Category: Training

Friday Feast: Gatorade, Coconut Water & Replacing Electrolytes

Last week on RAD Living I talked about how I need to better listen to my body and keep myself hydrated.  I thought I was being smart about my hydration this summer, but boy was I wrong.  Water alone was not keeping me hydrated enough for the July heat or to push me through strenuous workouts.

So recently I’ve been trying to to stay away from sugars, which means avoiding any kind of sports drinks.  I turned to coconut water for extra hydration and electrolytes, but it didn’t seem to be doing the trick.  Plus, I find myself struggling with the taste.


After a tough workout, I felt drained.  Also, my left calf muscle seriously cramped up on the last run, which is something that has never happened to me before.  I had drank about 50 oz of water and a coconut water earlier in the day so I thought I would be fine.  Well I guess the heat and humidity that day and the whole week prior with the heatwave we were having had caught up with me.  That night I went to bed with a headache and woke up with one the next morning.  I was very thirsty and was also feeling very dizzy and lightheaded.  Clearly my body was craving something more… electrolytes, sodium in particular.

So what are electrolytes?  They are a variety of minerals in the body that regulate how much water is in our system, as well as how our muscles function.  So they are VERY important when you exercise on a regular basis.  We lose electrolytes when we sweat making it even more important to replenish them after a difficult workout. Some of the most common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.  If you’re a “salty sweater” like I am, getting that sodium back in crucial.

Gatorade is probably the most commonly known “thirst quencher” that athletes use to re-hydrate.  I actually had to turn to this to get myself properly hydrated in these past few weeks.  It really does work well.  With double the amount of sodium than coconut water, it’s a quick way to replenish those electrolytes.  However, you are putting a TON of other crap in your system along with it, particularly the sugar, yellow 6 (wtf is that?!?) and the brominated vegetable oil.  YUK! So it’s working to keep me hydrated, but what else is it doing to my body???


Because I don’t want to make drinking Gatorade a habit, I started researching other electrolyte replacements and found some great resources on one of my favorite sites, Organic Authority.  Just this week there was a post on healthy electrolyte replacements and I also found one on delicious ways to re-hydrate. Guess what the number one item was in both articles?  Coconut water.  Sigh.

So I decided I need to give this another try.  I’ve sampled a few different brands and I found that I like Vita Coco the best. It has the most mellow coconut flavor and also comes in a variety of different flavors to cut that coconut water taste, which I still don’t love.  I’ve also found that it is much better when served over ice instead of straight from the container.  I actually brought some out to a restaurant the other night to re-hydrate after a tough CrossFit WOD.  I hope my friends weren’t too embarrassed by me 🙂

I also like the idea of adding salt and fruit to plain water as a way of making your own “sports drink.”  I know I need more sodium so I will have to try that going forward.  I have also heard Nuun is really great and I need to try that as well.  I will probably still drink Gatorade on occasion during very hot days or tough workouts, but I’m hoping that some of these alternative will do the trick in the future so I can stay away from some of this artificial junk.

How do you re-hydrate?  Do you like the taste of coconut water?

Dumbo, The Big Fat Elephant in the Room

Well it’s been no secret that my training for the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge has been severely lacking.  A few months ago I put together this fantastic training plan to keep myself on track and I set a goal of trying to finish the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2 hours and 30 minutes.  How long did I stick with it?  All of two weeks…sigh.


Something that I’ve learned about myself in the the past few years of race training is that I am NOT good with schedules like this.  I did the same thing for the WDW Marathon last year and the same thing happened.  So here I am, less than 6 weeks away from 2 challenging races and I’m finding myself not properly trained.  And I’m getting worried…

For the past few months, I’ve really been focusing on CrossFit.  I love the variety, the challenge and the community.  I find myself pushing harder than I ever thought possible and  it is incredibly rewarding.  It feels kind of like getting a race medal every time I finish a WOD…pretty damn cool!  But because of this, my mileage has declined.  The thought of getting out there by myself and pounding the pavement for an extended period of time seems daunting when I could go feel like a badass and and laugh with my friends at CrossFit in a fraction of the time.  I started CrossFit to help improve my running, but I never thought I would enjoy it so much that it would begin to take the place of my running.

This past Sunday I went out for my first training run in a few weeks.  My goal was 5 miles, but I only made it to 3.2.  I felt great starting out, but then the boredom and exhaustion set in.  I went out too fast (as usual!) and I also think I’ve been dealing with some dehydration from the extreme heat of the past week, so I really wasn’t feeling my best physically.  All of this culminated in me just wanting to go home and having an overall feeling of discouragement.  I KNOW I’m strong, I KNOW I can run long distances, but my body (and my brain) are telling me other things right now.  What is going on??

I think I’ve come to the realization that as much as I LOVE runDisney races, I really don’t enjoy training.  Where is my fairy godmother to come and make this training business easy so I can just go out an enjoy the races?!?  Basically, I have no excuse and just need to suck it up.  I HAVE to get out there these next few weeks and get some more miles under my belt before the big DDD or else I’m going to be in a world of hurt.  Plus, did you hear that Joey Fatone is going to be running Dumbo for his Coast-to-Coast?  I can’t look like a jackass in front of my bestie!

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

I probably won’t make my goal of finishing the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2:30, but all I know is that I will finish.  Yes, I’m frustrated with myself for not putting my best effort into training for this race, but I WILL put my best effort into the race itself…that I’m sure of.

