Running for the Long Haul

Healthy Habits That Are Imperative to Doing Just That

I'm no stranger to the endurance realm. Having raced in long-distance ultra running events and completed in a long list of personal and challenging multi-day epics is what I thrive on. That being said, how do I keep this one body I have happy and healthy? Similar to many other endurance athletes who have been pushing their body to the limits, I have ridden the roller coaster of ups and downs A younger me once said to my mom, “I won’t stop until my body quits.” Well, more than 15 years later, I think I’ve succeeded in reaching that breaking point more than just a few times, each account forcing me to learn and grow from my mistakes. As I approach my 40s, I have a family to care for and a strong drive to continue leading a life of outdoor adventure. I have taken a completely different approach to self-care and repair—and not just for myself. As a coach to endurance athletes around the world, I’m passionate about bringing out the best in them, and this starts with simple yet effective holistic habits that can make a huge difference.

Sleep - Rest & De-stress

I can’t actually believe the day has arrived when I can’t wait to hit the lights and fall asleep. I have been focused on this for nearly a year now and it has made a significant difference in how I feel upon waking, energy levels throughout the day, and an even keel-ness to deal with stress. I strive for 8hrs minimum a night with the preference of going to bed early and getting up with the sun. Once I have finished my mom tasks for the night, I am typically too brain fried to even look at work, so very rarely do I even attempt it. Instead, I take the opportunity to be in bed between 9 pm and 9:30 pm so getting up at 6 am (or even 5 am if I am teaching cycling) is not terrible. Sleep is one of the easiest and most important things that we can all do. With a little deviance in our night habits, this does not have to be a super hard change to make.

Iron and the B Vitamins

I’ve experienced the super-low-energy phases through the years and seen it in one too many athletes as well, mostly female. First, get your levels checked so you have a baseline to measure against. I incorporated Floradix Iron + Herbs from Salus Haus into my daily regimen, taking it twice daily. While I am all for a whole food diet, including loads of plants and as much high iron foods as possible, it remains a challenge to maintain optimal levels. Floradix is loaded with B vitamins as well, which are great for keeping the immune system strong and fighting anemia.* Better to keep on top of things now rather than dig myself out of a hole later.

High-Quality Omega-3s

We need good fats! Omega-3 is critical when it comes to recovery and supporting heart and joint health* so ensuring that I am really getting enough of this particular omega in my diet has been a focal point. Because our body cannot produce essential fatty acids like omega-3, we need to eat them. Foods high in omega-3 in my diet include wild-caught salmon, organic eggs along with chia, hemp, and flax seeds. I also add Flora Omega Sport+ to my smoothies and salads. Because it’s so very hard to get enough omega-3 in my diet, I’m never concerned about over-consumption of this—but I sure notice it when I'm deficient!

Elimination of Synthetic Sugars

Plain and simple, processed synthetic sugars have no place in our diet. I do my very best to avoid these, aiming to buy products with real sugars, not broken down and altered in a factory. Blueberries are probably my go-to sugar source, satisfying my sweet tooth and tasting great, fresh or frozen.

Here is my ice cream substitution recipe for a tasty treat after dinner that I feel good about eating:

1 cup of frozen, organic blueberries
½ cup of 10% plain yogurt
1 tbsp. Omega Sport+
¼ cup almond milk (or other)

Throw in a blender and blend together until desired textured is achieved.

Jen Segger has adventured, raced and coached around the world in some of the harshest and most challenging environments. Today, Jen is a Flora ambassador and a full-time endurance coach through her business, Challenge by Choice. She works with athletes of all levels around the globe, sought out by many for her knowledge in providing a holistic approach to training and nutrition.

Photo courtesy of Hilary Matheson

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.