Running with potatoes–or not

by • May 9, 2014 • Running wildComments (0)983

Now’s the time to start shedding those winter carbs

Each winter, though we try our best to juggle work, family and social commitments in order to carve out time for exercise, a 5- or 10-pound bag of potatoes seems to find its way onto our frames.   Sure, outside activity was more hazardous than normal this year with ice rather than trusty snow coating all the roads and trails. You’ll get no judgments or excuses from me – we did our best. Now it’s time to address this modest carbohydrate dilemma.

Carry a sack of potatoes with you on your next run to gain an appreciation of just how hard it is to lug extra pounds when running. MIKE HALKO

Carry a sack of potatoes with you on your next run to gain an appreciation of just how hard it is to lug extra pounds when running. MIKE HALKO

Skip the vanity-based reasons for shedding weight and think about the improved physical performance that a leaner you will bring in just two to three months. It’s all about biology and physics; less energy is needed to move a mass (you) up a hill. Breathing becomes easier and your heart’s labor decreases as you to crest the summit. Perform this simple experiment to feel the impact of ditching some weight. Put a 5- or 10-pound sack of potatoes in a daypack equipped with waist and chest straps to keep the load secure to your body and run 45 seconds up a gentle incline. Repeat the run without the pack and the difference is immediately obvious. No hills?  Experience the same thing by running a lap around a synthetic track with and without the pack.
Now it’s time for some self-awareness and commitment. Are we carrying some of our own personal sacks of potatoes? Let’s focus on peeling off those extra potatoes so we can scale the hills with less effort and cover the flats a little quicker. Use my “Triple A” technique to achieve and maintain a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 pounds over the next three months.
The Triple A strategy for fitness was coined by me after a moderate dose of caffeine and subsequent rush of endorphins after a long run.  The A’s stand for Attitude, Activity, and Appetite, and I follow the Triple A strategy for fitness and for life.
Attitude: Strive to keep and maintain a positive mental attitude. It’s the one thing you can control all the time. Focus on being happy and moving toward the good. We all have different starting points on our fitness journey. Take pride and know that you are committed to working toward a healthier you.
Activity: Consistency is the key to success with any endeavor. The fundamental formula for success in shedding our extra pounds and improving performance is through the gradual development of endurance, strength and speed. The Running Wild Columns from the summer of 2012 addresses each of these topics in detail and can be found in our archives at Sample workouts are included for your running pleasure.
Appetite: My recommendation is to evaluate when you eat as well as focusing on the quality and quantity of what you consume. As for timing and quantity, I like the words of an elite cross-country skier who posted this on Facebook; Eat like a king in the morning, a prince mid day, and a pauper at night. One caveat is that on race day, breakfast is typically lighter.
As for quality, aim to eat mostly whole, nonprocessed foods. Yes, eating fresh in Alaska can be challenging and expensive, but more farmers markets and co-ops are available these days along with the wild game and fresh salmon to which we all have access. Fishing and hunting trips make for great cross training and help to fill the freezer with high-quality grub.
One final note: Remember the “Lions, Tigers, and Bears Oh My!” chant from the Wizard of Oz? Just switch the chant to “Sugar, Salt, and Alcohol, Oh My!” These are the nutrition hazards that everyone should beware and avoid when trying to lose weight and improve performance. The less of these three items you consume, the better you will perform.
Keep Striding and Smiling,
­—Coach Mike

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