Day 3 of 28: Streaking

It’s official.  I’ve worked out 3 days in a row, so I’ve got a workout streak going.

I was a little short on cardio today.  I had planned to do 25 min of biking, but was short on energy today, so I ended up doing about 15 min of legs (a variety of squats, lunges, and step-ups) and 7 min of cardio (jumping jacks and stepping), plus I walked to and from my parking spot to school for another 10 minutes and was up and down stairs a LOT today at school.

As for my hydration status, I met and actually EXCEEDED my goal of consuming the standard (though not scientifically valid) 8 cups of water today.  Did I feel better?  Not really, but I can chalk that up to going to bed too late last night, possibly coming down with a cold (have had a bit of a sore throat the past couple of days), and hormones (trying not too overshare here).

Speaking of going to bed too late last night, it’s definitely past my bed time.  Nighty night!

Any tried-and-true methods you use to head off a cold?


How to Catch a Fall Cold

This week was super-busy and super-stressful, and – surprise, surprise – I ended up coming down with a nasty cold.  Here’s a look at what I did to “make” myself sick, i.e., what you should avoid doing so that you stay healthy:

1.  Due to exams and a heavy workload at school, I got very little sleep for 3 nights in a row.  I averaged about 5 hours a sleep per night, which is definitely not optimal.  Click here for what WebMD has to say about how a lack of sleep may lead to catching more colds and flus.

2. I was very poorly hydrated this week.  Due to my class schedule and clinic time, I often don’t have handy access to water or simply get too busy and forget to drink.  I’m relying on my basic knowledge of physiology here, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that dehydration causes your mucous membranes to sort of “break up” a little, allowing more pathogens like cold viruses to enter your body.  Hence, increased exposure to disease.

3. I exposed myself – to viruses and bacteria.  (No, I wasn’t running around in a trench coat flashing people.)  Not only do I have kids who come in contact with lots of viruses at school, but my daughter was actually sick with a cold last week, so, duh, I was exposed.  In addition, as a dental student who comes in contact with surfaces touched by probably more than a hundred people in a day, despite frequent hand washing and practicing infection control with patients, I likely was exposed in day-to-day contact.  Plus, there are quite a few of my fellow students who have been sick lately, so no wonder I ended up with a cold!

4. I went to spin class Monday morning and worked really hard.  Now, while exercise is generally good for the immune system, it seems to me that I’ve read a few times that high-intensity exercise – like my spin class – can suppress your immune system for a short time.  That shouldn’t generally be a problem, but considering my lack of sleep, dehydration, etc., it probably didn’t help.

5. I was really stressed out this week, with several exams, labwork, and homework to deal with.  As you have likely heard, stress can also suppress your immune system response, which would have left me open to attack from the virus I’m dealing with right now.

Unfortunately, I had to write an exam today at 8:30am, so I went to school and did that, but then I came home and rested for the rest of the day.  I sure didn’t want to pass this on to the patient I was scheduled to see this morning and I was just feeling BAD, but like so many people, I find it hard to take the day off when I’m feeling sick because I don’t want to be perceived as a slacker. Still, I know that staying home was the right thing to do.  I’m hoping I feel well enough to go to school tomorrow, as I have two patients to see and would hate to cancel with short notice, but I guess I’ll wait and see.

So, here’s hoping you keep yourself healthy this fall!  Be sure NOT to follow my example.  Get lots of rest, stay hydrated, take it easy with your workouts if you need to, try not to be around sick people, wash your hands lots, and try to manage your stress!

Bike Ride Musings, and Tomorrow’s Long Run

I went for a 45 minute bike ride this morning – fairly easy pace with a few 5 minute intervals mixed in.  It was really smoky here, which was strange.  Apparently the smoke is from forest fires in British Columbia, which is a whole 2 provinces away!  My throat was a little bit raw afterward, but my asthma didn’t act up, so I was happy.

I often head down to the river to bike, but today I headed out on the highway near our house.  It happens to be the highway that leads to my hometown, which is about 175 km away.  As I pedalled up a hill, it suddenly occurred to me that the bike leg of an Ironman is 180 km long – about the distance from where I live to my hometown.  Hmm, that put my 45 minute bike ride into perspective!

