Runners are always looking for an edge. We’ve recently become connected with Nutrition Coach and dietician Heidi Strickler. She kindly took the time to answer some of the more commonly asked questions by Team RunRun athletes. My hunch is that we’re all going to be interested in learning more! If you have more questions or are interested in working more in depth with a Nutrition Coach, her contact info and bio are included below!

team runrun nutrition heidi strickler

What is something you hear often by nutritionists or from athletes regarding nutrition that you disagree with and why?

That there is one way of eating or diet that works for everyone. Paleo, vegan, HCLF … there are constantly new “diets” and it really comes down to eating mostly unprocessed foods. There are always hokey things in the media – some examples of misconceptions I hear a lot: don’t eat fruit with meals, eggs will increase your cholesterol, don’t eat after 8pm … when it comes to athletes, a common misconception is that cramping can be fixed mid-run by taking in electrolytes.

GI issues are one of the main reasons runners DNF ultra marathons. How do you go about solving this common problem for ultra runners?

Spending a lot of time on this topic during training. It is a combination of nutritional science and metabolism + personal individual variation. Folks tolerate different things – the key is finding what works for you. The other key is mimicking race scenario in training – in duration, climate and intensity.

The two most common causes of GI issues are incorrect hydration and lack of absorption of the type/amount of carbs

What is one or two big changes a runner could make with their day to day eating that could have the biggest positive impact on performance? (of course we’re all different, but think about the general runner population and one or two changes or tweaks we could all benefit from making)?

Timing of meals & Hydrate properly

What are your “go-to” fueling sources during competitions? (or recommendations). How do these fueling sources vary depending on the events you’re competing in or coaching?

It depends on the distance.

Water and Hammer Endurolytes fizz as a baseline.

I like to stick to real foods as much as possible, especially on longer stuff – Larabars, dates, Justin’s almond butter packets, homemade items, avocado, Lays Stax, plain white rice with miso and avocado on longer stuff.

If I use a company – I use Hammer. I respect their dedication to quality, and their science is spot on. I like their gels, their Raw Energy bars, their Endurolytes, and their Perpetuem.

We’ve seen lots of runners have low iron/anemia issues. What are some strategies for avoiding this?

Knowing whether or not you are susceptible, and strategizing your iron intake through food. There are certain times of day that are better/worse for eating high-iron foods, and there are certain foods/nutrients that can either help or hinder iron absorption.

Along the lines of iron, do you recommend supplements? Any supplements that you think the general runner population should be considering? (again, I know we’re all different, but what are some generalities regarding supplements?)

It depends – gender, age, ethnicity, geography. Food first, but if you do supplement, it needs to be quality.

I recommend every runner take vitamin D. Omega-3’s and probiotics are also high on the list. Women should take magnesium. B complex is good.

Help us make heads or tails in terms of “carbo loading”. What does it mean? Is it a myth? Is there anything in particular we should be considering in the days leading up to a big endurance event?

What we used to practice as carb loading is a huge no-no – eating a ton of carbs the day before your race is going to do nothing but cause you to feel heavy, sluggish, sleepy, and create GI issues. We do recommend carb loading for events over 90 minutes, but now the protocol starts about a week out from your race.

If you could give us endurance runners one piece of advice relating to food and diet, what is the mindset, mantra, advice that you would impart on us?

Balance, variety, moderation. Eat unprocessed foods as much as possible, and drink at least half of your body weight in fluid ounces of water daily.

Heidi Strickler, RDN CD is a Registered Dietitian with a focus in Sports and Performance Nutrition – Endurance Sports (Running, Cycling, Triathalons); Team/Field Sports (soccer, basketball, hockey, football, etc.); Strength-based Sports (CrossFit).

Heidi has been working as a Registered Dietitian in Seattle since 2014. Most of her practice was spent as a part of the multi-disciplinary sports medicine team at Experience Momentum, Inc., in Lynnwood, WA, where she worked from January 2015-January 2018, providing nutrition counseling, grocery store tours, body composition testing, and presentations on various nutrition topics to organizations, sports teams, schools, and the general public. She also coached cycling classes.

Professionally, Heidi specializes in sports and performance nutrition, and sees athletes ages 14 to 84. She works with high school, collegiate, and adult team sports, recreational runners, professional triathletes and cyclists, and obstacle course racers.
Currently, Heidi also writes monthly blogs for Trail and Ultra-Running (http://trailandultrarunning.com/community/), and offers a live Q&A on the groups Facebook page on Mondays. She also provides athlete meal plans and nutrition counseling services for interested members.

Heidi graduated with a triple degree in Dietetics, Nutrition in Sports & Exercise, and Exercise Science, from Seattle Pacific University. She finished up her nutrition schooling in Illinois, and moved back to Seattle in early 2014 to begin her career. In January 2015, she began a one-year understudy with International Olympic Committee as a part of their Sports Nutrition Diploma program. In order to advance her career and better serve her clients, Heidi is currently studying to become a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), which she will complete in February, and will be pursuing her Masters of Science in Sports & Exercise Nutrition in the fall of 2018. Have questions or interested in more info? Contact her at heidi.k.strickler@gmail.com