Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rebecca Rusch: "The Queen of Pain"

An Inspiration to All Women Athletes

I was honored to spend time talking with Rebecca Rusch during Interbike. At 42 and known as the "Queen of Pain", Rebecca is a 2-time Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race winner and women's record holder; and a 3-time 24-hour solo mountain bike world champion. As she chases adrenaline, she continues to remain on top of the world! Let's take a look into her career:

MR: How did you get your start in mountain biking?

RR: I started out adventure racing with Eco-Challenge in 1997, when adventure racing faded, my sponsors suggested mountain bike racing. Ironically, I didn't like the bike portion of adventure racing. I had the fitness, I just had to learn the technical aspect of mountain biking

MR: You obviously learn quickly! Would you give us a glimpse of your training during race season and in the off-season?

RR: My race season is pretty much year-round, so my training primarily consists of biking. I train about 20 hours/week; about half on the road, which includes more difficult workouts such as intervals and easier workouts. I also do cyclo-cross and downhill racing as part of my training. However, most of the races around home, in Ketchum, ID, are for fun. My cross-training workouts in-season consist of functional strength training and yoga. In the off-season I enjoy swimming, cross-country and back-country skiing.

MR: This leads me into your nutritional “training”. Give us a little insight into what you do to stay fueled during a 100 mile mountain bike race and your multi-day races.

RR: As I have gotten older, I realize just how important nutrition is, not only for performance, but also for health. About a week before the race I’ll clean it up by limiting alcohol and caffeine. I take my aminos and a multivitamin/mineral supplement, and make sure I’m well hydrated.

I break my race nutrition into a couple time frames: less than 12 hour and over 12 hours:

· Leadville 100 (less than 12 hrs) – is a “short” race that starts early. I’m not getting up at 3a.m. to eat a full breakfast prior to the race start, so I may have a light smoothie for breakfast. I keep the majority of my nutrition for this race as liquid and gels. I need a fast start in this race, which is where my Red Bull shot kick starts the morning!

· Longer than 12 hours - I can eat solid food during these races, which I prefer. I will usually have eggs, toast, and fruit about 3 hours before the start. When I come through the aid stations my support team has turkey, avocado, and plain baked potatoes. I tend to crave salty, fatty foods during long races. And something that’s easy to eat!

MR: You definitely have it dialed in during the race, what about recovery nutrition?

RR: If you don’t give 100% in your recovery nutrition, you won’t get 100% out of your workouts. It took me years to figure this out, but now I take my recovery as seriously as my training. Hammer Nutrition’s Recoverite is my recovery drink of choice, immediately post-race and after every hard workout. Then I make sure I eat a regular meal within 1 hour.

MR: Are you as focused in the off-season with your nutrition or do you relax a bit?

RR: The past few years I’ve realized the importance of nutrition for general health. I focus on buying organic whenever possible, eating local and decreasing processed foods. And I’ve recently begun a supplement regime.

MR: Most athletes have a guilty pleasure, what is yours?

RR: Actually, I like strawberry Recoverite with hot chocolate, especially when it’s cold. I also make homemade pizza!

MR: That sounds great, I’ll have to give it a try! One last question that I’ve always wondered, when you make it to the pro level do you still get nervous prior to your race?

RR: Oh yes, I get nervous before every race, that really never goes away!

MR: I would like to thank you for your time and discussing your training: physical and nutritional! It’s been my pleasure!

[Interview conducted on September 23, 2010].

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Increase brown fat and lose weight!

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that if adults had more baby fat, we may be able to lose weight more easily. Adults have primarily white fat that stores energy from the food we eat. However, baby fat is comprised primarily of brown fat, which requires energy (calories) to generate heat, that's why babies have a high amount of this type of fat.

Researchers at Harvard found a protein that drives the production of brown fat and it may convert some white fat cells into brown fat. They are working on a drug to stimulate this process and we may have a new obesity drug in a few years! How are they doing this? Well, their goal is to find a chemical that prompts production of this protein but doesn't stimulate any other molecules in the body, therefore it can specifically treat obesity. Is this really good news? While I am not a pharmacist, I can't imagine a drug that doesn't affect any other function in the body, otherwise there wouldn't be side effects.

Other researchers believe that if we can tolerate cold better we may be able to promote brown fat production. Subjects are exposed to cold temperatures - about 40 degrees, 15 minutes, 7 days. After a week, infrared scans show that men's bodies produced more heat than they did a week earlier, which is believed to be due to an increase in the activation of brown fat. Researchers suggest that if people are able to control their environment by adjusting the thermostat, they may be able to tolerate a lower temperature; most likely due to their body's ability to generate heat. Hmm, not sure I would volunteer for that study!

Now I'm all for innovation, yet do we need another drug to combat obesity? As obesity rates continue to rise, it seems that's not the solution. Dr. Spiegelman of Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Center stated "We're not trying to replace diet and exercise, but frequently they're not enough or not effective." Wow, seriously? How can it NOT work? Take a look at Drs. Wing and Hill's work at the National Weight Control Registry (1) and read the success stories. Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years. And they state that in order to achieve this they ate a balanced diet and increased physical activity!

In my opinion, another obesity drug will not solve America's problem; it's just not that easy. It doesn't matter if you only have 10 lbs to lose or 100 lbs. Making the decision to lose weight takes a complete change of your current mindset and lifestyle; along with some planning and of course, TIME and PATIENCE! We all can't lose 100 lbs in 7 weeks as they do on the Biggest Loser, most of us have lives outside of the "ranch". Consistent, small changes will get results!

1. National Weight Control Registry: