R2R2R: Week 6

 Thanks to Generation UCAN for their support in my R2R2R training!

Thanks to Generation UCAN for their support in my R2R2R training!

Only 4.5 weeks left until my R2R2R journey and I am getting super excited already! The weather has been changing in Colorado to cool mornings and lower daytime temps with snow on the ground (don’t worry, it will be gone tomorrow!), which makes for awesome running conditions! This is my MOST favorite time of the year to be on trails and this past week did not disappoint!

Remember, when I mentioned my knees were hurting a bit in the previous weeks? Well, no more and for no other reason that I reduced my overall running miles. Not by much but just enough for my knees to be happier.

Here’s a recap of this week’s training:

 The amazing Fall colors will soon be gone but for now, they are awesome!

The amazing Fall colors will soon be gone but for now, they are awesome!

 We had some rain in Colorado so the trails were a bit muddy…

We had some rain in Colorado so the trails were a bit muddy…

  • Monday: 1 hour of Powercranks, 2.25 mile walk (I walked an errand while waiting for my car to be serviced), 20 minutes of strength and 100 pushups

  • Tuesday: 6.3 mile run, 1.75 mile walk with my lovely wife and dog and 100 pushups

  • Wednesday: 40 minutes of Powercranks, a 4.2 mile run before my son’s XC meet and 100 pushups

  • Thursday: 5.4 mile run, 2.5 mile weighted (20 pounds on my back) walk with my kids and dog and 100 pushups

  • Friday: 20 mile trail run with 2946 of elevation gain and 100 pushups

  • Saturday: 7 mile run and 200 pushups (while sporadically watching the Ironman World Championships with my oldest son)

  • Sunday: 1 hour indoor bike trainer (it was snowing), 30 minutes of strength and 200 pushups

 A bit of snow at 7000 feet!

A bit of snow at 7000 feet!

Total running miles came in at 42.9 (about 5 less than last week), TSS was 550 (about the same from last week) and elevation gain was 4469 feet.

Overall, it was a solid week. Recovery was spot on as I focused mostly on consistent use of iKOR CBD oil, Trigger Point Grid and the ORB for myofascial release, Modus Nutrition protein powder, Birota Foods Smart Cocoa and Generation UCAN Plain energy powder and cinnamon energy bars. I have discount codes for all of these if you ever want to try them. Just email me.

 No bear sightings on my long run this week, only fresh bear tracks.

No bear sightings on my long run this week, only fresh bear tracks.

Long run nutrition has been going very well lately as I have been using UCAN powder and cinnamon bars but I thought I would try something new before I enter the 4 week countdown. This past week on my long run I took two bottles - one with water and Birota Foods Smart Cocoa and one with water and Modus Nutrition protein powder. I just wanted to see what would happen, specifically to my energy level and digestive system. Neither products are really intended to use during exercise but I did have a theory about both. The Smart Cocoa contains little carbohydrate per serving but has MCT’s from organic coconut milk powder and caprylic acid. If you have been keeping up with my social media, you noticed my ketone experiment I did after drinking Smart Cocoa (ketones increased which put my body into more of a fat burning mode). MCT’s are also stored and utilized very differently from other, long chain fats so I postulated that I would have immediate energy after consuming Smart Cocoa.

 Long run nutrition: Birota Foods Smart Cocoa, Modus Nutrition plant based protein powder and Generation UCAN Cinnamon energy bar.

Long run nutrition: Birota Foods Smart Cocoa, Modus Nutrition plant based protein powder and Generation UCAN Cinnamon energy bar.

I did with absolutely no GI distress at all. In the weeks prior, I have mixed Smart Cocoa with plain UCAN powder for a double whammy in terms of energy so at this point, I know both work well on their own or mixed together. I believe these will be a great part of my R2R2R nutrition plan!

The second experiment was with Modus Nutrition plant based protein powder. Because the protein sources are from potato, cranberry and pumpkin seeds, there are carbohydrates in addition to protein and fat so my theory was that it would provide good energy and somewhat longer lasting. It worked well but I think it was a bit too much protein. I did not have GI distress but my gut felt a bit “heavy” for about 20 minutes after drinking it. For now, I will use Modus Nutrition protein powder more for what it was intended for - before and after exercise to aid in optimal net protein synthesis. You know what I will be having before and after my R2R2R, right?

We had some snow today which makes the trails sloppy. I like to respect the trails as much as I can so I am going to stay off of them for the next few days until they dry out and venture out for another 20 or so mile long run toward the end of the week. I have found that this mileage for my long runs are my sweet spot where I can recover quick and not beat up my body too much.

My goals this week are similar to this past week since my body is feeling pretty darn good. Get consistent sleep and focus on daily nutrition (metabolic efficiency), keep my recovery practices as top priority, keep running miles a bit lower and keep the strength and cross training in the picture.

Here’s to a great week!

Bob


R2R2R: Week 5

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As I sit here writing this blog, I am looking out the window at a cloudy, cool (47 degrees) Colorado afternoon, sipping a hot cup of tart cherry juice. Yep, Fall is here finally and I love it! Perfect running weather.

A huge thanks to Generation UCAN as they sent me some goodies for my training - chocolate energy powder, energy bars and more Hydrate. Yay!!!!

This past week was highlighted by a big lesson I learned. I did a bit of an experiment toward the end of the week to see if it would make an impact and…well, let’s just wait a bit on that. Let’s get to this week’s stats first!

 Long run day, mostly flat hence the nice pace!

Long run day, mostly flat hence the nice pace!

  • Monday: 1 hour trainer ride and 205 pushups

  • Tuesday: 9 mile run, strength and 60 pushups

  • Wednesday: 1 hour Powercranks and 100 pushups

  • Thursday: 4.25 mile walk, 5 mile trail run, 20 minutes indoor rowing and 100 pushups

  • Friday: 21 mile run (mostly on dirt/paths)

  • Saturday: 1 hour trainer ride, strength and 200 pushups

  • Sunday: 13 mile trail run and 100 pushups

 Beautiful scenery during my long run…

Beautiful scenery during my long run…

Total running miles for the week came in at 48.1. Total walking miles 4.25. Grand total “time on feet” was 52.35 miles. I backed off my running miles just a bit this week because both of my knees were beginning to feel a bit “tender”. Total TSS was 552 and total elevation gain was 3726 feet (down from last week because I stayed low for my long run).

I have noticed that I really need to keep up with my recovery program with the higher weekly running mileage. I believe that is really my saving grace at this point. iKOR, myofascial release with the Trigger Point Grid, Halo (more of a primer, not necessarily recovery tool), Modus protein powder, Recovery Pump boots and a few old fashioned naps are doing the trick right now!

 A little “friend” I encountered during my long run. I did not stay to visit…

A little “friend” I encountered during my long run. I did not stay to visit…

 About a mile from my third bear encounter of the year.

About a mile from my third bear encounter of the year.

Now to my experiment…I was planning my longer run for Friday so I decided to try a slightly new dietary strategy the day before. I thought I would be smart and increase my glycogen (carbohydrate stores) the day before my long run to see if it provided any benefit. Current research indicates that we can increase carbohydrate stores about 24 hours beforehand so I woke up on Thursday morning and started chowing down the carbs! Toast for breakfast, oatmeal for a snack, pasta at night, crackers, fruit, sports drink. Anything I could get my hands on. This led me to follow a slightly lower protein and fat intake and while it was fun the first 2/3 of the day, I started getting really sick of it right around 4:00pm. I felt full, stomach distended, lethargic and “heavy”. My stomach felt like it was going to explode and my digestive system was rebelling. Still, I pushed on in the name of science (or at least this n of 1 experiment).

