Monday, October 31, 2011

Cool Weather Running!; Nutritional Fueling Experiment with chia seeds

In my last blog post I lamented my calf strain in the context of missing-out on my long-anticipated Chicago Marathon. Fortunately, beginning roughly one week afterward I was able to successfully begin a gradual increase in both my running mileage and intensity. While for the past two weeks I was convinced that I was cured, this was confirmed on Saturday with an excellent 17 mile Kenyan Way training run.

With wonderfully cool temperatures in the upper 40's I laced-up my Newton shoes, then met my friend Alison in the pre-dawn for our easy 1.5 mile warm-up. We then joined the KW group and were delighted to negative split and maintain a steady and strong pace (one of many benefits of running with a good group and training partner) with splits: 8:21, 8:33, 8:25, 7:53, 7:45, 7:44, 7:49, 7:31, 7:54, 7:41, 7:48, 7:56, 8:05, 7:50, 7:45, 7:40, 7:50, and 7:30.

With continued cool weather in the offing through the Houston Marathon I'm excited to be returning again to marathon training, especially as I'm looking forward to squeezing-in some fun 5 and 10K races as fitness benchmarks along the way.

Meanwhile, on a Runners Roundtable a few months ago we were lucky to have with us sports nutritionist Nancy Clark. While there was no reference made to chia seeds' nutritional value, I have been intrigued since reading about them in Christopher McDougall's great book Born to Run, and learning that the Mayan and Aztec highly valued these seeds since it gave their warriors great endurance, just as the modern-day runners of the Mexican Tarahumara tribe demonstrates by routinely running far in excess of 100 miles at a time!

Nancy had rightly encouraged each runner to individually experiment with various nutritional strategies during their training runs - versus the race (!) - so, over the past week I have tried these seeds in an ongoing experiment. In lieu of the Gu or Roctane, which I normally take every four miles for runs longer than 10 miles, on Saturday I instead consumed chia seeds. Specifically, I took one tablespoon of dry seeds every ~6 miles along with plenty of Gatorade, mixing both in my mouth then swallowing. Largely flavorless, chia seeds contains protein which helps to stabilize blood sugar better than Gatorade and/or Gu alone, are rich in vital Omega-3's, and since with fluids they swell in the stomach they slow digestion and provide a feeling of satiety. While my experiments continue (I'll try them again at the forthcoming weeks' 19 and 21 mile training runs), thus far I'm a convert!


  1. I may have to give that a try.

  2. Really interesting information about chia seeds. I have heard others talk about using them (in fact I think Chris Russell talked about them on a podcast) but have never taken the plunge myself. I prefer flaxseed as a source of omega3s and I still rarely eat while running, but I probably will need to get outside my shell on that one...
    Keep us posted!