Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Getting the Most out of Protein Powder

>> Thursday, March 26, 2015

Katie Davis (MS, RD, CSSD, LDN) is the owner of a sports nutritional consulting business, and is only 1 of 550 registered dietitians in the United States to be board-certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. (She's also a runner, triathlete, snowboarder, and rock climber.) She recently offered 4 tips on how to use protein powder SO IT ACTUALLY WORKS in this article on usatriathlon.org. Here were her 4 main points:

1. Assess your reason for using it. Are you trying to lose weight? Bulk up? Lean out? Are you a vegetarian or vegan needing to up your daily protein intake for overall health? Figuring out why you think you need a protein powder is an important step before you buy a powder. This is because powders are often formulated for specific reasons, from different protein sources and with different additives. Using a good powder for the wrong reasons makes it the wrong powder.

This is a great point, but I wish Katie went into detail as to what kinds of protein are good for those specific goals. What kind of protein is good for endurance athletes? She doesn't say. Dang.

2. Buy a good product. Once you determine your reasons for buying a powder and that you actually need it (note: often protein powders are unnecessary), buy a good product. Pick a product that is certified as clean and safe. Visit nsf.org, usp.org or informed-choice.org to view certified products. These products are certified to be free of illegal and banned substances and to actually contain what the label says. Whether or not you are an athlete being drug-tested, it is nice to know that you are using a clean product. Also, realize that often companies put a lot of extra "stuff" into protein powders when you really just need protein. More is not better when it comes to the ingredient list.

I didn't know about those links, but I'm not too concerned about foods/supplements that are "certified to be free of illegal and banned substances." I'm sure all of the candy/chocolates/junk food I eat contains trace amounts of "banned substances."

3. Time it correctly. The best time to incorporate a protein powder is post-workout because this is when liquid calories are most important. Using liquid calories post-workout assures the nutrients get to your muscles fast for efficient recovery. However, many athletes also like to use protein powders in smoothies for breakfast because it is fast and easy. This is the second-best time of day to incorporate protein powder.

Jenny Evans got on me about this one - she really pushed me to get in some protein within an hour after a hard workout. (If you've been around a while, you'll remember when Jenny interviewed me in 2010 about my eating habits.) And regarding this article, I hadn't heard that "liquid calories" get the nutrients to the muscles faster. It makes sense, but I never knew that was a selling point for post-workout protein shakes.

4. Don't go overboard. When it comes to protein powders, many athletes believe that more is better. However, I have had athletes put on body fat instead of muscle because they were using protein powders three or four times a day and/or double the dosage recommended. Too much protein intake can just as easily lead to body fat gain as too much fat or carbohydrate intake. Use protein powders no more than once daily to leave room for protein intake from real foods such as meats, poultry, fish, nuts, nut butters, dairy, beans, soy/tofu and legumes. Protein powders should really only be used for convenience; there is nothing magical about protein in powder form and you won't get everything from protein powder that you can get from food protein sources.

Oh, and another things related to Katie's final point here is that I was recently hearing about taking in too much protein at one time. If what I've heard is correct (and if I'm remembering it correctly), too much protein at one time cannot be absorbed by the body. So don't load up on 5 scoops of powder in a tall glass of milk post-workout. Refuel a bit post-workout, and then eat properly throughout the rest of the day.

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that discuss workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE.

Read more...

Training Updates

>> Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I've done nothing too dramatic over the last few weeks, but the workouts have been decent:

SWIM: I've been shortening my swims a bit simply because I've been doing more running and biking lately, and I don't have time for everything. And really, if I'm just planning on sprint tris, do I REALLY need to be doing 2500 yard swims?

Ten days ago I did my fastest 100s ever (averaged 1:23.66/100 over 15x100), but since then I've been doing non-fast "normal" swims: some 200s just over 3:00, some 500s in just under 7:40, etc.

BIKE: After hitting the trainer more in February, my "go-to" outdoor ride loop was surprisingly fast for a March ride! I did it in 47:03, which is a 19.7 mph average. (I set my "go-to loop" PR last September in 45:55 [20.2 mph], and that was the first I'd broken 20.0 mph.) I felt pretty good on this ride, and my time was pretty great for March. The trainer time was time well-spent!