After a very restless night of sleep (interesting side effect I noticed), I woke up still feeling gross and full and bloated, ate some toast with butter and jelly and headed out for my long run. I did manage to hit decent paces (because I did run mostly flat), I noticed that my gut was not happy. I had to make 2 bathroom stops and with every step, I could feel my stomach. I’m not sure how to describe it other than my stomach just felt “big”.

 Third time is a charm! My third pair of Hoka Speedgoat 2’s. First pair was the wrong size. Second pair was defective. Let’s hope these do the trick!

Third time is a charm! My third pair of Hoka Speedgoat 2’s. First pair was the wrong size. Second pair was defective. Let’s hope these do the trick!

Nutrition during my long run was about the same as last week: 1 bottle mixed with Birota Foods Smart Cocoa and Generation UCAN Plain energy powder, 1 bottle of Generation UCAN Watermelon Hydrate and 1 UCAN Cinnamon energy bar. Because I didn’t do too much climbing, I didn’t need to consume as many calories.

The digestive woes lasted 2 days after the long run but one of the most interesting findings from this experiment was that I felt extremely inflamed after my long run on Friday. This lasted until Sunday morning. I’m not sure how to describe it but you may know the feeling…very sore, muscles not recovering the way they should, feeling of whole body fatigue, headache, the whole nine yards. My body shouldn’t have felt like that after a somewhat flatter run.

That was certainly not fun and I am very glad I did that experiment this past week because now I know what NOT to do…EVER AGAIN! Power to any athlete who can consume a high amount of carbs but for this guy, it just doesn’t work. I have found that my carbohydrate “threshold” is around 150-175 grams per day. If I go over that, I have all of the symptoms that I described above.

So, take that for what it is worth but I truly feel that everyone does possess a carbohydrate threshold. It sometimes takes a silly experiment like I did this week to realize it.

This week, I really need to get better at hiking with a weighted pack on. I keep mentioning it but just love running more than hiking…but, the R2R2R will force me to hike so it’s time to buckle down!

To wrap up this blog, here’s a “funny” story. On my 13 mile trail run today, I didn’t see anyone except for two mountain bikers. One of whom I haven’t seen for about 20 years but he recognized me and we chatted a bit. I told him that just up the road from us was my first and second bear encounters of the year a few weeks ago and told the guys to keep an eye out. I started running a bit up the fire road and wouldn’t you know it…I see a bear hightailing it away from me. He was a big boy and I sure am glad he was running the opposite direction from me. He was so fast that I was, unfortunately, not able to snap a photo. Anyway, weird week for sure.

Here’s to a great week coming up!

Bob

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PS-I keep mentioning the Smart Cocoa product from Birota Foods. As one of the co-founders, I do have extreme bias but believe that my business partner and I have created something truly special and I know you will think so if you try it. It will redefine the cocoa market…guaranteed!

There is also a Smart Coconut Creamer with similar benefits as the Smart Cocoa…just minus the cocoa…









R2R2R: Week 4

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This week was a major breakthrough in terms of learning. My big take-away was that my body does much better with only doing one long run with more moderate mileage runs throughout the week. Last week, I was forced to try to fit in two long runs and while I was able to do it, my body took a bit longer to recover. This week was significantly better with only one long run (on Friday). I am sure there are many things involved but I just felt like 95% of my runs this week were good.

You know that “good” feeling where everything just feels “on” during a run? Yeah, that was how I felt almost each time I laced up my shoes!

Shout out to my recovery program (which is probably more complex than my training plan!) which includes iKOR CBD oil, Compex e-stim, Trigger Point Grid, Modus Protein powder, Halo, and my Recovery Pump boots.

 A big part of my week was taking Birota Foods, and Smart Cocoa and Smart Coconut Creamer, to market! Very excited for these products that support metabolic efficiency and better health and performance.

A big part of my week was taking Birota Foods, and Smart Cocoa and Smart Coconut Creamer, to market! Very excited for these products that support metabolic efficiency and better health and performance.

Total run miles this week was 55.9. Holy moly! 4.2 miles more than last week. I’m really not trying to do this. I just go out and run based on how I feel. I know I need a solid long run per week but all of my other runs, I just head outside and enjoy the awesome Colorado trails and Fall weather. The miles just seem to fall where they do. I also added 3 miles of walking. Total TSS was 624 (up from 542 last week).

 Mmmm…Smart Cocoa!

Mmmm…Smart Cocoa!

Big news for the week is that I used poles for the first time. I picked up the Kelty 2.0 poles (I needed to be more budget conscious so couldn’t go with the higher end poles), and didn’t really know what to expect because I have never used poles before in all my years of ultra running. I put them in my pack until the first real climb began. After unpacking and getting the correct height, I was off and found the learning curve to be pretty quick. There seems to be a couple of different ways to use poles so I experimented based on the terrain/grade and trail conditions. Overall, I must say that I really liked them on the uphills because they helped to keep my momentum and guided my foot placement at times. On the descents, holding them in my hands, I wasn’t as pleased with their purpose so I packed them back up until I hit the climbs again. All in all, good experience and I believe they will be extremely helpful while doing R2R2R.

 During my 24 mile trail run. Ahh, Colorado!

During my 24 mile trail run. Ahh, Colorado!

I also switched packs this week from a Nathan pack to a GoLite VO2 pack that I have had for years. The Nathan is great but can’t fit too much and I need a bit more space for my gear, especially now with carrying poles. The GoLite pack has more storage and while not as comfortable as the Nathan pack, it will serve its purpose.

 The end of the week!

The end of the week!

Nutrition has been spot on this week. Periodizing my nutrition was a bit easier since I knew I only had one long run. I’ve been going through Generation UCAN Hydrate Watermelon like crazy and I take their cinnamon energy bars with my on my longer runs. I find these bars very easy to take small bites, tuck them in my cheeks and slowly chew them during running. I also mixed up a bottle of water with a packet of Plain Generation UCAN with a serving of Birota Foods Smart Cocoa and it was wonderful! The taste alone was amazing but the double punch benefits of UCAN with Smart Cocoa (caprylic acid, d-ribose and organic coconut milk powder) was tremendous! No simple sugars and very, very steady energy while tacking 3550 feet of elevation gain in 24 miles.

Here’s a breakdown of my training week. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to get on my road or mountain bike but I did include a couple of Powercranks sessions.

Monday: shorter treadmill run, did some comparison testing between two metabolic carts.

Tuesday: Powercranks, three runs (was at my son’s XC meet so I ran around a bit before, during and after), a short walk and weights.

Wednesday: mid-mileage trail run.

Thursday: needed a day off of running - Powercranks and weights.

Friday: solid, 24 mile trail run with 3550 feet of elevation gain.

Saturday: Walk and Powercranks.

 Ruh-roh Hoka…pretty sure this shouldn’t happen after two runs in the Speedgoat 2 trail shoes. Bummer, because these are great shoes to run in. Check out the video review I did on them on my Instagram account (bobseebohar).

Ruh-roh Hoka…pretty sure this shouldn’t happen after two runs in the Speedgoat 2 trail shoes. Bummer, because these are great shoes to run in. Check out the video review I did on them on my Instagram account (bobseebohar).

Sunday: mid mileage road/dirt run and weights.