Tomorrow morning I’ll be doing a 15k run.  Looking forward to the shorter distance (yeah, I know that it’s still a pretty long run).  I’m also trying Hammer Gel instead of the Gu I’ve been using.  I’ve read in a couple of different places (sorry – don’t have links) that people find it a little easier on the stomach than Gu, so I guess we’ll see!  In addition to that, I’m going to try a water/Gatorade mix instead of just water, since I had a few problems with cramping at the end of my long run last week.

I’m also going to change my pre-run breakfast, since I’ve been having some tummy troubles about an hour into my run.  My dietitian suggested cutting back on fibre beforehand, so I’ll be trying graham wafers, yogurt, and Gatorade for breakfast instead of the toast I’ve had the past couple of weeks.  We’ll if it helps!

What do you think about when biking/running/swimming/doing other cardio?

Do I Need to Drink More Water?

I’m currently training for my first half marathon in September, and the water issue has been on my mind lately.  Am I drinking enough?  When do I need to drink it?  What about when I’m not exercising?

I think we’ve all heard that we’re supposed to drink 8-8 oz glasses of water per day, or roughly 2 litres.  From what I’ve read, however, this number is pretty arbitrary, varies with gender and activity levels, and doesn’t take into account the water you get from food and other beverages.

And forget the idea that caffeine dehydrates you.  Studies now conclude that it doesn’t act as a diuretic, unless you’re talking large doses in people who haven’t consumed any caffeine for awhile.  Links to the studies are here and here (thanks to Health Habits, who had a post on this topic).  So if you’re a coffee, tea, or (like me) diet cola drinker, you don’t have to pound back an extra glass of water to “hydrate” yourself after consuming some caffeine: the caffeinated drink actually counts toward your liquid consumption for the day.  I also found Diet Detective Q & A’s on hydration to be a useful read on this topic.

This still doesn’t answer the question I had, though, which was, “How much water do I need to drink, if not 8 glasses per day?”  Well, apparently there’s no easy answer.

This Mayo Clinic article on how much water you should drink says you can follow the 8 glasses per day guideline, but you basically want to drink enough so that “you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day.”  This is in agreement with what I read in Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes by Monique Ryan, who writes that “you can monitor your hydration status by checking the color and quantity of your urine.  Clear or lemonade-colored urine reflects adequate fluid intake, while darker or apple juice-colored urine…indicates that you need to step up your fluid intake.”  She also says that you should “urinate at least four full bladders every day.”  Who knew?  Also, vitamin supplements can change the color of your urine, so you may have to consider volume over colour.  Alrighty, then.

I’m totally NOT going to be measuring, by the way.

Water and Exercise Definitely Mix

So, how much should I be drinking before a workout?  Going back to Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, the author suggests taking in 720 mL or 24 oz/3 cups of fluid approximately 2 hours before a workout, plus another 240-480 mL (8 to 16 oz, or 1-2 cups) half an hour before.

Unfortunately, we aren’t camels: we can’t store water.  According to the Diet Detective Q & A’s article, any extra liquid will be out of your body in half an hour.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean more is better.  This Runner’s World article discusses hyponatremia, which is a life-threatening condition caused by drinking too much water.  I don’t think I’m in any danger of this happening to me, because I drink when I’m thirsty while running and I’m consuming Gu and/or Gatorade during my long runs, but certainly the article is worth a read (even if it is a little old).

Okay, so what about during a workout?  In Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, Ryan strongly recommends weighing yourself before and after a workout (unclothed, of course) to gauge how much water you’ve sweated away.  Take your weight loss (pounds or kilograms – doesn’t matter), calculate how much water corresponds to that weight (1kg = 1 L or 1,000 mL; 1lb = 15 oz), and add in how much water your consumed during your run.  That’s the total volume of water you lost.  Then divide that by how long you worked out (say, 2.5 hrs) to figure out how much you sweat per hour.  That would give you a rough guideline, but you still have to remember that how much you sweat will vary with weather conditions and how well you’re acclimated to the weather.  Sheesh!  Gets kind of complicated.

For more simple guidelines, check out this article by Runner’s World.  It suggests 3-6 oz every 15 to 20 minutes.  That translates to anywhere from 9 oz (just over a cup) to 24 oz (3 cups) per hour.  Guess it’s more of a starting point, rather than a “hard and fast” rule.

What About Post-Workout?

