One of the many cool things about my job is that we are allowed to take “conference days” and attend educational conferences, expos and lectures about nutrition-related stuff. We are always encouraged to learn and explore, which is essential as our profession is ever changing.
So! On Friday and Saturday I was able to attend a Sports Nutrition Workshop led by Nancy Clark and Bill Evans here in NYC and it was great. If you don’t know who she is, Nancy Clark (MS, RD, CSSD) is the top of the top when it comes to sports dietitians, and her books are the go-to when it comes to sports nutrition. She lives and practices in Boston, and it’s not very often that she is in town with one of these workshops.
on the way to day #2
I learned a lot and will probably break it into a bunch of posts because everything she and Bill Evans said was so useful to both my professional self as a dietitian and myself as a runner. One thing that was so refreshing – aside from how humble and kind Nancy was – is that we share much of the same philosophy when it comes to nutrition. At the end of the day, one of the main goals for her patients is to help them “find peace with food.” No matter what they come in wanting to achieve – weight loss, weight gain, better performance – it can’t really happen until they understand the relationship between food, the human body and the mind.
on rest days
Nancy talked about rest days for part of her talk and said something that really resonated with me:
“Athletes take rest days, compulsive exercisers don’t.”
Simple, but true (mostly). Athletes understand that rest days are necessary for the body to recover from hard work and know they feel much better when they take them. The goal is optimal performance, not OMG must burn calories all the time. But that said, I also think there is a difference between taking rest days when you need one and laziness/lack of motivation/whatever. Taking every other day off because you’re sore or “listening to your body” because your baby toe hurts or you’re hungover isn’t really beneficial either. I think it takes time to recognize when you’re tired and can/should keep pushing and when to take a day off.
Nancy also talked about two common nutrition-related questions from clients on rest days (answers are a combination of her thoughts and mine, which align quite closely):
“Why am I just as hungry on rest days then on my [insert sport of choice] days? I’m not doing anything!”
Another fairly simple answer – because the body is finally able to use nutrients from food to repair itself and not to fuel workouts! The muscles are asking us for protein to rebuild and the liver is hoarding glucose to replenish glycogen stores. Enter: hunger. The key is to listen to this hunger and continue to fuel the body appropriately – it’s just as important as a “run” day.
“I don’t take rest days because I think I’ll gain weight.”
This is a common question among female athletes, and the answer is actually yes, you might gain weight. But it will be water weight stemming from the replenishment of glycogen stores. For every ounce of glucose we store, we need three ounces of water. This is also why we tend to feel a bit bloated when tapering for a marathon – less activity, more glucose storage! This is a completely normal process, and why it’s important to a). not freak out when and if your weight changes by a few pounds and b). focus on your performance and not the scale.
My head is spinning with all of the things I learned this weekend, and will definitely share more soon! Here’s a quick recap of taper week #1:
Wineglass Training, Week of 9/16 (taper week 1)
and ate some balls with Betsy and Susan
Tuesday: 10.5 miles with 2 x 2 miles at between 10K and HMP, 2 minutes rest in between, strength (arms, abs)
Did this workout with Betsy and Jenny and we all felt fantastic. It was a chilly morning, but perfect running weather and we pounded out the repeats smoothly and evenly together and did a victory bridle path lap in celebration of Betsy’s 21st birthday.
Wednesday: 8 miles easy, strength (abs, legs)
Thursday: 10 miles easy, strength (abs, legs)
Friday: 5 miles easy, strength (abs, arms)
Saturday: 16.5 miles, 3 x 10 minutes at MP
Had to wake up super early to get this done and make it to day #2 of the sports nutrition workshop at Columbia U, and was a little tired and cranky has I headed to Central Park in the pitch dark of pre-dawn. The mindset that I “only” had to run 16 miles made it a bit more bearable, and by the time I looped the park and headed to the West Side Highway, the sun was rising and I felt pretty good. Did the planned workout of 3 x 10 minutes at MP and kept it fairly quick after finishing, partly because I felt good and partly because I was afraid of being late to the workshop!
Sunday: 7 miles easy, strength (abs, legs)
Total: 57 miles
The goal for taper week 1 was ~55 miles, so this was pretty much on target. I feel good, but am SO TIRED and SO HUNGRY. It’s funny because I still ran a decent amount of miles and don’t think I am in complete taper mode yet, but maybe my body thinks it is. This week I’m cutting the mileage about ~60% of my peak, so we’ll see how that goes.
Also, SHIT. I’m running a marathon in less than two weeks!
Tell me: your thoughts on rest? or tapering? or both?