As you can see from the shoe photo, the bottom of my brand new Hoka Speedgoat 2’s had a little issue. A bit problematic since I had only run twice in them for a total of 30 miles. I will be contacting Hoka and Running Warehouse to see what can be done.

Looking forward to this week, I have a few metabolic efficiency tests and chock full of meetings and athlete calls. I have already booked my long run day so it is protected! Something I have found to be very useful and needed as the weeks get busy.

I have had a few people as me about some of the gear/stuff/nutrition, etc. that I use. I try to provide hyperlinks to these great companies but I have all of my personal/professional recommendations in one place on THIS page of my personal website. Check it out. There are some good ones for sure!

Here’s to a great week coming up!

Bob

R2R2R: Week 3

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Last week proved to be my most challenging week yet training for R2R2R. Why? Simply put…life! It’s what we all face - work obligations, family, kids activities and the like. Balance is tough sometimes and I had to step up my planning before last week because luckily, I knew my schedule would be uber challenging.

 Luckily, I didn’t run into any bears this week!

Luckily, I didn’t run into any bears this week!

Going into the week, I knew Thursday and Sunday were my challenging days. I spent all day Thursday getting the launch of Birota Foods up and running (and I am happy to say that Birota Foods is live and actively selling Smart Cocoa and Smart Coconut Creamer!). I knew this day would be a wash for training (meaning, rest day) and I also knew that Sunday would be the same as I woke up pretty early to go to a triathlon about 1.5 hours away to support some of my juniors who are now in college (so awesome to see them race for their respective schools!). That said, I knew I would have two day of no training so I had to be creative with the remaining five days.

 Enjoying some non-impact training.

Enjoying some non-impact training.

 In the mountains…actually, the start of the Colorado Trail.

In the mountains…actually, the start of the Colorado Trail.

What I learned this week is that doing two, 20+ mile runs within a span of 5 days is tough. Not so much during the run but the recovery. Both runs weren’t too hilly but did allow me to practice some pacing (mostly keeping my heart rate under a certain level) and nutrition. I carried two Generation UCAN Cinnamon bars with me and 2 bottles of their Hydrate electrolyte powder and consumed all of this during each run. The calories, fluid and electrolytes were perfect for each sub 3 hour run (yes, sub 3 hours…I’m actually trying to go a little slower but it doesn’t work sometimes!). Like I said, the running wasn’t necessarily the challenge, it was the recovery. My Achilles and knees started feeling it a bit more since I did two of these longer runs within 5 days - I haven’t received my new (larger size) Hoka SpeedGoat 2 shoes from Running Warehouse yet so I’m a bit more beat up than usual. So, I hit the iKOR CBD oil a bit more this week. Instead of my normal 10 pumps/day (5 in the morning and 5 right before bed), I added an extra 5 pumps immediately after I finished the two longer runs. Did it help? Pretty sure it did, combined with my three sessions of Compex active recovery, myofascial attention using the Trigger Point Grid X. And I was able to get in three Halo sessions last week also. I really do believe neuropriming with the Halo before some of my quality/longer duration sessions helps a ton to get my body ready for the activity so I will continue this practice 3-4 times per week.

Last week’s data:

Monday: run 21.1 miles

Tuesday: road bike, 26.3 miles

Wednesday: run 5.1 miles

Thursday: off

Friday: run 20.5 miles (the last 2 were particularly tough as it was the heat of the day again!)

Saturday: Powercranks for 40 minutes, 5 mile run, 3/4 mile walk, strength session

Sunday: off

Total running miles: 51.7. Yikes! Definitely the most I have had done in one week in the last 10 or so years. Total TSS was 524 (just a bit less than the week prior) and total elevation was only 3848 as I stayed lower last week to not further aggravate my Achilles. Gotta do whatcha gotta do, right?

This week I plan to NOT run more than one long run but I also am hoping to get in at least 1-2 trail runs with a bit more vertical and at least 1-2 weighted hikes (20 pound pack).

Onward and upward! Here’s to a great week for everyone!

Bob

R2R2R: Week 2

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Week 2 (of 10) is just about done. It was an epic week for me as I logged the most miles in one week since my Leadville training way back when. Luckily, I was able to break in my Hoka Speedgoat 2 trail shoes the latter half of the week so the knees and Achilles are a bit better now. Side note: if you plan on purchasing the SpeedGoat 2 shoes, I would recommend sizing up 1/2 size. I had to send them back to Running Warehouse (they have an awesome return policy!) so I’m waiting on the bigger pair, hopefully later this week.

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This week saw 6 days of either running or hiking with a 20 pound vest on my back. Thanks to some aggressive recovery of using the Compex, myofascial release, yoga poses and dynamic stretching, my body is keeping up with the miles. Total miles for the week was 48.9 miles with 4453 feet of elevation gain (a bit less than last week). Total TSS was 591 (up about 120 points from last week) and I was able to squeak in a road bike ride, two Powercrank sessions, two strength sessions and 100-200 push-ups each day. Total duration was 11 hours and 41 minutes (an increase of about 2 hours from last week). I did two Halo sessions before quality runs and I just seem to have much better, more efficient training on those days! I’m going to use it to 4 times this upcoming week.

What I learned this week…well, we have been having some crazy record heat in Colorado and on one of my planned run days, I had quite a bit of work in the morning so I was left with either skipping a day or heading out at 1:30pm for a 10 miler. I chose to get outside with Generation UCAN Watermelon Hydrate in my bottle full of ice. About 8 minutes into my run, my bottle was warm and I ended up drinking the entire 20 ounces in the first 5 miles. Needless to say, the last 5 miles was a bit of a struggle (and I had a crazy hot headwind). I did pre-cool (soaked my shirt and hat with cold water) before the run and while I am sure it helped a little, it sure didn’t feel like it! Not that I could have helped it but Life happens like this and the important part is to go with it, prepare as good as you can and “embrace the suck”.

I logged a 9, 10 and 15 miler on three consecutive days this week and by Saturday, I just needed a bit of a break so I opted for Powercranks and a strength session. Because of this, I altered my nutrition a bit…I dropped my total carbohydrates and increased my fat intake to account for the reduced energy expenditure (aka-nutrition periodization!). Today was a quick run with my dog followed by a 4 mile weighted hike so I have kept my carbs lower and fat higher again. I will start adding more carbs back in on Monday as the new week of training begins.

I also hope to be getting more Generation UCAN products to try out in my different training sessions and will post my thoughts and nutrient timing strategies in my next blog post. I will be using their full line of energy bars, powder and of course, Hydrate (electrolyte powder).

Lastly, I am still a bit in awe how my body is recovering so well. Is it the iKOR CBD oil I have been using? Perhaps the handful of recovery modalities I do each day? Maybe implementing Metabolic Efficiency and Nutrition Periodization to support the ebbs and flows of my daily energy needs? Tart cherry juice post harder sessions? Likely, all of the above. It just goes to show you how much more we have to pay attention to recovery not only as we get older but also put in more miles than our body is used to. Make sure you have a solid recovery plan in addition to your training and nutrition plans.

Until next weekend!

Bob

R2R2R: Week 1

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Week 1 (of 10) for my R2R2R journey is in the books! Five solid days of running, 5315 elevation gain, longest run 14.3 miles, one mountain bike ride (with two bear encounters if you didn't catch that on my Instagram or Facebook pages), one day of Powercranks, two days of weights and at least 100-200 pushups and 10-30 pullups each day.

