How can Restricted Diets Affect Runners

The most popular diet trends in the past few years have been low-carb diet, Keto diet and one of the most popular currently is the intermittent fasting. These are very restricted diets that most people are using to lose weight and body fat. 

Low-Carb Diet:
10-30% Carbs
30-40% Fat
40-50% Protein

Ketogenic Diet:
75% Fat
20% Protein
5% Carbs

Intermittent Fasting:
5:2 Fasting- Normal diet for 5 days and fasting for 2 days/week (500-600 calories).
18:6 Fasting daily- Fasting for 18 hours/day and limited eating time 6 hours/day.
16:8 Fasting daily- Fasting for 16 hours/day and limited eating time 8 hours/day.
14:10 Fasting daily (more balanced)- Fasting for 14 hours/day and limited eating time 10 hours/day.

Can intermittent fasting help runners?
Intermittent fasting can help lose weight and body fat. To train on an empty stomach can work for some runners but only for short distance and low-intensity runs. Some people can sustain intermittent fasting, but to follow a more balanced schedule diet is healthier to support metabolic and hormone health, better sleep, avoid mood swings, support energy levels and stamina. Intermittent fasting for a short period can help with weight loss for some people, while others tend to overeat during the eating time. For runners, intermittent fasting and restricted diets have shown to have mostly negative side effects. If we look at the worldwide top runners, short or long-distance runners, none of them are following restricted diets. 

Intermittent fasting diet and restricted diets side effects for runners

  • Fasting before a long-distance run could result in muscle wasting
  • May increase the risk of illness
  • Reduce training intensity
  • Compromise sleep
  • Negatively affect mood
  • Compromise recovery
  • Low levels of glucose- the brain’s major energy source
  • Increase the risk of overeating later in the day

Dangers of Running After a Fast

  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle control issues
  • Severe fatigue
  • Light headedness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble breathing

Side Effects of Fasting Post-Run

After finishing a run, whether you are fasting or not, your body needs to refuel with the proper nutrients. The body needs some carbs and protein 4:1 or 3:1 (depending on the distance and intensity) to kick start the metabolism for recovery and refuel your muscles for repair and recovery.

Benefits of Eating Before Running

  • Muscles well fueled for performance
  • Can improve post-run recovery
  • Allows for harder or longer runs
  • Increases total calorie burn of the run
  • Helps to prevent overtraining by stabilizing the hormones
  • Increases the energy levels

People who run and train regularly need carbohydrates for fuel, as carbs are most easily metabolized into energy by the body. Runners need regular fuel to perform their best. Your blood sugar control, mental clarity (brain needs glucose), and energy levels can all be negatively affected with intermittent fasting.

If weight loss is a goal, it is better for runners to create a small calorie deficit each day versus intermittent fasting. This can help meet the weight loss goals while not compromising the runs.

By eating a well-planned, clean and balanced diet during the day, focusing on consistent sleeping habits every night, optimizing recovery and fueling and hydration before, during, and after training, you will be able to stay more consistent with your runs, maintain a body that is strong, fit, fueled and healthy.
Eat Well, Sleep Well, Train Well!

KATIA

Basic Diet Tips for Runners’ Overall Wellness


Eating specific foods and taking some basic supplements can help support the overall physical health and wellness. With the regular running and training schedule some of our body’s essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals get depleted, which creates many side effects. We want to avoid stress, especially before races, maintain a healthy gut, look after our muscle recovery, boost our energy level, support our immune system and make sure we get good quality sleep. 

Reduce Stress 

As human beings, stress is part of our life. For runners, sometimes stress can affect our performance, especially before a race. 
Drink– One of the best natural drink to reduce nerves and stress levels is green tea. It contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to induce alpha brain waves, associated with a state of “wakeful relaxation”. Drink green tea daily, especially the week before a race, when you should lower your caffeine intake.
Supplement- Ashwaganda is one of the superfoods adaptogenic herbs which helps reduce stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Adding ashwaganda supplements to your daily diet will help ease your mind.


Protect your Gut

You can improve your gut health by eating probiotic foods, which will help support your overall health. Our gut affects our whole system, to have a healthy gut, with lots of healthy bacteria, we can avoid diseases, digestive issues, low levels of energy and fatigue, and our body not absorbing all the nutrients we need.
Eat– Probiotic foods are full of beneficial bacteria that support a healthy gut microbiome. Probiotic foods are created by fermentation and can be found in foods such as miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, and kefir.
Supplement– Probiotics supplement provide a higher dose of healthy bacteria than only found in foods. Take daily probiotics supplements.

Reduce Muscle Soreness

Make sure you include omega-3’s in your diet to reduce post-run muscle soreness. 
Eat– Omega-3’s rich foods, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, which helps to reduce inflammation.
Supplement– Magnesium is a great supplement to reduce muscle soreness, inflammation and look after our muscle tissue. Take magnesium supplement with calcium supplement before bed as it also helps with sleep quality.


