Rewind to about May/June of last year. I had goals of getting back on the track and running fast after a good fall. I had goals of running some competitive races through the summer and ending on a high point at the Sir Walter Miler. But my goals came crashing down as several races went sour as my legs seemingly hit a wall. After mulling over the cause of the tiredness I had been feeling I finally made the decision to invest in InsideTracker. Man, did it pay off.
I had dealt with anemia prior to transitioning to the gluten free diet, but I had not put 2 and 2 together until after I got my blood results back. I knew what low ferritin felt like but there is difference between the feeling you have when it is as low as 8 and when it’s at 33. After going through the previous races and workouts in my head, it clicked. That dead leg feeling complete with the heavy breathing and instant hatred of all things running, yep that was my ferritin talking to me.
For runners ferritin is a very important blood marker. Having enough Ferritin in your blood makes your stored iron accessible for use in oxygen transfer. If your ferritin is low you could have killer levels of stored iron but have no way of accessing it. Going to your primary care doctor and asking them to check your iron typically doesn’t cut it because often this test does not include your ferritin marker. Beyond that, primary care doctors don’t work only with runners. Technically a ferritin level in the 30’s is considered normal and for a non-runner this would probably not affect their daily life. In fact they probably wouldn’t even notice it. But for runners most people thrive at 50 or higher which brings up one of the biggest benefits of InsideTracker and one of the reasons I ultimately took the leap to do it. InsideTracker takes your blood sample and analyses it to determine the specific optimal ranges for your individual biomarkers. No one person is alike and this fact is true even with your biomarkers. What may be optimal for one person may not be for another. For each biomarker, the interface spits out a chart showing the normal range, your specific optimal range within that normal range, and the ranges that would be considered abnormal. To the right of the chart is an explanation of your value and food recommendations in order to improve that level or keep it the same. For us nutrition nerds there is also a tab for the science behind each biomarker and a video to learn more. Up until using InsideTracker I knew that my iron levels could have an effect on my energy levels but I wasn’t quite aware of the other vitamin deficiencies that could also have an effect on energy and performance such as B-complex, folate, and vitamin D (among others).
Luckily for me InsideTracker helped to me catch my low ferritin levels early enough for me to make some changes with supplementation and diet. I finished that fall with a 1 minute half marathon PR, a new mile PR, a USATF NC Long Distance Series Championship, and a 15th place finish at the .US 12k Championships where I ran my 6k PR twice to finish in 40:21.
Now fast forward to January of this year. I had all of the symptoms of overtraining and a training log to prove it. I took 3 days off in the middle of my marathon training cycle and turned to InsideTracker. Upon receiving my results there were certainly indicators of overtraining. InsideTracker opened my eyes to the idea of overtraining and broke it down from the standpoint of what is happening in the body because of it. As runners we push ourselves to our limits. We think, “If I am not hitting my splits, I am not working hard enough.” This may be true at times but other times it may be just the opposite, that you’re working too hard. In January I made excuses for my blood work and kept trucking but now that I have accepted what happened, I can rightfully say I did a lot of things wrong. But I have learned from it.
I tried to resume training following the marathon and it didn’t come. I made the ultimate decision at the end of April to hang it up and took an extended training break to ensure that I would come back refreshed. I resumed training at the end of May, starting with low easy mileage. I slowly increased my mileage while moderating the pace. As I started back into training I knew I needed to check in on my blood levels before getting to deep. I was feeling good but it never hurts to check. I retested everything and when I got my results back I could see the comparison of my previous number to my current numbers in chart format. I could see that I had improved across the board. I could see that my cortisol levels had gone down and my cortisol to testosterone ratio had gone up (something I had no clue about until I did
InsideTracker!). High cortisol levels and low cortisol to testosterone ratios can be indications of overtraining and or a suppressed immune system increasing the risk of illness or injury.
For those of you that follow me on my social media platforms you have probably been seeing my recent pushes for InsideTracker. For anyone gearing up for a fall season now is the optimal time to have your biomarkers tested to make sure you are starting your training on a high note. The worst thing would be to ramp up into training and after a few months feeling tired and junky realize you are dealing with a few vitamin deficiencies. Digging yourself out of such a hole while still trying to improve your fitness will not be a fun experience (trust me I have done it!). InsideTracker offers several options to suit any runner’s needs. Sign up before the end of July and you can use ANDIEJULY for a discount on the plan of your choosing! Enjoy 🙂
P.s. My Blog is moving to a new site!! I am finishing up the design and will be launching soon so stay tuned!
