Showing posts with label Chia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chia. Show all posts

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Defining a long run

Goodbye Boston, hello vacation 
Today's run (street): 5.6 miles

For all intents and purposes, my business year has ended. I finished things up with a trip to Massachusetts on Thursday and Friday and I'm now - officially - on vacation. It was a necessary excursion, but the travel logistics and schedule were tough. Shortly after leaving South Station, I took this shot of the gloomy conditions that I was leaving behind.

I wasn't able to run during the time I was away, so I looked forward to getting outside this morning. We have plans that will prevent my running on Sunday and Monday. I wanted to get in at least five miles before taking my next break. The other night I was asked whether I considered five miles to be a long run. I wasn't sure how to answer that, but I finally decided that five miles represents the dividing line between short and not-short.

I went to bed early and took the opportunity to sleep a full eight hours. My wife and kids had early morning activities so, after they left, I got ready to run. The temperature was in the low 30's when I stepped outside. Although I wore layers to stay comfortable, the five minutes it took to acquire a GPS signal forced me back into the garage to stay warm. I hoped that the first few minutes of my run would help me generate some body heat.

Prior to leaving I'd mixed a packet of chia seeds with an ounce of watered down coffee. I think that chia can make a difference. Chia seeds may not enhance performance, but they do seem to provide some sustainable energy. It could also be that, after taking two days off, my body was rested and ready for a run.

I covered the neighborhood as much as I could without duplicating too many streets. I kept waiting to feel fatigued throughout the run, but I felt almost as strong at mile five as I did at the start. My route took me to the northern part of my neighborhood so I extended the loop and finished with a little extra distance. I ran the last half mile briskly and that helped put my overall pace within normal range.

I felt great on today's run and I regret that I won't be back on the road until Tuesday. Still, I'll have some vacation days that will provide me the opportunity to run longer distances, leading up to the Hangover Run on January 1st. 5.6 miles may not be a long run, but it's the longest run I'll be doing for a while.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chia powered run pays off

Don't know if it helped, but it didn't hurt
Today's run (street): 5.1 miles

I went into the weekend thinking I'd do at least one run away from home. Unfortunately,  I never managed to travel beyond my neighborhood. At least today I was able get out of the house. Yesterday's five miles on the treadmill was a better experience than I'd hoped for, but I just couldn't face the treadmill again today.

The weather reports keep describing today's conditions as gloomy, with low dark clouds and occasional drizzle. I suppose if I were attending a lawn party I'd wish for brighter skies, but as a runner, I was pretty pleased when I stepped outside. I detected a few drops when I started, but it never actually rained. I wanted to cover five miles or fifty minutes, whichever came first.

While I was getting changed for my run, I noticed that my Garmin FR210 was out of charge. I grabbed the FR60 to use as a stopwatch, since the foot pad hasn't had batteries since I switched to the GPS-enabled 210 in May of last year. I generally average 9:30 miles on these weekend runs so I used time as an indicator of distance.

Prior to starting, I consumed a small packet of chia seeds that FS gave me from her NYC Marathon package. My experimentation with chia has been inconclusive, but I figured, "what the heck." I mixed the seeds with a small amount of water that went down much better than the Chia Surge gel I'd tried months before. I think it actually provided some useful energy.

My run went well. There was some wind that made the 46° weather seem much colder, but I wore two layers on top that provided adequate warmth. I didn't know how much distance I'd covered, but I had a good idea based on the time I'd run.

It seems like my encounters with bad drivers always seem to happen during the final minutes of my run and today was no different. As I was making my way to the last long street I saw an SUV coming from the other direction. I guessed correctly that the driver would turn right in front of me (no signal of course) so I paused while waving my hands to get her to see me. I yelled, "You're supposed to stop for pedestrians!" as she passed by. Maybe I need to invest in an air horn.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

16 days of Chia living

Christopher McDougall's book, "Born to Run", made a big impact on me when I read it last year. I'd tried adapting my running style based on what I'd read, focusing on landing on the front of my foot instead of striking off the heel. I also worked to increase the number of steps I would take per minute. Both of these actions relate to the running style of the Tarahumara natives who live in Mexico's Copper Canyon region. My transition to this running style got derailed by a bout of pneumonia that kept me from running for over three weeks. When I restarted I had strongly considered buying new shoes that would better enable that style of running. After my gait analysis I discovered that I naturally move off my heel quickly so, instead, I upgraded to the newest version of the shoe I was already using. The only thing that has stuck from the book is an interest in the seeds from the Chia plant. These seeds are mixed with ground corn and lime juice by the Tarahumara's to produce what they call Pinole. The natives claim Pinole provides enough energy to allow them to run distances of 50 miles or longer.

