Friday, August 28, 2015

Beast on the Bay Blog: Carb Loading

     The purpose of carb loading is to enhance muscle glycogen prior to extended aerobic endurance exercise. The theory was developed in 1931 and has taken a variety of forms since its induction into the fitness realm.  First, let’s talk about why we call them carbs in the first place. Carbohydrates are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen with the acronym of CHO, hence why we’ve shortened the structure to “carbs.” Their primary role is to serve as an energy source and can be classified into three groups according to the number of sugar molecules they contain.
     Monosaccharides – glucose, and fructose (fruit)
     Disaccharides – lactose (dairy), and sucrose (table sugar)  Limit these sugars as much as possible.
     Polysaccharides (complex carbs) – fiber, starch, and glycogen (stored glucose)
     Glucose is the most common monosaccharide and is found as circulating sugar in the blood. The storage form of glucose is called glycogen, of which 2/3 is found in skeletal muscle and 1/3 in the liver. It’s the glycogen that is the most important when referring to carb loading. The intent is to overload your glycogen stores so that it can be broken down into glucose and utilized for energy during the physical event. The most accepted method of carb loading with the fewest side effects (water retention, weight gain, digestive issues) is 3 days of a high-carbohydrate diet along with tapering exercise the week before competition and complete rest the day before competition.
     The following table is an easy and effective way of gauging your carb intake for a given workout or event. The Beast on the Bay will take you between 1.5 and 3.5 hours, depending on your aerobic conditioning. 10 miles at a pace of 3 mph would take 3 hours and 20 minutes. Most people with adequate training should pace between 4 and 6 mph, which would take between 1 hour and 40 minutes and 2.5 hours. Based on the recommendations presented in the table, you should consume 4 -6 grams of carbs per kilogram of body mass (BM). To calculate this amount, use the following equation: BM/2.2 x 4. For example, I weigh 86 kg and should therefore consume 345 grams of carbs per day for the three days prior to the Beast. This is assuming that I am giving my best effort for the entire 1.5 hours. If I were just walking, I would only consume about half this amount. It’s imperative that you find out how your body reacts to high carb consumption prior to the week of the event so you can make adjustments as necessary.

-Dave Hopkins, M.S. ACSM-HFS, NSCA-CSCS
Fitness Supervisor
LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center
5401 Peach Street Erie, PA 16509

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Snacking for Training

Beast on the Bay Blog:  Snacking for Training

     A great way to prepare for training and recover from training is by snacking on nutrient-dense foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and low in saturated fat. I usually train first thing in the morning between 5 and 7a.m., but if I have to train in the afternoon, I like to eat lighter throughout the day. I’ll snack on bananas, peanut butter, almonds, and Kind bars in preparation for my afternoon workout. I try to consume 300-500 calories every 3 hours with at least 1 gallon of water per day. I use a vegan protein powder after my workouts, which uses split-peas as the protein source.

Shake recipe: Approximately 500 calories
2 scoops split-pea protein powder
1 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
1 banana
2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
6 ice cubes
The following foods are my favorite snacks and the ones I routinely use for dietary and training needs.

1)  Chia seeds – Put 2 tbsp. of these in a glass or bottle of water in your refrigerator for about 3 hours to allow them to absorb as much water as possible. Chia seeds are a perfect post-workout recovery drink as well as a great way to stay hydrated through the night for your morning exercise routine. They have 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and 7 grams of polyunsaturated fat per serving (2 tbsp.).

2) Peanut butter – I live on peanut butter. I use it in my shakes, with apples and bananas, and I make my own peanut sauce for chicken, steak, noodles and rice. It’s a great source of healthy fats and some protein. Its high caloric value helps fuel my long runs and keeps me satiated throughout the day.

3) Almonds and natural almond butter – I have a giant jar of almonds on my refrigerator from which I grab 2-3 servings per day (1 serving = 1 handful). Almonds are a great source of healthy fats, some protein, and help keep you from getting hungry throughout the day.

4) Coconut oil – I use this along with minced ginger and minced garlic every time I cook vegetables, noodles or quinoa. It’s in solid form in the jar when you get it, so just use 1 tbsp. in the skillet and it melts down quickly. It’s a source of saturated fat, which should only constitute about 10% of the fat you consume per day. It tastes great and it is known to enhance satiety (helping you feel full and stave off hunger.) 

