Our motto is “FAMILY FIRST, SCIENCE BASED.”

But it’s not just an empty ideal. It’s a daily practice. It’s the start and finish of every decision. We constantly ask, “What would I want for my family?” Because our families, including our young kids, take these Complement products (ages ranging from 11 months to 11 years).

And that’s how the vision of Complement Protein started: Founder Matt Frazier realized that his son might need an extra boost of protein because of his opportunity to play high-level soccer – undertaking a strenuous training routine as well as being a growing plant-based athlete… Matt was torn: fundamentally, he wanted his son to get his protein from a WFPB diet. And he does. But, for peace of mind, he wanted to ensure his son had an occasional boost of the complementary amino acids.

But most protein powders come with all sorts of concerns: What is really hiding behind that “proprietary blend”? What about the undisclosed heavy metals? Why add the preservatives, gums, and flavors? All we wanted was a safe, trustworthy protein that would offer a balanced, complete, and complementary set of amino acids … And with your support, that’s what we created in Complement  Protein: All certified organic ingredients; the lowest possible heavy metal levels (Prop 65 compliant);  no artificial (or “natural”) flavors or sweeteners; no gums or preservatives.

And BPA and BPS-free packaging that is 100% compostable. (No more plastic tubs!)

Lastly, to ensure the utmost transparency, we printed the exact percentages of ingredients on the front of the bag. Nothing to hide here.

So, that was the vision behind this product, which has been in development for a year and half. There’s been sweat and tears, and a lot of experimenting and going back to the drawing board, to reach the product that met every one of our exacting standards.

We hope you enjoy it. As a way of saying thanks, we've shared some of the information that helped us create this product, as well as recipes and workout plans (provided by No Meat Athlete). Please let us know how you're using your bag of Complement Protein by tagging @lovecomplement on your IG photos.

And, of course, if there’s anything we can do to support you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our CEO directly: mt@lovecomplement.com.

Matt Tullman & Matt Frazier

Founders, Complement

NUTRITIONAL PROFILE

Full Amino Acid Profile

Amino Acid Amount RDA (essential AAs only)

Alanine

675mg

Arginine

1575mg

Aspartic Acid

1463mg

Cysteine

113mg

Glutamic Acid

2700mg

Glycine

675mg

Histidine

338mg

48%

Isoleucine

675mg

48%

Leucine

1238mg

45%

Lysine

900mg

43%

Methionine

225mg

21%

Phenylalanine

788mg

45%

Proline

675mg

Serine

675mg

Threonine

450mg

43%

Tryptophan

113mg

40%

Tyrosine

563mg

Valine

675mg

37%

Why Amino Acids Matter

Why do amino acids matter?

Simply put, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When you look at our Nutritional Facts panel and see a 15g per serving claim, that's the total of all protein provided in a serving.

But even between two different products with the same 15g of protein, the composition of those amino acids can vary greatly, since not all protein powders are created from the same protein sources. For instance, one product could be 15g of 100% pea protein, and that would offer a specific profile of amino acids - high in some, but low in others. On the other hand, by combining a variety of protein sources (like Complement Protein does), the essential amino acid profile can be more balanced, making this a more 'complete' source of protein.

To be deemed 'complete,' all the essential amino acids (those that your body cannot synthesize on its own) must be present in sufficient amounts. But the requirements vary depending on the essential amino acid - some, like Tryptophan, are only required in small amounts. For others, like Leucine, the daily requirement is much higher (measured in grams, not mg).

Complement Protein was designed to keep the essential amino acid profile as even as possible in terms of these daily requirements, with a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) of 1 (max possible), and Essential To Total Amino Acids ratio of 0.37. This is achieved by combining six different plant protein sources into one complete solution - unlike some plant protein powders which are based heavily (or even exclusively) on the cheapest (but incomplete) sources like peas or rice.

YOUR PROTEIN NEEDS

Just like some people require 1500 calories per day, and some 3000 or more, your protein needs are affected by your weight, muscle mass, level of physical activity, pregnancy, and even age. Regarding this last factor, children require about as much protein as athletes in the first 12-14 years of life, and there is research emerging that as you get older, increasing the amount of protein you consume may have benefits on many levels, including maintaining muscle mass, bone density and overall health.

For individuals over 14 and below the age of 60, the recommendations are as follows:

The average person

leading a lifestyle that involves little to moderate amount of physical activity (such as walking, jogging, or light workouts once or twice per week).

Bodyweight (lbs) x 0.37g protein per day

or

Bodyweight (kg) x 0.8g protein per day

Moderately active people

meaning anyone who works out or regularly enjoys sports. This is where most people will fall, with the exception of professional athletes or those training 5-7 times per week or more.