Ground Chia Seed

After reading about these seeds I decided to try them to see if Chia worked the same way on Long Island. Over each of the last sixteen days I have mixed 1.5 tsp. of Chia into drinks or food. In two cases my source of Chia came from energy bars that featured the ingredient, one from Greens Plus and the other from the raw aisle at Whole Foods. The Greens Plus bar was tasty: both chewy and crunchy (due to the whole seeds) as was the Whole Foods bar which was less tasty but much spicier. I looked at the ingredients and saw that it contained chili peppers. I normally like spicy, the hotter the better, but this didn't work as well as I'd hoped. I've discovered that mixing Chia with hot beverages such as sugar free hot chocolate or green tea leads to a disgusting collection of congealed lumpy matter at the bottom of the cup. Mixing with cold fruit juice or water is better and mixing with coconut water is the best because the taste combination is quite good.

With two-plus weeks of experience using Chia to draw on I really can't say that it's helped. My runs have been good throughout this period and I've successfully fought off a cold during this time. This morning I felt great throughout my 2.5 mile run. Was it the Chia? Probably not. I'm guessing it was good rest and two recent core workouts. Still, I plan to stay with the Chia routine for its other benefits like high levels of Omega 3-6-9. It couldn't hurt and it just might be helping.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A presidential run

Click on picture for larger view

I'm off for the President's Day holiday today so I needed to decide whether to run or rest this morning. I usually rest on Mondays because I do my week's longest and hardest runs over the weekend. I thought I'd compromise and do an elliptical session instead but, inspired by my wife's early morning run, I figured I'd do the same. I had an appointment scheduled for later in the morning so while time wasn't  extremely tight I needed to allow for gearing up, running and showering. My wife thought I could get away with a neighborhood run but I thought it would be easier to jump on the treadmill. Frankly, I didn't want to deal with the cold and puzzle through the process of selecting the right amount and type of layers to wear to ensure comfort from start to finish. I quickly selected some light clothes and got on the treadmill.

In the spirit of respecting limits I planned to run a distance similar to my regular weekday runs that average 20-25 minutes.. My first bite of the day was a Green's Plus, Chia Seed Omega 3 Natural Energy Bar that I had with my morning coffee. I found that my last couple of runs went fairly easy after having Chia earlier in the day. It may just be coincidence but I have had two good runs this weekend. Make that three, actually. I started at a moderate pace and felt strong so I gradually increased my speed, dropping from mid-9:00 miles to mid-8:00's by the 12 minute mark.  The time went by quickly, perhaps knowing I was running a third less distance than Saturday and Sunday helped that. My cadence was 82 SPM, up from my average of 80. When I finished I was soaked with sweat, part of that due to running the last couple of minutes at close to an 8:00 pace. I've run almost 9 miles over this long weekend and my pace has slid back down to pre-pneumonia levels. I need to get some distance runs in next week as I prepare for my March 5 mile trail race. I think more than ever that I'll be prepared for whatever Stillwell throws at me. Maybe this Chia stuff is working.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I heart my Valentine's Day run

This weekend has been a holiday treat with Valentines Day today, President's Day tomorrow and the start of the Olympic winter games on Friday. Well the Olympics games aren't really a holiday but they are fun. My kids are off all next week from school so they are pretty happy right now. This morning we celebrated Valentines Day with a pancake breakfast, cards and small gifts.  In the spirit of good eating I sprinkled Chia into my pancake mix. I still don't know if this stuff provides any noticeable benefits but, if nothing else, it is a great source of Omega fatty acids. My kids shared their holiday treats and I probably exceeded my daily sugar intake by 8:00 AM. I can only hope that the Chia works the way it's described by isolating simple carbohydrates in the system and delaying their conversion to sugar and fat.

The other thing that helps burn off sugar's effects is exercise and running is my workout of choice. I decided that the noisy treadmill was too much to bear today so I suited up in layers and headed outside. The temperatures have remained cold since last week's blizzard so most of the snow we got is still on the ground. That made me slightly concerned because many sidewalks - my escape route from cars - are still snow-covered. The streets themselves are completely clear and I figured that I could always jump onto a roadside snowbank if I needed to. I wore my reflective running vest over my thermal zip top (it was about 32 degrees when I went out) as an extra precaution.

My goal was to run 30 minutes through the neighborhood at whatever pace felt natural and comfortable. It may be the fact that I'm still on the tail end of my recovery that I care much less about pace than I did two months ago. All the same, when I resumed running after my illness, I was happy to see my paces go from low 11:00 minute to mid-9:00 miles. I really don't know if I'm hitting mid-foot or not and today I didn't care. My Brooks GTS-9's felt great and, like yesterday, I ran my distance with no discomfort, only the pleasant feeling of floating along. Well most of the time anyway. The wind was sharply blowing from the north and that made for some chilly times. By the end of my run I was happy to have that cold air to cool me off.