How is your training going for Dumbo Double Dare?  Do you struggle with race training?

Runner of Steel Virtual Run

Looking for a fun way to amp up your race training?  Why not sign up for a virtual run where you can help a good cause AND get a fun medal?!

RAD Reader Angela is hosting the Runner of Steel Virtual Run benefiting the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to curing spinal cord injuries and improving the lives of those that live with paralysis.  The race is only $20 to enter and you get this super cool die cast medal!

Runner of Steel Medal

So what do you have to do to enter the virtual run and get this fun medal?  Just go to the Runner of Steel event page and enter your information.  Once registered, you will be emailed an official race bib and you will have until the end of September (yes, September!) to complete the run.  You can run any distance you want.  Make it a full marathon, a 10K or just a mile run around your neighborhood and you’ll get your medal!  100% of the proceeds will go to the foundation and your medal will be sent to you by the end of September.

Virtual runs are a great way to add some variety to your training.  I took part in the Kick Ass 5K Virtual Run earlier this year to support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  Even though it wasn’t my best run (one of my worst actually!), I was proud to wear that bib and support a cause that is very important to me.

So why not sign up and be a super hero for someone in need?!

Have you every participated in a virtual race? 

Scenes from a Saturday Run: October 13, 2012

It was chilly in the Northeast today!  We kicked on the pellet stove and commenced winter hibernation this morning.

Pellet Stove in Action

It got to about 50 degrees by 1 pm, so I decided it was a good time to head out for a run.  My goal was to try for 10 miles, but I wasn’t sure how I’d do since I haven’t done much running since the Tower of Terror 10-Miler.  Once I got out into the cool air, I knew I’d have no problem hitting that distance.  As much as I don’t enjoy the winters here in the Northeast, it makes for really good training weather!  Here’s a quick photo recap of my run…

Cinderella in CT???

GIANT Hill…this picture doesn’t do it justice! Yes, I ran up the whole thing 🙂

First view of the Long Island Sound around Mile 5

Mile 7 Stretch Break


I got the full 10 miles in and then some!  I even cut 8:30 off of my Tower of Terror 10-Miler time from 2 weeks ago!  It’s amazing what cooler temperatures and no humidity will do for you.  I had some shin splint issues in the beginning and tight calves towards the end, but overall I felt really strong and was super happy with my performance.

So how do I celebrate a 10 mile training run??  With Mexican food of course!

Love Boat Margarita…yes, that is a lime full of tequila

Chicken Mole Enchiladas YUM!

Did you get a long run in this Saturday?  How did it go?

Friday Feast: Cherries Can Aid in Easing Inflammation

Early in July, cherries were in abundance at Whole Foods.  At one point they were having a sale for $1.99/pound, so I bought a TON!  We love to snack on cherries, but I wanted to do something different with them.  While scouring the interwebs for a good recipe, I came across this interesting article about how “Researchers Say Tart Cherries Have ‘the Highest Anti-Inflammatory Content of Any Food.'”  As a runner with what seems like chronic inflammation in some part of my body at all times, I’m always looking for new ways to ease the pain.  My 7 pounds of cherries and I were intrigued, so I did some digging.

Recent research from the Oregon Health & Science University support this claim.  Over the course of 3 weeks, a group 20 women suffering from inflammatory osteoarthritis drank tart cherry juice twice a day.  This led to a “significant reduction in important inflammation markers.”  Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs with the cartilage at the end of bone joints gets worn down from basic “wear and tear.”  It is very common in athletes because they are generally putting more stress on their joints during frequent exercise. (1)  If you are a runner, think of how all of that constant pounding on the pavement is affecting your legs joints!  I know I feel it daily.

Other studies that have specifically focused on athletes result in showing these same anti-inflammatory benefits.    The first focused on college aged men at the University of Vermont who drank 12 ounces of cherry juice or a placebo twice a day for 8 days.  Halfway through the study, they performed a strenuous weight training workout and those who drank the cherry juice had only a 4% strength loss compared to a 22% loss in those who had the placebo.  Pain was also significantly less in those who drank the juice. (2)

I was mostly interested in the studies that focused on runners.  There was one that looked at marathoners specifically who drank cherry juice before, during and after a marathon and experienced a reduction in inflammation and a faster rate of recovery compared to those who had non-cherry beverages.  (2)  Another similar study, also out of the Oregon Health and Sciences University, showed that those who followed the same juice regimen for long distance races had “significantly less muscle pain following the race.” (3)

Given my love of cherries, I am totally psyched to hear this news.  I was even more psyched to see that sports dietitian Leslie Bonci has created The Red Recovery Routine to help athletes minimize pain.  This routine has 3 key steps that take place pre-workout, during exercise, and post-exercise.  1. Reduce Inflammation.  2. Stay Hydrated.  3. Fuel With Proper Foods.  There are also numerous suggestions on how to incorporate cherries into your everyday diet (yes, they are available year-round in some form – dried, frozen, juice, etc…).

Recently, I’ve been having a lot of pain in my lower legs during my runs and I’m going to give this routine a try for a few weeks to see if there is an improvement.  I’ve already replaced the pomegranate juice in my morning smoothies with cherry juice, but I will obviously be drinking a lot more juice and finding creative ways to eat this tasty fruit.

Will you give cherries a try?  

For more information on cherries and their superfood ways, visit  Cheers to a tasty and less painful run!

Sources: (1) (2) (3)

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