Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Xterra Muleshoe

Xterra Race
Finished 6th overall and 1st in age group
2h04m some seconds
Pre race prep in the transition area.

Having come off a 4 week base building training block I entered Xterra Muleshoe as a prod in the dark, not knowing what to expect. I felt the need as the race fell on the 4th weekend of the training block and seemed a great time to Time Trial the effort. Gauging on what needed work and which portions of the race I felt confident. Yet another stepping stone as I prepare for USA nationals In August and September. 

Pre race warm up 

The swim was set in an amazing back drop, Lake Travis differed in temperatures from its origin - Colorado, as it meanders south from the Rockies arriving at a staggering 85 degrees Fahrenheit, wet suits were out of the question so I opted for a skin suit.

Pre Race Briefing

The mass of bodies lined the banks in anticipation for the starters orders

The mass start.

My race tactics were simple, round the first Buoy in the lead pack and get into a comfortable rhythm. Fortunately that went to plan and I made the turn in second place coming out of the water in third place...

Heading to T1 after the swim

Managed a 1:10 gap on the chasing group and soon took the lead on the bike directly leaving T1.

Heading into 1st place

The bike portion became a bit of a "slog fest" as I settled into a tempo but just couldn't maintain the effort. I lacked the top end speed but had the sustained power to go all day which didn't help because the bike loop was 14 miles and getting it done quickly was the key to success. I felt like a diesel engine but really wanted some nitro oxide.I held off the chase pack for the first 5-6 miles then my tactics changed to a defensive battle of limiting my losses before the run.

I came off the bike in 4th place and again had no speed to push the pace. I ran steady for the first half of the trail run and dropped back two places in the last two miles. Finishing off the winners pace but a margin but satisfied with all that i achieved in the 4 week base prior to the race. Im headed onto another 4-6 week block after a week of absorption and recovery and going to enjoy the building phase before I start to polish up for August 18th.

In the medical tent after coming to close to a tree on the bike and clipping my shoulder.

A big thank you to my sponsors...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vegan, Vegetarian Diet

So I am two weeks into a Vegan/Vegetarian diet and already find myself puzzling on what to eat next. As an Amateur Semi Pro Athlete I am looking for that next gain in performance and experimenting with diet may be the next step. Time will tell. I stumbled upon this write up content on a Facebook page which has really helped me in focusing on what to eat and what not to eat while maintaining a whole foods plant based diet. Before you read on I want to share these videos with you all. Some other reasons that promoted me to make this move with my diet...

Forks over Knives is a documentary that can be found on Netflix

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead also found on Netflix

A good book for this diet is the "Engine 2 diet". Long story short its about a firefighter from Austin TX who helped save the life of a fellow firemen by changing his Engine Rooms diet and lowered his Cholesterol levels and boosted his performance in the work environment. Food for thought!!!

First things first, remember that eating a plant-strong diet is complete in every way, you don’t need to worry about if you are getting enough nutrients, enough protein or enough fat, you are, so you can stop worrying about that.

Sometimes we let things sneak in, without even realizing that we have. Here are some of the top culprits of being stuck in a rut:

1. You’ve added oil. This one can slide right in. It starts with more spray oil, or maybe a little bit in a few recipes. Maybe you have added vegan junk food like vegan cheese, sour cream, mayo, or butter. When you eat out you aren’t requesting ”NO OIL”. You might not check all of the food that you purchase to make sure it has no oil. We had an E2-er write to us recently, she had this to say:“I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong , So I did what you said, checked all my packaged food. Well, wouldn’t ya know, there was oil in my whole grain bread, my whole grain crackers and get this; MY WHOLE GRAIN BROWN RICE! I purchased a pre-made brown rice, and just assumed it had no oil, well low and behold, it had 2 different kinds of oils!”

2. Salt. Salt magically works its way into a lot of plant-strong meals. You start to not pay attention to the “1 to 1″ label reading rule, or maybe you start adding salt into your cooking as you are preparing a meal. Go check your labels! Salt should be a 1 to 1 ratio, meaning if there are 100 calories per serving there should only be 100 mg of sodium (or less) of salt per serving. In addition, make sure that any salt you add is AFTER you finish preparing your meal.