Total mileage this week was 44.4. I believe that is the highest I have seen it in some time (since my Leadville training days) and boy is my body feeling it! More on this later. Total TSS (training stress score) was 468 (although I don't count weights and pushups/pullups in the total).

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What I learned this week...well, the most obvious is that I need to get another pair of shoes. Hoka's are my go to shoe brand for long, ultra distance run training, especially given my Achilles tendonitis issues (I've had this in both Achilles for about 10 years now). I've been cycling through a few older pair of Hoka's but they are definitely on their last leg and causing more pain so I buckled up and ordered a pair of Hoka Speedgoat 2 trail shoes. I really wanted to try the new Hoka Torrent trail shoes but budget restrictions have me only being able to purchase one pair. Some day though, I'm going to give the Torrent's a try as they are supposed to be super nimble and grippy. 

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Aside from that, training has been solid this week. More miles than I am used to but I plan on keeping my weekly miles around 35-50 leading up to the R2R2R. The hard part is that I need to get some serious elevation gain and loss in my runs and this type of training really pisses off my Achilles. So, I will get creative with my weight training to build some strength without taxing the Achilles as much. The real key to this equation is my recovery. It's pretty easy to go out and trash the body with training but if you don't employ some serious recovery strategies, you won't get too far.

Nutritionally, I am following a somewhat metabolically efficient (read more about metabolic efficiency HERE) nutrition plan but definitely including more carbohydrates on the days in which I run longer (can you say Nutrition Periodization!). So far, I've been using Generation UCAN Hydrate watermelon in my water bottle during almost all of my run training and will have another serving with Hydrate mixed with tart cherry concentration (THIS brand is my favorite) post run to begin my post-run nutrition recovery. I will start using UCAN energy bars and powder in the upcoming weeks as I get a bit longer runs under my belt. I am also coming up on week 4 of using CBD oil (specifically the iKOR brand and have been doubling the dosage on my longer training days to see if there is added benefit. I can't tell yet but my sleep is still so much better since I have been taking iKOR. And as we know, sleep is a huge part of recovery!

Physical recovery is usually a methodical process for me. I normally start off my day with 5-10 minutes of myofascial release using the Trigger Point Grid and usually use RockTape Rock Floss before my runs. I have found that as I get older, my body definitely appreciates a little more TLC in these departments. Spending a few minutes using these products really helps loosen my muscles and fascia a bit, which allows me to run more economically. Post runs, since my Achilles have been yelling at me quite a bit, I am quick to repeat the use of these modalities when I return from more vertical based trail runs. I also throw in about 5-10 minutes of some yoga poses aimed to target my posterior chain at night and do some balance work on a disc to help improve strength and stability in my ankles (I have twisted my right one twice in the past two months). I also do quite a bit of elastic band work to improve the strength in my hips. All runners should be doing this as hip strength, stability and mobility are so key to stay injury free.

My secret weapon this week has been using Compex in the active recovery mode after some of my runs to facilitate better recovery. On days when I have time, I also use my Recovery Pump compression boots/legs. I've had them for about 4 years now and they are an integral part of my recovery program! As you can see, I emphasize recovery about as much as I do training, if not more!

Not that it is recovery based but I have been playing with the Halo Sport unit before some of my longer runs and while I am still early in my experimentation, I do feel a bit more "primed" and able to engage better form after my neuropriming sessions. It's hard to describe but stay tuned...I'll take some photos in the upcoming weeks to show you what this looks like and keep you updated on my progress with this device.

I should be getting my new Hoka's mid week so I plan to tackle a bit more vertical to try them out and see how they react on my Achilles. More on that next week.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, I am not following a training program. I know about how many miles I want to get per week and I am going to follow what I call a "flexibility with rules" plan that allows me to go by feel. If I feel like running tomorrow, I will. If not, I won't stress out about it. But, I will get something in, whether it is a mountain bike ride, a strength session, Powercranks or a solid, weighted hike.

Onto the week!

Bob

And so it begins...my next adventure!

 

R2R2R.

Here's how this crazy idea came about...last year, my family and I drove down to Arizona to watch my oldest son compete in the Nike Cross Regionals race (cross country). On our way back to Colorado we stopped at the Grand Canyon (GC) to show the kids one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

I'll cut right to the chase. As I was standing on the edge enjoying the vast beauty of the GC, I told my wife and kids that I was going to run across it and back. I didn't know when. I just knew that I would.

So, here's the deal. I'm going to run/hike from the south rim to the north rim and back to the south rim again, yes all in one day. Why? I usually operate on the "why not" continuum. I am doing this because I want to, plain and simple. Of course, I am hoping my son gets invited to go down to Arizona for Nike Cross again so my logistics work out right. Drive down to the GC, do a "little" run, head down to Phoenix, watch my son race and drive back home with him. BOOM! Best of all worlds.

That's the plan but here's the thing. I thought, why not, for the first time, really detail how I am going to do this and let everyone follow my progress. Enter my blog. Each week (likely on Sundays), I am going to tell you how my week of training, nutrition, recovery, and overall life progressed. I will share my successes, my failures and my challenges along the way. I'm not racing this...it will be an experience, one that I plan on enjoying and taking full part in. No stress of going fast but rather, engaging in an activity that brings me joy. Keep updated on my progress each week as I may share some gems when it comes to training, recovery and nutrition! I promise I won't write a novel each week...;-)

And speaking of nutrition, Generation UCAN has agreed to power my journey. I am going to use all UCAN products for training and throughout the actual double crossing of the GC. UCAN bars, drinks and hydration products will be my staple. Why? Well, because their philosophy matches quite closely to mine (controlling blood sugar to improve health and performance) and I just really like everything about them.

I am going to show you that this forty-something father of three, husband of one, and owner of a few small businesses can in fact achieve balance in his life by training smart, recovering smarter, and using even smarter nutrition supplied by Generation UCAN.

And, I'm off. The 10 week countdown has begun.

Stay tuned! My first official blog post will be coming out this Sunday!

Bob

 

What's it worth? Part 2

In a follow up to my last blog post, I thought I would expand a bit on the word "quality". As a Sport Dietitian, I am keen to the ingredients in food products that individuals are using. You see, there are many products on the market that cut corners and care more about cost and profit margins than using ingredients that are more health promoting and functional.

For example, did you know that whey protein concentrate is cheaper than whey protein isolate? The latter goes through more processes to increase the protein content and thus the consumer pays for this. Whey protein concentrate is cheaper for manufacturers, improves their bottom line and thus, you see many of these products with a lower price tag in the grocery store. Why? Simply because of ingredients.

Now, the good news is that some companies are taking a different approach and attacking the problem of poor eating habits by, let's say, "reversing" the R&D and manufacturing process. Instead of looking at ROI first, they source high quality ingredients and do their research to determine the proper physiological dose for improved health outcomes. After determining the best ingredient to health benefit ratio, it is off to the lab or kitchen to make great tasting and functional products.

Unfortunately, this isn't common practice and the culture of value and quality is lost in consumers. Let's look at a typical example: a consumer shops online or in a store for a protein powder. They want something that tastes good, provides them protein, and won't break the bank. Based on these criteria, they make a decision based on total cost instead of ingredients and proper dosages. Perhaps there are allergens in the cheaper option. Maybe there are fewer health benefits. Does the consumer know this? Most of the time, the answer is "no".

This is part of the problem I believe in today's society (one of thousands). There are many entrepreneurs who really are trying to fix problems and are genuinely concerned with creating nutrition products that have a positive impact on our health. But there are many that are in it for the exit strategy. That is, looking at the P&L statement, investor opportunities, and a fast buyout. It's very difficult for consumers to see through this with all of the slick marketing and advertising campaigns that some companies employ.