Bodyweight (lbs) x 0.46-0.55g protein per day

or

Bodyweight (kg) x 1-1.2g protein per day

Very active people 

which includes mostly professional athletes, individuals going through periods of extreme physical activity, bodybuilders doing double days... but also pregnant women.

Bodyweight (lbs) x 0.7g protein per day

or

Bodyweight (kg) x 1.5g protein per day

Think you need more?

Ever heard of Kwashiorkor? It sounds like a made-up word, but it's real: kwashiorkor is protein deficiency, and something that is virtually unheard of in developed countries. Which goes to show you that we are very likely all consuming more than enough protein. But what about the old bodybuilding wisdom of 2g per kg of body weight per day?

That particular tidbit of information can probably be attributed to 'bro science' - but there is research emerging that shows there may be certain benefits to consuming up to 1g per lb, particularly for people over the age of 60. On the other hand, the returns certainly start diminishing, and extremely high intake of protein (especially from animal sources) can easily lead to health issues in the long run.

We are constantly monitoring the developments, but at this point, we feel the guidelines above have the most scientific evidence backing them. So to recap, unless you're above 60 or pushing yourself extremely hard, these recommendation will most likely work for you as well. But, as always, if you have questions on this topic, or you have any chronic health challenges, we recommend consulting a licensed healthcare professional.

RECIPES

  • Smoothies
  • Baking

Blueberry Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup plain vegan yogurt
  • 3 tbsp Complement Protein
  • 2 handfuls frozen blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds or flaxseed oil
  • 2 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree. Simple, right?

But not so fast; there are countless possible variations. Although the original recipe uses all blueberries, you really can substitute any frozen fruit. We’ve tried raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, and even mangos. You can find these bags of frozen fruit in the “pie filling” part of the frozen section of the grocery store. Our favorite blend is blueberries, blackberries, and cherries - but experiment and see what you like best!

Raw Pineapple Papaya Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Banana
  • 2 Fresh or Dried Dates
  • 1 cup Water
  • 8 Ice Cubes
  • 1/2 Papaya
  • 1 cup Pineapple
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed
  • 3 Tbsp Complement Protein
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (optional - can be replaced with 2 Tbsp shredded coconut)

Blend ingredients together. If possible, call in sick to work. Makes 2 large smoothies.

This smoothie is supposed to deliver lots of quick energy, and it’s fun because it uses lots of tropical fruits, so zou can pretend zou-re on an island vacation. The main ingredients in the smoothie are pineapple and papaya, both of which are best if as close to ripe as possible (Fun fact: while papaya will ripen after it's picked, pineapple won't. So try to find one that's as evenly yellow/brown as possible, and has a sweet smell.)

Ginger Pear Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 pear, cored
  • 1.5 cups water plus 1 cup ice
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 Tbsp Complement Protein
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger

Blend it all in a blender. Makes 2 medium smoothies (or 1 extra-large one).

The ginger in this smoothie adds a very interesting dimension to the flavor, and it goes really nicely with the pear. They call this one an “inflammation reducer,” which sounds good to us. It’s not overly sweet, so you could optionally add a few dates to sweeten it.

The Perfect Smoothie Formula

There’s something about the alchemy of throwing a few fruits, ice, liquid, and whatever else into a blender and ending up with a perfectly smooth and delicious drink that causes lots of people to struggle.

What follows is a formula you can follow to create nearly endless variations. And the best part is that the uncertainty has been taken out of it for you. You’ll need to experiment with different flavor combinations, of course, but the guesswork about proportions has largely been removed.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Soft fruit
  • 2 Small handfuls frozen or fresh fruit
  • 2-3 Tbsp Complement Protein
  • 2 Tbsp binder
  • 1.5 Tbsp oil
  • 1.5 Cups liquid
  • 1 Tbsp sweetener (optional, less or more as needed)
  • optional superfoods, greens, and other ingredients
  • 6 Ice cubes (omit if soft fruit is frozen)

Select one or more ingredients of each type below and add to blender in specified proportions. Blend until smooth.

Recommended Soft Fruits

  • Banana
  • Avocado

(If you have a high-speed blender that can puree, say, a whole apple or carrot without leaving any chunks behind, then the puree of almost any fruit or vegetable can act as your soft fruit.)

Recommended Frozen or Fresh Fruits

  • Strawberries (you can leave the greens on if you have a powerful blender)
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Peaches
  • Mango
  • Pineapple

Recommended Binders

  • Ground Flaxseed
  • Almond Butter or any Nut Butter
  • Soaked Raw Almonds (soak for several hours and rinse before using)
  • Rolled Oats, Whole or Ground
  • Udo’s Wholesome Fast Food

Recommended Oils

  • Flaxseed oil
  • Udo’s Blend or other EFA blend
  • Hemp oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Almond, Macadamia, or other Nut Oil

Recommended Liquids (unsweetened)

  • Water (my favorite)
  • Almond Milk or other Nut Milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Brewed tea

Recommended Sweeteners

  • Agave Nectar (high in fructose, so choose this only before workouts)
  • Stevia (sugar-free natural sweetener, the amount needed will vary by brand)

Optional Superfoods, Greens and Other Ingredients

  • Cacao Nibs (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Carob Chips (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Ground Organic Cinnamon (1-2 teaspoons)
  • Chia Seeds, whole or ground (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Greens Powder (1-2 teaspoons)
  • Whole Spinach leaves (1-2 handfuls)
  • Maca Powder (1-2 teaspoons)
  • Jalapeno Pepper, seeds and stem removed (one small pepper)
  • Ground Cayenne Pepper (small pinch)
  • Sea Salt (pinch)
  • Lemon or Lime Juice (1 tablespoon)

You certainly don’t have to stay within these guidelines; if you determine that you want more or less of a certain ingredient, or more than one ingredient from each category. (For example, almond butter and ground flaxseed are both in the “binder” category, but I sometimes include both in my smoothie.)

Also, note that which ingredients you use from one category often dictate how much you need from another. For example, if you’re using avocado instead of banana as your soft fruit, you’ll need more sweetener than you would with the banana, and you’ll probably want to go light on other fatty ingredients, since avocado provides plenty of good fats.

Oatmeal-Flax-Spelt Cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup Complement Protein
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dried currants or other fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the spelt flour, oatmeal, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Beat the coconut oil with a whisk until smooth. You may have to microwave it to soften the oil a bit. Whisk in the sugars, then stir in the flax seed. Add the applesauce and vanilla and mix until uniform.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in the currants.

Using an ice cream scoop, place large mounds of cookie dough on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies with your palm so they are about 3 inches across.

Bake for 16 minutes, turning the pan around about halfway through baking. Makes 15 large bakery-style cookies. Approx. 4g extra protein per cookie.

Chocolate Quinoa Protein Bars

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa, or about 2 cups cooked
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup complement protein
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup stir-ins like dry fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, or vegan chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8×8 baking dish lightly with baking spray.

Rinse the dry quinoa in cold water, then let sit in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. In the meantime, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Drain the quinoa and add to the boiling water. Cover, and reduce heat to simmer for about 12 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooked quinoa, dates, agave nectar, vegetable oil, flaxseed, almond extract, and salt. Process until relatively smooth (the quinoa is so small it stays slightly lumpy).

In a small bowl, stir together the protein powder, flour, and stir-ins. Fold this dry mixture into wet mixture with a spatula. The dough is very thick, like cookie dough, so use the spatula to press into prepared pan evenly.

Bake for about 22-25 minutes, until firm. Let cool, then slice into a dozen bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup Complement Protein
  • 1 tsp each cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, and ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • sprinkles of oats and sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the flaxseed and water until thickened.

Combine flax mixture in a large bowl with sugar, applesauce, oil, and pumpkin.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in the walnuts. Lightly grease loaf pans. Divide into two regular 8 inch loaf pans or four mini loaf pans. If you’d like, sprinkle on some oats or turbinado to garnish. Bake the large loaves for about 55 minutes and the smaller loaves for about 40 minutes. Let sit for 20 minutes before removing from pan.

The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula

Recipes are great. But formulas are where it’s at.

Recipes allow even brand new cooks to produce something that’s really good, or at least something that doesn’t entirely suck. You can take a recipe that an expert chef created and reproduce in your home exactly the same dish, without the years of training. Score.

Unfortunately, you can only eat the same energy bar so many times before it makes you want to ralph.

So - voilà! The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula to make sure that never happens. Mix and match however your heart desires!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-pound can of Beans, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked beans)
  • ½ cup Binder
  • ¼ cup Sweetener
  • ¼ cup Soft Sweet Fruit
  • 1 teaspoon of Extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of Dry Spice (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1.5 cups of Oats (you can toast them if you want but I can’t tell the difference)
  • 1 cup Dry Base Ingredient
  • 1 cup Stir-Ins

Recommended beans

  • White beans
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Adzuki beans

Recommended binders

  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of ground flax seed mixed with ¼ cup water
  • Pureed pumpkin
  • Mashed avocado

Recommended sweeteners

  • Maple syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Agave nectar
  • Honey (if you’re not vegan)

Recommended soft, sweet fruit

  • Applesauce
  • Mashed banana (about half of one)
  • Chopped dates (remove the pits!)
  • Crushed pineapple

Recommended optional extracts

  • Vanilla
  • Almond
  • Lemon
  • Coconut
  • Coffee

Recommended dry spices

  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom
  • Instant coffee

*For stronger spices like nutmeg and cardamom, use just a ¼-½ teaspoon and combine with less intense spices like cinnamon.