The Runner’s World article suggests consuming enough so that you have to pee within 60 to 90 minutes – 1 to 3 cups is usually adequate.  Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes recommends drinking 20 to 24 oz (2 1/2 to 3 cups) of fluid for every pound you lose during your workout (so you have to weigh yourself before and after).  Runner’s World suggests anything from 8 to 24 oz.  Again, I’m sure this will vary with the type and intensity of the workout and weather conditions.

What I Am Taking from All of This

  • eight glasses of water a day is pretty much a myth, so no need to obsess
  • caffeine in normal amounts does not dehydrate you; in fact, caffeinated beverages add to your fluid levels
  • drink enough that your urine is clear or light-coloured; if it resembles apple juice, you should be drinking more
  • drink lots before a workout so that you are well-hydrated, 3 cups 2 hours before and 1-2 cups half an hour before
  • during a workout, aim to consume 1 to 3 cups per hour and expect my fluid needs to vary with weather, intensity, and type of exercise
  • you should drink 1 to 3 cups of fluid after your workout, or enough that you have to use the washroom within an hour and a half
  • if you’re feeling hard-core about it, weigh yourself before and after your exercise session and calculate away!

Well, high-five to you if you made it to the end of this post.  That was kind of long-winded, but I figured I’d write it all down in one place so that I don’t have to look it all up again.  Hope someone else finds it helpful, too 🙂

Bottoms up!

Long Run Today

My post-run treat.

Kind of a strange day here weather wise.  Unlike the rest of North America, we’ve had a rather cool and wet summer.  We’ve recently had some sun and heat, but today we had a high of 20 degrees Celcius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) with rain and a couple of thundershowers.

After some barnacle busting (see here for an explanation of this term, provided by Katherine, a reader of the Run Like a Mother blog – very funny read), I managed to get my kids onto the ice at their skating camp.  Then I hauled butt to get home and out onto the road, because I had to be back at the rink to pick them up in a few hours.

I normally do my long runs on Saturday morning, but my husband is otherwise occupied this weekend (golfing ALL weekend), so I had to fit it in when I had childcare for the kids.  This made for some weird eating for me.  I had breakfast at 8:30am (oatmeal, fruit, milk), a snack (granola bar and dried apricots) at 10:30am, some toast and a banana at 12pm, and then some Gatorade right before my run.  Plus lots of water all morning.

I’m not sure I was entirely successful in what I ate today, as I ended up with some tummy troubles during and after my run, not to mention not getting in my servings of veggies today!  Oh well, I’ll do better tomorrow.  I’ll probably post later today or tomorrow on what I ate today.

The Long Run:

Today was supposed to be 22k, but due to a shortage of time (tummy troubles and the barnacle busting), I got in 21k.  I was happy with my pace (more consistent than last week, and somewhat faster), but am still having trouble with achiness around the 15k mark.  Instead of taking breaks every fifteen minutes like last week, I told myself I’d take a break every 2k.  This actually worked out pretty well, because I think I ran faster so that I could get to those walk breaks!  Had some cramping at the 20.5k mark: my right half and the big toe on my right foot.  Have never had this happen to me before while running.  It was a pretty weird feeling not to be able to control my toe and calf!  I’ve had side stitches before, but this felt entirely different.  Not sure if it was just muscle fatigue or hydration issues (maybe related to the tummy troubles?), but I’m considering adding a little Gatorade in with my water.  I had Gatorade and water before my run, 1.75 L of water during, plus 3 Gu’s.  This seems adequate to me, but maybe I’m wrong here?

Luckily, the first 9k of my run were dry, then I had a little sprinkle of rain for the next few km.  It stopped raining around the 14k mark, and the heavy rain stayed away until about 3 minutes after I got back to my house.  As my 6 year-old son would say, “SWEET!”  I’m hoping for some clouds when I run my race on September 12th…


After the run, I raced to the rink to pick up my kids, managing to be only two minutes late.  I guzzled some Gatorade on the way there, and then once I got home I had some chocolate milk, a couple of eggs, toast, and chopped tomatoes for supper.  I was really tempted to order some pizza, but I didn’t.  That was some willpower there!  After supper, we watched a movie (Shark Tale) and had some light buttery microwave popcorn.  I also had a box of Junior Mints.  Yum!  After all, if you can’t indulge a little after a long run, then when can you?