Back to my original statement of quality. Quality comes in many forms but in the nutrition world, it is all about ingredients. High quality ingredients, when paired properly in the right physiological doses, will yield fantastic, positive health benefits. For this high quality and potential health improvements comes a higher price point. Is it hard to swallow at first? Sure it is but remember, you only have one body and one lifetime to try to get as much from it as you can. Your body should be your temple.

I'm not saying you should spend all of your hard earned money on over-priced nutritional products (believe me, that is easy to do given the sheer amount that are on the market). What I am saying is be a smart consumer, read the ingredients, do a bit of research, look at a company's founders and advisory board, and determine what is best for you. Many of the companies who are producing high quality products with top-notch ingredients have a person with an extensive nutrition research background and/or a Registered Dietitian/chef as the driving force. This should tell you that there is at least a good part of them that truly cares about health and athletic performance and is not trying to run a "get rich quick" scheme.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback and comments. Feel free to email me.

Bob

What's it worth?

As consumers, we are faced with this burning question, "what's it worth?" may times throughout the day, week, month and year. No matter the service or product we need, we always look for "the deal". Am I right? I know I price shop on many items from toothpaste to running shoes to bicycle tires - but the one thing that I do not waiver on is my health, wellness, and performance.

When I am looking for someone to improve my health, I look for experience. I do not look for the deals. Why? Because I know looking for deals when it comes to my health and performance usually coincide with receiving inferior services. If I am looking for a massage therapist, I am going to look for one who specializes in sports massage and has had a long track record working with athletes. If I am going to choose a physician, I am going to look for one who specializes in sports, is an athlete, and has been in the profession for at least 12-15 years. If I am going to need a physical therapist, I'm not going for someone who just graduated from college. Sorry but you have to put in your time to get my business. I want someone who walks the walk AND talks the talk. The latter comes from years and years of experience and I am willing to pay for it. It's my body and I only have one of them!

I have been in the sports nutrition field for 23 years (hard to believe, I know). Every day I see another "nutritionist" pop up somewhere with a resume built on fad diets, supplements, MLM marketing, or the number of followers on social media (no joke!). And most have no educational background whatsoever! Don't get me started. However, I don't get mad, just frustrated. Frustrated that consumers are being tricked by individuals with very little experience but very slick marketing campaigns or chiseled bodies. It just doesn't work like that people!

You get what you pay for right? Yeah, you hire me and you do pay more. You pay more because I have three college degrees in the SAME topics of study. I'm not ashamed that I charge more because there is a very, very high chance that I have "been there, seen that, done that, fixed that" when it comes to what you need. Listen, 23 years in the profession (and still going strong) does that. I've seen just about everything. I know sports nutrition inside and out. I have devoted my life to it. It is my passion. I know exercise physiology testing. I know coaching and the psychology of helping someone make a behavior change. I studied it but more importantly, I've been around the block many, many times. I'm not arrogant. I'm honest.

Here's the thing...you may find someone half as qualified or heck, maybe even with the same alphabet soup as myself or my team of Sport Dietitians at eNRG Performance. Perhaps they offer the same services or physiological testing but for a much lower price. You may be thinking to yourself, "I'll just choose the cheapest one - they are all Registered/Sport Dietitians, right?". Um, wrong. Know why? Because we aren't the same. Even though we may have had similar schooling, completed our RD internship and passed the national RD exam, that doesn't make us similar. In fact, there are actually very few Registered Dietitians who specialize in sports nutrition.

My Registered/Sport Dietitian team at eNRG Performance (Heidi and Jackie) has over 30 years of combined, real-life experience. You know what that means for you, the consumer? That means you benefit, we reduce the learning curve when working with you, and we know how to interpret physiological tests better than anyone - simply because we are pioneers in the field and have been doing it a very long time.

So, before you decide to hire a Registered/Sport Dietitian or shell out some dough for a sweat sodium concentration test, metabolic efficiency test or the like, take a step back and ask yourself if you want to chase a deal or want the real deal. Believe me, if I had a dime for all of the athletes who have hired me after first going to someone else, I would be, well, let's just stop there.

Enjoy your summer!

Bob

Email me

Coffee: My Story

It all started when I was around 12 years old. I was introduced to coffee during a visit to my Aunt and Uncle's house. They persuaded me to try one of their breakfast options: coffee and toast. I’ve always had the attitude to try something at least once so I did. BLAH! Black coffee, even dunking toast oozing with butter on it was disgusting! Well, to set the record straight, I didn’t really drink the coffee. Rather, I just tasted it on the buttered toast but of course, I did try a sip after all was said and done. BLAH, BLAH! Disgusting! I was more of a hot cocoa and tea drinker and this coffee stuff just did not taste good at all!

I was intrigued by the drink so I added something to make it taste better: sugar. It made it a little better but still not worth my time or resources in actually drinking it so I went through life, smelling it every day as my Mom drank it and didn’t really re-visit it until graduate school. It was then that two of my advisors for my research asked if I drank coffee. I told them no, not thinking much of it. Well, being avid coffee drinkers, they took that to heart and decided to politely state that they were going to work me so hard in my thesis research that I would be forced to drink coffee to stay awake.

What they didn’t realize is that I am one for challenges and usually don’t back down from them. So, I took their challenge and guaranteed that I wouldn’t touch a drop of the black gold during my time with them-for no reason other than to prove them wrong (and for me to win!). Fast forward a couple of years in which I did two theses and was awarded two Master’s degrees and yes, you guessed it, I won. No coffee. Ever. Didn't even cross my mind.

Fast forward many, many years with three kids under my belt and countless nights of no sleep and I still never touched the stuff. In fact, the smell of it would make me nauseous. I couldn’t even walk into a coffee shop because it would make me ill. So, earlier this year, my interest in coffee was sparked, mostly due to the health benefits. Granted, there can be detrimental consequences in some people, especially due to genomics and how you process caffeine in general but that aside, I was intrigued. My wife had been drinking it for a while and the aroma that filled the house each morning was growing on me (and not making me sick any longer). It all started with a sip of her coffee concoction. It was alright but didn’t really taste like much (back then she added soy milk and store bought creamer to it). I didn’t really taste the coffee. It wasn’t bad, per se, but the taste certainly wouldn’t convince me to jump on the coffee wagon.

So, I thought I would really see if I liked coffee. N of 1 experiment of sorts (which I am famous for). No additives. No sweeteners. No nothing. Just straight, black coffee. I figured if I was going to decide if I liked it, it really started with the pure stuff. I can’t remember what brand I tried initially but I was not impressed. It was a light to medium roast and honestly, I didn’t taste anything. I moved to a dark roast which, thankfully, got my taste buds attention. I did a bit of research, found some intense, dark blends and dove right into my black coffee experience.

Surprisingly, I was impressed. I enjoyed the taste and in the back of my head, the health benefits are a bonus. As an aside, I have had genomics testing and I know am a slow metabolizer of caffeine so I do need to be careful with the amount of the "full gas" version (caffeinated). Having the genomics data is helpful because I know if I overdo my daily caffeine intake, it can have a detrimental effect on my health. So, I found a nice, dark, decaf option to balance it out.

