9 Great Ways to Use Hemp Protein Powder

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For over 12 000 years, humans have cultivated Hemp for both food,  fibre and oil.

The seeds of the hemp plant were used by ancient cultures as a source of nutrition and healing, a practice now catching on in the western world following multiple scientific studies confirming hemp’s benefits.

Hemp protein powder is made by grinding hemp seeds, into a fine powder. This makes incorporating hemp into the diet easy and convenient.

What Makes Hemp Protein Powder So Good For You?

Let’s start with its pure nutritional facts. It’s called a protein powder because of the incredibly high protein content found in hemp seeds.

Hemp Protein contains all 20 known Amino Acids, including the 9 Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce. Proteins are considered complete when they contain all 9 Amino Acids in a sufficient quantity and ratio to meet the body’s needs.

Hemp Protein is free of Tryspin inhibitors that block Protein absorption and oligosaccharides which cause stomach upset and gas.

Approximately 65% of the Protein in Hemp Seed is made up of the globulin Protein Edestin which is found only in Hemp Seed. Edestin aids digestion, is relatively phosphorus-free and is considered the backbone of the cell’s DNA. The other third of Hemp Seed Protein is Albumin, another high quality globulin Protein similar to that found in Egg Whites. Moreover, hemp protein contains a litany of vitamins and minerals that promote good health, including:

Chlorophyll, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin B-6, Riboflavin, Folate,  Phosphorous, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, Beta Carotene and more.

If you wish to learn more about the benefits of hemp as a food and food supplement, please read this post.

Now that you know all the good things hemp protein can do for you, let’s talk about nine great ways to use hemp protein powder.

How to use Hemp Protein Powder – click on the links to take you to some recipes that include Hemp Protein Powder

Smoothies and Shakes

Incorporating hemp protein powder into your favourite blended drink is a straightforward and portable option for any time of the day.

Cereal

While cereal can make a quick and easy meal at any hour, there’s no doubt that it provides a much-needed boost at breakfast time.

Hemp protein powder can be mixed into any traditional cereal to provide extra protein for your busy day, but here is a home-made cereal that packs a real nutritional punch.

Protein Bars

Protein bars are another convenient way to get nutrition on the go. Unfortunately, too many processed protein bars you find in the stores have ingredient lists more like candy. The good news is that making your own healthy energy bars is straightforward and doesn’t even require baking.

Oatmeal/Porridge

Few things can hit the spot like a bowl of warm oatmeal porridge on a cold morning. The heat and the health benefits both flow throughout the body, providing comfort and nutrition. By adding hemp protein powder, this wholesome traditional meal offers even more goodness.

Muffins

Perfect for breakfast, brunch, dessert, or even parties, muffins are some of the most versatile baked goods you can make. This recipe provides a tasty way to get some extra protein, fiber, vegetables, and fruit.

Ice Cream

Sometimes you just crave a sweet treat, and ice cream is as smooth and tempting as it gets. By adding some healthy ingredients, you can dive right in without any guilt. The best part? You don’t even need a fancy ice cream machine.

Brownies

Ice cream isn’t the only sweet treat that can be transformed with hemp protein powder. Hemp protein can replace flour in baked goods since flour is just ground grain protein. Unlike regular baking flour, hemp protein retains its other nutrients.

Pancakes

Pancakes have made a huge comeback in recent years. Once quaint breakfast relics of small town diners, or cursed frozen toaster blocks, pancakes and flapjacks have grown up and become a welcome addition to any meal. And now, they can even be healthy.

Cooking With Hemp Protein Powder

If you’ve never used hemp protein powder before, one of the first things you’ll notice is that it tends to give foods and drinks a slight green colour. This is due to the rich amount of chlorophyll present. This green tinge is completely natural, so don’t let it scare you off.

Hemp protein powder has an earthy and nutty flavour .

Like anything, some people like it more than others. If you don’t particularly care for its taste, there are a couple of ways you can still take advantage of it.

The first is to use it in recipes alongside ingredients with intense flavours, like those above that use chocolate, dates, and bananas.

All the recipes provide using unflavoured, original flavour Hemp Protein Powder.

