for your upcoming half marathon or marathon aim too drink frequently, drinking 150ml of sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes. The sports drinks provides a portion of your required carbohydrates and the electrolytes you need to avoid cramping.

If you are using the aid stations it is a good idea to grab a cup of water as you enter the aid station and a cup of sports drink  as you exit.  Since you’ll undoubtedly spill some just grabbing the cup, you’ll now have a good chance of getting the 150ml you want. Be patient in the aid stations and don’t just gulp the fluid and toss the cup.  Crimp the top of the cup and run with it as you drink. Then, grab the second cup and do the same.


Over and above this, as you will not receive all the carbohydrates you need from sports drink alone, I would suggest carrying a small gel flask with four gels mixed with water and sip on this though the race or better yet take a swig of gel as you approach each aid station, grab a cup of water as you enter the aid station to wash down and then a cup of sports drink  as you exit. This way you receive the fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes you need to fuel your body for the entire event.


I believe by following this strategy you will maintain your blood sugar levels, have energy for your working muscles and help restock your energy stores for afterwards. Compared to drinking just water for the duration of the marathon I feel it also helps in post marathon recovery, so you can be back on the roads training again with minimal loss of fitness.

Simple Race Plan
Take 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sports drink per aid table with ½ gel

Detailed Race Plan
~15g CHO every 15 min
~150 ml of fluids (~8-15% carb solution) (~80 to 120g CHO per liter of fluids)

Pre-Race Fueling
Overall the best strategy is to complete your prerace meal with 300-400 calories of complex carbohydrates and a little protein 3 hours before event to allow time for digestion so that you can push harder and feel great.

But, there is no need to sacrifice critical sleep just to squeeze in a meal if you need a few more hours of rest. If you begin fueling 10-20 minutes after the start of your event, your performance will not suffer.

Being hungry before you exercise won't hurt performance. If you must eat something, about 10 minutes before the start consume 100 calories of a nutrient-dense fuel such as a gel.

The night before an event, eat light and clean with no refined sugar, saturated fats, or alcohol. Eat until you are satisfied and no more.

Post-Race Fueling
For maximum glycogen replenishment, consume 30-60 grams of quality complex carbohydrates and 10-20 grams of protein as soon as possible after your event.

Detailed Information
Detailed information on how to apply Dr Trent Stellingwerff's Rule of 15 to your specific race nutrition needs with 15 grams of carbohydrates every 15 minutes with 150ml of fluids.

Hope this helps and good luck in your upcoming marathon!

Friday, 18 March 2016

2016 Sponsored Athlete Team

Fast Trax 2016 Sponsored Athlete Team





Men' Team
Brian Stewart
Simon Stewart
Gary Poliquin
Matt Bilodeau
Chris Stone
Niall McGrath
Brian Torrance
Greg Meiklejohn
Joe Husing
Robert Renman
Simon Ong
Jay Kinsella
Marc Dowdell

Women's Team
Rachael Francois
Ailsa Macdonald
Shannon Maisano
Chantel Widney
Allisa StLaurent
Rhonda Loo
Jessica Mueller
Petra Graen
Annette Kamenz
Kathy Atwood
 Merissa Feraco-Batiuk
Kathryn Durell

Friday, 5 February 2016

Wax... if the Birkie was tomorrow

Patrick was out skiing at Goldbar last night and would rate the conditions as fair to poor. The plan was for them to groom the trails last night, so the trails may be better today.

Based on what Patrick saw last night, and if the Birkie was tomorrow, here's what we'd be doing for wax:
1. Under Layer (crucial): Something black and hard would be best. Either Ski*Go LF Graphite or Rex RCF Black.

2. Race WaxIt's pretty icy out there and not very granular, at least in Edmonton. If we were to put something on without testing it would be Holmenkol Matrix Black/Red, Holemnkol Speedbase Mid, Start BM4, or Swix HF7BW or Ski*Go HF Violet (even though it's not black).