Many decades have passed since my toast and coffee introduction and I would have never thought I would be a coffee drinker but suffice to say, taste preferences change throughout life and while not a coffee-a-holic (I don't use it as a stimulator and can function just fine without it), I do enjoy a strong cup of dark roast, black coffee but depending on my mood, I rotate through a good home brew of hot cocoa, green and yerba mate teas.

Interested in my home brew of hot cocoa and perhaps on what my wife uses now instead of store bought creamers that are chock full of additives and fake ingredients? Stay tuned...I'll be making a big announcement soon!

I’m always up for good brands of coffee that are intensely strong and bold with no bitter aftertaste so feel free to reach out and let me know your favorites!

Thanks for reading!

Bob

Drop me an EMAIL if you would like to connect

Test. Don't Guess. A Guide to Physiological Testing

My mantra (well one of them), "Test. Don't guess". Powerful if you ask me. However, I have been accumulating feedback the past few years from individuals regarding various types of testing only to have concluded that we are living in the dark ages when it comes to testing. I believe that we are still following the Western Medicine guidelines of having blood work done only when necessary, for life insurance purposes, or once a year as an annual check up. I compare this model to the amount of nutrition education physicians receive in medical school: lacking.

I used subscribe to this same thought process too...albeit, when I was younger (read: bullet proof and NOT the coffee), and only new what university taught me. These days though, the older (read: wiser) me has learned quite a bit about the process of testing, applicability, and more importantly, the "why" behind some of the testing.

So, I thought I would share my thoughts on the way testing should be done, at least through my eyes. Keep in mind that there are SO many different types of tests out there (I am certainly still learning) so I am going to simply review the ones that are in my wheel house since I can speak intelligently about them. I'm going to limit this post to only 5 specific tests so I don't get too far on a rant and end up writing a novel.

Let's get started. First off, remember, there should be a fundamental reason for testing AND a method for using the information you receive. This is a pretty important point to keep in mind. Okay, here we go!

1. Metabolic Efficiency (ME)

Ah, the physiological test I created in the early 2000's. There is quite a bit of confusion not only on the proper protocol for this test but also the purpose of it. Let me make it crystal clear that the ME test is a nutritional assessment test. I guess you can even think of it as a nutritional performance test. However, what it is not is a physical performance test. You can read more about what you receive from the test HERE but this test will provide a "systems check" to see if your current daily nutrition (aka-diet) is meeting your health and performance needs. Quite simply, it looks under the hood to see if your macronutrients that you consume are out of whack or not. The test should progress in 4-5 minute stages, be done in a fasted state, and should last between 15-45 minutes. You should not do this test if you are merely looking to get heart rate, power, or pace training zones. That is physical performance data and there are better tests that will provide this.

The ME test is a sub-maximal. Yes, SUB-maximal, which means you should start at a super easy effort and progress slowly, possibly reaching close to threshold (but often times that is not even necessary)

Listen up because this really happens. An individual says, "I had a metabolic efficiency test last year, I'm fine". Well, um, no you are not. You see, what many do not understand is that your metabolic efficiency is more regulated by your daily nutrition than it is by exercise (more about that HERE). I have personally tested individuals (and myself) showing extremely profound changes in metabolic efficiency in one week. Yes, ONE WEEK! So folks, if you truly want a snapshot of your current nutrition situation, go have a Metabolic Efficiency Test done today. You cannot assume data from a year ago (or even a few months ago) is still valid.

2. Lactate Threshold (what I call, Lactate Clearing Efficiency)

This is the physical performance test that you want to set training zones. It doesn't require fasting and you should be prepared to go HARD on this test. Not like a VO2 but pretty darn close! I won't get into this test too much since I just blogged about it (click HERE to read that post).

In reality, only endurance athletes really need to bother with this type of testing and probably only 2-3 times per year based on their training periodization.

3. Sweat Sodium Concentration (and Rate)

Not many people understand the difference between concentration and rate. Sweat sodium concentration measures the, you guessed it, concentration of your sodium in your body. This is largely influenced by genetics and this testing only needs to be done once (what I term "one and done"). Once you know your sodium concentration, you can then move onto the rate part and get an accurate picture of your fluid and sodium needs during exercise. One thing to note: this type of testing can be done exercising (via patch, sweat bag) but the one we like to use at eNRG Performance is a non-exercise option that induces sweat from your forearm. Super easy and time efficient. In fact, it usually only takes about 30-45 minutes.

Sweat rate is what you need to really keep an eye on throughout the year based on the environmental stress and sport(s) you do. This can change quite a bit and will alter your fluid and electrolyte plan so it is best to do this when the seasons change or per sport (i.e.-if you are a triathlete, you should measure this for swim, bike, and run training). The rate testing is super easy and all that is required is an accurate scale. Simply weigh yourself (preferably nude) pre- and post-workout and record the information. HERE is a sheet detailing this information and how to use it.

4. Blood work

Seriously, this is probably the most important testing EVER, especially as you age or if you have family history of disease states. There are so many options it really isn't funny but suffice to say, I usually recommend a very comprehensive foundational blood work test at the onset of your testing, then follow-up panels based on any deficiencies you have or based on nutritional changes you are making. For example, perhaps you find that your lipids are a bit off (HDL, LDL, particle size, triglycerides) and you work with a Registered Dietitian to make nutritional changes. Your next blood work test can then focus on these specific markers instead of the "whole enchilada" again. Vitamin D or iron low? Work on it. Change your daily nutrition. Supplement if you need to but just be sure to have frequent blood work testing check-ups to ensure what you are doing is actually working. HERE is more information about various tests we do at eNRG Performance.

5. Genomics

This is relatively new and I will point you to the information I wrote for the eNRG Performance website as that is a great summary of what it is and why it is important. Suffice to say, yes it is important and no, it is not ancestry testing. The field is called Nutrigenomics and I remember about 10 years ago when I was reading a nutrition journal introducing this concept/field. I thought it was quite interesting and predicted that it would take off and become wildly popular. Here we are 10 years later and well, it is. This is very much a "one and done" test and is great because you find out which genes (related to nutrition) may have "spelling errors" on them and may not function they way they are supposed to. Perhaps you find out that genes for Vitamin D metabolism are not functioning well. Meet with a Registered Dietitian after the test, and he/she can help you identify work around strategies to help "fix" this problem so you do not risk Vitamin D deficiency. Be careful when you search for genomic testing though. There are quite a few choices, some cheap with not a lot of information and some expensive with too much information. Much like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you want the one in the middle!

There you have it! Reach out if you have any questions.

 

Bob

Lactate "Threshold" Testing

I get quite a few questions from athletes regarding lactate threshold testing and if they should pay for this service at a lab or just do a field test outside. Let me address some of the confusion out there (as there is a lot of it!).

1. Lactate threshold as the name implies, is not really a "threshold" per se. The word threshold suggests that there is nothing above it. Rather, I have coined the term "lactate clearing efficiency", or LCE, to describe this term better. Why? Simply put, a lactate "threshold" test measures how efficient your body is at clearing lactate. You see, we are always producing lactate (it is a product of a metabolic cycle called glycolysis). Lactate isn't bad as it can be used for energy. However, above a certain intensity, and the build up of hydrogen ions actually begins to impair our performance.

Exercise is still possible above the lactate "threshold". Measuring the LCE provides us the point in time (as defined by heart rate, power, and/or pace) when our body begins to accumulate more than it can clear.

2. Once the LCE point is found, it's pretty easy to determine training zones. This is arguably the most accurate way to determine zone training. Sure, you can do some field testing but it is more difficult to control environmental conditions.