**For more information about the benefits of healthy snacks and some great ideas for on-the-go snacking, you can check out the Newark Nut Company on their website at

-Dave Hopkins, M.S. ACSM-HFS, NSCA-CSCS
Fitness Supervisor
LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center
5401 Peach Street Erie, PA 16509

Friday, August 14, 2015

Beast on the Bay Blog: Myofascial Release

     Knee pain is a common among those in any running program—including those training for the Beast on the Bay. Any time I’ve experienced knee pain, I have been able to resolve it with a technique demonstrated below: self myofascial release and trigger point therapy.
  Myofascia is a type of connective tissue that covers and protects structures in the body, including  muscles. The other types of connective tissue are tendons and ligaments. When the myofascial develops knots, it will pull at one or both ends of a muscle, at its origin and/or insertion. This will cause pain at the hip, knee, Achilles tendon and feet, when referring to the lower extremities. You can also experience discomfort in your neck and upper back due to tightness within this connective tissue.   

  Think of knots in your myofascia as wrinkles in a dress shirt. To get rid of the wrinkles, you can’t stretch them out, you have to iron them out, and this is the strategy behind foam rolling and other types of myofascial release. Foam rollers come in a variety of models, but the three most common are white (least dense for rehab), blue (moderately dense), and black (most dense). I use a black roller every day and I recommend the same to everyone else. The following descriptions are for the primary areas of focus for myofascial maintenance and repair.

     Hold each position 1 – 2 minutes for each side. If pain is felt, stop rolling and rest on the painful area for 20 - 30 seconds. The exercises can be performed 1 – 2 times daily.

 Iliotibial Tract (IT Band)
Position yourself on your side lying on the foam roller. Bottom leg is raised slightly off the floor. Roll just below hip joint down the lateral thigh to the knee. This area should address most lateral knee and hip pain.

Begin positioned as shown with foot crossed to opposite knee. Roll on the posterior hip area. This will also help with sciatica. 

Place hamstring on the roll with hips unsupported. Feet are crossed to increase leverage.

Body is positioned prone with quadriceps on the foam roller. Keep abdominals in a drawn-in position and keep gluteus tight to prevent low back compensation. Roll pelvic bone to knee. This area helps with patellar tendon pain. 

Extend the thigh and place foam roll in the groin region with body prone on the floor. This will address medial knee pain.

Position yourself on the side with arm outstretched and foam roll placed in axillary area. Movement during this technique is minimal.

Cross arms to the opposite shoulder to clear the shoulder blades across the thoracic wall. Roll mid-back area on the foam roller.

In addition to these examples, you should also use the foam roller on your calves. Use the same technique as demonstrated for the hamstrings. You can intensify the effect of the roller on your calves by crossing your ankles. This should help with Achilles pain and plantar fasciitis in your feet. 

-Dave Hopkins, M.S. ACSM-HFS, NSCA-CSCS
Fitness Supervisor
LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center
5401 Peach Street Erie, PA 16509

Friday, August 7, 2015

Beast on the Bay Blog: Sport Psychology

When training for any competition, it’s important to understand how the mind can influence physical performance. First, you want to strive for the “ideal performance state,” which is the goal of every athlete. In this state, you do not use negative self-talk, you have a strong feeling of efficacy (confidence in exercise ability), and an adaptive focus on the task-relevant cues (performing when it counts). The ideal performance state consists of the following characteristics:

1. Absence of fear – especially the fear of failure
2. Not thinking about or analyzing performance – reliance on trained motor patterns
3. Narrowing of focus on the activity you’re performing
4. A sense of effortlessness – creating an involuntary experience
5. A sense of personal control
6. Distortion of time and space – time seems to slow down, which may be attributed to our eyes seeing more frames per second, allowing us to respond or react with greater precision
  The ultimate goal for the athlete is to be confident in their abilities and “just let it happen.” Walter Payton, one of the greatest running backs of all time, said:  “I’m Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to football. When I’m on the field, sometimes I don’t know what I am doing out there. People ask me about this move or that move, but I don’t know why I did something. I just did it. I am able to focus out the negative things around me and just zero in on what I am doing out there. Off the field I become myself again.”
      The notion of motor skill learning consists of 3 stages through which the athlete progresses:
      1.        The cognitive stage - the effortful and conscious regulation of the movement.    
      2.       The associative stage - the athlete has to focus on the task, but they’re less concerned about the details of the movement.
      3.       The third stage is automaticity - the mind is relaxed and the skill is performed automatically without thinking.  With proper instruction and training, the relaxed mind filters out all irrelevant cues and focuses only on what is relevant to the task required of the athlete.

       The concept of the “ideal performance state” directly relates to how you perform in the Beast on the Bay.  Most people might be hesitant about embarking on a 10-mile obstacle course on the sand.  It is the desire to challenge yourself physically and mentally that sets you apart from the rest of the world that is satisfied with the status quo. Invest yourself in your training and in proper instruction and you will reach your goal in completing the Beast on the Bay. When you come upon an obstacle, you will “just let it happen” and rely on your training and ability in successfully completing each obstacle and stretch of running.