Three Ways to Kickstart your 2013 Running Performance
As we approach a new year and particularly after a few weeks of indulging, we may feel the need to detoxify our bodies in hopes of uncovering a lighter and leaner running body. As runners, we can’t follow a traditional cleanse or detox program because just drinking veggie juice is not going to sustain our activity levels (unless you pull back on the running until you complete it). However, here are three simple things you can do that will have you feeling lighter and leaner, without depriving your body of the energy you need.
1. Supplement to Rebalance
Although we always want to get our nutrients from whole real food, sometimes we need a bit of help to bring our bodies back into balance. Adding a few supplements to your diet for the month of January can help to rebalance your system after the holiday season. Here are 3 supplements I recommend:
- Probiotics: Take 1 probiotic with breakfast and 1 with dinner for 30 days. I recommend the brand name Genestra – HMF Forte Probiotic Formula (60 vegetable capsules). You’ll find it at a natropathic office or a holistic pharmacy such as Finlandia. HMF stands for human microflora (which I prefer over the commonly used strains grown from animal or dairy sources). *Probiotics require refrigeration as they are live probiotic strains.
Why take a probiotic? Sugar displaces our beneficial microflora, alcohol kills it, stress leads to an imbalance and overeating taxes it. By the time the holidays are over, you are probably running pretty low on healthy microflora. Eating probiotic rich food (plain unflavoured yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi) or taking a probiotic will help to reinstate balance, helping you to digest your food better and get the full nutritional benefit from the food you are eating. Specifically, they are known to help those suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), calming symptoms of abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Additionally, probiotics have been shown to maintain a healthy immune system.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Take 1 teaspoon of omega-3 fatty acid liquid supplement daily (or as according to package directions). I recommend the brand name Nordic Naturals – Omega-3 Purified Fish Oil. You’ll find it at natural food stores or pharmacies such as Whole Foods. Ascenta is also a good name brand. *Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are best stored in the refrigerator, as it is a very delicate polyunsaturated oil that oxidizes in the presence of light, heat and/or oxygen.
Why supplement with omega-3’s? Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats because the body cannot make them. There are limited places they are found in food (salmon, chia seeds, flax, pumpkin seeds, walnuts) and often throughout the holidays we might not be getting enough, as sweet treats displace our usual healthy fare. We really do want to ensure we’re getting omega-3’s though, for a few key reasons. One, they strongly help to manage inflammation, and as runners we want to pay attention to ways to help our bodies repair from intense training. Because they help to manage inflammation also means they help to prevent heart disease. Two, omega-3’s build cell membranes in our brains, boosting our mood, improving our memory and decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. And three, they are also vital to our hormonal health and the health of our skin, nails and hair.
- Vitamin D: Take one or two 2000 IU capsules per day, one with breakfast and the other, if taking, with dinner. I recommend Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw D3 2000 IU, found at natural food stores or pharmacies such as Whole Foods.
Why take vitamin D in a capsule? In the winter months, we are unable to make vitamin D from the sun (this is our natural way of obtaining vitamin D). While technically our bodies are designed to be able to store enough to get us through the winter months, often we don’t get enough in the summer months to boost our stores high enough to get us through. We know vitamin D supports our bones but it also is known to boost our immune system, lower the risk of cancer, help with digestion and improve our memory.
2. Eat More Vegetables
Seriously, please, eat more vegetables! Ha, I know I know, adding veggies is usually easier said than done. Try these tricks to ensure you’re getting enough into your diet to help detox your holiday indulgences.
- Make your morning snack a fresh vegetable juice (with a handful of raw and unsalted nuts/seeds). Try carrot/beet/celery/cucumber. *Tip – If you are not so lucky as to own your own juicer (I do not), you can find fresh veggie juices at grocery stores such as Whole Foods or restaurants such as Nuba.
- Make your afternoon snack one of fresh-cut veggies (peeled and cut carrots, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc) and hummus.
- Ensure your dinner includes these four types of veggies: a leafy green veggie (kale, collard, fresh parsley or basil, spinach, lettuce, sprouts, etc), a green veggie (broccoli, green pepper, green beans, etc), a red, orange or purple veggie (carrots, yams, red/orange peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc), and a yellow or white veggie (onions, garlic, fennel bulb, cauliflower, etc).
Vegetables contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients including hundreds of antioxidants, all of which help with cleansing and detoxification. Raw vegetables and veggie juice in particular are known to be especially cleansing.
3. Just Say No
Here’s the kicker (you knew it was coming, didn’t you?!!). You need to eliminate these items entirely from your diet:
- Alcohol (yep, as in no wine, beer or hard liquor for the entire month of January)
- Sugar (no sugar, glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, etc – a little bit of 100% pure maple or local raw honey to sweeten your oatmeal is okay)
- Processed cooking oils (no soy oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, etc)
And if you really want to do a full cleanse, eliminate these also:
* Really what I am saying is to eliminate coffee. You may still drink white tea, green tea, oolong tea, pu’erh tea, matcha tea and black tea (listed in order of least caffeine to most caffeine content, so clearly go for those that come first on the list).
** There are a few exceptions. If you are confident that you do not have a sensitivity to dairy, you are free to include a bit of organic butter (small amounts), some organic, plain, unsweetened probiotic yogurt or kefir, and a few organic free range eggs each week.
*** Again, a few exceptions. If you know you do not have a wheat sensitivity, you may include sprouted wheat products (such as Ezekiel sprouted grains bread, english muffins, and tortillas). If you go for another name brand, ensure there is no added gluten – bread ingredients should really just be the whole grain, water, sea salt and a leavening agent.
Adhere to these three changes for the month of January and I guarantee you’ll come out feeling refreshed, invigorated and with a lighter and leaner running body. So grab your supplements, stock your fridge with veggies in all colours and say good-bye to the stuff that will slow you down. Here’s to a year of consistency in your running, personal bests in your racing and a strong, happy you.
Happy running 🙂
Sarah J Cuff, RNH, PTS