3. Here's where the real difference lies in lab (where blood is sampled every stage) vs. field testing, and one that many do not know. In a lab based test, yes, you are provided training zones but in my opinion, that is not the "a-ha" moment that you really need. More importantly, you can get a clear sense of the energy system that is weak or strong. For example, say a triathlete comes to visit me for a test and we learn that his aerobic energy system is a bit weak (as evident by the millimoles of lactate in his blood) but his anaerobic energy system is in full swing and ready to engage.

Summary

With this data, I can provide this information to the athlete and his coach, if he has one, to provide a better picture of where his training focus should be depending on the distances and his preparation timeline. Perhaps he is training for Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons and the season is 8-12 weeks away. This is a great place for him to be since his anaerobic energy system is so well prepped. However, if he was gearing up for an Ironman distance and only had 8-12 weeks left to train, it would be obvious that the energy system in most need would be aerobic.

In summary, it doesn't matter what name we give this testing. The important take away is that you can get much more data than just training zones from a properly executed lactate threshold/clearing efficiency test.

If I left you a bit more confused, feel free to reach out via email. I'd love to hear from you!

Bob

A Story

Sports nutrition is a passion of mine. My curiosity of how the body worked and why it did certain things led me to my university degrees in exercise science and nutrition. But it was growing up playing competitive soccer and basketball that really began this journey. I didn't grow up eating well or knowing how to take care of my body. I don't think any young athlete did at that time. And I certainly had no idea of what it meant to factor in proper recovery, sleep and stress management techniques.

I merely followed my coaches orders and back then, it was a whole bunch of hard training, punishment in the form of sprints, wall sits, or the like, and showing up on game day hoping for the best.

Maybe part of my fascination with the human body was due to wanting to understand why my coaches did what they did. Maybe it was just pure luck but I don't bet on that too much. Perhaps it was during in my first semester of college, studying architecture of all things, sitting at a desk, hunched over drawing sketches of buildings, that really made me step back and ask the question, "why am I doing this"? I loved to draw but sitting at a desk all day long wasn't for me. I remember during this semester, I took an athletic training course as an elective. I don't know why but looking back on it, I feel that I was drawn to it because I was an athlete. It was my inner self wanting to understand more about the body and how it worked.

That one class began my journey to carving my career, my passion, my story. You see, everyone has a story and I was thinking about this in context of companies that make sports nutrition products. Relatively speaking, most of these companies use similar ingredients, share the same types of products and shelf space in retail but what makes you and I gravitate to one versus another? Their story. It's pretty simple really. Think of these sports nutrition companies that you engage with and truly support. Not just because their products are on sale but because you connect with their mission and their philosophy.

What is important to you as a consumer of their products? I remember reading "Raising the Bar" years ago and was filled with emotions from confusion to joy. This book told the story of a company with different values from most. I also remember a phone call I received more than 10 years ago from a representative of a new company that was trying to enter into the sports nutrition market. They didn't open by asking my opinion of their product and idea but rather told me the story of a young boy who could not control his blood sugar due to genetic disorder and had to be constantly fed every couple of hours through the day and night. His parents were doing everything they could to help their son. His father eventually created a product that helped his son's condition and now this boy is a thriving teenager who has better control of his life.

The story. It's quite powerful if you think about it and it has allowed me to take a step back and truly evaluate the "why" behind my support of certain companies. At the end of the day, we must all be responsible for our actions and decisions. My story has shaped my passion, my career, and my support of others.

What is your story?

 

Quick and Easy

Times have changed. You know it, I know it. We have less time for many things due to the pressures we all face day in and day out. We live at a faster pace, skipping meals or eating them on the go oftentimes. The true mark of a good entrepreneur is to create solutions to problems or challenges and I believe Ample has done just that! While there have been other "meal in a bottle" concepts that have hit the market, I do not believe any of them have embraced the true nature of blending quality ingredients while optimizing the control of blood sugar with a decent taste.

In my opinion, Ample has done just that. Read on for my review of their product.

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Upon my initial exposure to Ample, I was quite shocked really. I thought, “why didn’t I think of that?”. Mostly because I am a smoothie-a-holic and this is a creation that would easily come out of my kitchen!

When I first got my hands on the Ample meal shake, I immediately turned to the label to see what ingredients were waiting for me. Grass-fed, a mixture of protein sources, fiber, resistant starch, omega-3’s, and probiotics topped off the list and are all ingredients that I myself would include if I had come up with this idea. It doesn’t appear that this company has skimped on any of the inclusions and that is something that I, as a Sport Dietitian, athlete, and parent, appreciate.

After the list of ingredients passed with flying colors, it was time to review the nutrition facts because sometimes no matter how great the ingredients are, some companies just don’t know how to put them together to stimulate positive physiological responses in the body. Ample gets it. Now, before I continue let me make it clear that this is a meal shake, not a snack. It provides a whopping 400 calories (they have 600 calorie options also) and I personally used this to replace my lunch one day. Many people will shy away from the 400 calorie sticker shock but remember, it’s a meal and you must approach it with this mindset. Calories aren’t really my biggest focal point so I moved onto the macronutrients. I am always concerned with the blood sugar controlling response of products and always look at protein first. At 27 grams, this falls right into correct amount needed for most individuals for a meal. I then moved to the carbohydrate content to make sure it is a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein as these ratios best control blood sugar (good for health and performance reasons). At only 21 grams of carbohydrate per bottle, this definitely achieves that goal! If you are an athlete, this may be too low of a ratio and a bit more carbohydrates may be necessary, depending on your training load. In this case, grab a handful of blueberries and/or mix Ample with milk of your choice for some extra carbohydrates to fuel exercise that is longer duration or higher intensity. The fat content comes in at 24 grams with zero trans fats.

Overall, the ingredients and nutrition facts of Ample support blood sugar control extremely well and will improve the body’s fat burning ability. But of course, who cares if it doesn’t taste good? After reading the ingredients, I was a bit weary and thought this would be the equivalent of picking up a handful of dirt and eating it. Not so! While Ample does have an “earthy” taste, I was pleasantly surprised how they made all of the super nutritious ingredients blend for a great taste that is smooth, creamy, and one that does not leave an ill aftertaste.

As I mentioned, I substituted Ample for a lunch and after mixing it with water, took about 10 minutes to drink it. What I noticed almost immediately afterwards was a comfortable sense of fullness. I was curious how long this would last and wasn’t too optimistic as I have tried other similar products and haven’t gone more than 90 minutes without eating something else afterwards. Ample provided a super high satiety (feeling of fullness) rating and I didn’t end up eating for 4 hours (yes, 4 hours) after drinking it.

Of course, there is an initial sticker shock that any consumer will have at first. Depending on the quantity purchased and the type (they have regular, Vegan, and Ketogenic), the price per bottle will range from $5.52 - $8.00. That may seem like a big chunk of change but remember, as I stated previously, this is a meal shake. It will replace a meal. Think of how much it costs to eat out then compare the nutrients in Ample versus a fast food meal. Ample doesn’t seem like much more than some powder in a bottle but dollar to dollar, I believe it will be a much more nutritious option that will help you optimize your blood sugar control, assisting in any health and athletic performance related goals.

As an aside, I had my teenage son, a highly competitive triathlete who trains upwards of 14 hours per week, try an Ample in between a swim and bike session. Two hours separated the sessions and he consumed an Ample immediately after his 4000 yard swim. He told me that he felt full, but not overly full, and his energy level was high all the way through his 1 hour and 15 minute interval bike session. Even after the bike, he said he wasn’t as hungry as usual. Success!