Summary

As you can see, hemp protein powder is a remarkably versatile ingredient. It can be added to raw foods and beverages or used in cooking or baking. It’s an all-day companion that goes as well with breakfast as with dessert and is ideal for portable energy snacks or smoothies.

Hemp protein powder can be a valuable ally for your health, for basically every part of your body from your skin to your inner organs, your digestive system to your brain.

We hope you enjoyed these recipes and that they got your imagination fired up thinking of other tasty things you can make with hemp protein powder.

 

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Getting back to Gym after the Festive Season

By Tom Holland

SetGoals

After the indulgences of the holidays, come the New Year Resolutions to get fit, lose weight, go to gym more, be more active …. Yet, then one is faced with actually doing all those things – and the major portion of that resolution means you have to actually go to gym.

This however, can be a daunting exercise (no pun intended) if you’ve let yourself go a bit .. or if it has been a while since you’ve actually set foot in this establishment.

Well, we understand and hope to provide you with a bit of comfort and motivation to make that leap.

Here are four tips to help boost your confidence and help you get a toe in there :

 

WEAR CLOTHES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GREAT

Ever notice how many people at the gym wear the same outfit over and over again? That could be because they really like the way it makes them look. Go shopping and invest in a few outfits that you absolutely love and that you think you look great in, clothes that accentuate what you feel good about. This can help your confidence exponentially.

And, if you want to wear that baggy T-Shirt and Track pants, till you feel better about your body, then wear them! |If you want to, make that “outfit” a goal.

 

ASK FOR HELP

Another reason you may feel self-conscious at the gym is that you’re not sure how to do certain exercises or use certain pieces of equipment. You really want to do that ab exercise with the medicine ball, try that leg press machine, or run on that new treadmill, but you don’t want to embarrass yourself by doing anything incorrectly and drawing attention to yourself. So you might end up not doing any of them at all.

Realize that everyone was a beginner at one point and that they all had someone teach them what to do. So ask for help, whether it’s working out with a fit friend you trust or paying for a session or two with a personal trainer or making an appointment to just walk through with one of the gym staff so they can point out equipment and explain how they work.

You’ll be amazed how great you will feel by overcoming your fears and finally doing what you thought you couldn’t. You can also start seeing results from challenging your body in a whole new way.

 

REALIZE EVERYONE IS SELF-CONSCIOUS

I have worked with celebrities, professional athletes, politicians, models and top CEOs and can tell you one absolute, unequivocal truth – everyone is self-conscious. Everyone! No matter how perfect or confident they may seem to be, even the seemingly fit and beautiful have what they perceive to be their flaws. So if you think you’re the only one who doesn’t feel 100% confident at the gym, think again. You’re in very good company.

 

DO IT FOR YOU

Finally and most importantly, go to the gym for you. Make it your time to focus on yourself. Go to feel good in the moment, or maybe to help release some stress. Go to feel better about yourself in the future, making positive changes for you. Look inward by putting on your virtual blinders and blocking out everything around you that doesn’t enhance your experience. The more you focus on you and the less attention you pay to what’s going on around you, the more comfortable you will be.

The gym can and should be a positive place, somewhere you look forward to going. Take control of the experience by implementing these tips and you can make it a fun, enjoyable, life-long habit.

 

*Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, CISSN is an internationally-recognized exercise physiologist, certified sports nutritionist and freelance writer.

Your 14-Step Guide to Weight Loss During Training

 

By Lynda Wallenfels

losing-weight-in-base-season

Your fastest self on the racecourse is light and lean. Combining “light and lean” with “strong and healthy” is the Holy Grail of optimal performance, and together work to create those peak moments you train so hard for. While under-fueling is the fastest route to over-training, over-fueling will not make you into a lean performance machine. The perfect balance takes action and attention to detail.

It’s All About the Food

For endurance athletes to lose weight, nutrition plays much more of a vital role than exercise. Athletes should be focusing their exercise habits on performance development first and foremost. Training solely to burn extra calories leads to either eating more calories or over-training by under-fueling, neither of which results in fat loss. It’s all about the food.

