By Unnu Shukla, Longhorn Run Media Coordinator
“You are what you eat.”
We’ve all heard this expression countless times; and there’s a reason why. There’s a lot of truth to it! I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Amy Culp, Sports Dietitian and Assistant Athletics Director at The University of Texas at Austin.
“Nutrition is important in training for a race because food that you eat becomes fuel that you burn. If you eat well, you feel well,” says Culp. Food, which can be broken down into carbs, proteins, and fats, provide nutrition for fuel and recovery. “When you’re training for a race like the Longhorn Run, you should be following a basic healthy diet. A good plate is ½ plate of colorful fruits and veggies, ¼ carbs, ¼ lean protein.” Carbs help you recover while protein helps build lean muscle mass that’ll power you through those tough Austin hills. “You want to make sure you’re consistently eating small meals throughout the day, every 3-4 hours or so.”
In regards to the biggest mistake people make, she told me about the two extremes: those who decide to do a drastic overhaul on their diet and cut back too much, and those that develop the “I can eat whatever I want” mentality, which also harms your training progress. (Guess which category I fall into… #bottomlesspit).
At the end of the day though, it’s all about what works for you. “Especially for runners,” Culp says, “it’s all very individualized. Play around with what you’re eating during your training and see if you notice a difference in the way you feel.” Use the Longhorn Run to not only work towards a goal and improve your running, but also improve your nutrition. The two go hand-in-hand, and when you eat well, you feel well.
Let’s crush this race by fueling our bodies properly as we cross that finish line as stronger, healthier athletes.
Amy Culp, RD is the Assistant Athletics Director and Sports Dietitian for The University of Texas at Austin Athletics Department.
One of the amazing things about The Longhorn Run experience is that it brings people together. Read on to learn more about how faculty member Heidi Toprac stays active and gets her students involved on race day!
In Nike’s mission statement, it states that anyone who has a body is an athlete, and is capable of reaching great heights, and travelling great lengths. “ I have heard about the Longhorn Run several times over the years,” Toprac says, “but never felt capable of doing it. This year, I just decided to go for it!”
In regards to motivation and goal-setting, “I find that I am much more likely to follow through on a commitment if I make that commitment public. Telling my class of 700 students that I wanted to run with them gave me the motivation to prepare.”
“Have you read the Wall Street Journal this past week?,” she asks me. “Scientists have long known that exercise reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases, but they have recently discovered the reasons why. I want everyone to be healthy and happy, which means I want everyone to exercise! Plus, it is often more fun to do things as a group than to do things alone.” A group mentality with her classes is not only a great motivator, but a great bonding experience as well.
Professor Toprac herself is an avid fitness junkie. “I run 3 times per week, plus I attend Shannon’s Tabata class at Gregory Gym once or twice a week. Now that the weather is nice, my husband (Paul Toprac of UT’s Game and Mobile Media Applications program) and I bike on the weekends. Plus, I often ride my bike to work during the summer months.”
“But I am WAY too slow to call myself a runner. I think “slogger” might be a more accurate description,” remembering that running is a journey, not a destination. The things you learn through training extend past race day, pushing you to just start, and from there, to get better each day.
Professor Toprac, a Senior Lecturer at McCombs, teaches the core Finance courses for undergraduate students—both those students in McCombs and those in the Business Foundations Program, and is also head up the undergraduate internship program for McCombs. Since joining UT 14 years ago, she has taught nearly 20,000 students! When not at work, she likes to spend her time biking, gardening, cooking and eating.
By: Unnu Shuka
If you’ve registered for the Longhorn Run, you know that training season is upon us (Haven’t signed up yet? No worries, check it out here). As important as training is, however, recovery is essential to any workout/training regimen. Check out what Chrystina Wyatt, the director of the Fit/Well Program at UT RecSports, has to say about the importance of recovery.
Why do we cool down after workouts, and what's the best way to do so?
The purpose of a cool-down after workouts is to allow your heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen consumption to gradually decrease to resting levels. A proper cool-down prevents blood pooling, DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), and decreases your risk of injury. If you are doing cardiorespiratory training (i.e. Running, jogging, etc.), it is important to begin your cool-down with activities that can gradually decrease your heart (I.e. walking) before sitting or beginning to stretch. A good cool-down for cardio training includes post-cardio movements and static stretching (holding stretches for 15-60 seconds) for the large muscle groups. Muscle groups runners should try to stretch after every run include quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves, and the core muscles.