3. High fat plant-foods. Don’t get us wrong, we love a few slices of avocado from time to time, but if high fat plant-foods have become a staple rather than a treat, you might run into a rut. Tofu, avocado, tempeh, nuts, seeds and nut butter should all be condiments/treats. The largest portion of your meal should consist of foods lower in caloric density. Make sure your plate is first filled with whole grains/starches, vegetables, beans and fruit. After that, you can sprinkle a FEW nuts or seeds, add a few cubes of tofu, a couple of slices of tempeh, 1/4 of an avocado. You also want to watch dressings, even oil free dressing can be packed with calories and fat if they rely on too many high fat plant-foods. If you’d like, cut out the high fat plant-foods for a while to see how you do. You will not miss any nutrients and you will get all of the fat you need, so long as you are eating enough (just like protein, if you are eating enough, you are getting enough)

4. You are drinking your calories. It seems logical that the more you cram in a glass in the way of plant-strong foods, the better, right? Not really. We now know that chewing is a very important part of digestion, and we should not skip it if we don’t have to. (Of course if you have a medical condition which prohibits you from chewing, you will need to adjust accordingly). Chewing food does all sorts of wonderful things. When we drink food, we bypass salivary digestion all together, and often get a big hit of calories and often sugar (from fruit). In addition, think about all of that food you stick in your fancy machines, could you eat it in one sitting? If not, you should not try to drink it in one sitting either. Instead of drinking your calories, chew them. It will help with your overall health and it will also help keep you feel full and satisfied longer.

As a nice summer treat? Sure, go ahead and have a plant-strong milkshake with some frozen fruit and non-dairy milk. But as a meal? You are better off chewing all of that food you are sticking in your blenders.

*There is a lot more research on blending vs. chewing and we could go into a lot more detail. However, we like to keep things simple around here, give it a try for yourself and see how you do. We have heard from a lot of you who stopped drinking calories and had really amazing results after the fact. So give it a try. It will be okay, we promise.

5. You are eating out more and not asking for plant-strong meals. We have fallen into this trap a few times. We are out with friends, we see the ‘vegan’ menu item, we order it, and it comes out and it’s glistening with shiny, fatty, artery clogging oil. Instead of skipping it, or re-ordering, we eat it and later pay for it. Be sure to have an eating out plan. Know how to order when you are out to eat, call ahead and ask if they can meet your crazy plant-strong request.

Recently we heard from E2-er, John about his Chipolte habit: ” I started grabbing Chipolte everyday for lunch. One day, a co-worker asked if my veggie bowl was really plant-strong. So I checked. I found out that they put oil in the brown rice, lots of oil and salt in the veggies and even the beans! The pinto beans also have bacon fat in them! The guac has added oil and salt. The chips are full of fat and salt. The salsa has lots of salt. Soon my “healthy” Chipolte meal was a fat and salt bomb! Now I bring my own lunch, brown rice, vegetables, salsa and beans, but all oil free, no salt added, it is much better!” – John

6. You are eating a lot of bread, pretzels and crackers. Even whole grain breads, pretzels and crackers can be a lot more calorically dense than you might expect. They are also very easy to over-snack on. Try going with out them for a little while. Have your homemade veggie burgers on a bed of greens instead of a whole grain bun. You can have a couple more burgers instead of the buns, and it will fill you up more!

7. You are eating chocolate. We love chocolate. That is why we can’t have it around. It is a treat that we have for special occasions. If there is dark chocolate around, we will eat it, it’s that simple.

8. You are eating a lot of dried fruit/dates. A sprinkle of raisins on your oatmeal is just fine, however eating a lot of dried fruit is going to put you in a rut. Dried fruit is very calorically dense, so you need to watch how much you are including. Also, a lot of dried fruit has added oil/sugar, so you’ll want to watch that. Dates fall into this category as well. Dates are delicious, but make sure you are keeping it to 1 or 2, and not eating them by the handful, or using excess amount of date syrup/paste.

9. You are putting non-dairy creamer/sugar in your morning coffee. Of course, we’ll first encourage you to start cutting back/cutting out the caffeine. If you feel the need to drink caffeine we’d encourage you to look at your diet and lifestyle and see why you feel the need to use caffeine. All of that aside, many people will dump soy creamer and sugar into their morning hot drinks, and it can add up. We also hear from people who have made Starbucks a habit, even the non-dairy drinks at Starbucks are going to set you over the top in calories and sugar. Don’t forget, coffee with non dairy creamer/sugar has excess calories. We looked up a popular Starbucks non dairy drink and it had over 400 calories!

