Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Watermelon

IMG_2843Summer is winding down, but it’s not too late to enjoy one of summer’s favorite fruits- the watermelon. Known mainly as a side dish at picnics that provides mostly water, watermelon is not just delicious but also chock full of nutrition.

What kind of nutrition does watermelon offer? It’s true it has a high water content, so at over 90% water, it is a good option for hydration. It’s also full of potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. Watermelon contains small amounts of magnesium, vitamin B6, and fiber as well.  And at only 46 calories per cup, watermelon is great option for those trying to lose weight or maintain their racing weight.

Watermelon contains many phytonutrients (compounds found in plants that are not vitamins or minerals but still provide health benefits), most notably lycopene, an antioxidant also found in tomatoes and known for promoting prostate and heart health, among other things.

Watermelon also contains citrulline, which may help lower blood pressure and is of note for athletes specifically for a couple of reasons. First of all, some studies have found that consuming watermelon after exercise may help reduce muscle soreness. Secondly, citrulline may be converted to arginine in the body, which in turn can be converted to nitric oxide, which makes blood vessels relax. Why should you care? Well, nitric oxide is the same substance that the nitrates in beets are converted to, and which have been proposed to help improve exercise performance by allowing blood to move more freely to working muscles. So watermelon in theory could help improve sports performance just as beets do, although probably to a lesser level.  Studies are inconclusive, however, and the amount of watermelon you would need to see a benefit may cause some, uh, other problems. Still it’s something to consider. More studies are needed!

So as you can see, watermelon is a great post workout option. For a perfect post summer workout treat try this: cube a watermelon, sprinkle with salt, chill, and enjoy! Everything you need after a hard workout: fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes (ok hardly any protein but still pretty great) and it even sits well with an off kilter stomach.

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Taper Week and Mental Prep

iphone pics 1040Here I am again, the week before a big race.  It’s like the night before a big exam, there isn’t anything I can do now training-wise to prepare myself….or is there?  I’ve always been a big believer in the power of positive thinking, but I noticed something about myself the other day quite contradictory to this statement when it comes to my upcoming race.  When asked if I feel ready for the Pikes Peak Ascent I find myself saying this: “I feel good about my training, I’ve had some great workouts/races lately that built confidence in my fitness and I feel as prepared as I can BUT a lot can go wrong on race day!”  Why is it always that and not “a lot can go RIGHT on race day?” The two are just as likely, especially given the preceeding statement about how good I’m feeling.Why does there always have to be a “but”?  I’m not sure why, is it that I don’t want to jinx myself? Whatever the reason,  I plan on changing that “but”.  I may not be able to change my fitness in the week before the race but I can focus on resting and tapering as well as proper nutrition and hydration. And I can work on my mental game. I’ve written before about visualization and I believe it helps, so I’ll be doing that in addition to staying positive. After all, a lot can go right on race day!

Click here to read previous blogs on Visualization and Mental Toughness and mental toughness.