Fat loss takes time. Water loss can happen overnight. Your goal should be fat loss, which means patience is required. Avoid being too aggressive with your calorie deficit goals. Aim for a 300- to 500-calorie deficit per day for healthy long-term fat loss that is sustainable while base training and building fitness. Starving yourself with too few calories will make your caveman brain switch on starvation mode. This shuts down fitness development and locks down fat stores. Extreme under-fueling will sabotage your training and lead to a litany of other problems such as hormone imbalance, bone loss and immune system depression. To achieve your optimal race weight, you must stay healthy.

When Should You Ramp Up the Weight Loss?

You have more flexibility with nutrition during lower intensity off-season and base training periods. Once you have moved into your higher intensity build, peak and race periods, your fueling and recovery demands are too high to maintain a calorie deficit while building fitness. Don’t wait until eight weeks before your peak race or assume the weight will just come off while training. That only happens to a lucky few with the right genetics. The rest of us need to take action by following a detailed plan to achieve our optimal race weight.

How-to Steps For Practical Weight Loss

Follow this list of actions one by one until you reach the point where you are losing 0.25 – 1.0 pounds per week of body weight. If you are within three to five percent of your race weight it is likely you only need to follow steps 1-3.

  1. Get started now by eliminating all soda, including diet soda.
  2. Next eliminate alcohol, candy, cakes, chips, sweets and all junk food. For many athletes this step is enough to create their gradual weight loss mode.
  3. Maintain a 300- to 500-calorie deficit per day.
  4. Fuel for your training sessions before, during and after. These are not times to skimp on nutrition.
  5. Reduce your carbohydrate intake on rest and recovery days. These are the times when training glycogen depleted has little impact on your fitness progress. Eat a light, low-carbohydrate, high-protein dinner the evening before a rest day.
  6. Athletes who are already eating a whole food, nutrient dense diet need to start their weight loss journey with portion control. Even the best foods can be overeaten.
  7. Sleep eight hours per night. Sleep deprivation inhibits fat loss.
  8. Protein intake should be maintained at normal levels despite a lower overall daily calorie intake. This means increasing the proportion of protein in your daily diet up to 25 to 30 percent of daily calorie intake. Focus on lean protein sources such as meat, fish, seafood and eggs. Dairy is a controversial component of a weight loss plan. Some athletes benefit from dairy and others do not digest it well. Use your own experience to decide if dairy is a healthy part of your diet. Maintaining protein intake will maintain your lean body mass and focus weight loss on fat loss.
  9. Load up on vegetables by filling half of your plate with veggies at most meals. Fruits are a healthy component of any weight loss plan, but should be eaten in moderation.
  10. Utilize nutrient-timing techniques. Instead of a recovery drink after training, time your training session to end at meal time and eat one of your daily meals for recovery. This can eliminate 250 to 400 calories from your daily intake without any drawbacks.
  11. Limit grazing and focus on meals. Avoid snacking while watching TV, working or surfing the internet.
  12. Fast overnight. No food after 8 p.m.
  13. Don’t cheat. Cheat days and cheat meals will knock you off your weight loss trajectory.
  14. Identify times you pack in unneeded calories as a habit and create a strategy to change it. For example, almond butter is my weakness. I really like watching TV with a jar of almond butter in one hand and a fork in the other. This quickly leads to 500 calories down the hatch. Willpower or putting a sticky note on the lid telling myself not to binge is ineffective. Not having it in my pantry in the first place is my best strategy. Be your own support system and set yourself up to avoid your own pitfalls.

If You Measure It, You Can Change It

Use a food diary app (or good old-fashioned pen and paper) to measure your calorie intake for three days. Learn the nutrient profile of foods you are eating to make accurate dietary decisions.

Track your body weight or body fat percentage in TrainingPeaks and graph it out over time using their dashboard tool. Seeing your milestones and goals achieved on a chart is motivating.

dashboard-weight-loss

Additional Tricks and Tips to Stay on Target

Join a challenge for social support and motivation. Groups often get together for a nutrition or weight loss challenge such as The Whole-30. Sharing goals, recipes and excitement with friends can make staying on plan fun.

Read up while losing weight to keep your mind focused and brain waves full of information leading you down the right path to your goal.

Set realistic goals and provide rewards for yourself. These can be tangible, such as a blingy bike part or intangible, such as dropping your threshold mile pace by 10 seconds.