10. You are drinking too much. A glass of wine every so often is okay. However, when you start drinking a glass a night, you might want to consider cutting it out, except for special occasions. (not just wine, any alcoholic drink). It is not required for alcohol manufacturers to include nutrition facts on their labels. Many people drink without thinking of the calories they are consuming. Beer ranges from 100-200 calories for a glass and wine ranges from 100-150 calories for a small glass. To give you an idea of where that falls, regular coke has 136 calories per serving. If you feel the need to drink every night, we would encourage you to start evaluating your relationship with alcohol. If you need help, please reach out and ask.

Some interesting pointers and some that I can relate to.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Running tips

I was forwarded these running tips by a friend. Some I would use while others I might give a thought to trying. Training is generally tailor made for each individual and one needs to listen carefully to many sources but use what works for you. There are some specifics that I still use in my training sessions almost 3-4 years later with some slight adjustments here or there but I have found some things are just irreplaceable.

    Apparel Tips

  1. Wear spandex shorts under your regular running shorts so you don’t chafe “down there.”
  2. Cotton socks will only lead to blisters; invest in socks designed for running.
  3. Ladies, do not skimp on a bra. Even if it costs more than your shoes it’s still a bargain.
  4. Buy running clothes you look good in and that will motivate you to run.
  5. Buy new running clothes at the end of the season when stores dump the old season’s line. Think clearance!
  6. Community

  7. Join your local running club—check with your local running store fitness center and/or recreation department to find one.
  8. Volunteer at a local race—meet runners support runners and connect with your Community.
  9. Manners

  10. Remember to say “Thank You!” to race volunteers (e.g. when you get that cup of water at the aid station) and family and friends who support you.
  11. Conscientiously share the trail with walkers, bikers and other runners.
  12. Always try to balance running with the people you love by making a schedule that involves and is considerate of everyone.
  13. Don’t carry loose change. It will annoy those who are running with you.
  14. Don’t neglect and irritate your family and friends by spending all your time running and talking about running.
  15. Motivation Tips

  16. Sign up for a race as soon as you feel up to it.
  17. Find a committed running partner. It is much harder to skip a run when you have someone else depending on you.
  18. Remember that you will have plateaus in your progress and tough days along the way.
  19. It gets easier.
  20. Accept and appreciate the fact that not every single run can be a good one.
  21. Be prepared to remove the words “can’t” and “never” from your vocabulary.
  22. “Do not compare yourself to others. Run within yourself and for yourself first.
  23. Don’t expect every run to be better than the last one; some of them will hurt.
  24. Don’t think too much about it or you won’t do it.
  25. Even a bad run is better then no run at all.
  26. If you normally run with music try skipping it and listening to your feet to hear your pace and your gait.
  27. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t experience weight loss immediately.
  28. Start a running blog and read other running blogs regularly.
  29. Running is not an excuse to triple your intake of doughnuts because runners gain weight too.
  30. Nutrition Tips

  31. Buy the powdered sports drink mix instead of premixed. It’s cheaper and more similar to race drink mixes.
  32. Each pound you lose makes running a little easier.
  33. Hydrate. Make it a habit to drink water throughout the day.
  34. If you are running very long distance drink enough electrolytes (e.g. Gatorade).
  35. On long runs eat something every hour—whether you feel like it or not.
  36. During longer runs if you don’t like to carry water take some cash in your pocket pouch or a shoe wallet. Run a route where there’s a corner store that you can use as a pit stop to pick up your water and maybe use the bathroom.
  37. Avoid eating spicy foods before running and the night before your long runs.
  38. To aid recovery the most crucial time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run.
  39. Prevention Tips

  40. Use Vaseline or BodyGlide wherever things rub. They will help prevent blisters and chafing (guys don’t forget the nipples).
  41. Do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.
  42. Guys: Band-Aids before the long runs. Your nipples will thank you in the shower afterwards.
  43. Log your mileage for your legs and your Shoes. Too much on either will cause you injury.
  44. If you are prone to shin splints and lower leg pain try running soft trails for your Training runs and save the asphalt for race day.
  45. Do not run two hard days back-to-back.
  46. Ice aches and pains immediately.
  47. Pay attention to your form. Try to run lightly to minimize impact that could lead to injury.
  48. Cut your Training by at least 30 percent to 50 percent every 4th or 5th week for recovery.
  49. When trail running don’t forget the bug spray.
  50. Neosporin (or another antibiotic cream) is good for chafed areas (if you didn’t use your BodyGlide!).
  51. Make sure you cut your toenails short enough so they don’t jam into your Shoes!
  52. Put some BodyGlide between your toes on long runs.
  53. Be careful about running on paths that force you to run consistently on a slant. It’s hard on the hips knees and IT bands.
  54. Don’t stretch before a run. Warm up by walking briskly or jogging slowly for several minutes.
  55. Do not ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  56. Do not use the hot tub after a race. It will increase inflammation and hinder healing.
  57. Frozen peas make a great ice pack for aches and pains. A thin t-towel wrapped around them makes the cold more comfortable.
  58. Racing Tips

