Here are my top seven elements of “nutrition” that I currently focus on to promote a high level of consistent and almost boundless energy. When my energy or my mood drops I can usually point it back to one of these elements being neglected or out of balance.
Since I am big on measuring so I can also adjust in the desired direction, I have also graded myself on each element and my current focus point to improve it.
Rest is needed to create a balance between issuing energy and gathering energy. If you are going to play full out and issue energy, then there must be time dedicated to support those activities with quality rest. I consider getting rest week to week, rest days off during each week, daily rest with a full night’s sleep, and utilizing resting lower effort exercise alternating with higher effort exercise.
Adjustment: get to bed earlier since I tend to be an early bird
Up until a few years ago I never really focused on breathing as a way to energize my life. Back then I was breathing in my upper chest only; not very efficient, not calming and not supporting sustained energy. I have since learned to breathe more fully through my nose as often as possible. When you wake up from a restful night’s sleep, you will likely notice your breath has settled into a baby’s breath; full and deep from the belly and through the nose.
After noticing the benefits to my life, I started to implement the same concepts running. Although I do not always run with my mouth closed; my experiences so far have exposed a whole other running level I look forward to exploring.
Adjustment: increase breathing exercises to multiple times every day
Notice I said water and not hydration. I drink water, period. The only exception to this is my pre run fuel or my post run protein drinks and an occasional smoothie. When I do have these non-water drinks I am sure to chew it fully to properly start the digestive process. I also drink water between meals to limit interfering with the digestive process; and also avoid cold drinks.
Anything else except maybe tea is not necessarily hydrating or may be detrimental. For example, fruit juices are very glycemic. Dairy is very acidic at a minimum with a number of other concerns. My general target is one half of my body weight in water ounces per day; and more before, during and after physical activity.
Adjustment: more consistent water intake spread out across each day
4. Physical Nutrition
Major changes in my physical diet started 17 years ago. Over time I have settled on some basic principles. They focus on a low glycemic and alkaline diet on average which includes healthy fats and adequate complete protein. I do not ingest wheat/gluten, dairy, soy, sugar/glycemic foods or drinks, processed foods or alcohol to name a few. All of these foods reduce my overall energy. Recently I have severely limited all grains except for quinoa to limit starch/glycemic foods.
Adjustment: eat more often during the day to reduce my tendency to reach for glycemic carbohydrates
Pre-run I use UCAN Cran-Raz flavor only and VEGA Electrolyte Hydrator. The UCAN is a low glycemic super starch that does not affect blood sugar. The Cran-Raz flavor uses the natural sweetener stevia. For longer runs I use vFuel gels which are lower glycemic than most gels and include MCT fat for brain fuel. I also use Hammer Endurolytes on longer runs and events when needed.
Post-run I generally have lemon water first to aid in recovery, then a protein drink which is usually Vega Performance Protein with more Vega Electrolyte Hydrator as mentioned above.
Adjustment: none, but keep testing options as fueling my runs and events has been a limiting factor to my performance
5. Beyond Nutrition: Redox Signaling Molecules
In 2010 a friend introduced me to ASEA, the world’s first and only redox signaling supplement that supports cellular health and communication. I immediately noticed numerous benefits to my energy level, sleep quality, endurance and recovery. My initial experience is summarized very briefly here: http://www.echifitness.com/offer.html
My ASEA experience resulted in a moral obligation to share this healthy aging and athletics resource with others. My purpose is to educate and understand people’s needs. If your body has cells in it, I highly recommend taking a look at this resource. With you permission I can send you the best educational resource and current special offers.
Adjustment: this is the one supplement I will likely never, ever decide to live, play, run without
6. Mobility Nutrition
If you just run and live, you are heading along a very very slippery slope. Today’s civilized world can easily result in postural imbalances. And the repetitive motion of running and walking can exploit even the slightest imbalance or misalignment into compensation and negative stress that can lead to injury.
Our “civilization” relies on a chair far too often, straps on unnatural footwear and overall it limits the physical stimulus or range of motion needed to maintain a functional posture. To balance this living out, my training program includes numerous range of motion, flexibility, core strength and stance stability exercises along with a formal yoga class at least twice a week. I also focus on posture all day long, in particular how I sit/drive (Blog Post: Posture Enemy Number One) and how I stand.
On the running front, I focus on lower heart rate aerobic runs and an occasional tempo pickup or a faster paced run. High heart rate runs are the equivalent of “fight or flight” and result in significant negative physiological stress on the body.
Adjustment: add more resistance stretching
7. Mental Nutrition
Life is at least 95% psychology, and 5% action. The same goes for any sport. I have found in myself and observed in many that the mind is reflected in the body. Heavy thoughts can lead to a slumped posture. Mental apprehension can lead to physical tension.
Overall it might all be summarized with the key ChiRunning principles of alignment, relaxation and balance. A deviation in one of these areas can lead to challenges in another, AND, a deviation in any level; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual — can affect any other level or area in dramatic ways.
Adjustment: notice more on the effects of my thoughts, and focus more on positive emotions, gratitude and faith
As I noted above, when my energy or my mood drops I can usually point it back to one of these elements being neglected or out of balance. And often it is just a simple adjustment that makes a significant difference.
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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor. For more information on David, please see his About Me, Contact page or his website at http://www.eChiFitness.com.
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