Thursday, October 25, 2012

Running posture & using fat to fuel your run!

Use Fat to Fuel your Run

One of my hobbies during my free time is to read sports-related articles online and in Shape magazines as they are relevant and really insightful. The usual questions would be like "What should I eat before I run?", "What should I wear for different sports", "How do I lose weight at this area?" and "How to increase my running speed?" etc.

These are some of my favourite articles compiled overtime that I find it really useful for myself so I have summarized them to make it less lengthy and hope they help for fellow athletics, especially for those running this weekend or next month.
Credits to runsociety, shape & various sources 

1) When and what to eat before a workout

It is important to eat the right kinds of pre-exercise meals.
The two fuels that the body uses during exercise are carbohydrate and fat; during high and moderate intensity exercise more carbohydrate is used. The body stores carbohydrate in small amounts in the liver and muscles, as glycogen; it is therefore important to make sure that the glycogen stores of the liver and muscles are optimal before exercise as they are depleted during training. The carbohydrate in your diet will provide some energy during exercise mainly from starchy snacks and sugary drinks that you take immediately before and during exercise.
The best advice regarding workout foods is to eat a meal three to four hours before exercise and have a small snack just before, ideally between one and two hours before your workout. So, if you plan to go to the gym at 5.30pm, try to have a meal (lunch) at 1.30pm and then a snack at 4pm.

Pre-workout meal ideas — foods suitable for 3-4 hours before exercise:

  • A small baked potato and baked beans or cottage cheese
  • Six crackers and cottage cheese followed by a piece of fruit
  • Porridge with a banana and a teaspoon of sugar
  • Rice with vegetables and lean meat
  • Pasta and sauce (for example: low-fat tomato and bacon sauce or Bolognese)
  • Two slices of toast, peanut butter and a banana
  • Two Weetabix and a small glass of pure fruit juice
  • A small baked potato with tuna and reduced fat mayonnaise and a fruit yogurt

Pre-workout snack ideas — foods suitable for 1-2 hours before exercise:

  • One slice of toast and jam
  • One small flapjack (oat bar)
  • One slice of fruit cake
  • A piece of fruit
  • Two digestive biscuits (graham crackers)
  • A fruit yogurt
  • A cereal bar
  • A small bowl of cereal 
  • A scone

2) So what should I drink when I am exercising?

Not only should you think about your food intake before exercise, but you also need to consider the fluid that you drink. Don't turn up at the gym or go for a run dehydrated, you should be fully hydrated prior to taking any exercise. Dehydration is easy to detect, when you pass water make sure that it is as clear as possible. The darker the color of your urine, the more dehydrated you are. Also, the frequency with which you pass urine can indicate whether you are drinking enough, if you only pass water once or twice a day it’s time to consider drinking more fluid.

When you are exercising for less than an hour; water or a hypotonic drink (a drink providing more water than carbohydrate) is the best to take. This is recommended for people who are at the gym or running for less than an hour. 
Do remember to keep hydrated and maintain your fluid intake throughout the day before you exercise. 
3) Using Fat to Fuel You Run

The most common example of poor fuel efficiency is when a runner “hits the wall” in an endurance event. To explain it in a nutshell, it is when your body gets badly depleted of fuel - primarily carbohydrates - and it’s unable to carry on running and in extreme cases, even walking.
To help prevent this from happening we need to unlock our fat burning ability and improve our fuel efficiency. Here are a few reasons why being able to burn fat is better.
It’s a better source of fuel. Fat gives you twice as much fuel per gram burnt compared to carbohydrate making it twice as effective.
We have a nearly unlimited fat store. Carbohydrate fuel stores are far more limited than fat so we need to make use of this abundant fat source to conserve the carbohydrate we have for when we really need it.
Improves body composition. By using fat as fuel, you will improve your body composition resulting in less mass to lug around when you run. It is a great feeling to be light on your feet.
Helps with recovery. Your body needs carbohydrate along with protein to aid post training recovery and maintaining your immune system balance. It’s important that you are able to burn fat and conserve your carbohydrate stores to be used immediately when you’re done training.
Avoid eating before runs. Certain foods promote a rise in blood sugar that is the alternative to burning fat.
Avoid energy drinks loaded with carbohydrates. These drinks spike insulin the prevent the body from effectively burning fat.
Low intensity workouts for longer durations of time are most effective for burning fat.The body is able to effectively use oxygen to facilitate the burning of fat for energy and conserves the limited carbohydrate stores.
With all these benefits, it is hard to see why we should not start making changes right now so we can get back our fat burning ability and strive to be as fuel efficient as possible.
4) Good forms for Effortless Running

This is really important especially for those doing long-distance running. Correct postures can make running easier, you get less back aches and better timings. Running on threadmills and running outdoor are very different, so go for the latter if possible.

Technique sets the upper limit for where training can take you. With this in mind here is what you need to be thinking about to enhance your running form.

Head Position

How you hold your head when you run is key to your overall posture and determines how effectively you will run. Aim to hold your chin parallel to the ground and let your gaze guide you. By scanning the horizon, you will straighten your neck and back, bringing them into alignment.


Your shoulders play an important role in keeping your upper body relaxed when you run. Aim to keep your shoulders low and loose at all times. As you tire it is common for your shoulders to creep up towards the ears. If this happens, lower your arms and shake them out to relieve the tension.


Your arms work in conjunction with your legs to propel you forward. Swing your arms forward and back without rocking your shoulders. Your elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle and you should keep your hands in an unclenched fist.


An ideal torso position is often described as “running tall”. The torso is affected by your head and shoulder positions, so making sure you follow the two points above will help here. With your chin parallel to the ground and your shoulders relaxed, your torso and back will naturally straighten and put you in the optimal position to maximise oxygen consumption and stride length.


Your hips are your center of gravity so they’re key to good running form. Aligning your upper body correctly helps to ensure that your hips will also be correctly positioned. With your torso and back in alignment and straight, your hips will naturally fall into the ideal alignment.


Aim to run with a cadence of 88 – 92 revolutions per minute. While sprinters need a high knee lift, endurance runners can get by on a little less although a moderate knee lift is still optimal to maximise stride length. When you run with the proper stride length, your feet should land directly under your body.


Your feet should land lightly on the ground between the heel and the mid-foot, quickly rolling forward onto your toes for push off.
Hope the above information helps :) I will share more next time especially on effective toning esp for arms, weight loss and stretching exercises which are common formspring questions i get. 

Above is a picture of a 81 year old man finishing his full marathon at an super awesome timing of 3.5 hours, so what excuse is there to hold us back really? He is super inspiring and at the back of my head for the whole week during my trainings. I may not finish a full marathon at that age as it will be a blessing if we survive till that age.. but we can still keep fit no matter what age we are.

So, never never stop exercising and run faster before your excuses take you away. 
Exercising is the best gift you can give to your body.


Valene said...

so inspiring babe! <3

Anonymous said...

Love this post!!

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