3. Powder and/or liquid: If we were to do something without testing it would be Vauhti C11 or LDR, Swix FC5, or SkiGo C44.
4. Top Coat: If we were to use a top coat and we do, it would be Vauhti Black liquid all the way. No questions asked.
5. Kick: Kim says that Laura had good success on Blue PowerGrip last night. We could see Blue PowerGrip working, but come race day blue might be a little lean. We would likely lean more towards Purple PowerGrip.
Bjorn says that the appropriate hardwax overtop of blue klister has been working. We could see that as a possibility too.
Lastly, in Goldbar anyway, we would certainly be tempted to try straight klister. A violet/universal mix probably, or the Vauhti K-Violet which is a pre-mix of that right in the tube.
In any event, binder is going to be critical. If we were on straight hard wax it would be K-base. If we were on klister it could likely be something tough... like Rex Blue or similar.
So that's what we know. Bear in mind that this is all a guess based on what Patrick saw at Goldbar last night. But if we were racing and waxing skis tonight without testing, this is how we would do it. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Birkie Wax Discussion Early Edition

Latest update from the Canadian Birkie:
2016 Birkie a GO! All scheduled races will proceed @ the Canadian Birkie Ski Festival on Feb 13, 2016 w/ the exception of the 40km Skate.



Trail Conditions Leading Up to the Birkie:
As of Tuesday, February 2nd the following is a list of local trail conditions to help with your training leading up to the Birkie.

Devon / Devon Family Loppet:
Mike from the Devon Nordic Ski Club had the following to say about their trails, "The snow is an issue, but defiantly skiable". They did renovate Friday evening with no great success but did see some positive results. They are on a golf course and have a flat course and have small patches of grass showing through in a few areas. 

The weather looks steady below zero and they do not get a lot of direct sunlight on the course so they are confident the Devon Loppet is a go. The Loppet is 10km classic so could be a nice double pole tune up for the Birkie.

Vermillion / Becky Scott Loppet:

The Becky Scott loppet has been cancelled this year due to poor snow conditions.

Blackfoot / Birkie:
Long range forecast calls for milder temps. The trails are currently ice, crusty ice, and glazed ice. They have opted to cease any grooming activities until next week, in the hopes that whatever they have left on the trails can be renovated enough to ski on. 

From what Bjorn saw at Waskahegan last week, the snow pack is quite thin but a few passes with a snow cat & tiller can do wonders but with the low snow pack they could bring up a dirt, leaves, & grass. 


At this stage it will be difficult to get a consistent classic track in all sections of the trails.  


We hope to head out there this week and see what’s happening.

Drayton Valley:
Drayton Valley received about 5cm of snow this past Sunday to pad their already very good snow base and good conditions!

SWC:

Bjorn out at SWC spent nine painstakingly slow hours in the Pisten Bully last night and was able to cajole some life out of the icy mess. The result, as Bjorn says, "is not pretty, but skiable for those good on their feet. Skate skiing is good, with packed granular, some icy / bare sections." 

Bjorn managed to renovate enough to set classic tracks on some trails , others have the icy rails from old tracks; the “new” tracks are OK, crushed granular with icy / glazed base. 

Goldbar Park:
Goldbar / Capilanno is skiable but still icy. The snow gun was out, but no production as of yet but they are  hoping it will be up and running today weather permitting.

Victoria Park:

I have not been out but received an email with the following quote in reference to the trail conditions, "pretty dicey"

Birkie Specific Event Information:

Weather:
Looking ahead, afternoon temperatures are mild into mid-next week. No significant snow in the forecast.

Trail conditions:
The trails are currently ice, crusty ice, and glazed ice. They have opted to cease any grooming activities until next week, in the hopes that whatever they have left on the trails can be renovated enough to ski on.


Fast Trax Birkie Wax Clinic:

Fast Trax will be hosting one last Birkie Specific wax clinic leading up to the Birkie this Wednesday at 6:30pm at the shop. Sign up here to book a spot, only a few spots remain.

Fast Trax Birkie Wax Services:

Fast Trax has a Birkie Specific Glide wax service. For $25.00 have your skis glide waxed specific to the Birkie conditions. Drop your skis off the Tuesday February 9th between 10am-6pm and pick up Friday February 12th between 2pm-8pm. Sign up here to book a spot, only 34 spots remain.


Preliminary glide recommendations - classic & skate events:
Base layer - Rex RCF Black, Rex RCF Pink, Ski*Go LF Graphite, Swix LF4, etc. - this is a critical step to ensure durability and speed throughout the course of the entire race. You will want to put down the hardest wax possible for the first layer. Black, graphite based waxes, may be of extra help if there is no additional snowfall.

