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If you were lucky enough to attend the Boulder premiere of the film “Leadman: The Dave Mackey Story”, then you likely have a newfound appreciation and respect for what it takes to tackle the Leadman race series. Go here for the movie trailer if you aren’t familiar with Dave’s story and here if you aren’t familiar with what the Leadman/Leadwoman series entails over the course of about 8 weeks. The Leadman series is a tough 8 weeks of trail running and mountain bike racing at high altitude with short recovery time in between events. Now, some ultra athletes “only” have the Leadman/Leadwoman series on their event calendar for the whole summer. However, other athletes (like Dave Mackey!) have many more races squeezed into the Spring, Summer, and Fall to make for a jam-packed and lengthy racing season. While it is exciting to see athletes challenge themselves with multiple adventures in a relatively short period of time, the body needs to be well-prepared for the training load and the short turnaround time between events to bounce back strong for what’s next. So, this is quick reminder (or plea?) to all of you who do have a chock-full season ahead of ultra races to: Get your daily nutrition in line pronto. Assess how you feel on a daily basis with your current dietary pattern. Questions to ask yourself include: Do you sleep well and wake up feeling supercharged for your day? Do you have steady energy throughout the day? Are you free from caffeine/sugar cravings or periods where you feel like a ravenous animal? Are you confident that your chosen dietary pattern is optimal? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, it’s time to take a deeper look with a nutrition professional (I advocate for a Sports Dietitian, of course!). Figure out how to prioritize recovery nutrition and what that looks like for you. There have been several updates in this area of sport nutrition and combined with the “one size does not fit all” mantra, it behooves you to take a fresh look at what you are doing from a nutritional standpoint to recover from your training sessions optimally. No one likes the feeling of being energy-trashed day to day and not being able to check the box for the training on tap. Ensure you have no nutrient deficiencies or other health issues that could impact your ability to train and recover to the best of your ability. This is particularly important for those who have any medical conditions, who have a history of iron deficiency anemia, disordered eating (or a clinical eating disorder), restricted diet, or simply any athlete who hasn’t had athlete-specific blood testing done in the past 6 months. The mantra “Test, Don’t Guess” applies here. Assess your past race nutrition and hydration strategies to determine areas of improvement. If you’ve had gastrointestinal distress during previous races (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.), major energy bonks, or suffered from over- or under-hydration episodes, it’s time to figure that stuff out. You don’t have to put up with that anymore. Build your performance team. Most athletes think of a training coach as the “be-all end-all”, but having other experts on your team such as a bodywork specialist, sport-oriented physical therapist, sport dietitian, and trusted training partner(s) can make for the best experience ever. Invest in yourself – you are worth it. I look forward to following the adventures of the Suffer Better followers and supporters for this 2019 season ahead! -Dina Griffin, MS, RDN, CSSD, CISSN The Nutrition Mechanic Sport Dietitian / Registered Dietitian Nutritionist firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently, one of our favorite local trails underwent a significant redo; what used to be a fairly steep steady grind to the top became a rolling, back and forth trail that wound its way to the top. Managed and built by dedicated volunteers primarily from a local mountain bike group, the new trail is designed to reduce both erosion and maintenance, slow down bikers and offer a new trail experience for the many riders, runners and hikers who take to this popular trail. A good half mile longer than the original, the new trail has produced both criticism and appreciation from its many users. Interestingly, trail runners have been the most vocally critical of the new trail, lamenting the new dips, long switchbacks and lost climbs. We've run the new trail – both directions – and have no issues with the new version. Sure, we miss the steeper grind that inevitably tested us, but reducing erosion and maintenance are laudable goals and make perfect sense, a compromise worth making to us. It did get us to thinking, though, about how this whole trail building process worked, whether it works similarly in other places, how runners and other users can best participate in the planning and development, and how to volunteer one's time. We've talked to the guys building the trail – the good people from COMBA who've given a ton of time and energy to improve the trail experience. Here's what they told us about the new trail: "We want to build a multi use trail for all that is fun and challenging all the while achieving the sustainability and low maintenance goals. This trail is a bit of an experiment incorporating new water shedding features called rolling grade dips. RGDs can be fun on bikes and a move away from the old straight constant grade trail. The trail sheds water efficiently, reduces the overall grade and allows for varying grades for punches and rests. This style is becoming more common on front country systems for a couple of reasons. The trail slows bikes down yet creates more playfulness in the trail experience. High use multi-use trails need safer experiences for all and slower speeds help. For cyclists, if they can’t have fall line fast and/ or gnarly which tend to be less sustainable and therefore higher maintenance, they want a trail experience and more distance. We call this more trail better trail. We create lower grades leading to greater distance and we achieve a unique experience with the trail. The destination and the speed are no longer top priority. With a rolling and curving trail there is less braking to reduce erosion, more speed control as the bike is forced to change trajectory, and the trail itself becomes the target experience for the rider. The advantage for the cyclist in this trail