Boost your Energy

To support your energy level and wellness, make sure you include all the macronutrients in each meal. Protein, healthy carbs, healthy fats so that your body doesn’t crash.
Eat– Include enough protein in every meal- 1.2g-1.9g/kg of bodyweight according to your training distance and intensity and bodyweight.
Supplement– Fatigue can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency which is very common. Taking a vitamin D3 supplement daily will support your energy level.


Support your Immune System

Vitamin C is a very important health supplement, it helps boost the immunity system, maintenance of bone and cartilage, repair of muscle tissue wounds, protects from cold.
Eat– A variety of fruits and vegetables, including oranges, kiwi, strawberries, kale, broccoli, red peppers, tomatoes.
Supplement– Taking daily vitamin C supplements help support the immune system.


Sleep Quality

Sometimes our mind is in overdrive due to stress, work, intense training, race stress which can affect the quality of our sleep.
Eat– The get a good night sleep, we must avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and avoid eating refined, starchy carbs or sugar before bed. Adding magnesium-rich foods and melatonin boosters to our daily diet will provide a good sleep quality. For dinner, eat foods rich in amino acid tryptophan, almonds, seeds, tuna, crab, which the body needs to produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
Supplement– To take a supplement that contains glycine, magnesium and cherry extracts will help promote a better sleep.

Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!

KATIA

Proper Recovery for Runners

When you’re training for a specific goal or race, running regularly, or even during off-season training, focusing on recovery is as important as all the kilometers you’re running. Proper recovery during training or even when you’re off-season and not training intensely will help avoid the dreaded injuries and keep you feeling strong.

1. Avoid every day hard runs

Don’t think you need to push and go hard on every run. That is not the way to build up your endurance and strength, it’s the opposite, it will make it harder to recover from pushing through all the kms. It is important for the best training to mix it up, include harder runs, easy runs, rest days to make sure you train your body with a mix of intensities, and include adequate recovery to adapt to the harder or long-distance sessions.

2. Sleep well

Sleep is the key recovery tool. It is important to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but the quality of sleep is just as important. During the sleep pattern, our body goes through several cycles, and when you are in deep sleep, the crucial growth hormones are released. Avoid screen time 2 hours before bed time, avoid eating or drinking caffeine or alcohol too late at night. The best way is to make sure you follow a consistent pattern or going to bed and waking up at the same time most days, in a cool and dark environment. 

3. Include a “recovery” training week every 4 weeks in your training plan

Progressive training is very important and beneficial to get more fit, stronger and faster. As your training gets harder and more intense physically and mentally, aim to include a slower training week by reducing the overall training volume every 4 weeks to make sure your body gets the extra rest it will need to adapt and progress.

4. Find the right gear 

There are plenty of gears on the market that can be very helpful with proper recovery. Finding the right shoes to support your running form, using compression garments to improve the blood flow and speed recovery after hard training. Using a foam roller for great stretching and deep tissue release. Using magnesium oil to massage your sore muscles, will help with muscle recovery. Focus on the gear your body is asking for, which will help with your personalized recovery needs.

5. Get all the nutrients you need for fueling and recovery

Your daily nutrition is a critical factor for your recovery after runs. As your training progresses or even during recovery weeks, focus on including and adjusting all the nutrients for proper fueling and recovery. To eat the right foods and nutrients before and especially after training will speed up recovery and protect your overall health. Post-run aim for 3:1 or 4:1 carbs/protein, according to your training session, more intense or longer distance sessions your body will need more carbs for recovery.

6. Include your recovery sessions into your training schedule

Try and get a good routine of stretching daily, core strengthening exercises 2-3 times per week. Balance your meals and snacks according to your training as well. 

7. Adjust your training plan according to your life schedule

Sometimes life gets in the way and you have to readjust your training plan according to what might affect your well-being. Stress has a big impact on our overall health and well-being, when you go through more stressful time, you might need to reduce the intensity of your running and training. An extra rest day or lighter week will improve the ability to recover and rest.

8. Take a break mentally and physically

The ability to relax mentally and physically should play a big part in all your recovery plans. Make sure you take some time to relax with family and friends, or even practice some regular meditation, which has been shown to significantly improve recovery.

Train Well, Rest Well, Feel Great!

KATIA

The Green Race returns to Singapore with its flattest, fastest and friendliest course ever!

Singapore, June 9, 2019 — The Green The Green Race returns to Singapore with its flattest, fastest and friendliest course ever! Singapore, June 9, 2019 — The Green Race (TGR), the Hong Kong-based race organiser of sustainable running events, returns to Singapore for a third year with a brand new course that mixes trail and tarmac. On Sunday June 15, 2019, the STGR Uglow Marathon will offer marathon, half-marathon and 10km options, with all courses taking participants along the serene waterside paths of Punggol Parkway and through the tame trails of beautiful Coney Island.

