Workout & Exercise FAQs
Here's some brief answers to the biggest questions I get asked as a fitness instructor and runner (and especially while marathon training).
What's the best time to exercise?
When it come's down to it, it's whatever the best time is for you. Some of us need to get up and work out first thing; others find a burst of energy at the end of the day. Just be sure to give yourself some down time before bed so you don't have trouble sleeping. If you workout in the evenings, wind down with limited (or no) screen time, a book and some tea.
What should you eat for a good workout?
Most nutritionists recommend eating a complete meal a couple hours before a workout with carbs, protein and fat. Many of us prefer a lighter meal closer to a workout and that's okay too: ideally choose a small meal consisting of digestion-friendly foods.
Here are some great examples:
Fruit (half banana or half apple) with almond or sunflower seed butter
Small sweet potato with coconut oil and cinnamon
Healthy vegan low-sugar breakfast bar
Caffeine before workout: Yes or No?
Again, it's best up to you: if you don't normally have caffeine, or skip coffee then you don't need it. For us coffee lovers though, good news!
Studies have shown it can help your body by burning fat instead of glycogen stores, and your workout by allowing you to "train at a greater power output and/or train longer” after caffeine consumption, as reported by Sports Medicine. I personally love an almond milk latte about an hour before running. Since it seems to make me me run faster, caffeine consumption for performance definitely works; either from the caffeine effect or the placebo effect!
Best Cross-Training for Runners?
There's no one-workout-best-for-all, but many successful runners have found that cross-training with cycling, elliptical, swimming or aqua jogging works well. The whole idea of cross-training is to do a workout that keeps you injury-free and will better your running performance. Any workout that is no to low impact (so basically the opposite of running) to give your muscles time to heal is ideal.
For me, adding in the occasional ballet class is great too though not right before a marathon; be careful of the workouts that are very leg-heavy if you're heading toward race day!
Also, work on that flexibility. Staying flexible and mobile is key to injury-prevention. Stretch and foam-roll for optimal results.
Weight-Training: Is it necessary? What if I HATE weight-lifting?
Hi, my name is Maiah and I hate weight-training! I still do it though when I can get myself motivated to do so. (Here's my tip: get your weight-training friend or spouse to do a workout with you for motivation. Thanks, hubby).
Weight-Training is pretty dang good for you though, especially as we age, since it increases bone density (thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis). (1)
It may also help you manage chronic conditions, sharpen your thinking skills and contribute to better balance and less of a fall risk (especially important in old age!) Start a weight-training regime now to keep from becoming frail as you age. (We aren't going to stay young forever; I know, hard to believe!)
I've been hinting at this main point, but as a fitness instructor and just general health fan, I've found that every body is different, and will respond differently to training regimens and foods. Basically do what works for your body. Sometimes you may need a professional to help you figure it out, or just trial-and-error until you find what works best for your body, your mind, and your lifestyle.
More Workout Tips and Resources: