Spring Training: How to Get Ready to Get More Active

The longer daylight hours and warmer temps of spring mean you want to get outside and play. Trust us, we know the feeling. But we also know the feeling of having done too much too soon after being less active during the winter.

“It’s important to have a good foundation of the necessary flexibility, mobility, strength, and stability prior to beginning or increasing any level of activity,” says Daniel Frey, a physical therapist and avid trail runner in Portland, Maine. “Proper pre-training conditioning will minimize your risk of injury and decrease intial soreness.”

As Frey point out, when your body isn’t ready for a big increase in activity, that initial soreness can turn into an injury that might sideline you for weeks or months. He and physiotherapist Phil Wharton, who has worked on Olympic and recreational athletes in a wide range of sports, agree that too-rapid increases in activity most often lead to tendinitis. That injury, in turn, can then cause more serious, compensatory injuries such as runner’s knee, ligament damage and stress fractures.

Here are some simple exercises Frey and Wharton recommend to be better prepared for four activities Nuun athletes love: running, cycling, golf and hiking.

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RUNNING

One Leg Squat
Why: For quad and glute strength as well as control of the lower extremity in single-limb stance, which is essential for minimizing excessive pressure on the feet, knees, hips, and back.

How: Stand with one foot on the edge of a stair, with the foot parallel to the long end of the stair. Stabilize yourself by engaging your core muscles. Keeping the other leg straight, lower the heel of that foot toward the ground, then come back up. Go down only as far as you can while keeping your pelvis level. Do two sets of 10 on each leg.

Mini Squat Forward Band Walks
Why: Build hip and core stability. These areas are notoriously weak in runners due to the repetitive forward motion involved while running, as well as lots of sitting during non-running hours.

How: Place a TheraBand around your ankles. Go into a slight squat; imagine a baseball player getting into position to field. While keeping your feet pointing straight ahead and shoulder-width apart, walk from one end of a room to the other with short steps. Turn around and walk back. As the exercise becomes easier, do it holding a small weight in front of you with both hands.

Hamstring Stretch
Why: Tight hamstrings are also common in runners. Lack of hamstring flexibility prevents you from full extension of your stride and overworks other muscles.

How: Lie on your back with one knee bent and that foot on the floor. Keep the other leg straight, and wrap a rope or towel around the ball of that foot. Contract the thigh muscles of your straight leg to raise that foot toward the ceiling. Use the rope or towel only to gently guide the motion. Exhale as you raise the leg, and hold the stretch at the top for only a couple seconds. Return the leg to the floor and do ten stretches for each leg.

CYCLING

Bike Fit
Why: This isn’t an exercise, but it’s one of the most important things a cyclist can do to stay healthy. “Having a cycle assessment and fitting by a qualified individual is essential to making sure that a poor-fitting bike doesn’t force you into poor alignment, which can lead to a myriad of injuries,” says Frey.

How: Go to a good bike shop!

One Leg Bridge
Why: Increase glute strength and core stability to improve pelvic control and balance while cycling. It also helps with hip flexor mobility, an area commonly restricted from lots of time in the saddle.

How: Lie on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent, and your feet on the floor. While contracting your abs and butt, raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Extend one leg while keeping your hips raised and level. Return to the start position. Do 10 repeats on each leg.

Neck Strengthening
Why: Because of the forward position in cycling, the neck muscles can become weak, strained and misaligned.

How: Lie face down on your bed with your arms straight at your side and your head unsupported by the mattress. Moving slowly and with care, tuck your chin toward your chest, then raise your head to look slightly up. Repeat 10 times.

GOLF

Stork Turns
Why: Increase trunk control and balance, helping to improve mobility necessary for golf swing.

How: Stand with both hands on top of a golf club in front of you. Lift one leg and hook your foot behind your other knee. While keeping your shoulders still, rotate the knee of your lifted leg across the supported leg. Do 10 repeats on each leg.

Pectoral Stretch
Why: Increase range of motion during your backswing to lessen the strain on your spine.

How: Stand with your arms straight in front of you, palms together, hands at waist level. Use your shoulder muscles to slowly bring your arms apart as far as they’ll comfortably go. Repeat the stretch five times, each time starting with your hands a little higher, so that on the fifth stretch your hands are parallel with your shoulders. Do two sets of five.