Throw out all junk food from your fridge and pantry. If you don’t have easy access to your trigger foods, they don’t go in your mouth.

Use smaller plates to help with portion control.

Add a glycogen-depleted training session. Once or twice per week do a steady 30 to 60-min aerobic training session in heart rate zone 2 or power level 2 in a fasted state first thing in the morning. Refuel with breakfast immediately after. Training in a glycogen depleted state will enhance fat burning and boost your fat loss.

There is no doubt getting down to race weight is challenging and requires sacrifice. Embrace the hard work and earn your rewards. It will put you in the position to have the best races of your life.

Lynda has been coaching off-road athletes for 16 years and racing professionally for 18 years.

5 Incorrect Assumptions People Make About Training for an Ironman

By Steven Moody

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As a qualified coach (and spending half of my time either in Lycra or Ironman-branded gear) it invariably comes up in conversations with “normal” people about the absurdity to the type of training and races I do.

One of the more consistent responses in these conversations is somebody explaining to me how much they would love to (but could never!) do an Ironman race.

I used to just nod in agreement, but as I built my coaching expertise, I found myself challenging people’s standard assumptions people made about why they personally couldn’t achieve what I’ve helped others achieve for years.

In my experience, their reasons for not being able to take on an Ironman normally fall into one of these five categories:

Reason 1: “I am too old/big/slow/tall/short to do an Ironman.”

Have you ever watched an Ironman in person? And by in person, I specifically mean not watching on TV where the cameras zone in on the chiselled pros battling it out at the pointy end of the race. Because if you have you will have witnessed athletes of all ages, shapes and sizes racing on the exact same course as the professionals.

Ironman is a very personal journey, and people will have different race strategies and goals on the day. These can range from just finishing to qualifying for the world championship—my point is there are no physical barriers to doing an Ironman, if you are willing to really chase that goal.

I always push the fact that people should see a race in person; at a minimum you will be uplifted by the strength of human spirit and more than likely be inspired to take on a challenge of your own.

Reason 2: “Oh I would never have the time for Ironman training.”

Typically when people say this to me, I conversationally ask them what TV programs they watch or how much time they spend on social media. When we go through the list—it can add up to around 10 hours a week! That huge chunk of wasted time is where I tell them I “find” the time for myself and my athletes. It was actually there all along.

So essentially it is a question of priorities—we can find time if we want to—it is up to you if you choose it to be on the couch watching Game of Thrones or out on in the fresh air preparing yourself for an epic challenge.

(it’s worth noting I am a massive Game of Thrones fan—but I tend to watch it on my turbo!)

Reason 3: “I would not know where to start.”

When I hear this, I ask what the person does for a living. The breadth of answers always fascinates me. Firemen, teachers, bankers etc. Digging a little deeper, I ask if they have ever faced a scenario at work where they needed to reach out to experts, and without fail, the response is always yes.

I ask them why is this different to approaching an Ironman challenge. I tell them that they should look for someone who has completed an Ironman and ask them how they went about it and start their research there.

Better still, if they seem really serious, they should seek out a plan or a qualified coach to help guide them on their journey.

WARNING: Asking a recent first time finisher can turn into quite the monologue as they eagerly share every detail of their journey including weight loss stats, epic cycles and inevitably the feeling of accomplishment as they turned onto the finishing chute.

Reason 4: “I would love to if only I could swim!”

When was the last time you were in a pool? When I ask people that, their minds typically drift back to the last holiday where they splashed around in the sunshine. So having established that they can actually swim, I ask whether they have ever had their stroke analysed or taken swim lessons.

For novice swimmers, simply fixing a few key elements from stroke analysis and/or lessons can make huge leaps forward in their swimming ability.

As a coach swimming is one of my favourite disciplines to teach/monitor as there are always lots of low hanging fruit that will help the athletes’ confidence and ability soar to the point that they are chomping at the bit to tackle that 3.8km swim!

Reason 5: “I have never even run a marathon.”

When people ask this I usually respond by asking them if they’ve ever swam 3.8km or ridden 180km. Typically, their answer is “never.”

People fixate too much on the marathon element of the Ironman, I believe this is mainly as it a more tangible event that they can get their head around!

However, in the Ironman world, as I tell my first timers, it is just a long run at the end of a long day.