  59. Race day is not the day to try new shoes, eat new foods, or wear brand new clothing.
  60. Do not try a marathon as your first race.
  61. For races longer than 5k start out slower than you think you should.
  62. If you conserve your energy during the first half of a race, you can finish strong.
  63. When you pick up drinking cups at aid stations, squeeze gently so it folds slightly and is easier to drink from it while you are moving.
  64. A plastic garbage on race day is a very fashionable cheap disposable raincoat.
  65. Safety Tips

  66. Be aware of cyclists approaching you from behind and try to keep to the right. Try to pay special attention when running with music.
  67. Run facing traffic.
  68. Never assume a car sees you.
  69. Give horses wide berths on trails and walk as you pass them unless you enjoy a hoof to the melon.
  70. Always carry I.D. because you just never know.
  71. Shoe Tips

  72. Try shoes on in the afternoon when your feet are bigger.
  73. Doubleknot your shoe laces so they will not come undone when you run.
  74. Buy yourself some actual running shoes from an actual running store because running in junk “sneakers” will destroy your feet and your legs.
  75. Get assessed for the right kind of running shoes.
  76. Training Tips

  77. In the immortal words of Walt Stack famed senior-citizen distance runner “Start slow … and taper.”
  78. At first keep your runs short and slow to avoid injury and soreness so you do not quit.
  79. If you are breathing too hard slow down or walk a bit until you feel comfortable again.
  80. Pick your route close to home (out your front door)—the more convenient it is the better chance you will have sticking with it.
  81. Find a beginner training plan for your first race.
  82. Set realistic short term and long term goals.
  83. Keep a training diary.
  84. Soreness one to two days after a run is normal (delayed onset muscle soreness).
  85. No amount of money spent on gadget training programs or funny food can substitute for minutes, hours, days and weeks on the road.
  86. There’s no shame in walking.
  87. Subscribe to a running magazine or pick up a book or two on running.
  88. Four laps around the local the high school track equals one mile.
  89. Lift weights.
  90. It’s okay to take walk breaks (run 1 minute walk 1 minute then progress to run 10 minutes walk 1 minute etc.).
  91. Vary your training routes. This will prevent boredom and prevent your body from getting acclimated.
  92. Speed work doesn’t have to be scientific. Try racing to one light post and then jogging to the next.
  93. Push through rough spots by focusing on the sounds of your breath and feet touching the ground.
  94. Do speedwork after you develop an endurance base.
  95. Practice running harder in the last half of your runs.
  96. Do abdominal breathing to get rid of side cramps or “stitches.”
  97. If you can’t find the time to run, take your running gear to work.
  98. Run on trails if at all possible. It will be easier on your body and you’ll love it.
  99. Build rest into your schedule. Rest is just as important of an element as exercise in your fitness plan.
  100. Forgive yourself. Over-ambitious goals usually lead to frustration and giving up on your fitness plan. If you miss a goal or milestone let it go and focus on the next opportunity to get it.
  101. Mix-up your training plan. Make sure your training plan is not too heavily focused on one thing. No matter what level of runner you are your training plan should include four essential elements: endurance speed rest cross-training.
  102. [ad#inPost-Big]

    Weather Tips

  103. Dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than the temperature on the thermometer.
  104. Wear sunscreen and a hat when the sun is beating down—even in winter.
  105. Run early in the morning or later in evening to avoid mid-day heat.
  106. Pick up a pair of Yaktrax  when running in icey conditions.
  107. In the winter dress in layers (coolmax or other technical clothing) and wear a headband over your running hat to cover your ears.
  108. For colder climates invest in socks rated to 40 below (usually found in sport/ski shops).
  109. To keep cool in hot weather soak a bandana in cold water wring it out a bit and tie it loosely around your neck.
  110. For hot weather fill your water bottle about half way lay it at an angle in the freezer and just before you head out for your run top it off with more water.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nutritional Survey

I had a friend email me some questions on nutrition recently for an assignment/article she was writing for a school paper. Having said that my answers are by no means scientific but rather my opinion, the beauty of blogging is just that, its opinion! Enjoy the read...