Clams
Why: Increase glute stability to decrease the chances of sliding or swaying during a swing.

How: Lie on your side with your legs together at a 90-degree angle and your arms together straight in front of you. Slide the top knee just a little bit over the bottom knee; this will keep you from using your back to perform the exercise. Use you’re the hip and butt muscles of the top leg to raise that knee toward the ceiling. Do 15 repeats on each leg.

HIKING

Calf Stretch
Why: Increase flexibility to minimize risk of plantar fascia and Achilles tendon-related overuse injuries.

How: Sit with both legs straight in front of you. Wrap a towel or rope around the ball of one foot. Use your shin muscles to bring the toes of that foot toward you. Use the rope or towel only to extend the stretch at the end of the movement. Hold the end of the stretch for 1 or 2 seconds. Repeat 10 times on each foot.

Single Leg Balance
Why: Improve proprioception to minimize the risk of ankle sprains or falls while on unstable surfaces.

How: From a standing position, raise one leg so that the thigh is parallel to the ground. Hold for 30 seconds. Do twice on each leg. When this becomes too easy, do the exercise with your eyes closed.

Step-Ups
Why: Improve leg strength and control necessary for hiking up and down hills.

How: Place one foot on a bench or chair. Use the hip and knee of that leg to bring your other foot on the raised surface. Lower your second foot by extending the hip and knee of the leg that’s still on the raised surface. Lower your other foot to return to the starting position. Repeat the sequence starting with your other leg. Do for 1 minute.

Nuun Energy: B Vitamins and Performance

What sets Nuun Energy apart from the Nuun Active Hydration you know and love is the combination of caffeine and B Vitamins that we added to the recipe. We already talked about the role caffeine can play in enhancing and elevating an athlete’s performance, but what about B Vitamins?

During sustained activity B Vitamins help your body turn fuel into energy.

During sustained activity B Vitamins help your body turn fuel into energy.

B Vitamins can elevate your performance.

There are eight total B Vitamins that exist, and most play a role in efficiently converting food into fuel. In Nuun Energy we used a blend of five B Vitamins, that work specifically with stored fuel (carbohydrates and fats), and help break them down to be used by working muscles. Also, we chose certain B Vitamins to help increase red blood cell production, which in turn helps deliver oxygen to working muscles.  And at the same time staying true to our roots, and only giving your body what it can handle at any given time.

And B Vitamins ARE ESPECIALLY USEFUL TO THE BODY WHEN consumed while exercising!

B Vitamins are water-soluble, meaning excessive intake can lead to your body to excrete the vitamins (via urine) rather than absorbing them efficiently. When exercising, the metabolic pathways that require B Vitamins for energy metabolism are stressed. Therefore, theoretically the need for B Vitamins may increase during exercise.

Nuun Energy helps your body sustain energy without experiencing peaks and valleys.

Nuun Energy helps your body sustain energy without experiencing peaks and valleys.

Some Energy Products Do Have Higher Levels of B Vitamins than Nuun Energy. But Why?

Many energy drinks on the market are loaded with sugars (natural and added), caffeine, and inadequate ratio of B Vitamins. Not to mention they are often loaded with upwards of 200% of Daily Value (DV) of any given vitamin. And given the nature of the vitamins, your body will use what it needs and the rest will just go to waste.

Nuun Energy Contains:

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 30% (.5 mg)

Niacin: 111% (18 mg)

Pyradoxine (Vitamin B6): 100% (2 mg)

Cobalamin (Vitamin B12): 100% (6 mcg)

Pantothenic Acid: 100% (10 mg)

What are the functions of each B Vitamin?

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2):

  • Provides energy production from carbohydrates (stored) & lipids (fats)
  • CoEnzyme for redox reactions (serves as catalyst for many energy producing chemical reactions within the body)

Niacin

  • Energy production from carbohydrates (stored)
  • Energy production from the synthesis of fat
  • Required for energy metabolism

Pyradoxine (Vitamin B6)

  • Aids in Glycogen breakdown
  • Development of Red Blood Cells

Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)

  • Formation of Red Blood Cells
  • Metabolism of Nervous Tissue

Pantothenic Acid

  • Fatty Acid metabolism
  • Breakdown of carbohydrates & fats (energy)
  • Production of Red Blood Cells

Nuun Energy delivers optimal hydration with essential nutrients to aid in cognitive function (caffeine) and naturally use your body’s fuel for energy.

