Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tri Something New
  by Wendy Liles, CPT

Way back in 2005, I was bored with my training. I wanted to try something new, yet stay lean and motivated. On a suggestion from a close friend, I decided to sign up for a triathlon.

In the seven years that have passed since that fateful day, I have competed in over 25 triathlons, both in the U.S. and internationally, including four 1/2 Ironman's. They have been life-changing events, providing me with great friends and amazing experiences that will last a lifetime.

The triathlon community is very supportive and friendly. You will meet a lot of fellow athletes during the race; calming your nerves, helping you rack your bike, navigating in the water, encouraging you on the bike, and inspiring comments on the run.
Liles getting tips from 4 Time Kona Ironman Winner Chrissie Wellington 
There are also all of the health benefits that come with training for a triathlon. You will become much more fit, getting stronger and increasing your aerobic capacity. You will increase lean muscle, while losing fat. In other words, you will look and feel better. 

Now that you see the benefits and joys that can come from participating in triathlons, the next thing to do is make the commitment and SIGN UP!!! This will prevent you from the very real possibility of waffling.

When picking a date, make sure you have time to prepare in all three disciplines; swim, bike and run. Three months is a reasonable time frame to prepare if you are already a relatively active person.

I strongly recommend doing a Sprint triathlon your first time out. A Sprint triathlon consists of an approximately 1/2-mile swim, followed by a 14 mile bike ride, and concludes with 3 mile run. These Sprint Triathlon lengths can very slightly, depending on the course.

Liles finishing Escape from Alcatraz
Three other triathlon distances include Olympic, ½ Ironman, and Iron Man. Olympic (International) triathlons consist of a 1-mile swim, 28-mile bike ride and a 6-mile run. For a 1/2 Ironman, also known as Ironman 70.3, these distances increase to a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. Considered the most difficult is the full Ironman, which is comprised of a 2.4-mile swim; 112-mile bike run, and ends with a 26.2-mile run.

When choosing your triathlon, it is important to make sure the race is in close proximity to where you live or where you will be staying, since triathlons generally start at first light. Therefore, you will either need to stay overnight before the race, or be able to drive to the event that morning.

Stay tuned for my next article, in which we discuss how to train for each discipline, as well as what to expect on race day.

Best in health,


Wendy Liles is an international triathlete and personal trainer. She can be reached at

Friday, June 22, 2012

A New Way to Train : Running on Empty?

For as long as we can remember, our coaches and trainers have drilled into our heads the importance of starting the day off right—with a good breakfast.

Now come along a growing number of elite runners whose fasting runs and subsequent improved performance might make you think twice about reaching for breakfast before you hit the road.

Credit: Keith Beaty
Last fall Eric Gillis (2:11:27) and Reid Coolsaet (2:10:55) (pictured right) broke with traditional training approaches, opting to forgo some pre training meals. This approach resulted in personal bests, and spots on the Canadian Olympic team for the Olympic Marathon in London.

Even if you are a weekend warrior and not an Olympic hopeful, fasted running can take your game, and your body to the next level some argue. Researchers have discovered that training in a state of carbohydrate deprivation helps muscle to burn more fat. It also increases your body’s capacity to store carbohydrate. Therefore, you will be leaner and able to train longer. Let’s get started on how to implement fasted training into your workouts.

First, empty the tank. The easiest way is to train in the morning before breakfast. For those who want more of a challenge, you can do an intense workout in the morning. Follow this with an afternoon run without refilling carbohydrate stores.

Secondly, aim to run for at least an hour. This may take up to a month to build up to this level. Still, anything less should be considered a stepping stone. Physiologist Trent Stellingwerff, Ph.D. of the Canadian Sports Centre-Pacific says that it takes about an hour of fasted running to initiate fat burning.

Thirdly, refuel immediately following a fasted run. Alex Hutchinson of Runner’s World says, “Aim for 15 to 25 grams of protein and 60 to 100 grams of carbohydrate, depending on your size and the intensity of your run.” Hutchinson also cautions to carefully monitor recovery of fasted runs before increasing the intensity.