Lauren Schmidt
What up Grayson, Would you answer a few questions of mine for an article I'm writing. thank you so much for your input!

Lauren Schmidt
1. what are some ingredient substitutions you use to increase nutritional value? (such as using turkey bacon instead of bacon, whole wheat instead of white, lean turkey instead of ground beef, etc)
Hey Lauren glad I can help you on this...

1. When it comes to substitute foods I am a bit of an extremist, I tend to look at a meal with different eyes, My protien substitutes come in the form of lean white meats such as fish and chicken. I generally dont eat red meat more than once every two weeks. The reasons for this choice is due to the saturated fat levels found within the red meat. What the general public dont realize is that all meat contains high levels of natural fat held within the muscle fibers of the meat and are usually not visible to the eye, all my meat containing fat content visible to the eye I will cut away. The cleaner the meat the healthier the protein source. Also I keep my meat servings to a moderate portion size. In-fact with my training and racing I sometimes measure my meat intake according to my body weight so I know just how much to take on before I start to store excess protein as fat. Rule of thumb here is about 1.5-1.8grams per KG. Not sure of the ratio in LBS. 
Other substitutes I use are Gluten Free products instead of whole wheat... I have posted my most recent blog post on this exact topic, Slightly ironic that you'd query Whole Wheat vs. White, you can see it here  http://mudbandit.blogspot.com/2012/06/going-gluten-free.html feel free to use the material as it explains in depth the benefits of a Gluten free diet.

2. what are some of the most unhealthy meals/ingredients to eat?

2. Well this is a very easy question... The most unhealthy meals come in the form of high saturated and trans fat foods. High Sugars especially High Sucrose Corn Syrup. Sodas are in  there too. Anything deep fried or coated with butter and other Fats... Sodium is also bad for you when ingested at high levels. Sodium acts as a sponge for the body. It absorbs into the body at a cellular level and retains water. Most times my weight will fluctuate due to water content stored from a sodium intake higher than normal. Although I need sodium because I train in excess of 20-25 hours a week I am burning loads of electrolytes and lose sodium through sweat. My weight will fluctuate between 4lbs in a day due to sodium and water retention. When it comes to bad foods you generally want to stay away from fried foods, high sugars, high sodium. These would relate back to comfort foods in question 1. 

3. if you had to make macaroni and cheese "healthier", how would you do it?

3. I would use a rice based pasta noodle, low fat whipping cream, and goats cheese. Again this is purely comfort food and those would be my substitutes in question 1. I would also look to add some small chunks of chicken to gain further on nutritional value. 

4. do you use any spices to enhance flavors of bland food?

4. I often use spices, for one spices are not entirely bad for you so long as they are added in moderation. Most spices are high in sodium but when cooking with spices on high heat it allows certain healthy chemical reactions to occur, an example would be grilled Tomatoes with cinnamon and iodized salt. Cinnamon is said to stabilize blood sugar levels and increase metabolic rate. These are ways I use spices for nutritional value. 

5. what are some tips you have for people trying to cook/live healthier?

5. I rule of thumb when it boils down to nutrition, "no pun intended", is this... If you can pick it from a tree, pluck it from the ground, if it has 2 or 4 legs, swims in a body of water its good for you, if it comes in a can or a box/packet stay away from it. Now within reason of that statement as most fruits and vegetables are in packets for storage reasons but basically you want to eat as if you were living in caveman times, Paleo Diet to be specific. Stay as natural as possible.

6. do you have any "comfort" foods that you enjoy eating? (mashed potatoes, beef stew, pot roast, peanut butter and jelly, etc)

6. I absolutely love peanut butter. I would eat a whole jar given the chance, Peanut butter is actually classified as a super food and its for that reason you need to be careful of it. Its so rich in sources of good fats that you have to be cautious of your intake levels, having it in moderation is key. The jelly I am not so fond of because it almost always contains high corn syrup. I would substitute jelly for a natural preserve or jam as we like to call it in S.A. 

7. are there any foods that you eat now because they remind you of your childhood, or of certain happy memories? 