But I can't let up - I need to work on my bike speed if I want to perform the way I'd like to in some spring races. I've hit the trainer twice already this week. Keep it going!

RUN: I'm happy to report that my sacrum/hip is still feeling OK after STARTING to bring a little speed back! It's been 2.5 weeks since the indoor triathlon where I posted a 18:20 5K, and things are OK. I knew I'd need a few days after that race to see how my injuries would act, but they didn't flare up.

I ran easy the week after the race, and then I bumped it up a bit the week after that (last week): I did 6.6 miles with 3 at tempo pace (6:06), and I did another run that was few miles with the boys with some sub-6:30 miles. Then yesterday I got out for a quick 7 miles between classes. My ankle and hip/sacrum felt JUST FINE over that long run.

Read more...

Instagrams of the Day: Workouts and Family

>> Monday, March 23, 2015

Pharmie worked this weekend. Saturday morning was a big morning:


"After becoming mobile just 10 days ago, today Charlie discovered stairs.
I went upstairs, and when I came back down Charlie was on the landing (2 steps up).
Now he's obsessed with getting past the baby gate."



"It finally got above freezing, so we all headed out for a run. Five miles with the first 4 at
6:30 pace on some hills. This was the sight when I opened the stroller when we got back home."


Notice the bare DRY grass in the background of that photo. Well, the outdoor runs with the boys are put on hold for a few days, because this morning I Instagrammed this:


"'I'm gonna eat all the snow off this railing.' And by-golly, he did."


"Buying women's underwear with Batman. You know... just another normal day with the Stenzel boys."

Sorry for the delay with this post - BUSY and AWESOME weekend with my nonprofit. I'll have a bit on that shortly, and a review of the Fitbit Surge that I've been wearing for the last few months.

Read more...

"Skippeda50gate" and Lisa Running from her Responsibilities

>> Saturday, March 21, 2015

BFFFN Devon chimed in my shortened swim at the race 2 weeks ago on his blog:

As you know Steven Stenzel is my Best Friend Forever For Now and you also know he won a challenge at the YWCA Indoor Tri last weekend against Lisa Lendaway. It was a fierce battle. They swam 600, biked 12 miles, and ran a 5k on the indoor track. Seeing Steve in action reminded me of a Panther hunting it’s prey. He is a smooth and ferocious and very gifted natural athlete, like the Panther. Information is emerging about their race, however. It would seem Steven, and I stand beside him through thick and thin regardless of the scandals he immerses himself in, ALLEGEDLY may have swum 550 yards instead of 600. Yes, he ALLEGEDLY cut off a 50. This is shocking. An investigative committee is already looking into the controversial case. I’m withholding judgement until I have all the information and once I do my judgement will still be in favor of Steven, for friendship reasons. I think that is how our justice system works here in the US. Anyways please stay tuned for more information about #skippeda50gate.

#skippeda50gate: nice.

Remember how the winner of our challenge won free childcare from the loser? (Lisa and I both have 2 kids, and we love it when we have time to get in a workout.) Well Lisa's been pulling the "I'm too busy" excuse since the race. Lame. Last weekend, she couldn't watch the boys because she HAD to go to Florida for a 70.3 race. She finished 7th OVERALL and as the first female. Lame excuse for not babysitting my boys. She was out of the water 2nd OVERALL in 17:30, had a 2:26:21 bike, and then a 1:44:38 run. She finished in 4:31 overall.


1st female in every division, and overall female winner by a half hour.

I could have totally done a 4:31. Or maybe I could have done a 5:31. Well, sub-6 for sure. Maybe.

Then she taught her daughters what a recovery meal looked like:



While I hate her lame excuses for ducking out of her babysitting responsibilities, I DO respect her parenting style. Nice work, Lisa. Hope to have you babysit my boys before they have their drivers licenses.

In case you missed it, here's my race report where I fairly beat Lisa (and explained the controversy), and here are Devon's photos from the race (a lot of my bum).

