The best vitamins and minerals for a runner

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Vitamins and minerals are an important part of our internal make up and something we need in order to properly function, but as runner’s it’s even more important to ensure we keep on top of our micronutrient needs in order to stay healthy! Since we sweat a lot, and our feet hit the pavement, we can be sometimes at a deficit when it comes to our micronutrients. Food based sources are generally best, but some may need supplements. So here are 4 vitamins and minerals that are best for runner’s!

Vitamin C

This vitamin is known for its antioxidant properties and not only can it help ward off the common cold but it also helps lessen the inflammation our bodies create from running.

Iron

Although this would differ from person to person, but every time your foot hits the pavement it actually smashes the red blood cells on the base of the foot, which can deplete iron stores in some people quicker than others. Depending on what you’re eating it might be worth getting your iron levels checked. Low iron can make you fatigued and feeling sluggish, which doesn’t help getting out the door for a run!

Vitamin B

Our B Vitamins are a collection of vitamins that have a range of benefits such as providing energy, improving our mood and boosting immunity. These are best taken in the morning and can give us an added pep in our step.

Magnesium

This is a big one for runner’s as we can get depleted of this one really easily. It’s a mineral but also a part of our electrolyte make up, which we sweat out. This mineral helps our muscles relax, which is particular important after they’re contracted as we run. Best taken at night, it helps us calm down and is good for the heart.

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How to eat for your 30km race

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We’re pretty excited here at Whistler Half Marathon to be offering a 30km distance to the schedule of events. A distance we feel pushes the boundaries just that bit more than a half, but not quite the full. Enough to dip your running toes into a distance a little further than the usual 21.1km and try it on for size.

With that said, it can be a little tough to determine how to fuel for that extra 9km when you’re out there for at least another 30-60 minutes plus. We put together this handy guide to help give you some inspiration on what to eat and when to ensure you feel pretty decent once you cross that finish line.

Generally speaking, carbs are usually the best go-to source of fuel for exercise. They fuel our tissues and cells and it’s not only easily digestible but also the energy source our body taps into first and foremost when we’re running. However when it comes to longer distance and endurance activities, some studies are coming out to show that using fat as a fuel source works more in our favour. I’d be inclined to say a combination of both carbs and fat will serve you the best for 30km, however your training is the best place to test what works the most for you (never try anything new on race day).

Your lunch the day before will be your most important meal, as it gives you over 12 hours for your body to digest and place glycogen into your tissues so you can pull from it later. Your meal the night before your race should be similar to your lunch, but smaller so that you’re not still having to digest it the next morning.

Great lunch options include:

  • Brown rice & chicken (or turkey) with green leafy veggies with almond satay sauce
  • Tempeh & veggie stir fry with half an avocado
  • Leafy green salad with hemp seeds, avocado and apple cider vinegar dressing (include chicken or tempeh for added protein)

Your breakfast the next morning should also include a small amount of fat, enough to keep you satiated but not make you feel like you’re sluggish. More carbs are great at this point as this is what you’ll tap into first as you run.

Great breakfast options include:

  • Sourdough or whole wheat toast with coconut oil and almond butter
  • Avocado toast
  • Overnight oats with nut milk, topped with shredded coconut and diced apples
  • Green smoothie with avocado (if you can’t stomach a bigger breakfast)
  • Fruit first, then half an hour later some toast with chia jam or nut butter

Now during your race, you’ll need to refuel part way through. Some people can’t stomach anything when they run and I don’t like to disrupt that too much so if that’s you, stay with it! But for others, they need the fuel part way through or every 45 minutes to an hour to avoid bonking.

I love the use of easily digestible carbs such as gels (Vega or make your own) or a few dates for a shot of natural sugar to bump your energy up. If you don’t like gels, add them to your water to thin them out and sip during your run. I advise keeping fuelling during your race simple since you are running, you aren’t going to be able to digest optimally so we don’t want to overload the system.

Post-race is the next super important time to eat! This is where we can aid our recovery or delay it. You’ll want to refuel with carbs and protein at a 4:1 ratio so that you can restore the energy lost during the race. Smoothies with protein supplements are great! Just enough to take the edge off after a race (we get it, you’re starving!) so that you can ensure the next proper meal you take in is packed with nutrients to help you recover faster. Think: big leafy green salad with protein or chicken and salad wrap or even sushi! It can be so easy to want to go for the burger and fries (and you have earned it) but your body needs nutrient-density after a race, so save the celebratory burger for the evening.

We hope this little guide helps you to consider your meals and the best options to help you get from the start line to the finish line feeling great! Let us know if you have any great meal options that you love and feel that it really helps you!

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Fave Five

I’m a creature of habit, especially when it comes to running. I genuinely love running the same routes, the same roads, the same trails. I seem to find variety in the consistency, if that makes any sense. I can usually find something different to focus on, look for or listen to, therefore I’m able to avoid boredom.