is the playful challenges and progression. We often will install features like rocks or kickers to add to the sense of fun for those looking for a challenge. The saying goes if you take away something, in this case fast decent/steep challenge climb, then you create something to replace it. The biggest reason for this style is low maintenance. Land managers don’t want to spend time nor money on maintenance. Steeper, straight and/or flat trails tend to cup causing ruts and the need to build drains. Drains fill up fast or blow out. Visitors will walk out of the ruts causing braiding. By installing RGDs, we have very quick and light maintenance. As you will notice we install many RGDs to reduce water carrying sediment very far. Also you will notice we in-slope much of the trail to keep people off the outside critical edge so we don’t have trail blow out or widening. Insloping also forces the water and cobble off the center part of the trail like a gutter on the inside. We call this lift and tilt. This trail is a multi-use multi-directional trail adding to the build challenge. We just won’t please everyone. It compromises on a lot of fronts which simply means nobody gets a trail built for them alone. We’ve all got to give up some things. For the biker it’s speed; hiker it’s straight up; trail runner it’s stride. Its not ideal by any means and a land manger is perplexed by the community complaints. This land manger in particular is concerned about a few complainers, although on the trail we are getting many thank yous. That said, most people don’t like change and a feeling of something being taken away." If you are in the Denver/Golden area and are familiar with Green Mountain, check out the new trail and, most importantly, chime in with your feedback. Your voice matters: 1. Top priority is feedback emails sent to the city thanking them for the trailwork, the sustainable design, the new challenge, the longer distance, the inclusivity of the comba guys asking for input, something new, etc. By the time we are done we’ve donated over $25k to the green on this project alone. Email one of the below: -Kathy Hodgson city manger email@example.com -Adam Paul mayor firstname.lastname@example.org -Barb Franks Lakewood City Council Ward 4 (green mountain) email@example.com -Andrew Sprafke Park Supervisor AndSpr@lakewood.org 2. Volunteers. 2019 dates tbd https://m.signupgenius.com/#!/showSignUp/70a0b4ca4a82da7f58-rooney/46305681 3. Feedback and ideas from runners preferably while we work and also after some snow beds the trail in. Trails@comba.org Your input is invaluable and your feedback to the city are paramount if we want to continue fixing the local trail system. Probably what struck us most are a couple of things: 1) It seems the mountain bike community is a whole lot more and better organized than the trail running population. Here in Colorado COMBA took the reins and contributed serious cash to the new Green Mt project. With so many cyclists, runners and hikers using our local trails, those of us who enjoy them on two feet need to find our voices and get involved on the front end. It would be better to be in on the process and not just stuck critiquing when the work is done. 2) How do we - runners - do that? There isn't really a trail running org like COMBA. Why not? We don't have that answer, and would ask all of you how you see that. Chime in. Send us your thoughts (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Gear Down to Gear Up If you read my last blurb here on the Suffer Better blog, then you already have some solid ideas for how to approach the holiday eating hoopla. If you didn’t catch the post, well…go read it and come back here! The recommendations aren’t traditional ones like “drink lots of water to fill your stomach” or “get in morning exercise before you hit the family buffet table”, but they are bound to make a difference if you take the time to think through them and implement. Many athletes take this time of the year to wind it down from a training perspective, seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. Sometimes this “off season” equates to putting thoughts and plans towards nutrition and health goals on the back burner….cuz “there ain’t no time for that right now!” While I’m a definitely a proponent of honoring R&R time, there is also benefit to having a few tasks to check off the list before we’re into the full swing of the new year. To gear up for 2019, I propose to you: Schedule blood work. And not just ordinary blood work, especially if you are an athlete, have big racing plans in 2019, or you have switched dietary patterns (from omnivore to vegan, for example, or low-fat to high-fat). The standard blood panel you get with a general physical isn’t good enough, sorry to say. For example, you may need to get a full iron panel, thyroid panel, and other hormonal markers assessed. What you need for blood work depends on where you are and where you’ve been from a health and nutrition perspective. Drop me an e-mail and I can give you some direction on this. Build your support system. Ask yourself: Where have I been lacking in self-care? How can I go further in my athletic pursuits? Am I aging well? Am I living everyday to my optimum level? You don’t have to go at all this life stuff alone, friends. Whether it’s a physical therapist, sport dietitian, training coach, or a mental health specialist, building your support system can open new doorways to places you’ve never dreamt imaginable. Look for local and start to grow your own. As part of the food sustainability movement and making a positive dent in environmental health, find local farms selling produce, eggs, and meat/poultry (whatever is applicable to your dietary preferences) and adjust your shopping schedule to support one or more of these farms. Similarly, choose grocery stores that support local farmers and if you regularly dine out, aim to support restaurants that source locally grown foods. If you don’t already have a garden, start with some window boxes or invest in a tower garden (check out Garden Tower Project) to grow herbs or vegetables. As you get into your gear down time for rounding out the year, plan to give attention to the above tasks to help you gear up for a year of sufferin’ better – woot! Dina Griffin, MS, RDN, CSSD Your Nutrition Mechanic Performance Dietitian Reach out at email@example.com
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