Read more...

Friday Funny 893: "Motivational" Running Posters

>> Friday, March 20, 2015

Remy from Runner's World often posts Motivational Posters. Some are funny, some are inspiring, and some are a little dull. But here are my favorite 15 from the last 2 years or so:
















I once called out "LIAR" to someone cheering at a race. The person either
told me "lookin' good" or "you're almost there." I don't remember. But neither were true.















Lots more funny stuff posted all day long on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com! Happy weekend!

Read more...

Friday Funny 892: Spring is Upon Us

Today is the first day of Spring. So this seems appropriate:



Lots more funny stuff on my tumblr: steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.

ON A RANDOM NOTE: Tomorrow (Saturday, March 21st), the nonprofit artist group that I'm the vice president of (CVA Action) is hosting an evening of artist talks. How awesome does this sound?... There will be 8 artists/designers/printmakers giving quick presentations of 20 slides that are projected for 20 seconds each. They can NOT control the timing - once it starts, the slides automatically advance, and they have to keep up! So that's 8 presentations that will all be just 6 minutes and 40 seconds each. While enjoying the talks, there will be a Mexican food truck on site, and beer from ENKI Brewing (my wife's uncles brewery out in Victoria, MN). I'll be emceeing the event. Here's the Facebook event page. And you can get more info on my Photo Blog in this post. Check it out! Maybe see you there!

Read more...

Friday Funny 891: Baby Tips

These are old, and I think I've posted some here before, but these are just too good.



Well, apparently I've been drying my boys all wrong. Oops.

More funny stuff posted all week long on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!

Read more...

Friday Funny 890: St. Patrick's Day Graphs




More funny stuff on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.

Read more...

Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: How to Qualify for Boston

>> Thursday, March 19, 2015

OK, let's start with this: no, I have no interesting in training for a marathon right now, let alone trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I came across this Runner's World article about how to qualify for Boston, and I thought it offered up lots of good tips for ANY distance runner. There are some marathon-specific numbers in here, but there are also great tips for every runner to review.

Here are bits and pieces of Coach Jenny's 11 tips for runners to work toward their goal:

Start from where you are rather than where you want to be. This is my coaching mantra, because it’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement and propel yourself forward too quickly. And if your body isn’t ready, you’ll end up burnt out and quite possibly injured.

American 50K record holder Josh Cox said best when I asked him how he trained to break the 50K world record: “It takes years of training to race at your peak. The marathon itself takes years and years of training to perform your best. You’re not racing off the last six months of preparation. You’re racing on the foundation that was built over many years of training. It’s the cumulative effect that allows me to continue to perform stronger for longer.”

Review your training long and come up with a solid LONG-TERM plan for yourself. Don't forget about strength work (which Coach Jenny brings up a little later on).

Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Make gradual progressions in your training rather than big leaps. For instance, many runners believe running four to five extra-long runs of 24 to 26 miles will help them perform better in the marathon. However, most of them, in my experience, end up injured and unable to even toe the line on race day. It feels better mentally to log those miles, but physically you end up leaving your best stuff on the training path.

Coach Jenny has a few more specific training numbers for marathon runners based on this previous points, so make sure to check out the full article if you're a marathoner.

Run by effort rather than pace. This is the single greatest change a runner can make in the attempt to shed lots of time. Time gets in the way of progress, mentally and physically. Your body doesn’t know time; it knows effort. When you begin to train from within, you’ll be well on your way to setting personal record finishes. Let your time and pace be the outcome of the day’s performance and no more. This allows you to train based on the weather, your body, recovery times, nutrition, sleep, and other stresses that may affect performance. A tempo run isn’t a tempo run because you ran a certain pace; it’s a tempo run when you’re running near or at your redline threshold. Train by the purpose of the workout rather than a proposed pace, and you’ll rock every workout and recovery, every time.

That makes so much sense, but I've just never thought of it that way before. "Your body doesn’t know time; it knows effort." But that's hard to live by when you're shooting for a specific TIME.