I’ve got some favourite Whistler routes I’ll share with you. Maybe you are already familiar with them and they are part of your routine; maybe I’ll introduce you to something entirely new.

1. Lost Lake 

When I worked a 9-5 Whistler gig, this place was a sanctuary for me. It offers it all: flat, hilly, wide, narrow, quiet, busy. You can link together anything from a 2km gentle, ’round the lake loop to a killer 90 minute single-track sufferfest. Taylor made for any kind of run, really.

2. FORE!

All of Whistler’s golf courses offer an opportunity to run around them. Stick to the cart paths or the surrounding valley trail and keep your head up and ears open for the tell-tale call of fore! 

Golf courses offer a unique opportunity to run some fartleks; push your pace up the hills, recover on the dips. Or do the opposite, drive your shoulders forward and work on your downhill running. If things get too hairy, you can always tuck and roll onto the green!

3. Riverside

South of Whistler Village, you’ll find a myriad of trails that can lead all over the place. I’d consider them a slightly more challenging Lost Lake-type trail system that has the option to lead one far off the beaten path, if one so chooses. Bring your camera; it’s well worth it. And maybe some kind of wildlife repellant.

4. Highway 99

Ok, so you may question my sanity here, but bear with me for a minute. If you are training for longer distances such as the marathon, the point-to-point run from Whistler to Pemberton is actually very nice. Be organized for this one: drop water along the way (or have someone do it for you) and have an end point in mind with a change of clothes, food, etc. (seems obvious, but I’ve forgotten to do so, and it was not ideal). You’ll be surprised at how different the road looks from the vantage point of your feet versus your car. Wave to the drivers who will give you funny looks!

5. Save the best for last: Singing Pass

Far and away one of the most beautiful runs in British Columbia (I’d say the world, but what do I know). Talk some friends into joining you, be prepared for all-weather eventualities, bring money for post-run, stuff your face goodness and enjoy this gem. Annually, we start at the bottom of Whistler Mountain, make our way up Singing Pass to the Musical Bumps and through the back bowls of Whistler Mountain to the Roundhouse. By the time we get there, we are daydreaming of food and drink and looking forward to a leisurely ride down the Gondola. Who knows, maybe this is the year we run down, too.

What are your top 5s?

 

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Everyone remembers their first…

Half marathon. Am I right?

I distinctly remember mine. It was a long time ago, and it was with 2 of the ladies I still run with to this day. We shared one gel between the 3 of us over 21.1kms. We knew nothing of pacing, splits or (evidently) nutrition. We marvelled as the Kenyan runners flew past us on their way back to the finish line.

The nerves? Oh my… the nerves. Before the start we stood on the sidewalk and scanned the horizon for the porta-potties amidst all the runners and what I remember most was the distinct belief that we were so out of place; like we didn’t deserve to be there. I said, out loud, “Look at all these super fit people!”

That’s when someone turned to me and said, “you ARE one of those super fit people.”

I frequently think back to that day when I step onto a start line and see the faces of the people taking on their first race. I feel like sometimes I’ve turned into one of those runners who thinks things like “Oh, it’s just a half…” or “I’ll just do this as a training run.” Sometimes, I don’t give the distance of the race the respect it deserves.

I’ve done enough races that I’ll often downplay the fact a half-marathon is a big deal. To some, it’s a terrifying proposition. And to many, without question, a huge accomplishment.

And you know what? It is. It absolutely is. And so the next time I’m standing on the start line, I’ll try to remember to look at one of those nervous faces and smile. And make sure that they know that they deserve to be here, and that they too are “one of the fit people”.

After all, they made it to the start line.

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No such thing as oversharing in running.

This week, I’m cheating a little bit. I’m eyeballs deep with work which seems to be sucking up all of my time, as well as any original ideas within my frazzled brain.

So for this week’s post, I thought I’d share a story with you that I’d originally written for my own blog. So it’s only 1/2 cheating… since I actually did write it myself!

If you’ve been racing for a while, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to relate to my tale  of woe. If you’re new to racing, you’ll soon learn that, well, nothing’s sacred in running. And also? There’s a solid chance that however terrible your experience, there’s a runner out there who’s been there before and can totally relate!

So here you go. The story of what was, without question, one of my least pleasant race experiences!!

Originally Titled: You win some, you lose some.

And then there’s Comfortably Numb 2013: The Death March.

Earlier in the week, I signed up to run Comfy Numb as a last minute replacement to the Test of Metal.  I hadn’t run this race in probably 6 years, so I was looking forward to re-visiting it and besting my not-so-fast times from previous years.

Never one to shy away from looking ridiculous.

Never one to shy away from looking ridiculous.

I’d had some good runs leading up to it, and was feeling happy and relaxed about doing it.  I had no goals per se, just go out and enjoy.