Why is recovery important (especially from a training perspective)?
Recovery time is an important part of training because it allows your musculoskeletal system time to repair and rebuild from the stress of vigorous activity. Overtraining can occur when you don’t allow the body sufficient time to recover. Symptoms of overtraining include (but are not limited to) fatigue, stress-related injuries, prolonged muscle or joint soreness, and decrease in performance.
You can prevent overtraining by cross-training and planning rest days in your training regimen. Cross-training, varying your training activities, can include taking a group exercise class or sprint workout instead of long distance running 5 days a week. You want to be specific and purposeful if you are training for a 5K or 10K (i.e. running workouts), but incorporating cross-training can help decrease your risk of injury or overtraining and can help improve your overall performance. On rest days, days in which you give your body time to recover, you can incorporate flexibility training or take a Yoga class. Flexibility training impacts joint mobility, muscles suppleness and flexibility, and reduces muscle tension. Stretching regularly overtime can improve your posture, enhance coordination and help limber your body, making movement easier.
What is foam rolling?
Foam rolling is another great technique to reduce your risk of injury and improve flexibility and performance. Foam rolling incorporates Self-Myofascial Release(SMR) techniques that can help release tight muscles, fascial adhesions, and improve blood flow. You can foam roll before and after workouts to improve your movement during the workout and to aid in recovery after.
What are your favorite ways to recover after a good run/workout?
After a run, I would begin walking briskly and gradually decreasing my pace so my heart can decrease safely. Then, I would perform foam rolling techniques for my quadriceps, hamstrings, IT Band, peroneals, Tibialis anterior, calves, and feet. Finally, I would end with static stretching for the muscles I worked during my run and some upper body stretching for a full body flexibility segment.
Favorite post-workout snack?
I like to refuel and rehydrate with water, bananas and carrots!
By Unnu Shukla
We had so much fun welcoming our 2016 Influencers to the Longhorn Run family last week!
Read what some of them have to to say about why they love running (and why you should too):
I run because I really do enjoy it and it’s great way to enjoy the outdoors while also being healthy. I also love to run with other people and have quality time and conversations with them. - Zachary Wieland (UT Flying Club, Texas Creative)
I run because I love challenging my body. I'm not a natural "runner" so I have to train hard to get faster. Whenever I'm training for a race, my exercise program changes up for a little while which is always refreshing and keeps me feeling like an all-around athlete. - Megan Burwell (Nike+ Training Club Trainer, Texas Lasso, ALDPES)
I LOVE RUNNING! Running brings me peace of body, spirit, and mind. It has the ability of letting me release any stress or taking my mind off of things. Not to mention, it's a great way to stay healthy and active.Going on a light to moderate run leaves me energized (the total opposite of tired). The best thing about running is it can be done at any time, anywhere, for as long as you want. This could be 50 minutes or 5 minutes. It doesn't matter as long as you keep moving forward! - Grettel Ruiz (Nike+ Training Club Trainer)
Longhorn Run Volunteer Coordinator Erik Solorzano and Assistant Director Julianne Perry flip through the Nike Spring 2016 Style Guide
I don't run anymore because I tore my meniscus. I go on walks now. I walk because it's an effective way to read, converse, and think while staying healthy. - Ed Hunt (Texas Blazers, Punjabbawockeez, Communications Council)
For that "on top of the world" feeling. I love pushing myself to the limit and becoming mentally and physically stronger through running! - Mandy Renfro (Texas Lonestar, TeXercise Instructor, Texas Pre-Pharm)
By: Unnu Shukla
It’s no secret that Austin is full of fitness junkies. On any given weekend morning, one can see runners and bicyclists cruising down roads, trails, and sidewalks, fitting in their Saturday workouts before heading to the abundance of farmer’s markets we have downtown. Austin, TX was ranked on the top 10 fittest cities in America, and is the 7th best city for runners, according to Forbes Magazine.