 Additional Resources:
Institute of Medicine: DRI for Water-soluble vitamins: http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/DRI_Vitamins.pdf

Introducing Nuun’s Elite Ambassadors

Nuun is proud to support the following Elite Ambassadors in 2014. The Elite Ambassador program is an extension of our popular Ambassador program.

Cycling
Chris Jackson
Logan Hutchings

Triathlon
Cathleen Knutson
Jordan Blanco
Lauren Barnett
Christine Kenney

Running
Amy Sproston
Allison Delancey
Derek Delancey
Ellie Greenwood
Sean Meissner
Kaitlin Gregg
Meagan Nedlo
Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz

Rowing
Esther Lofgren

Elite Collage

When More Workouts Don’t Mean More Weight Loss

If you’ve increased your activity level in the hopes of dropping a few pounds, only to find the scale stubbornly stuck, you’re not the first. You might even be among those who frustratingly find they’ve gained weight despite doubling down on their workouts.

“I find this to be very common among both experienced and inexperienced exercisers,” says Jackie Dikos, R.D., a sport nutritionist in Indianapolis who has twice qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials. This phenomenon happens for a few main reasons, all of which can be easily addressed.

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Cause #1: Overestimating Caloric Burn

Dikos says one of the most common reasons for lack of weight loss is not understanding how many calories workouts burn. The standard figure of 100 calories burned per mile of running or walking might sound like a lot. But when you consider that 20 miles a week means burning roughly 2,000 additional calories, and that losing a pound of fat requires burning 3,500 calories, frustration over a lack of quick results becomes understandable.

For people who work out a lot on machines with calories-burned readings, Dikos urges caution. “Limit placing emphasis on the calorie-expenditure reading available on workout equipment,” she says, because these often overstate calories burned. This Harvard Medical School table shows the number of calories burned in 30 minutes when doing a wide range of activities.

Cause #2: Food Choices

Related to overestimating caloric burn, Dikos says, is that many people reward themselves with food after a workout. Even if you do have an accurate sense of how many calories you burned, the deficit you created can be undone and then some if you follow most workouts with a dessert, mocha, or other treat. “I encourage redefining the meaning of reward,” Dikos says.

Sport nutritionist Vishal Patel agrees. “People think they can eat whatever they want,” he says. “Just because you exercise 30 to 60 minutes a few days week doesn’t mean you can indulge in empty calories. The recommended 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week is only to help prevent the occurrence of some chronic diseases. It’s important to eat a well-balanced diet, containing nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, and fruits.”

Another factor is portion sizes, says Patel. Many restaurants present diners with far larger portions than most people would make on their own. At home, Patel says, the portion sizes stated on food labels can be misleading or confusing. The Food and Drug Administration will unveil clearer labeling guidelines in 2015. Until then, “use tools like MyPlate to get a general depiction of how balanced your meals should be,” Patel says. “It’s never a bad idea to measure out quantities before cooking.”

Cause #3: Drink Choices

The average American adult gets 13% of his or her calories from added sugar, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced earlier this year, with one-third of those added-sugar calories coming from beverages. That includes sport drinks that many people think they need to drink during and after every workout.

“You only need to supplement with a drink other than water if you are exercising for more than an hour, or if you are exercising in high temps or at altitude,” says Patel. “Water will suffice for low to moderate exercise intensities. Drink towards thirst; do not force consumption. It is more important to replenish lost nutrients post exercise, with a protein-based drink, depending on activity duration/intensity, and an electrolyte replacement such as Nuun.”

Cause #4: Dehydration

Dikos says proper hydration and electrolyte balance are often overlooked as contributors toward a lack of weight loss. “People may not realize they are turning to food as a means to replace lost fluids and electrolytes,” she says.

Be sure to stay hydrated, including with electrolyte-containing beverages, during workouts when you’ll be sweating a lot. After such workouts, Dikos says, “refuel with electrolyte-rich options such as vegetable soup or cottage cheese, or add a pinch of salt to a smoothie.”

Dikos says that post-workout cravings for salty foods are a sign to address fluid or electrolyte replacement. “Always consider urine color as a guide to support proper hydration,” she recommends, with the goal being to have clear urine as often as possible.