I consider myself more of a”trying not to get fat athlete”, but Faster Tomorrow’s Matt Fitzgerald has a good post about the top ten foods they consider the best for endurance athletes, along with a good recipe for a recovery drink, using a couple of my favorite ingredients (coffee beans, peanut butter and bananas. Sadly, no bacon). The list has a mix of proteins, fruits, vegetables, and carb sources, all geared toward helping performance and recovery.
Check out the post here: Top 10 List
And here is the recipe for the recovery drink:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Rush
1 cup low-fat chocolate milk
1 small frozen banana, sliced
1 Tablespoon dark-chocolate covered espresso beans
½ Tablespoon natural peanut butter
1 scoop protein powder (about 21 grams of protein)
Ice (and more low-fat chocolate milk or water for a smoother consistency)
Blend and enjoy!
There is a great article in Velonews about the first study to evaluate caffeine’s potential benefits in the recovery phase of a workout. The researchers theorized that because pre-workout caffeine intake increased availability of glucose (a sugar used by the body for energy), post workout intake may help an athlete more quickly replenish their muscle glycocen stores.
The results of the study were promising; the researches found that in a 4 hour recovery period, the amount of glycogen stored in the muscle when the athlete consumed both carbohydrates and caffeine was 60% higher than those athletes that consumed the carbohydrates alone. The conclusion; caffeine can help an athlete recover more quickly between sessions.
Excellent news for my caffeine addiction, but there was one initial drawback to the study; the caffeine does used to reach the increased recovery level was 560 milligrams, about the equivalent of 6 cups of coffee (or about 2 of those crazy new NOS energy drink bottle that makes your pee glow in the dark and allows you to vibrate between dimensions).
Yesterday the New York Times had an interesting article about Dave Wiens, the mountain biker who has won the Leadville 100 the last 6 years in a row (article here). From the tone of the article, I felt like the author was a bit blown away that Wiens beat Armstrong (and Floyd Landis the year before) without any hardcore training. I enjoyed it because it showcased Wiens as a great athlete that has found a great balance between family, work and staying fit. A balance I hope to be able to reach once I kick this whole not having solid employment thing. My favorite part of the article is the part where it talks about how because Wiens never shaved his legs when he was racing the other riders called him the “Vanilla Gorilla.” For some reason I identify with the Gorilla part.
I have been focusing on my diet a lot more lately, which has meant a lot more vegetables, a lot less sugars and more lean protein sources. This focus has been the result of dating a girl that loves to cook, but eats much healthier than I do and an awful morning or two after a hard night of drinking where my body rebels against the pizza I fed it the night before. Hence, a new approach to eating which has actually translated into feeling much better during long rides and runs. One of the websites we use frequently for recipe ideas is 101 Cookbooks, a vegetarian recipe website created by Heidi Swanson. She updates the site frequently with new recipes, and has everything broken down into categories. Everything so far has been delicious.
I was not much of a coffee drinker when I was in college. But after moving to Portland, OR I quickly found that coffee was not only the best way to start a morning, but essential to surviving the dreary winter and spring that is a Portland hallmark. My favorite coffee shop in Portland is Stumptown, which roasts its own beans and is slowly managing to work its way into a market dominated by Starbucks. I have found a few nice places in Boulder, among them Amante and The Cup, but nothing has lived up to the sweet elixir that is a double shot Americano from Stumptown.
My ridiculous addiction to coffee has led to trying to pay attention what people write about the effects of coffee. I tend to drink it before I ride or run in the mornings so I’m always curious to see how coffee can effect performance. This article from the New York Times talks about the various health effects of coffee. One of the more interesting bits of information talks about how coffee can improve both aerobic and anaerobic performance. Just another reason to pour another cup.
Christian Vande Velde, a rider for the Colorado based Garmin Chipotle cycling team, provided some great advice for improving your speed on a bike in a recent NY Times article. He mainly focuses on improving power by adding intervals that require spinning in a bigger gear for segments of time. The main focus for such training is to improve wattage – a measure of power per pedal stroke.
His advice for improving climbing ability is interesting, he suggests that biking on flats into the wind is a good substitute (he trained in Chicago over the winter). The flats around Chicago, combinded with the wind, probably made this and ideal training area for this type of work. Personally, I would hate riding into the wind on a flat stretch of concrete, but whatever works I suppose. He is one of Garmin Chipotle’s team members for the Tour de France this year, so we get to see how his training pays off.
The NY Times has a good article in their Play Magazine section about the prevalence of back injuries among high torque/high impact athlete groups. The article touches on various causes behind back problems among athletes, gives a glimpse into young, elite level tennis players and what their backs look like (do not let your children get involved in elite level tennis. Ouch). The article also provides three core strengthening exercises to help build a solid back support system:
SUPPORT THAT LAZY SPINE: Entire books have been devoted to workout routines for the back. But you can save yourself some trouble by focusing on these three exercises, which work most of the large muscles in the body’s core. Do them four times a week, breathing slowly and steadily throughout.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slide your hands under your lower back to provide support; you don’t want your spine flat against the floor. Straighten one leg. Then, while keeping your neck and lower spine straight and unmoving, lift your shoulders and chest off the floor. Hold the position for about eight seconds. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs and do another 10.
Lie on your side, with your legs bent at the knee and your upper hand across your chest. Bend your lower arm so that your elbow is pointing away from your chest. Slowly raise your shoulders, keeping your spine straight, and hold for 8 to 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side. After a few weeks, do the exercise with your legs straight.
Start on all fours, then slowly lift your right arm and left leg until each is parallel to the ground. Hold for eight seconds. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Do 10 reps on each side. Keep your spine straight, hips level and abdominal muscles slightly contracted. And don’t forget to breathe.