It is not necessary to have completed a marathon before an Ironman. It can help —but not as much as people think.

Even in my training plans, I typically do not let my athletes exceed 26km in the longest runs they will do. The body can only take so much mileage. It is all about training smart and building slowly.

If you train and prepare properly, you will be amazed at what your body can do on the day boosted by adrenaline and thousands of cheering spectators!

No more excuses!

In conclusion, unless someone explicitly says they have either no interest in taking on such a challenge that is a half or full Ironman, I can easily dismantle the barriers they are putting in front of themselves.

So if you have ever watched an Ironman race or jealously viewed a club mates finisher medal, I would urge you to challenge your own limitations.

Steven is Ironman University and Triathlon Ireland certified and specializes in helping time crunched athletes realize their goals.

3 Things Triathletes Need to Do in their Off-Season – To Get Better Results Next Year

by Ben Griffin

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At the end of any key race many triathletes are lost as to what they should be doing regarding their own training. Whilst the months prior have been filled with many long, hard swim, bike and run sessions, there is now a gaping void to fill and often it is hard to know what to do with all those extra hours.

I find most athletes are aware that the body needs a break at this stage, but I find many athletes are not sure exactly how they should best utilize this down time.

If you are someone who isn’t necessarily concerned with performance, then the off-season should be used to enjoy yourself and take a break from training and racing. It is great to start socializing with friends who you most likely haven’t been able to catch up with as regularly as you’d like. It is also a great opportunity to undertake any different challenges or off-season sports that you haven’t had as much time for.

However, if you are committed to improvement and want to maximize your training during the off-season so that you are ready for some PB’s next season, then you need a specific and targeted approach to your own training.

Here are the three most important things you should focus on in order to head into next season with that extra performance edge:

Get strong

Whilst strength training is slowly gaining traction with endurance athletes it still seems many athletes are reluctant to incorporate this type of training into their own regimen at the expense of another swim, bike or run session.

A strength training program for an endurance athlete is very different to typical strength routines that power athletes most associate with strength programs. Therefore, make sure your strength program is reflective of your own individual needs.

One thing I regularly say to athletes is that you rarely slowdown in an Ironman because you are out of breath, you usually slow down because your musculo-skeletal system starts to fatigue and break down, so getting in the gym will help resolve this and build your durability.

2. Work on your weaknesses

I regularly hear athletes say they are determined to work on their “weakness” during the off-season, which I agree with. However, when the grind of doing something that is harder and typically less enjoyable than other disciplines hits home many athletes find it hard to stick it out and instead revert to doing the things they enjoy more and are better at.

There is nothing wrong with doing this however, if you look at your opportunity for improvement, you will usually find the biggest scope for improvement comes in your weakest and least enjoyable discipline, so stick it out and be patient. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Patience and consistency will be rewarded! Don’t be worried if your stronger disciplines suffer a little bit, sometimes you must go backward to go forward again. Your strength will usually always be your strength, so relax and know that the form will come back when you reintroduce that discipline back into your training.

3. Critically analyze your previous race season

This is one of my biggest issues; when I see athletes fail to understand why a race didn’t go as intended. While it also very important to analyze your good race days, I find bad race days (while super frustrating) usually provide the biggest opportunity for education.

Probably the biggest and most frustrating issues I see are when athletes blame nutrition for a poor run performance, when really it was because a lack of run conditioning. Or when an athlete falls away during the back end of an Iroman ride, which they will put down to a tight back or some other pathology, but really it was because they did most of their riding in a group and didn’t spend the necessary time in the TT position honing their skills.

Be sure to be honest with yourself about your performance, because sometimes nutrition and/or a tight back are legitimate reasons why your race didn’t go to plan. This usually means checking your ego at the door before you analyze the performance.

For most of us athletes the sport is not our livelihood, therefore it is also important to reinvest your time and energy back into work, family and friends, all of which have usually had to make some sacrifices over the final few months to support your training and racing. Remember to make these people the priority again before you focus on improving your own performance next year.

 

About Ben Griffin – Ben is an exercise physiologist and coach with Craig Alexander’s Sansego Coaching Team. He is a 14-time IRONMAN finisher (PB of 9:15) and enjoys helping both age-group and professional athletes reach their goals.

