Runners: Stave off Calories During the Holidays

 Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/

This time of year wrecks havoc on the diet—from holiday parties filled with fried finger foods to sit-down family dinners with all the trimmings and neighbors dropping off sugar cookies laden with colorful frosting, it’s so easy to blow through your daily limit of calories within hours. Runners generally watch their food intake to keep themselves in proper shape, except it’s very difficult for even the most rigid to stick to their diets. Here are a few ways to help keep fat and calories at bay during the toughest season:

Change your baking habits. Oils add in extra fat that you don’t need to keep cakes moist.

Do this:
Puree apples and citrus fruits and use the juice as an alternative to oil. It will not ruin your cakes; rather it makes them even moister and tastier because the fruit adds a flavor that oil cannot. Try it and see for yourself—you’ll want to share the results by baking for your friends and giving that as a gift.

Go into parties with a game plan. Know your weakness and fill up on healthy foods before diving in to something bad.

Do this:
Before you attend parties, eat something high in fiber, like apples, cooked pumpkin, sweet potatoes—this makes you feel fuller longer and you’ll no doubt eat less when you attend the party. The worst thing you can do is show up feeling ravenous as you’ll head straight to the dessert table.

During parties, fill up half your plate with crudités such as carrots and celery. Even if you want to, add a little dip. Although dip is typically high in calories, it’ll at least help you eat your vegetables. Be sure to place it on the side and not pour it all over the food. If the party offers hummus to accompany veggies, that’s even better as that offers protein.

Watch your beverages. Limit yourself to one drink or “spike” it with something low calorie.

Do this:
Try mixing drinks with a little diet soda; lime flavor generally works best or just use sparkling water. It’ll add a little carbonation to the drink, making it feel like Bubbly, but it’s actually just taking out half the calories. Pour a half glass of the carbonated drink and then the rest of the glass with a juice/adult beverage. You’ve just cut half the calories.

While it’s hard to stay true to the diet, it’s completely possible with just a few changes.

Happy Holidays!

Superbowl-Sized Running Workouts

race-day-720x288In honor of two massive sports events happening in the same week: the Superbowl and the Olympics, I asked a few running coaches for a super-sized workout. A FARTLEK is best completed once or twice per week for long-distance runners. However, sprinters will run them at almost every workout. Try these out for a month or two and see if your times start to decrease:

Track Workout:
800m warm up
4 x 400m pick ups every 400m; all out sprint on last 400m
2 x 400m resting jog
4 x 400m pickups every 400m; try to sprint as hard as possible on last 400m.
800m cool down

Total distance: 3.5 miles
*To make it as challenging as possible, try for a negative split on the last 400m sprint against the first 400m sprint.

Treadmill Workout:
6 min. warm up
4 minute increase in speed
1 minute rest. Do not stop. Just lower the speed.
4 minute increase in speed, at least .2 miles/hour faster than previous increase
1 minute rest. Do not stop. Lower speed to jog.
4 minute increase in speed, at least .2 miles/hour faster than previous increase
1 minute rest
4 minute increase in speed, all out sprint
5 minute cool down. You can walk the cool down if you need.

Total time: 30 minutes
*To make it more challenging, try adding .4 miles/hour faster with each pick up. This will shock your body and build your lactate threshold.

Cross-Train Workout
We all know we can’t run every day. We need a complete day off at least once a week to rest the muscles, but it is a good idea to add in a cross training day and switch it out for running. You’ll work different muscles while still keeping up your cardiovascular shape. One of the best ways to cross train is swimming.

250m warm up
5 x 50m pick ups, start out slow
Rest 1 minute
50m all out sprint
200m at your regular speed
250m cool down

Total distance: 1000m

Good luck on your training!