Credit: Bob Levey/Getty
However, everyone is not an adherent of fasted running. Elite U.S. marathoner Kara Goucher (pictured on the right) (2:26:06) has yet to try it. "I feel like I have to be properly fueled to run," says Goucher.

With depleted glycogen stores, you can’t run as fast or for as long. Therefore, if you constantly use fasted running, it is impossible to build the speed and endurance necessary to compete at an elite level or to set new personal bests.

However, if you use fasted running sparingly, it can be a great way to mix up your training and try something new. Try this strategy out and let us know what you think.

For further questions or comments, you can write in the boxes below or email me at

Friday, June 1, 2012

How to Eat Right:After the Workout
   by Bob Wells, CPT, PES

Maria Sharapova post workout / Co
Do you ever wonder what you should eat and/or drink after a workout? Gatorade? Smoothie? What about chicken or fish? A salad? This uncertainty about post workout nutrition is common among neophytes and experienced athletes/exercisers alike. Many people opt to skip the post workout meal, instead "saving" the calories for another time. To paraphrase NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, this is a terrible idea.

After reading this article, you will come to understand why skipping post workout meals is antithetical to your fitness goals. You will also learn what types of foods and beverages you should consume to positively influence your body composition and athletic performance.

According to Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition, there are three primary ideas to understand when it comes to post workout nutrition:
  1. The body deals with nutrients differently at different times, depending on type and intensity of activity.
  2. What you consume before, during, and especially after your workout is very important.
  3. By consuming particular nutrients after your workouts, you improve your body composition, performance, and overall recovery.
As athletes/exercisers, we need to replenish energy stores, increase muscle quality or size, and repair the damage caused by the workout. The more intense the workout, the greater the tissue damage (at the micro level) and the more fuel that is burned, further necessitating proper post workout nutrition. 

Lolo Jones / Courtesy Detroit Sports Nation
These workouts make us stronger, leaner, and fitter in the long run. However, in the short term our system needs repair and fuel. This process of repair and rebuilding occurs by the breakdown of damaged and old proteins (termed protein breakdown) and the construction of new ones (termed protein synthesis). This process is collectively known as protein turnover.

Muscle protein synthesis is increased slightly or not at all after resistance workouts. However, protein breakdown increases dramatically after an intense workout. There is more destruction than construction taking place. By consuming appropriate nutrients within the "window of opportunity" (up to two hours following training), you stimulate muscle repair, muscle growth, and increase muscle strength. 

If you delay, or skip the post workout meal, you further damage your body since your body will catabolize muscle tissue to "feed" itself. In addition to giving you a higher percentage of body fat, your metabolism will slow down due to the decreased muscle tissue.

Now that we know the "dangers" of skipping the post workout meal, we need to know what to have. The post workout meal should consist of proteins and carbohydrates. Proteins are used to aid in protein synthesis, and carbohydrates are used to replace muscle glycogen and enhance the role of insulin in bringing nutrients into cells.

Liquids, such as smoothies or protein shakes, are often the post workout "meal" of choice since they result in faster digestion and absorption than solid foods. Liquids are also tolerated easier during and after workouts.

My post workout drink of choice is the Protein Knock Out from Juice Generation. It contains 44 grams of protein, 55 grams of carbohydrates, strawberries, bananas, and more. It is also very delicious, and quickly replenishes the energy stores that I have depleted during my training. If you don't have a Juice Generation or the like near you, there is no need to worry. It is easy to make smoothies to have right after your workout.

Equinox's Brian Riley loves his "Green Juice". He takes kale, ginger, carrots, orange, and spinach. He then blends them together for a couple of minutes, for a delicious, energetic post workout meal.

Another cheaper, as well as delicious option is chocolate milk. It is packed with the proteins and carbohydrates that depleted muscles need to recover. Also, the vitamins A and D, along with calcium help strengthen bones and build muscle. So, whatever your drink of choice, don't skip the post workout "meal".

Drink up--to your health!

Got questions?