The Best Recovery Practices for Endurance Athletes

Best Recovery Practices

You know that sensation, when you have bottomless power, breathing is deep, and pushing hard feels so good? When you are strong, motivated, and invincible. These are the days when you slay your training and smash your race goals.

The secret to these training days and hitting race day in peak form is nailing your recovery.  Two recovery practices are foundational and must-not be missed:

 

Nutrition

Sleep

While there are many more accessory recovery techniques that can be used to complement nutrition and sleep, if you are not getting in the right nutrition and enough sleep, the accessory recovery techniques will have minimal advantage. You should focus your efforts on getting those two recovery habits perfected to get the most bang for your buck.

 

Post-Exercise Recovery Nutrition

For weekend warrior athletes training two to three times per week, following a normal daily nutrition plan with no special additions is sufficient for optimal recovery before the next training session.

For athletes training once per day or more often, refuelling for the next workout as quickly as possible is crucial. Refuelling accurately and consistently after workouts will restore muscle and liver glycogen stores, replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, promote muscle repair and bolster the immune system.

Athletes who optimize post-exercise nutrition will perform better in their next training session and accumulate more high quality sessions than athletes skipping post-exercise recovery fuelling.

There are two post-exercise recovery fuelling windows. The first is within 30 minutes of a hard or long training session. The second is in the two to three hours post-exercise.

Short easy training sessions do not require special recovery nutrition. Athletes are best sticking to their daily nutrition plan with a normal whole foods meal after easy training sessions.

 

30 Minute Post-Exercise

Fluid, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein are the foundation of proper recovery nutrition. Immediately on finishing a workout, start replacing fluid and electrolyte losses with a sodium containing drink or water plus sodium containing food.

Estimate fluid losses by weighing yourself before and after training and drinking 500 to 700 ml of fluid for every ½ Kg lost.

To restore muscle glycogen and promote protein synthesis, consume 0.8g per kg of body weight of carbohydrate and 0.2g per kg of body weight of protein within 30 minutes of finishing exercise. For a 70kg athlete this would be 56g of carbohydrate and 14g of protein.

Fluid, electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein can be replaced with a commercial recovery drink, a homemade smoothie or with real food plus water.

Additionally, antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin A, probiotics, medium chain triglycerides and L-Glutamine can shorten recovery duration and are good additions to a recovery drink or snack.

 

Two To Three Hours Post-Exercise

Continue your recovery nutrition two to three hours post-exercise by eating a whole foods meal. It is okay to eat earlier than this if you are hungry but do not delay this post-exercise meal more than three hours.

This meal should contain a combination of carbohydrate, about 20g of protein and some fat. Dividing daily protein intake into four or more 20g meals has been shown to have a greater stimulus on protein synthesis than two big meals with 40g protein per meal or 8 smaller meals with 10g per meal.

A 20g helping of protein is the sweet spot to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

After a training session on a hot day, immediately cool your body down if your core temperature feels hot by drinking cool fluids, sitting in cool water or air conditioning and pouring iced water over your head. Cooling off will halt continued dehydration and increase your appetite.

 

The Benefits of Good Sleep

Studies have shown increasing duration asleep leads to increased performance and mental well-being in athletes. We also know chronic sleep debt impairs performance and reduces motivation to excel.

Foundation sleep recommendations for adult athletes are 8 to 10 hours per night plus a 30 minute nap between 2 to 4 PM. I know that is a tough call for most athletes to achieve along with all the other responsibilities of life.

Junior athletes need even more sleep with 9 hours per night plus a 30 minute nap in the afternoon.

 

Increasing Your Sleep Quality and Duration

Along with sleep duration, sleep quality and sleep phase also affect the regenerative qualities of sleep. Sleep quality can be improved by reducing disturbances by wearing earplugs and sleeping in a cool, dark room.

Following a pre-sleep routine of relaxing activities, avoiding light exposure from screens in the hour before bed, avoiding stimulants such as caffeine after noon and alcohol in the evening may increase your sleep quality and duration.

Restless leg syndrome can occur in athletes with low serum iron levels and disrupt normal sleep patterns.