Here’s a look at some of the most enjoyable places to run in Austin, from the popular, well-trodden, to the hidden gems:
1. Lady bird lake hike and bike trail
Every Austinite’s go-to place, and it's suited for all types of runners. For beginners, the 3.2-mile loop from the South First Bridge down to the Mopac Bridge is the best. The trail also offers 7 and 10 miles loops for the more well-seasoned among us.
2. Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail
Although not as well maintained as Lady Bird Lake (aka be wary of rolling your ankle here), the Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail is a great three-mile track in Central Austin. I recommend picking up the trail from the Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike between Cesar Chavez and Lamar Blvd for a great six-mile round trip.
3. Congress Avenue and Travis Heights
Running down Congress Avenue right before sunset is one of the most beautiful Austin cityscape experiences. There are lights that line the trees year round, and running down Congress Bridge provides more offshoot options: you can continue on into SoCo, or Travis Heights, where residential running meets hills: steady running, no interruptions. My personal favorite.
4. McKinney Falls State Park
The McKinney Falls State Park is a beautiful, historic scenic area in Southeast Austin.
During the right season, jogging past waterfalls makes your run *that* much more bearable. Both running trails, the Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail, and the Homestead Trail provide several miles of hilly terrain. There is an entrance fee of $6, but it’s definitely worth going at least once!
5. Barton Creek Greenbelt
The unique thing about the green belt is that there are so many options of how to run it, and there’s always some new route to explore. Bonus points: it’s dog friendly, and there are so many other activities to do in the area - whether it is people watching, cooling off with a swim, or picnicking in the area.
With a plethora of options, it’s time to start running!
By: Unnu Shukla
Do you run to set the tone of the rest of your day, to take a break from studying, or to finish off your evening strong? Check out what some fellow Longhorns said about their favorite times of the day to run and why:
“I usually run in the morning because less people are out, so I get to soak in my surroundings better. Also, I feel energized for the rest of the day, and always get a good night's sleep in that night.” - Bridget McLaughlin
“Morning because of the sunshine! Not too late because I don't want it to be too hot” - Becca Spiegel
“Morning runs are my absolute favorite, it's so calm around you then, and plus not too many people are up and at it.” - Aparna Chandrasekhar
“Afternoon! The afternoon sun makes the wind chill a little more bearable, and there are people out and about, so it's more exciting.” - Angel Lo
“I go on night runs pretty frequently. In fact, it may be my favorite. Austin is an incredibly beautiful city, especially at night. The streets are peaceful and usually pretty empty, so I can run almost anywhere.” - Trevor Phillips
“Early evenings are my favorite because I like watching the sky change around me.” - Eila Motley
“I love running in the evening! As much as I try, I'm not always the morning person I envision myself to be. So when I get home from campus after a busy day, I find that taking a run to the Capitol or even the South Congress bridge is a great way to unwind and collect my thoughts from the day. I also have discovered that it is much easier to find a running buddy when they do not have to get up at 6 AM to run with you." - Alyssa Kahl
When it comes down to it, the fact that you’re getting a run in somewhere throughout your day is all that matters. Try out different routines, you might discover that you’re more of a morning person than you think. Find what works best for you and your body!
By Coach Anthony Ferraro
It was New Year’s Day at the Town Lake Trail. Robbie was wearing his brand new workout gear from top to bottom, and playing his favorite tunes on his earphones. He was ready to start the New Year tackling his resolutions. Ready to conquer that trail. The 4-mile loop. If everything went well, the 7-mile loop. How difficult could it be?! Robbie was fired up...He started running, fast…The music encouraged it, his running gear screamed for speed. He passed a few people and quickly disappeared into the trail.
A mile down the road, he had to stop. He was breathing heavily and could not continue his run. Everything seemed so perfect one mile earlier. The mindset and motivation, the music, the adrenaline. And now this…What went wrong?
When we set our New Year’s resolutions, we often want to conquer the world right away and we tend to forget that we need to take baby steps with them, as with every new activity we engage on. We need to remember that we also need to have fun, if we are to keep coming back and sticking with it for the long run (pun intended).