The past two weeks really spread me too thin. From public meetings to car issues, long runs and traveling, my ability to accomplish anything outside of work and running was just about impossible. The daily grind of waking up at 4:30, running, planning my meals, working, doing strength training, going to pt appointments, adding in doubles, running errands, making dinner, and trying to get to bed by 9 really took its toll on me. Needless to say I never made it to bed by 9. Weeks like the past 2 always frustrate me. I love to cook and bake and experiment in the kitchen but when time holds me back I am always too tired to make the effort.
Tuesday this week was like therapy for me. With a couple hours to myself and an idea for a new recipe, I felt completely in my element. I got my jar of the new Strawberry BiPro protein powder last week and I have been dying to test it out. I have been racking my brain with what kinds of recipes I could try and what flavor combinations would work best. My idea for this recipe stems from my need for a high protein, low sugar, healthy post-run option for busy mornings. Typically, I make myself a bowl of whole grain low sugar cereal and then mix some unsweetened cashew milk with a half scoop of vanilla BiPro to pour over top. This is great but also much more time consuming. I also wanted something that would allow me to include Generation UCAN in its raw state. I have made several muffins using UCAN but the baking process changes the superstarch and makes its super powers go away somewhat. When I say super powers I am talking about it’s ability to keep blood sugar steady and tap into fat stores for energy. UCAN used in combination with a protein source has a substantial impact on the recovery process. The protein begins to do its work immediately in rebuilding the broken down muscle and the added superstarch extends the recovery window so that you are able to continue to utilize the protein from your next meal as an aid in the recovery process. The superstarch’s ability to utilize fat for fuel keeps you energized and focused even after a long hard workout or run. I’ll admit the first time I tried UCAN’s protein enhanced version after a workout I was amazed at how much more awake I felt the rest of the day!
Now on to the other star in this show. The strawberry BiPro. When I opened the container I was amazed by just how good it smelled. Like literally strawberry cream savers. Anyway, this protein is gluten free, lactose free, and caffeine free. It is naturally flavored and sweetened with real strawberry pieces. 0g of sugar and 1 g of carbohydrate this stuff is for real. With only 6 ingredients it surpasses many different protein powders, shakes, and bars in that it doesn’t have a laundry list of added preservatives and foreign ingredients. I scoop contains 90 calories and 20g of protein which reaches the recommended grams of protein needed for adequate recovery after exercise. There are no artificial or natural dyes so the protein isn’t any abnormal shade of red. Mixing it with a cold glass of cashew milk is even delicious by itself!
So when I decided I wanted to create a protein bar I knew exactly what Ingredients I had to use, some type of UCAN and Strawberry BiPro. I knew the recipe had to be raw so I needed to figure out what I could mix with it to make it all hold together and with good texture. I decided my best option would be to use the plain UCAN superstarch and bring it all together with cashew butter. I love the combination of strawberries and chocolate so I had to find a way to get that in there. If I had a better way of covering the bar in chocolate to fully cover it I would have. Then I used just a bit of agave to sweetened the deal. The important piece of information here is the use of a sweetener that would not spike the blood sugar negating the benefits of UCAN. The chocolate I used was Lily’s Chocolate chips which is sweetened with stevia which satisfies this condition. Now a days its becoming easier to find cashew butter at the store but you can also make your own pretty easily without any added oils! This recipe is raw and very simple to make! Anyway see the recipe below and enjoy!
p.s. any of my followers get 10% off with code: BLOG10
(Fine Print: 10% off purchase and the end date is 3-24-17. Must use valid promotion code. Not valid with other offer, discounts or promotions. Limit one promotion code use per customer.)