Listen to your body and adjust based on life’s happenings. Any training plan is a process, never etched in stone. Things happen, and it’s important to listen to your body and ebb and flow with the drama that comes with marathon training. Got calf tightness? Cross-train at an easy to moderate effort instead of doing your scheduled run, and focus on flexibility. You’ll heal faster if you modify as you go.

Yes, yes, yes. Any runner who's been injured (so... ALL of them?) will tell you to be smart about this.

Mix it up. Cross-train with lower impact activities like cycling, swimming, elliptical training, and more. I have my athletes on all sorts of cross activities because it lessens the impact on the body, contributes to balancing the body, and keeps the program fresh as a daisy. Even elite athletes are getting in on cross-training in an effort to prevent injuries due to the higher impact forces that come with running. It is also vital to invest in a total body strengthening and flexibility program. This doesn’t mean pushing tons of weight on a bench press. It means strengthening the whole body, especially the core.

This is a major one that I've been doing for years (and I initially started doing strength work soley because I liked it). In fact, I got into triathlons because I was cross training so much to stay strong for running (and dealing with running injuries). And one of the biggest jumps I made in speed was during a year when I decided to really work on my core.

Learn from others. Hire a coach, join an advanced training group, and put yourself around other runners who’ve run Boston. A coach will customize your plan based on your body, your life, and your goal, and you’ll avoid the many pitfalls that can happen when you’re trying to improve with a template training plan. Training with an experienced group will inspire, educate, and motivate every workout. You’ll learn some of the greatest tricks from runners who’ve been there and done that.

On a related note, I still need to find the guts to join the Master's swim group at my Y…

Choose your races wisely. Not every one of them will result in your best performance. Go with smaller marathons, in cooler climates, with terrain that is similar to your terrain at home. Running a flat course like Chicago requires training on flat roads, as the muscle wear if you’re not used to flatlander landing forces can cause just as much cramping as a hilly course. I’ve had just as many athletes run faster on rolling courses as on flat ones, and the key is to train to the specificity of the terrain...

I kinda realized this in 2012 when I was shocked as I was racing the hilly New Prague Half Marathon. I was thrilled to be doing SOO well during the race, and I set a PR on a hilly, windy course. But then I realized I had trained on similar rolling hills along the river in Minneapolis and St. Paul, so it all made a little more sense.

Have a plan B. Although it may seem like a failure to drop out of a marathon versus muddle through a tough day, doing so will allow you to chalk it up as a dress rehearsal rather than a failed race and keep you on course. Sure, you won’t get the medal, but you’re not out there for the medal now - you’re on a journey to qualifying for the Boston Marathon, and everything revolves around making wise choices to keep you on course. There are many things that go into a magic marathon performance and all the stars need to be in alignment (weather, health, training, etc.). Don’t let an 80-degree fluke weather day set you off course. Pick a back up marathon three to four weeks after your plan A event.

Focus, grasshopper. Ask any elite runner how many marathons they run in a year and they’ll give you the peace sign (two). Improving performance requires the time to train hard, recover fully, and progress forward. Racing too often can hamper your performance. Focus on no more than two to three marathons per year. If you’re injury-prone, stick with two. Invest in shorter distance runs (5K to 10K) to hone your racing skills.

I'm injury-prone, which is why I strictly stick to 0 marathons per year.

Practice your racing strategy. Don’t leave your plan up to your buddy or a pacer - be in control of your destiny and learn pacing skills in your training (simulation runs). You’ll have a good idea of your estimated finishing time based on lead up races and training sessions. However, if you only go by this, it can leave you under- or overshooting it. It’s like trying to pick the winning lottery ticket number (it doesn’t work). Instead race by your body and by what’s happening on the given day. When you tune into your body, you will race your best no matter what the day brings.

Yes! "Simulation Runs!" I've been calling them "race pace runs" since I worked with Coach Jen a few years back, and she really taught me to work those into my training. Check out my tips on "race pace" runs HERE. Seriously, it's huge. I noted that PROPERLY working those runs into my training made me faster AND kept me from getting injured. That's like the running Holy Grail.