It's been a very nice Valentine's Day and there's plenty left to do. My weekly mileage is starting to build and my average distance has been increasing about 10% each week. I'm pleased with my progress and very glad I got outside today.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Chia fueled run

Yesterday's trip to Jackrabbit did not result in the purchase of a new pair of shoes as I'd expected. I was accompanied by my friend FS who was interested to see if the store carried her shoe of choice, the Brooks Addiction (unfortunately not). She is running a half marathon in late March and now would be the time to start breaking in a new pair. As soon as I saw Mark I knew I wouldn't be going home with any shoes on Friday. The snow had delayed the Brooks shipment and he was out of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10's that I was ready to buy.

You may recall that I tried the Brooks Ravennas a week ago but, despite their lighter weight and responsiveness, I wasn't convinced they were the shoes for me. I tried them on the treadmill on Friday and validated that doubt. While the shoes performed okay at speed the Ravenna's fairly narrow forefoot required me to move up a half size to allow for adequate room in the toe box. That was fine but the heel volume prevented the snug fit I want in an everyday training shoe. I just didn't feel like the shoe fit my foot that well. Mark had me try a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 6's and they felt great when I ran with them. I need to decide whether the Mizunos are the shoe for me or if I should follow my instincts and get the Brooks GTS 10's. I'll go back next week and try them both again. I asked Mark if I should be looking at higher end shoes (like the Brooks Trance 9) and he said it's absolutely unnecessary to spend more to get a top notch shoe. Honesty like that will make me a return customer.

Today I took a trip to a local mega-vitamin store in search of Chia energy bars. They had what I was looking for but they priced the product too high (I'd comparison shopped online) so I didn't buy a whole box as planned. I did buy one bar just to try it and I also bought  a bag of ground Chia so I could experiment with that. When I got home I mixed 1 1/2 teaspoons of the ground Chia with 10 oz. of coconut water and drank it down. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and the lack of grittiness in the mix. I then headed upstairs and ran 5K on the treadmill. Although the room was warm and my choice of running shirt too heavy I had a great run. Unlike most longer runs on the treadmill that devolve into boredom and exhaustion I was almost as fresh at the end as I was when I started. I only ended at 3.14 miles because I'm still recovering from pneumonia and didn't want to push past my limits. Was it the Chia that provided the energy to get through the run so easily? Or was it the coconut water? Maybe it was neither, just a combination of good timing and decent rest. Either way I'm intrigued. More experimentation to come!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Do running supplements actually do anything?

I mentioned in Saturdays post about visiting a health fair and sampling some food made with Chia seeds. Yesterday I was at Fairway and bought three types of coconut water to use for post-run hydration because it's been highly touted for that purpose. I have tried various foods and drinks that supposedly aid recovery from workouts or provide foundational nutrients that we may lack in our daily diets. I don't experiment with herbal remedies or energy drinks that contain dangerous ingredients like taurine or kava. I want to believe that fish oil and CoQ-10 really do provide a benefit but I really don't know how to tell. The cost for a bottle of these supplements can reach $50 or more and it may be worth it. Or maybe not.

Unlike medicines - like Ibuprofen or Sudafed - that quickly and consistently demonstrate their effectiveness, I really can't tell whether the green tea I drink is actively hunting down oxidants. I take a daily multivitamin and I don't get sick too often (save for when I get so sick that I'm hospitalized). Do my daily Centrum tabs give me the tools to fend off insidious colds and viruses? After 20 years of daily use I'd say they do help. Then again, I eat much better than I did in 1990 so I might now be getting everything I need from my food and the vitamins are superfluous. I experimented with FRS, a well-reviewed energy drink that is supposedly effective against free radicals. I used it as a recovery drink and it tasted fine but I wondered if the benefits of FRS at $2.00 a can was giving me anything more than an equivalent $0.30 mixture of water and pomegranate juice.

The price of the Chia-based food products I tried at the health fair was surprisingly high. A box of energy bars was close to $40. The Chia in these products is whole-seed which apparently does not provide any Omega-3 benefits. For $40 I expect to get everything. A small bottle of Chia capsules at Fairway was $36.99. Why? Are Chia seeds so rare that the market price is that high? If I bought that bottle and took the capsules daily would I feel better or more energized? Would my LDL and Triglycerides go down and my HDL go up? Would I be able to run longer and recover faster? I wish it was as clear as the cause-and-effect of taking an Advil at the first sign of a headache. It may not be especially good for you but it's sure worth the money.

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