Exercising late in the day can make sleep elusive for some athletes. Summertime evening group training or local races make sleep especially hard to come by. Following up an intense evening session with inadequate sleep is a poor combination. Athletes losing sleep after these evening sessions are advised to switch their intense training sessions to the morning and put their evening hours towards lower intensity activities such as yoga, stretching, and massage.

 

Measuring Your Sleep

If you can measure it, you can improve it!

Use a sleep tracking app to measure your sleep duration and quality then identify factors that improve it. I was able to identify that red wine helps me fall asleep more quickly but it reduces my sleep quality and duration. I confirmed much to my dismay that avoiding screens e.g. laptops, TV, phones etc. in the hour before bed dramatically improves both my sleep quality and duration.

It is easier to sleep in the spring, fall and winter than mid-summer due to long days. Cover your bedroom windows with foil or install light blocking curtains to darken your bedroom and help extend your sleep time.

 

Accessory Recovery Techniques

After you have taken care of the big two, nutrition and sleep, there are many accessory recovery techniques to add to your routine; stress reduction, massage, compression, active recovery, stretching, foam rolling, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, rolfing, cupping, cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, sauna, dry needling, supplements such as tart cherry juice, and more.

Stress reduction is one of the more important accessory recovery techniques. Trying to add too many accessory recovery techniques on top of an already busy schedule may add stress and be counterproductive. Pick a few accessory recovery techniques you enjoy and have easy access to, rather than trying to fit every single one of them into your schedule. For example, dipping your nightly sleep time below 8 hours to log 30 minutes in the sauna is not a good trade off.

 

Take Rest and Recovery Seriously

We are all busy. A common mistake many athletes make is to use their rest days to run endless errands and their recovery weeks to tackle bigger projects. One of my athletes built a deck behind his house in a recovery week! He ended the week sore and exhausted and we had to follow that week up with another recovery week in order for any quality training to get done.

On your rest days and recovery weeks, plan massages and lots of downtime, put your feet up and really unload fatigue. Recover as hard as you train.

 

Example of a Post-exercise Recovery Routine

  • Finish race or hard training bout and grab a recovery drink to sip during your cool down
  • Take a 10 minute ice-bath or cold river soak
  • Clean up and shower
  • 10 minute stretch
  • 20 minute compression legs such as Elevated Legs
  • 30 minute nap
  • Meal with 20g protein and a combination of carbohydrate and fat
  • Go to bed with enough time to get 8 hours of sleep

 

Eat well, sleep well and recover fast because your competitors probably are doing it!

 

References :

 Nutrition to Support Recovery from Endurance Exercise: Optimal Carbohydrate and Protein Replacement. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26166054

Post-exercise carbohydrate-protein supplementation improves subsequent exercise performance and intracellular signalling for protein synthesis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21522069

Nutritional strategies to promote post-exercise recovery http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21116024

Sleep as a recovery tool for athletes  http://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2014/11/17/6066/

Sleep, recovery and human performance http://canadiansportforlife.ca/sites/default/files/resources/Sleep_Recovery_Jan2013_EN_web.pdf

The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3119836/

Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19883392

 

How to Make the Jump from Marathons to Ultras

Marathons to UltrasAndrew Simmons – Lifelong Endurance

With more and more people signing up for ultra-marathons—are you starting to get the itch too? These guidelines will show you how to make the jump from marathons to ultras and give you some key tips for having the best race possible.

It All Starts With a Plan

Longer distances will require more time in many aspects. Make sure you have the time to commit to training. Starting with a good training plan or a coach and an idea of how many hours you can train each week is key. Take some time to find the right plan and the right coach to suit your needs and your training availability.

Know Your Time Frame

If you’re currently in good shape you can prepare for a 50Km in roughly 12 weeks. However, if you’re starting from scratch give yourself plenty of time, up to 24 weeks to prepare for your event. Add an additional eight to 10 weeks of training for events that are between 50Km and 100 miles in length.

5 Tips for Your Best Race

Run Where You Race – Or As Close As You Can

It can be hard to find trail access in urban areas, however it’s a pretty safe bet most ultras will take you off road and onto a trail. For some, finding a trail or technical section can require some creativity, but it is worth the extra effort and possible drive time.