Fun fun

Fun fun

Race morning I woke up a little tired but nothing out of the ordinary.  Ate some breakfast, grabbed a coffee, watched some cartoons and was on my way.

3, 2, 1 Go!  And we’re off.  The race starts straight uphill, but I like to climb so no worries there.  I settled into a nice little train of people for about the first 6K.  Once we crossed the bridge (or as I like to think of it, the point of no return) I started to feel little off.    No big deal, I thought, this happens all the time.  I drank a bit, ate something and slowed a bit.

Then the doubts started creeping in.  I mentally looked back on what I’d consumed the day before, wondering if that was the cause of my discomfort.  I couldn’t get into a rhythm and for the first time in about 8 years, I really, really wanted to quit.

This was my mental image of myself between kilometers 6-10.

This was my mental image of myself between kilometers 6-10.

BUT.  That’s the thing about Comfortably Numb.  It’s a 25k point-to-point trail and at this part of the trail, I figured it would take me as long to turn around as it would to keep going (oh hello, terrible race math.  Thanks for nothing.)

Luckily for me and unluckily for her, Marie-Anne had sprained her ankle at I caught up to her at about 11k (I know this because that’s about when I turned off Strava because seriously?  I didn’t want to know anymore).  And that was pretty much the last run step I took as things went rapidly downhill from there for me.

Ugh.

Ugh.

Thankfully, Marie-Anne stayed by my side as my stomach turned itself inside out in a variety of disgusting ways for the next 14K of misery.  We chatted, commiserated, and looked forward to seeing that finish arch… 5 hours after we started.  Never in a million years would I have ever guessed the two of us would tie for DFL at a race.

Got myself to the clinic, and 3 litres of IV fluids + heavy doses of Gravol + 12 hours of sleep means I finally feel human again.  My eyes are swollen but the upside is I don’t have any blisters and my legs don’t hurt.  There’s always an upside, right?

My ever-lasting gratitude to:

My in-laws for taking control of the situation at home and thus allowing me to care for myself.

Marie-Anne for staying with me.  If not, chances are I’d still be out there, sleeping under a tree with my race number as a blankie.

Jenny + Liz for encouraging me via text and checking up on me.

Best text conversation ever.

Best text conversation ever.

Bob for waiting for us.

Chris Colpitts and crew for not taking down the finish arch till we stumbled under it.

The staff at the Emerg in Pemberton for taking care of me and not making fun of me.  Why is it that when I’m sick it’s always super-hot-doctor guy on duty?

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The 8 minute rule

If you read my inaugural entry last week, you’ll know that I ended with a reference to a “spark”. You know… that little feeling, that desire to get out the door and run your heart out.

But let’s face it. Some days, whatever spark you may have once had feels more like a tiny fizzle. The thought of merely putting shoes on to get out out the door is overwhelming not at all appealing.

Enter the 8-minute Rule.

You aren’t feeling it. You don’t want to go. There’s a laundry list of reasons why you can’t run. But here’s the thing, and I know you’ve heard it all before: you’ll feel so much better if you do. So give yourself 8 minutes. Do whatever it takes to get yourself out there, start your mission and make a deal with yourself: run for at least 8 minutes. There’s a very good chance that after 8 minutes, you’ll be ticking along, have mostly forgotten why you didn’t want to be out here in the first place.

However…

If, after those first 8 minutes, you still aren’t feeling it? Cut yourself some slack and give yourself permission to just call it quits. Listen to your body and to that little inner voice. Sometimes, it knows more than you do.

Take a deep breath, shake it off, walk it home.

There’s always tomorrow.

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Dual personality

March in Whistler means you never really know what sounds will greet you in the morning… will you wake to chirping birds or snowplows? Pounding rain on the roof or the sound of ski boots walking to the bus stop? Sometimes, it’s even a combination of all those things.

Such is the dual personality that is spring in a mountain town.  Embrace it! We are lucky to be offered such easy access to a multi-sport playground. Ski in the morning, bike in the afternoon? Check. Sunrise skate ski, sunset trail run? Done. See how easy that is? It’s a pretty neat feeling to get home and, if you’re like me, make sure your long underwear can double as run gear so that you can make a quick change and head back out for that post-ski run.

I have friends who make fun of me and my deeply ingrained need to continue these so-called “summer sports” all winter long. But why should I stop if, well, I don’t need to? Fill up those days, I say. Squeeze it all in!

As the days get longer and the dreaded daylight savings phenomenon comes and goes, the motivation to get out there is a little stronger, a little easier to embrace. In the back of my mind, goals and ideas start to form. I start to map out some plans for races I’d like to do… trails I want to tackle and adventures I want to talk people into. It doesn’t take much: one sunny spring day will do just fine to light that spark.

What’s got you sparked this spring?

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Spring in the valley, Winter on the mountain. It’s the best of both worlds.

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