7.Infact i have a strange story for this question. The answer is rather inverted but true. I use to hate Peas when I was a kid. I would feed them to the cat under the table or push my utensils together and hide them underneath from my mom. However now that i am an athlete i have a strange relationship to those Peas. I still am not to fond of them but I recall when growing up that peas were so good for you, it is for that reason and that reason alone that i will eat peas. Usually with an awkward facial expression but i will shovel them down for the benefits of the nutritional gains. Other than that i dont really have cravings for childhood foods. Unless my mom is cooking i might ask her for a Lasange or in South Africa we have this meal called "Melk Kos" in translation it is "Milk Food", it is almost like a porridge but if you doctor it correctly it can be a desert. It is made with Butter, Flour and Milk, the method is to throw the milk in a pot until boil, then mix the flour and butter in a bowl and while continuously stirring add the powder mix to the milk bringing it to boil. We would add brown sugar or raw sugar as it is called here with a touch of that spice Cinnamon, i guess you could say its like a liquid Frappe or pancake. 

8. if people had to cut one food out of their life, which one would be the most beneficial?

8. Hands down fried foods and fast foods. Not only would it be beneficial for their health but it would be saving the planet in more ways than 1. Watch this video to gain an understanding of that statement... When they talk about the concentration camps for cows you will understand.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxENMKaeCU&feature=watch-now-button&wide=1 

To conclude, if people had a greater education of what food does to their bodies on the inside I guarantee a drastic change in eating habits. For me life is about balance, and that should show through on all spheres of life, even diet. Eating is problematic when you throw convenience into the equation, its just to easy these days to eat on the go and harness the use of a drive though. In one episode of the series "Prison Break" the character Tea Bag says," Remember the days when eating was a gift from god, when families would come together and enjoy a meal at the table, with no rush in the world to finish", It hit home for me, the world is in such a spin that often people forget to chew their food, I say, slow it down and enjoy the flavors. Let your body tell you when you have had your fill rather than indulging in the whole meal just to finish.

Peace out girl scout. Hope this helps...

Grayson, The Mudbandit

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Going Gluten-Free

I found this informing article about Gluten Free diets. Now when people ask why I dont eat gluten I will just refer them to my blog instead of getting into a heated debate on the topic. Recently I heard a local DJ on a radio show here in Dallas make fun of people who are choosing to go Gluten Free, little does he know its no longer a "Fad" but the "Future" in performance enhancing diets. Not just for athletes but people in everyday life. Enjoy the read...

By triathlete competitor

A number of professional triathletes, including Simon Whitfield, Tim O’Donnell, Tyler Stewart, Heather Wurtele and Luke McKenzie, have experienced health and performance benefits from a gluten-free diet. Does this rise in gluten-free eating suggest that athletes are more vulnerable to gluten sensitivity? Or does this simply represent a growing awareness of food intolerance throughout the population?

With celiac disease (a more extreme case of gluten intolerance), the intestines not only have a decreased ability to absorb nutrients, but the gut becomes permeable, allowing food particles into the bloodstream and triggering an inflammatory response. However, you can be gluten-intolerant without having celiac disease. Even without a positive diagnosis or intestinal damage, gluten sensitivity is becoming more widely recognized, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe throughout the entire body (see below for symptoms).

Athletes tend to face some extra concerns when it comes to gluten sensitivity. It is known that the gut becomes more permeable during intense exercise. If this is coupled with an underlying intolerance to gluten or other components of grains, then the symptoms may be compounded.

If you decide to go gluten-free, don’t worry—contrary to some thinking, you won’t be missing out on the carbs you need for training. You can still eat all of your favorite fruits and vegetables. In addition, starches such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and squash are great gluten-free, nutrient-dense options. A good pre-race dinner could consist of spaghetti using rice noodles or salmon with roasted pumpkin or mashed sweet potatoes.

When you are shifting up a gear in intensity for training efforts and for races, something more calorie-dense is required for immediate energy—this is where carbohydrate-concentrated sports drinks and gels/bars can be a huge benefit. There are some commercially available gluten-free and even grain-free nutrition bars, plus most sports drinks and gels are gluten-free. Always check labels though.

How do I know if I should go gluten-free?

If you’re dealing with gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea, cramps, constipation, bloating, gas, etc.), you may have a gluten intolerance. Gluten cannot take all the blame though, as many of these symptoms may also be signs of other food intolerances or conditions.

The most practical way to discover gluten sensitivity is to eliminate it from your diet for several weeks and see how you feel and perform. Don’t just reduce your intake; avoid it altogether. Some people find they feel better when they eliminate gluten even if they don’t have a diagnosed intolerance. Because gluten sensitivity is linked to many health conditions, you might be surprised to find you feel and perform much better. If you noticed a significant change, you may want to get tested for celiac disease. Check with your doctor or nutritionist to see which test is right for you.