The Plan: 4 Miles Slow + 5 20 sec. strides with 2 min. recovery
The Actual: 4 Miles @ 9:08 (Okay, I didn’t really follow the “slow” instructions. I know I need to work on that otherwise as the speed work gets harder my legs will be fried. I’m trying!) + 5 strides @ 7:00 pace
Q = Quinoa. It’s magical and I love it. It’s also a really great complex carb. When I used to talk about carbs my brain would immediately go to pasta. Beautiful BEAUTIFUL pasta. I’m Italian – every family event and/or memory involves pasta. However, recently, unless it’s fresh pasta (and who has time for that?!), I bloat like an elephant and am so uncomfortable the day afterwards. Not the best “carb loading” feeling prior to a long run.
Qunioa has been in vogue for a few years now so you may be thinking, “This is so old news.” but if you haven’t gotten on the train or although you “know” it’s good for you, you just haven’t added it to your repertoire of weekly meals – it’s time.
Complex carbohydrates, the slow burning carbs, are tremendously important for runners that go the distance. Eating more complex carbs BEFORE a long run, means you have a larger store of energy DURING your run and therefore don’t have to down those gu’s and gels that notoriously mess with your stomach.
I really love quinoa because it’s so versatile and easy to make a boat load of it ahead of time and then mix it with different veggies, fruits, cheeses, etc. throughout the week. Hello working parents, I’ve found your dream food! It cooks just like rice – 1 portion dried quinoa to 2 portions water. Dump the quinoa in the water, boil it up, turn it to simmer, and let it go for 20 minutes. How easy is that?! And like I mentioned before, I’ll make 4 servings early in the week and then I have lunch and/or dinner for a couple other meals. You may be thinking quinoa is a hot grain only, but I love eating it cold. Mixing it with tomatoes, or even better CANTELOPE (so gooooddd!!!!), and eating straight out of the fridge is a lunchtime favorite for me. There are a ton of recipes out there but honestly you can’t go wrong. So get creative or just see what’s in your fridge and throw it in!
Now lets talk about hydration (the “H”). With the heat what it is these days, it’s officially summer in Maine (yeah! FINALLY!) and all the muscle tightness/cramping I’ve been experiencing, I knew I had to figure out a new hydration plan. I’m not a fan of the traditional “sports drinks”, too sweet with too much added sugar and have I ever told you how much I HATE coconut water? Well I hate it. We’re talking, take a sip and I want to projectile vomit across the room. I’ll pause for a moment to let that mental image sink in…Don’t get me wrong, I love coconut but for some reason the water tastes like dirt and my running sneakers have joined together in an evil plan to destroy all that is good in the world. Last week, however, I came across “lemonade coconut water”. Say WHAT?!??! It was like the clouds had parted and a ray of sunshine had come down to shine directly on that little container. It was DELICIOUS! I’m more of a fan of sour things, so take this for what it’s worth.
So the bad news – this sh*t is expensive! Especially because I can only find it in the smaller sizes where the cost per unit is so much higher. It did dawn on me I could make my own, but that’s happening with a mix (again, who has time to make fresh stuf!?) so that’s added sugar too. Other bad news, although coconut water has benefits it shouldn’t really be your primary source of re-hydrating after losing electrolytes through sweat per Feed Zone Portables by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim. If you haven’t read this book (it’s technically a cookbook) and are a distance athlete, you really need to. If you read nothing else, just read the introduction. You will probably need to read the introduction twice if I’m honest with you (there’s math involved). If you are serious about your performance out on the road, or the trails, understanding how your body works and uses both food and hydration is critically important. I’ll be sharing some more from the book over the next week, but for now, just know that coconut water isn’t the end all be all so if that’s all you’ve been drinking, time to expand your world. As much as I love myself some lemonade coconut water, I know that once the distances start getting longer, I’m going to need to supplement with electrolytes – and my bank account will need a break.
Balance (food and hydration) and understanding how YOUR body works is so important. I’ll share what seems to be working for me, but it’s definitely not a universal truth.
So what have we learned today? Is quinoa all it’s cracked up to be – YES! Is coconut water all IT’S cracked up to be? Not really….at least not as a “sports drink”.
Have you tried quinoa? What’s your favorite recipe? Your thoughts on coconut water?