Race paraffin options - Given the extremely old and transformed nature of the snow, Holmenkol Speedbase Mid will be an amazing choice. This wax has the added benefit of having an extremely high flouro content and a very reasonable price. This will ensure speed not only at the beginning, but over the course of the entire race. Other good options could include Swix HF6BW or HF7BW. Standard, non-black, moderate temperature waxes could also be a good option, especially with a black underlayer.

Preliminary kick wax options - classic events:

Base binder options - If the kick ends up being klister, Vauhti K-base klister, Rode Chola, Swix KX20, Rex Blue and other base klisters will be good choices. If the kick ends up being hard wax, Vauhti Super Base or Vauhti K-base will be the best choices. 

Kick wax options
 - At the moment, it is very much looking like straight hardwax will not be a good option for kick. The trails are extremely abrasive and the snow is old. Hardwax that kicks well at first (if you can find any) is likely to wear off in the first few minutes, even with a base layer. 

Based on the current conditions of the trails and the fact that there is little/no snow in the forecast, it seems highly probable that the 2016 Birkie will be skied on klister or klister covered with hardwax. Straight klister options to consider would be a mixture of universal and violet klister or perhaps straight violet klister, depending on how conditions end up. Covered options could be a blue klister covered with the appropriate hardwax.

PowerGrip may also be an option with excellent kick and durability, although likely slower speed.

Please note that the kick wax options are VERY subject to change as we get closer to the event. 

Equipment recommendations:
Pole straps - Now would be a good time to inspect your pole straps to make sure they aren't any significant frays or tears. There is nothing worse than tearing a strap right at the start or, even worse, half way through the race. 

Bindings - Now would also be a good time to quickly inspect your bindings to ensure that everything appears tight and well in place.

Further updates:
Updates - We will be posting updates with increasing frequency as conditions change and as we approach the day of the race.



Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Winter Run Training

Congratulations on an excellent summer and fall of running, most everyone with considerable improvement. With consistent improvement, anything is possible.

Looking ahead, continued improvement from now through your intended peak competitions in 2016 requires consistent quality training, and taking care of other things in life consistent with quality training. Particularly relevant is what you do, or don’t do, between now and when regular competitions resume next spring.  

Over the winter months avoid the temptation to take break from training and maintain consistent quality training (with occasional competitions) to enable yourself to be running faster May 1, and much faster thereafter, than you are today.

If you have concerns or questions about what you are doing (or should be doing) in your training, now is a great time to address them.  

Key Winter Workouts
Interval Workouts
Over the winter aim to complete two 60 minute interval workouts per week. Workouts with shorter reps, fewer number of reps, and/or greater recovery periods should be run faster than those with longer reps, more reps, and/or less recoveries. 

If during or after a workout, you find that you could have maintained faster paces, do so next reps or workout. If during or after a workout, you find that you could not sustain the original paces, make that adjustment during the workout or in the next workout. 

Over a period of time, you’ll learn by feel the maximum paces that you can run throughout various workouts (and races).


Tempo Workouts
To round out your program so to compliment your formal interval workouts you would focus on four short 20 to 40 minute tempo workouts per week. The most important aspect of these tempo workouts is to understand that they are controlled tempo runs, run on recovery-adaptation days; so the pace and volume must be controlled to allow full recovery-adaptation between formal workouts and prior to competitions. 

Rather than running long and slow on these days, aim to get in some training that contributes to performance with these short crisp tempo runs.


Recovery Workouts
Recovery workouts or Aerobic Endurance Training are done once per week on Sunday and as part of your twelve warm up and cool downs before interval workouts and your six minute warm up and cool downs before tempo runs. These are slow continuous workouts at generally at a heart rate of 110-130 for experienced runners, 120-140 for runners newer to sport over longer distances. 

While not as important to development as Speed, Speed Endurance, Specific Endurance, and Anaerobic Threshold training, properly applied Aerobic Endurance training aids warm-up & recovery and contributes progressively to performances at greater distances/durations.

These recovery workouts on Sundays should stay in the range of 90 to 120 minutes as high volumes of long-slow workouts lowers the natural growth hormones in the body, it detracts from the development of Speed, Speed Endurance, Specific Endurance, and Anaerobic Threshold characteristics, and therefore actually negatively affects development and causes decreases of performances in middle distance and distance events.

Once spring arrives you can start to add event specific endurance work with simulation workouts, replacing one formal interval workout every three weeks on terrain similar to your goal event.