Getting onto a trail and off the roads can beneficial in multiple ways; it helps break up training by taking you out of your comfort zone, gets you into new training situations and will require you to think on your feet. Thinking on your feet and even getting a little lost is a crucial part of long-distance run training and developing a strong sense of direction and the ability to cope in the event of a mistake is a necessary skill.

Take to trails in small doses if you’re not a regular trail runner. If you’re totally lost, remember that trail running offers the bonus of less impact on you and your body. Less impact and more time on feet will help increase your durability both mentally and physically. It won’t always be easy!

Throw Away Your Ego

The first thing you’ll notice is that kilometre splits and hitting very specific times go out of the window at first. If you think you’re going to run a consistent pace front to back in an ultra, you will come to a harsh realization at your first hill or technical section.

Ultra-marathons require a “manage it as it happens” approach. While a road marathon requires supreme fitness, an ultra requires similar fitness with the added challenge of solving problems as you run. Running down a steep technical hill with rocks and roots and then quickly back up a wet culvert requires good fitness and the ability to control yourself so you can get to the finish line in one piece.

Time on Your Feet Is King

This doesn’t mean you can’t use fitness markers to your advantage in a race. A majority of ultra-marathon plans are based on heart rate (HR) and require you to find a comfortable zone that you can run in and then endure for four to seven hours to complete the course.

Keeping yourself in an aerobic zone allows you to utilize onboard energy more efficiently and will keep you feeling fresh longer. Tip over your HR threshold a few too many times and you may find your race a lot tougher during those last 10 miles.

Mileage is not always the best marker when going off road; time on your feet matters more than the weekly mileage totals. You’ll find that if a majority of your work is truly aerobic, you’ll be running slower than you may have been in previous training build ups. This will require you to reframe what’s important in your ultra training. Looking at your total weekly hours and building up to more consecutive hours will be key to building yourself into an ultra-marathon runner.

Pressure Test The System

Ultra-marathon training on the surface simply requires you to run longer, pushing you out of your comfort zone mentally and physically. One of the biggest roadblocks for a successful first ultra is not having tested yourself at your race effort. You may find that you need to adjust for electrolytes after two to three hours, that you do better with solid food the first half of a race, or that you need to change shoes because your feet swell in warm temperatures. These small nuances can have a huge impact on your race—especially once you start looking at 50km and above races

Hydration and fuelling strategies should be tested on your long runs and you should start to note what it feels like when you’re dehydrated or low on fuel. Your long runs are your chance to try out new fuels. Learning how to work through a bad stretch in a long run is a vital learning experience in many ways!

A key component to your success is getting in the training but also replicating what you’re going to expect to see on race day; think about the terrain, major elements like long hills, extended descents or race day conditions like extreme heat or cold.

You’re Stronger and More Capable than You Think

It’s hard to imagine what running 50kms or more will feel like and I can’t even tell you what you will personally experience. To some that extra five miles is an eternity and to others it’s a natural and more comfortable progression.  Pacing yourself and taking the race aid station to aid station is going to help you break the race into manageable chunks. Give yourself a boost at each aid station as a reward, or imbibe in an aid station treat (believe me they have some amazing things at these trail races!).

An ultra requires mental persistence, self-affirmation and a belief that you can complete it. Many professionals utilize mantras to keep them focused and “in the zone.” Others like to use music, podcasts or other tactics to push the little monster out from inside their head. Using a motivational tool or pacer can be a huge help  toward ensuring your success on race day.

Recovery

First and foremost, ultras are longer than you’ve ever gone before. In both training and racing, you’ll be pushing your body into new territories.  This can come with its own aches and pains; post-race you’ll want to give yourself an extra seven to 10 days of low mileage on top of your normal marathon recovery protocol.

Following your first ultra you should allow yourself five days of low impact activity directly following and roughly 10 to 14 days before you return to your normal training or start to focus on your next event. Remember, the first one always takes the longest to recover from! In rare cases there can be minimal soreness; don’t let this fool you. Long distance racing takes a larger and more impactful metabolic, mental and physiological toll that can put you down for longer than you think.

Take this time to enjoy activities you missed out on during peak training and maybe sleep in a little and slowly introduce yourself back to training. After all, recovery is the second best part after the race itself!