Think like MacGyver. There are lots of ways to shed time that have absolutely nothing to do with running harder. Race smarter by running tangents on the course, fueling yourself optimally, getting quality sleep, drafting off a taller runner in windy conditions, meditating at the start, and focusing on form. I shed 20 minutes off my best marathon time when I qualified for the Boston Marathon - some of that was training, but most of it was my inner MacGyver.

Keep these tips in mind as you're training and racing this year.

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE.

Read more...

Training Numbers: Week In Review Post-Triathlon

>> Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SUNDAY, 3/8: Indoor Tri. Here's my race report - I was pretty happy with my 18:20 5K. But how much would that aggravate my hip/sacrum injury from August of 2013?

MONDAY, 3/9: Stretch and roller. I just spent some good time working out the legs.

TUESDAY, 3/10: Lift (upper body). Still kinda taking it easy.

WEDNESDAY, 3/11: 50 mins on the trainer (Spinervals), and core and legs at the gym. STILL kinda taking it easy. The spin wasn't too intense.

THURSDAY, 3/12: Easy 4.5 mile run, and a little upper body. First run post-race felt OK. Hip/sacrum a little achy, but not bad.

Alright, that's enough recovery... time to do some WORKOUTS.

FRIDAY, 3/13: 9x200 in the pool, and some core. The 200s started off slow. And stayed slow. I felt sluggish. I realized part way into the swim that it was my first swim in a long time that was more than 4 days after my last swim. I looked back: the first few days in NOVEMBER was the last time I went as much as 5 days between swims, and that's just when I decided to re-commit myself to swimming. I thought that was the reason for my sluggishness. I figured it might take a few weeks to get back to where I had been a few weeks ago. I swam my slowest 200s of the year: 3:04.5 (when my last 3 workouts of 200s averaged 3:01.X, 3:00.X, and 2:59.X [but not as a perfect descend like that]). The workout was good, but I felt crummy. But that'd be turned around once I hit the pool again on Sunday...

SATURDAY, 3/14: good upper body workout, and MY FIRST OUTDOOR RIDE OF 2015! The weather had been great for a few days, but it hadn't worked to get out. But I got in a 25 mile ride on Saturday! My first rides of the year are usually about 15-18 miles, and I'm dead at the end. But the last 6 weeks of trainer workouts seemed to really show here, because I had a 19.9 average on a windy day at mile 15 (before climbing a big hill). I hit a little of the Greenway trail, and did "the loop" that I like to do (Summit, River Road, Shepard Road, Ramsey Hill). I finished still feeling OK with a 19.0 average. Not that great, I know, but I felt good about it being the first outdoor ride of the year.

SUNDAY, 3/15: 15x100 in the pool, some legs at the gym, and an easy run with the boys. I was ready for this swim to stink a little again. I told myself I wasn't going to go nuts, and maybe I'd just shoot to have them around 1:30 (my current CSS swim pace). But the first one was 1:23. The next few were 1:25-1:27. Then a bunch at 1:23 again. I ended up swimming MY PERSONAL BEST 15x100 WITH A 1:23.66 AVERAGE! (30 sec rest between intervals.)

After the swim, I did some leg work at the gym, and then went straight home with the boys and "ran out" my legs with an easy 4 miles with them in the stroller, as I showed in my last post:


That's a lot of physical activity before noon!

MONDAY, 3/16: no endurance workout, just some core and old PT leg exercises. I can't forget about my old physical therapy exercises for my weak butt. Gotta keep those up.

TUESDAY, 3/17: Maybe a swim? Maybe a lot of 50s? Maybe some 400s? We'll see what today holds.

Read more...

Instagrams from the Weekend

>> Monday, March 16, 2015

I'll be back with a slight training update (and something else I just learned about swimming) shortly. But in the meantime, here are 4 Instgram pics from this past weekend.


"Springtime = no clothes."