When we get on the trail, it is not about running faster than everybody else. If other runners pass us, so what? We are doing our own workout, not theirs. Let them pass us. We will keep training, getting better, day after day, week after week. Before we know it, we will be able to keep up with them, and eventually it will be us who pass them. We will be able to run 1 mile, and then 4, and a few weeks later 10 miles. A marathon and even more if we want to…
So how do you get to running long and fast and actually having fun while at it? Start slow so that you can finish fast. Pace yourself so you can go the whole distance. If you have to walk at first, so be it. Make sure you are enjoying your run. Absorb the beauty of the landscape around you. If you don’t carry music with you, listen to the music of your footsteps. Then the next day, go a little faster. The hard workout of today will be your warm-up in a few weeks. Stick with your workout routine, day after day, week after week. You will have fun and keep coming back for more. One more mile, one minute faster... Always forward. Never stopping. That is all it is. As yourself, are you ready to make your resolutions a life-long adventure? Get out here and get ready, because we start today…
Anthony is a Nike+ Run Club Coach, a Personal Trainer at UT RecSports, a Strength and Conditioning Coach, and a marathon runner. He lives in Austin, Texas and spends a lot of time around the 40 Acres. If you see him around, don't hesitate to say hi!
By Unnu Shukla
One of the hardest parts of staying active in the colder months is physically getting out of the warm comfort of your bed and out the door. Regardless of whether you’re a morning or evening runner, the mental discussion begins: Get out or stay in? Brave the cold or stay in the cozy confines of your apartment?
It’s hard to run during the winter. But as the saying goes: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Winter running can be a true test of your mental capacities, and when you do finish a long run outside, it’s an incredible confidence booster.
It’s easy to hide the comforts of your blanket with the heat on full blast, but it’s even easier to maintain a consistent workout routine throughout the year, not to mention it’s better for you. So lace up your shoes and let’s get out here!
By Unnu Shukla
Keen on starting 2016 on the right foot? These uplifting quotes are sure to get you to hit the ground running (pun intended):
“Running is alone time that lets my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days. I run, pound it out on the pavement, channel that energy into my legs, and when I’m done with my run, I’m done with it.” – Rob Haneisen
“Running allows me to set my mind free. Nothing seems impossible, nothing unattainable.” – Kara Goucher
“I think I’m addicted to the feelings associated with the end of a long run. I love feeling empty, clean, worn out, and sweat-purged. I love the good ache of muscles that have done me proud” – Kristin Armstrong
“A good laugh and a long run are the two best cures for anything” –Anonymous
“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually, you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan
“Act like a horse. Be dumb. Just run.” – Jumbo Elliot
“Run often, run long. But never outrun your joy of running.” – Julie Isphording
By Unnu Shukla
Realistically speaking, your main goal during this time of year should be to simply relax and enjoy the holidays while maintain your endurance. Here are some ways to stay active and on track during the holiday season:
1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Since this time of year is always incredibly busy, one of the best ways to stay active without carving out a huge amount of time is through HIIT. It will improve your mood and help you unwind.
2. Recruit a Training Partner: While it’s hard to motivate yourself to get going while at home over break, it’s easier if you aren’t doing it alone. Even better, workout with a family member – it’ll squeeze in some extra bonding time, and you’ll be less likely to skip!
3. Get Everyone Involved: Going off the last tip, it’s important to remember that the holiday season should be a time shared with your friends, family, and loved ones. So, get the whole gang involved in staying active by signing up for a festive 5K, playing a few pickup basketball games outside, or even just a daily walk to get everyone moving (to perhaps get ready to register for Longhorn Run… hint hint).
4. Splurge: No, not on dessert (but if you want to, hey…)! Investing in quality outerwear and fitness gear might be the push you need to get outside and get moving, while not feeling like you’re about to get a frostbite. It’s always good to #treatyoself occasionally, food-related or not.
5. Keep Track to Stay Motivated: Join the Nike+ UT Campus Leaderboards and earn rewards as you reach new NikeFuel goals. Earn NikeFuel by logging your workouts utilizing the Nike+ Running and the Nike+ Training Club apps, and when you’re back on campus, by participating in a variety of RecSports activities. The Leaderboards will be active during the holiday break to help you stay motivated even while away from the 40 Acres.
At the end of the day, however, the holidays are a time meant to be enjoyed with your loved ones! It’s all about finding the right balance, and doing what makes you feel healthy and happy, both mentally and physically.
Let’s finish this year strong and gear up for 2016!