Some 730 runners have registered for STGR Uglow Marathon, with 342 runners taking on the 10km (8am flag-off), 285 runners in the half-marathon (7.30am) and 103 runners in the full marathon (7am). Among the participants include 16 athletes and 18 volunteer partners from Special Olympics Singapore, who have been sponsored free race entries with full runners’ entitlements by TGR.

Runners can choose to compete either solo or as a pair. All participants will receive unique TGR items in their race pack and a specially-designed Singaporean Uglow finisher’s singlet.

Explaining the reason for the new race location, TGR’s race director Martin Cai said: “We decided to go with the current trend where many trail runners are finding they can be faster overall, if they mix things up a little more. Cross-training with swimming, road running, yoga and cycling is bringing some runners back to the trail running start line stronger than ever and ready to take on their next ultra trail running battle.”

Just as well, the Bukit TImah Green Corridor, the previous location of the first two STGR events, is closed for infrastructure works.

Regardless of the race location, TGR remains focused on its ultimate goal, which is to connect runners and create community. Says Cai: “Connecting people (who happen to run) across all boundaries can be a very special thing to be part of and this is the path are focused on.”

To this end, participants of the STGR Uglow Marathon will have the opportunity to join the MSIG Summits @ Mui Wo in Hong Kong on November 3, 2019 (and vice versa). The challenging race, which will offer 17km, 27km and 50km options, traverses Lantau, the southwestern Hong Kong island, from east to west.

“TGR’s third event in Singapore is very special because it connects Singapore to Hong Kong, and Hong Kong to Singapore,” says Cai.

Since its founding in 2016 in Hong Kong, TGR has been committed to creating events that contribute to the community and environment.

Cai says: “We love sharing excellent running experiences with our running community and we truly believe our events are so much more than just a race day out. They are a full-fledged experience that we work extremely hard to create and share with each participant.”

For the Special Olympics athletes, the opportunity to participate is something they relish. Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, President of Special Olympics Singapore, said: “Running together provides a platform for persons without special needs to forge friendships with our athletes with special needs. Ongoing running training helps our athletes to develop cardiovascular fitness and strong mental skills. They also develop their social and emotional skills through interactions with their running partners and other volunteers.

“We are heartened to know that Green Race is supportive of our special athletes. We believe our athletes will enjoy the experience of the Green Race — they look forward to the adrenaline rush of a mainstream running event. Through such initiatives, Green Grace is leading the way to build a more caring and inclusive Singapore using sports as a common language.”

For more details on the STGR Uglow Marathon, please visit http://s.tgr.run.

5 things to know about The Green Race

  1. The Green Race (TGR) was created in Hong Kong in 2016 and that year had its first event in Singapore at Bukit Timah, with 338 participants supporting the event. “The event was a great success, well supported and enjoyed by all,” says Martin Cai, TGR’s race director. The next year, TGR’s Singapore Forest Marathon had nearly three times as many participants, a testament to the popularity of the event.
  2. It’s not just a name: TGR is all about green, sustainable events. “Our intention is to create high quality and value trail running events the do not leave behind a trail of unnecessary wastage,” says Cai. TGR has always been a healthy balance of environment, education and community. Initiatives include beach and trail cleanups, gear and clothing donations, nurturing a race volunteer community, and the MSIG Youth Trail Running Development Programme in Hong Kong.
  3. You can opt out of a TGR finisher medal. “We offer participants the opportunity to consume less and instead support a worthy cause,” says Cai. This year, at least 17% of all STGR Uglow Marathon participants chose the SG$4 medal opt-out, which money will instead be donated to Special Olympics Singapore. Over the past four years, TGR’s opt-out service has diverted more than S$48,000 from participant consumption to worthwhile charitable and community causes across Hong Kong and Singapore.
  4. Looking for a different type of vacation? TGR offers runcation retreats. They’ve partnered with John Ellis of Gone Running Hong Kong, Justin Andrews in Chengdu, Hirofumi Maeyama of Tottori Japan, and Sebastian Bertrand of Thailand Mountain Trails in Chiang Mai, to bring runners unique runcation retreats that truly leave a lasting impression for all participants. “From trails to culture, food to people these retreats are really some of the best holidays a trail runner could hope for!” Cai says.
  5. TGR, in partnership with sponsors MSIG Insurance Hong Kong, organise the MSIG Trail Running Series 2019 in Hong Kong, which offers a unique four-race challenge to not only the local, but regional trail running community. The series rewards top runners with not only prizes in cash and kind, but also a chance to participate in a 4 Deserts Racing the Planet event. A number of Singaporeans frequently travel to Hong Kong for TGR races, including ultra runners Alex Ang and Alvin Png. 