Strawberry Protein Bars
- 3 scoops Strawberry BiPro Protein Powder
- 3 scoops Plain UCAN Superstarch
- 1/2 cup cashew butter (archer farms brand is good or make your own)
- 1/4 unsweetened cashew milk
- 2 tbsp. agave nectar
- ¼ tsp sea salt (optional if your cashew butter does not contain it)
- 1/4 cup Lily’s Stevia Sweetened Chocolate Chips
- Combine the BiPro Protein powder, UCAN superstarch, and salt if using. Cut in the cashew butter until it resembles a crumbly mixture.
- Add in the cashew milk and agave and combine. Once incorporate kneed it all together with your hands.
- Once together form the dough into a rectangle. The dough may be sticky so if needed use some extra superstarch on the exterior of your rectangle and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Cut the rectangle into 6 equal bars and space out on the baking sheet. Melt the chocolate and then spread on the bars. To do the bottom, place the bars in the freezer for about 15 mintues then coat the bottom of the bar,
5. Store the bars in the fridge and enjoy after long runs or hard workouts!
For a printable recipe click here: Strawberry Protein Bar
To put it nicely, this has been one heck of a long week. The type of week that invokes the temptation to gorge yourself on chocolate. If it had not been for leftovers I wouldn’t have thought twice about ordering pizza every night. Problem being, I am in base training and this is not the time for letting my nutrition slide.
In the base training phase you are slowly building your mileage back up after a well-deserved break. In running, just like building, you need to have a strong foundation or “base”. Slowly increasing your mileage each week with runs at low to moderate intensity with no high intensity workouts is necessary for injury prevention and sustainability. This phase also involves regaining your fitness and dropping the extra weight and fat you should gain during a training break. Gaining a few extra pounds and extra fat is good for prepping your body for a new training cycle. As you increase your mileage your metabolism lags behind so in essence you are able to operate at a slight caloric deficit without getting hangry and feeling drained. During this phase I try to watch what I eat while indulging when my body needs it. Indulgence in moderation is the key to maintaining a healthy diet.
This leads me into the creation of my most recent recipe…Elderberry Chocolate Avocado Mousse.
When cravings strike and I want something sweet I like to find options that are both delicious and beneficial to my health. This recipe definitely fits that standard. And yes I know, avocado is for guacamole and tacos, believe me I thought the same thing…until I tried this. The avocado makes this recipe super creamy and honestly, it’s hard to believe there is no heavy cream! Avocados are super nutrient dense with heart healthy monosaturated fatty acids. These healthy fats help the body better absorb vitamins and minerals. The fiber in avocados helps to maintain a healthy immune system and contributes to a healthy gut.
The other 2 stars in this show are of course the Norms Farms Elderberry Wellness Syrup and Generation UCAN chocolate protein powder. If you missed my last post, Elderberry has amazing benefits to athletes! (click this link for more info: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/carl-thompson/elderberry-health-benefits-exercise_b_8171086.html ). The elderberry syrup promotes recovery and a healthy immune system so in combination with the avocado, this recipe will keep you strong and healthy. I would also like to add that the elderberry flavor complements the chocolate flavor amazingly well! The UCAN protein powder contains a complex carbohydrate called superstarch. This superstarch metabolizes slowly keeping energy levels and blood sugar stable while increasing the bodies ability to burn fat for energy. This protein version contains whey protein so if you wish to make this vegan you can use the plain Cocoa Delite UCAN superstarch that does not contain added protein.
This recipe is raw, gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free, and sweetened with low-glycemic index agave. In light of the upcoming 4th of July holiday, this recipe would make for a great dessert for your planned festiviites! Top with raspberries and blueberries to make it nice and festive!
Elderberry Chocolate Avocado Mousse
- 2 avocados
- 5 scoops UCAN chocolate protein
- 4 scoops cocoa elite cocoa powder or 4 tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tsp agave syrup
- 3 tbsp elderberry wellness syrup
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Purely Elizabeth Chocolate Sea Salt Granola (optional topping)
- Dark Chocolate Chips (optional topping)
- Place all ingredients (except the 2 optional toppings) into a high speed blender or food processor and process until all ingredients are well combined and smooth.
- Place in serving dishes and top with whatever desired toppings you choose! I suggest extra dark chocolate and Purely Elizabeth Chocolate Sea Salt Probiotic Granola
elderberry chocolate mousse (click to print!)