On top of post-run re-fueling, I also iced my left knee (new pain), right knee (no pain, but recently had bursitis/ITB syndrome there), and right hip (recent achiness); did some stretching; and foam rolled, particularly my IT bands.

After this run, I start tapering.  So excited about that.  And it also works out nicely in terms of my schedule, because my school year starts up August 23rd.

Done and Done: One More Long Run in the Books

Did my 20k long run this morning.  Got out a little bit later than usual at around 8am.  Luckily there was a nice breeze and it was slightly overcast, so it was tolerable.

Part of why I was late getting out this morning was because I was tweaking my long run playlist.  I noticed during last week’s run that there was a lull when the music just wasn’t getting my feet moving.  So this week I added in a few songs with a beat to up my cadence, including:

  • The Look – Roxette
  • Notion – Kings of Leon
  • Bang Bang – by K’naan
  • Won’t Back Down – Eminem
  • California Love – 2Pac, Roger Troutman, and Dr. Dre

I have to say that it actually made a big difference to have these in my playlist.  Got my feet moving and helped carry me through.

As for how the run went, the first 8k were great.  No walking at all.  This worked WAY better for me than the 10 and 1 approach I used on my last couple of runs. At 8k I stopped to refill my water bottle and grab another Gu.  Ran the next 2k and then switched to 15 and 2’s.  Around 13 1/2 k, started to get achy in my right hip flexor region.  Around 15k, both hips were achy and the backs of my legs (glutes, hamstrings, calves) were SO tired. After 16k, it was a struggle and there was a LOT of walking – WAY more than planned.  Around 18k, the outside of my right hip was a little sore, but I only noticed when I was walking.  At 19k, I was having a few GI issues and needed to get home to the washroom!

I was a little disappointed with how the last half of the run went, because I was on pace for the first 8k and felt pretty good.  However, I am happy that the heavy-duty achiness didn’t set in until 15k or so, because last week it started at about 12k.  So my body is adapting – yay!

Long Run Nutrition:

This morning I had a couple of pieces of whole wheat toast with jam and 1/2 c of yogurt.  It seemed to sit pretty well in my stomach, at least until the 19k mark. However, I’m thinking maybe it’s a little too much fibre, so next week I’m going to try a nice, ripe banana or some apple sauce and yogurt instead and see how that goes.

Pretty tasty! I liked it better than the Vanilla Bean.

Tried the Vanilla Bean, Jet Blackberry, and Triple Berry Gu today.  I prefer the two berry flavours to the vanilla, but my fave is still mint chocolate.

Polished off about 600mL of water before my run, 600mL in the first 8k, 600mL in the next 4k, and 600mL in the last 8k.  My run lasted about 2 1/2 hours, so I averaged 720mL per hour.  That seems to be within the guidelines that I’ve seen in various articles, including this one.

Next week I’ve got a 22k to do and then it’ll be time to start tapering, while I work on increasing my speed a little.  This works out nicely, as I head back to dental school on August 23rd and things will start to get busy!

New Gear this Week:

As I mentioned last week, I had a few problems with my sport bra chafing.  Yesterday I headed to my local running store, Brainsport, and picked up my favourite bra in a smaller size (the Moving Comfort Fiona bra, if you wanted to know).  I also picked up a pair of CW-X Pro Shorts.  Last week I wore I new pair of Nike capri length running tights and they were good, but when it’s hot out, shorts are better.  It’s really hard to find long shorts, though, isn’t it?  And I need long shorts otherwise I have chafing problems.

The bra worked great – no chafing!  And the shorts were pretty comfy.  There was just one tiny spot on the front of my left hip where I got some chafing, but I’m pretty happy with how they worked for me.  Not sure they helped my performance or anything, but they felt supportive.

Well, I’m off to bed!  Time to let my body recover and rebuild.

Fit Bits for Friday

Just a few random bits I stumbled across this week:

Hydration tips for runners at Runner’s World

The right way to warm up? at The New York Times

Dynamic stretching = good; static stretching = not so much at the Training Peaks Blog

But I really LIKE chocolate milk after a hard workout, so can I ignore this article from The New York Times?

Are side stitches related to what you eat? at Nancy Clark’s blog

Pros and cons of bike training indoors, when you need to beat the heat or escape the cold, at

Tips for transition area setup at Triathlon Magazine Canada

Just because I think Dara Torres is pretty amazing at Shape