"Had a great birthday with the boys so far: Henry had a bday donut in the car, I swam as
they played at the Y, we all played at Henry's speech appt, we played in
the yard for a long time before naps, and now we're at the park. #GoodDay"

Yep, Friday was my 34th birthday. I especially like birthdays that are on Fridays because I was born on a Friday the 13th. "That explains a lot" says everyone. Here was one of the better FB wall posts from my birthday:




"Cake from Shish with mini-me."

And here's a non-Instagram pic from earlier in my birthday when I mentioned "we played in the yard:"


Henry being a "crane" by his sandbox, and Charlie scooting around with Henry's toys.

Finally, I ended my weekend with my fellas yesterday as Pharmie had to go into work for a while:


"Had a nice easy run with these 2 fine gents today."
We ran by the river a bit, and Charlie passed out for a quick snooze.

Hope you all had a good weekend!

Read more...

Devon's Photos from the Indoor Triathlon

>> Saturday, March 14, 2015

I posted my full race report from my showdown with Lisa at the Indoor Triathlon earlier this week, but now I thought I'd share some more photos. Former-pro-triathlete-turned-normal-athlete Devon Palmer was the announcer, and he has a Facebook album full of iPhone photos. The album was captioned with this:

Had the pleasure of announcing another YWCA indoor tri this morning. Lots of important races were on the line. My Best Friend Forever For Now Steve Stenzel challenged Lisa Lendway to a duel and boy did they ever battle. It was fierce and truly something to behold. In addition there was an intra-YWCA staff competition. The first two heats were mostly staff and they took this challenge VERY seriously. And by VERY I mean they didn't seem super concerned about the outcome, even though bragging rights are very important. Thanks Nicole Cueno for putting together another fast and furious race that flowed flawlessly.

Here are a few photos that I want to share:


Laurie (the one who took all the photos from Monday's race report) was FLYING in an earlier heat.
(She teased herself saying she was the only one who's swim time was longer than her run time.)


Devon's caption: "Heat Six is where things really heated up. Here's the two challengers
side by side spinning and sweating in furious silence. The tension was palpable.
These are two VERY aggressive athletes."





Devon's caption: "Oh... how did this end up on here?"


Awesome lap counters for our 25 laps on the track! Mine was the brunette in orange way in the back.


Devon's caption was simply "#FIERCE."
I commented about the close-up on my freshly shaved shoulders.


Devon's caption: "The main event of the day drew a large audience." That's photographer Laurie,
overall winner Bob (who was in an earlier heat), and Josh (speedy runner and volunteer).


Amy B and Josh. Amy was one of my first "tri race buddies" from years ago,
and I love to run into her throughout the tri season!


Devon's caption: "Steven after the finish! What an effort. This majestic stallion was totally spent."


Lisa running.


Devon's caption: "Me n Steven."


I don't know WHAT this is. So I left a comment...




Devon's caption: "You can see why Steven is well liked."


This is Anu, who would have passed Lisa on the run to beat her by about a minute to take 3rd overall.


Lisa and Henry.


I think Josh and I were sharing intense stories.


Devon's caption: "Sometimes sportsmanship looks very uncomfortable."


Comment's on previous photo.


Devon's caption: "Ryan Gosling eating a bagel. Oh wait! That's Steve! My mistake."
I had "crazy eyes" a lot during this race. I tend to do that when I see a camera pointed at me.


Devon gave away a lot of Peace Coffee post-race.


Chris H: another old race buddy! He's been volunteering a lot on the track at these indoor races.


Devon's caption: "Just looking at results... and nothing else.... "
Damn, that's a total Hank Hill ass.


Devon's caption: "Rivals cooling down together."


Devon's caption: "In a display of excellent sportsmanship,
these competitors did their cooldown together. Inspirational. "


Thanks for the photos, Devon. And thanks for the race, Lisa. And thanks for the great venue, Midtown YWCA! Here's my full race report from earlier this week if you missed it (with lots more photos).

Read more...

Twitter

Follow steveinaspeedo on Twitter

Facebook Fan Page

All content and original images copyright 2006 - 2015 by Steve Stenzel, AKA "Steve in a Speedo." All Rights Reserved.
Want to use something seen here? Just ask - I don't bite.