All in all, I will say that I will continue to use Ample and will always have a few bottles in my pantry for those times where I fall victim to the regular busy schedule of being a business owner, sport dietitian, father, husband, and coach. I would definitely recommend trying it as I believe you will be pleasantly surprised, not only by the super nutritious list of ingredients and pleasant taste, but also the ability it has on your body to stabilize your blood sugar and improve your energy level.

Want to try Ample for yourself? I would definitely recommend it to see how it works for you within you busy lifestyle. Click HERE or use the code ENRG15 to get 15% off your first order at the Ample website.

To carb or not to carb...that is the question

As I was enjoying one of my breakfast "rotations" of 2 fried eggs (cooked in butter) and a healthy topping of avocado (mashed with pepper, and garlic salt), it made me reflect a bit about why I chose this specific combination of food to start off my day. Of course, this led into analyzing a few of the current nutrition problems that athletes are faced with each day.

#1: First and foremost, I ate this breakfast because I really, really enjoy the taste of all of the food. Seriously, besides putting peanut butter on fried eggs (a blog post for the future), my taste buds are extremely tantalized when eating fried eggs with mashed avocado on top.

#2: This is a very low carbohydrate breakfast chock full of protein and fat. I am an athlete and train almost daily so what gives? Why am I not eating more carbohydrates? Well, put very simply, I didn't need many carbohydrates that day because my training load was due to be on the low side. In 2004, I published the first ever book on Nutrition Periodization (look it up, it's a good one). The concept describes the need to account for your training load when devising your daily eating program. In short, my mantra has always been, "eat to train, don't train to eat". I was eating to train for the day and since I didn't have much training on the plan, I didn't have the need for many carbohydrates. Plain and simple.

#3: There's a huge argument that many individuals (athletes and health professionals) are having these days and each seem to be taking a side on the low carb/high fat or high carb/low fat "diets". Listen up people, it's not about taking sides or choosing a diet. The body will require different amounts of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) each day according to your exercise/training plan (remember Nutrition Periodization?). You don't have to choose. Rather, you have to periodize.

#4: This breakfast was very metabolically efficient but not many people realize that 1) there are at least 5 different dietary methods that I have identified that improves metabolic efficiency and thus a "diet" does not have to be followed, and 2) there is not one single way to improve the body's ability to burn fat or carbohydrate. Unless specific disease states are present, it is quite easy to teach the body to use carbs or fat more efficiently. More about this in the white paper I am currently writing that will help to end the confusion on this topic.

At the end of the day (or the beginning in this breakfast example), here was my train of thought for making this breakfast:

  • Am I hungry?
  • What type and duration of training do I have today?
  • Are my taste buds geared more toward sweet or savory?
  • What do I have in my fridge?

There you have it. Don't think you need a PhD to make your daily nutrition choices.

Until next time...and probably a smoothie with more carbohydrates tomorrow morning since I am doing a double training session.

 

Bob

 

 

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Knee Pain

Throughout my athletic career, I have certainly had my share of aches and pains. The newest member of this "family" is chondromalacia (sometimes referred to as runner's knee). This wonderful (yes, that is sarcasm) condition is basically due to the protective cartilage covering the kneecap (patella) wearing down a bit, likely due to overuse and/or repetitive stress. So, my kneecap isn't getting its groove on any longer. No, seriously, my patella is not sitting properly in its groove right now!

For those who have experienced this before, it's not fun. If you catch it early and actually do something about it, consider yourself lucky. Mine got pretty bad. It hurt going up and down stairs, I couldn't squat, do lunges, steps-ups, or really any lower body exercise. Ugh. The pain during running fluctuated depending on the terrain (worse on hills and trails) and cycling was out of the question initially because I could hardly put any force to the pedals without that stabbing feeling in my knee.

So I read a bit more about this condition and didn't listen to much of the recommendations I came across because many of them are what I consider "old school". That is, until I came about something that peaked my interest as an endurance/strength coach: functional imbalances. I'm pretty big on finding and fixing these imbalances in the athletes I work with so I am no stranger to the process. However, it is a bit difficult to assess yourself so I asked my wife to snap a few videos of me running and still photos of my legs relaxed and contracted. I don't know if I was ready to see what I did but it sure did allow me to approach my treatment in a more methodical manner. And let's remember that this is a n of 1 case. I am not a physical therapist but I am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with training in functional imbalance assessment and exercise treatment.

Let's revisit chondromalacia. Back in the days, I remember people saying that once you got it, you couldn't get rid of it and that was the end of your running career. Well, it just so happens that chondromalacia can be due to a very simple (in my mind) muscular imbalance where the hamstrings are too tight and the quadriceps are too weak.

Taking a closer look at the videos and photos, I realized that I, in fact, do have weak quads on my right leg (probably due to having broken my foot a couple of times in the past 10 years and walking around with a boot). Once I looked at the videos and photos, it was very apparent that my right patella was not tracking properly. Yes, it was that obvious and I did not require any further testing.

So, onto fixing it right? Well, kind of. You see, I couldn't do many of the exercises that are prescribed to strengthen the quads because it involved knee extension, which hurt my knee. Hmmm...isometric contractions? Sure, but not too effective in my mind. Or perhaps I didn't choose this route due to my lack of patience. Nevertheless, I turned to a piece of technology that has been around for quite a long time: electrical stimulation. I researched "e-stim" years ago and have always kept up with the players in the market and the research but it wasn't until now that I became much more interested.

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I turned to arguably the most reputable electrical stimulation device company on the market: Compex. Armed with their Wireless 2.0, I wondered if I could make a more significant impact on improving my quad strength and thus ridding myself of this nagging "visitor". Honestly, I wasn't expecting much because I know it can take months or even years to address functional imbalances. Surprisingly though, I saw benefits within the first 9 days of using Compex. Pretty spectacular if you ask me.

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Prior to using Compex, I would struggle to run 3 miles without hobbling. My pain was usually a 8/9 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being pretty bad). Today, as I write this, I have done 6 mile runs pain free and even more importantly, I can squat, do step-ups, and walk up and down stairs with hardly any pain. Every so often, I do feel a bit of a chondromalacia reminder but the pain is mostly a 1-2 on the 10 point scale. This usually happens more in the morning before I begin my Compex routine.

Of course, you will want to know what I actually did with the Compex. It was a bit of self experimentation (remember n=1) but for the first 6 days, I was religious in using the resistance, strength, and active recovery programs for at least 90 minutes. Pretty easy, especially with the wireless unit, as I would just let it run while I was doing computer work. I then took a day off, then repeated this process for another 2 days. Today marks my 10th day of using it and I will continue to cycle through this methodology.

One thing to note is that I have been using the Compex mostly without training, meaning, I just sit there and let it do its job. Since my knee is feeling 100% better, I will begin using it during exercise this week to maximize the benefits of targeting the specific muscle fibers to seek even more improvement. One of the best ways to use this technology is during training (warm-ups, on the bike, pre-exercise potentiation, and during certain strength exercises). I think far too many people pick up a great device like Compex but do not utilize it to its full potential. If you are just using for active recovery, so be it, but you are really not experiencing the true firepower of this device.

To say I am elated would be an understatement. I firmly believe all athletes should be using this technology under the proper supervision of a professional in order to guide them through the different programs and periodize these programs into their overall training plan development.

I will post more updates as I utilize the Compex more during exercise throughout this month. Until then, Happy Holidays!

Bob