Speed Training for Short and Long-Distance Runners

Adding some speedwork to your training plan, whether you are a trail runners, road runner, long or short distance will have lots of benefits. It will not only help to increase your speed but also provide many other fitness and health benefits. Adding some speed training sessions will also increase your strength, speed, endurance and running form.

Benefits of Speed Training

1. A Stronger Stride

A runner’s stride affects the running speed, by how far each stride carries you and how fast you can complete the stride. There are two phases in a stride; the time you spend in the air, and the time your feet are on the ground. On the ground, you apply enough impact and force to push back into the air. In the air, you reposition your legs for the next landing. The differences in leg speed are determined by what happens on the ground. Runners who quickly apply greater force to the ground get back into the air faster and generate a stronger stride. You must train your nervous system and muscles to increase force production with each stride. Plyo exercises like squat jumps, box jumps, reverse lunge jumps can fire up your leg muscles to help you with stronger strides in speed sessions. 

2. Increase Fast-Twitch Muscles

We start losing muscle mass at around 25-30 years old. For runners, slow-twitch muscles fibers (muscle cells), the ones you rely on most during long-distance runs, are highly resistant to age-related deterioration. On the other hand, the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which support the stride length and strength are required for top performance and speed. Fast-twitch muscle fibers disappear at a rate of 1% each year after the age of 30 years old. This will cause a slower pace reduction of 40% over your lifetime. But by adding some speedwork sessions to your training, you will build up and activate the fast-twitch muscle fibers and cut the fiber loss by half.

3. More Energy and Fat Burn

When and how much fat does our body burns? You burn 100% fat while standing or recovering after a sprint or high intensity effort. When you run at a slow pace, about 70% of your energy comes from fat, during a long-distance run it’s about 50%. At very fast pace or sprints your body uses 100% carbs for energy. But after those high-intensity efforts, your body spares carbs by using 100% fat to fuel your recovery and refuel your anaerobic system.

4. Reduces Risk of Injury

Training for speed doesn’t increase the risk of injury, it reduces it if your train and recover properly. Speed training puts your muscles through a fuller range of motion, improving flexibility. It trains more muscles and more muscle fibers, creating better muscle balance. Speed work also strengthens injury-prone muscles; hamstrings endure loads of up to 8-10 times the bodyweight just before and after your foot touches the ground. So, looking after your hamstrings by strengthening and stretching them will make them much stronger.

5. Stronger Bones and Connective Tissues

Just like your muscles, bones and tendons are living tissue that respond to training by getting stronger. According to some research, runners are less likely to require knee or hip replacement. By adding speedwork you will increase the running’s strengthening effect for bones, tendons, fascia and ligaments. People tend to think that runners will be more likely to get knee and hip injuries, but actually running and training properly with the right recovery will strengthen them. 

6. Increase Running Economy

Running economy measures how efficiently you use oxygen at a given running speed. If you improve your running economy, you will require less oxygen to run at a fast pace. By saving oxygen, you can either fuel a faster pace or maintain your current pace for a longer distance. High-intensity sessions are key to improve the nervous system component of running economy. Many studies have shown that runners can improve the running economy by 6% within 4-6 weeks. 

7. Increase of Anaerobic Endurance

At the start of a run, the first minute is mostly fueled by anaerobic energy, there’s a 40-60 second delay before your body can provide your muscles with enough oxygen to increase aerobic energy production (aerobic energy is created within your muscles). By doing speedwork, you lower the fatigue linked with anaerobic production.

8. Better Balance

Without proper balance and proprioception (awareness of your body’s position and movement in space), every time your foot touches the ground, it will be affecting the landing form and imbalance. Distance running doesn’t provide good training for balance and proprioception. When the body is not trained for proper balance, after a while the nervous system and muscles will shut down if you run on uneven terrain or go over some technical road, which will increase the risk of injury. By doing some speedwork, or running backward, side steps, or single-leg exercises will improve your balance and strength.

9. Improves Agility

Agility helps to handle technical terrains, sharp turns on a trail, hop over some rocks. Agility is based on balance and proprioception. Performing speed training, ladder drill or cone drills will also boost your agility of your run.

10. Easier Strides

Every time your foot lands, your tendons and connective tissues stretch, storing energy generated by motion and gravity. A second later, your release this energy. More than 50% of the energy used during each stride comes from the elastic recoil (rebound of the lungs after having been stretched by inhalation), so strengthening the tendons and nervous system involved will make you stronger, faster and make it more effortless

Speed training is not just about speed, it helps with so many important factors and all types of runs. Long-distance runners will see many benefits from some speed training as well.


 Train Well, Train Fast, Run Strong!

Katia