Recommended dry base ingredient (try a combination of Complement Protein with a flour)

  • Complement Protein
  • Brown rice flour
  • Spelt flour
  • Cocoa (max ½ cup - if using this along with Complement Protein, adjust recipe to allow for some flour as well)
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Buckwheat flour

Recommended stir-ins

  • Shredded coconut
  • Dried cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Dried apricots
  • Chopped nuts
  • Cacao nibs
  • Dry cereal
  • Crushed pretzels
  • Chocolate chips

In a food processor, combine beans, binder, sweetener, soft fruit, extract, spice, and salt until smooth. Add the oats and dry base ingredients and pulse just to combine. Add stir-ins and pulse again just to combine. If the consistency seems spreadable, you’re good. If it’s too dry, add 1/4 cup of water; if it’s too runny, add an additional 1/4 cup of the dry base ingredient.

Grease 13×9 pan with baking spray or rub with 1 tablespoon oil, then spread mixture into pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Note: You’ll have the most success if you use unsalted, unsweetened versions of the ingredients, and control the sweetness and saltiness through the sweetener and added salt.

WORKOUT PLANS

  • Marathon Specific Workouts
  • Running Workouts
  • Fit Parenting

Written by Doug Hay and originally published on No Meat Athlete

At first, a marathon goal is all about finishing … a challenge so big it’s hard to comprehend before it happens.

Then, after your first or second 26.2, the desire just to finish turns into a desire to finish faster. And faster.

What if I could drop below four hours? What if I could qualify for Boston?

The opportunities for improvement feel endless.

But how? How on Earth are you ever going to finish a marathon and do it with more strength, endurance, and speed?

The answer is more straightforward than you might think.

Train Fast (and Slow) to Race Fast

Have you ever heard of “junk miles”? Whether you’ve heard of the term or not, chances are you run them.

Junk miles are miles considered too fast to effectively build endurance, and too slow to help improve your speed. And unfortunately, after working with dozens of runners as a coach, I’ve discovered that a lot of runners spend most of their miles right there.

In the junkyard.

To improve your speed at the marathon distance, you must become more strategic with each run. Spend most of your time running at an easy pace building endurance and base strength, and sprinkle in speed work once or twice a week to boost your power and speed.

It’s there — during those strategically planned speed workouts — that the magic of a faster marathon begins to take shape.

3 Workouts for Marathon Speed

With every race distance there are different strategies for building speed. When training for a 5K, for example, short sprint intervals that build explosive speed and quick leg turnover are common.

When training for a marathon, the main speed workout goal shifts to longer intervals which increase your lactate threshold and endurance stamina — in other words, workouts that keep you running faster later in a long race.

Below are three of my favorite workouts perfect for marathon training:

1. Mile Repeats at Tempo Pace

While attending a seminar at the Runner’s World Half and Festival last year, I had the chance to ask Olympic Marathoner Deena Kastor about her favorite marathon workout. Her answer?

Mile repeats.

Most intermediate and advanced level marathon training plans include interval workouts, and the mile repeat is always one of the toughest. A mile is long at 1,600 meters, and takes most of us well over five minutes to run.

But it’s precisely because they’re longer that mile repeats offer such a great structure for tempo training. The tempo pace is a moderately or “comfortably” hard pace, typically around the 85-90% of your max heart rate. (For most people that’s around the same effort as your 10K race pace.)

For marathoners, this type of training is crucial. Training at a tempo pace increases your metabolic fitness, which improves your ability to use and process lactate, allowing you to sustain a higher pace for a longer time.

You can add longer (20-30 minute) tempo sessions into a standard run, like a 60-minute run with 20 minutes being at tempo pace, or run a tempo workout as an interval workout with scheduled breaks in between. The breaks allow you to spend more collective time at the tempo pace.

These tempo-paced intervals are my favorite approach for mile repeats for marathoners.

The workout: 15 minute warm-up, 5 x 1 mile repeats at tempo pace with 1 minute recovery, 20 minute cool-down

2. Yasso 800s

Probably the most infamous marathon workout around, Yasso 800s were created by Bart Yasso as a way of predicting your marathon pace.

The idea is simple: your time (in minutes and seconds) for 10 x 800 meter intervals will equal your time (in hours and minutes) for the marathon. In other words, if you can sustain a four-minute-and-ten-second pace for 10 x 800 meter repeats, you’ll run a four-hour-and-ten-minute marathon.

Now, the validity of using the workout as a predictor is a little iffy — sorry Bart — but that doesn’t take away from the workout itself.

Yasso 800s are a great VO2 Max workout, and an increased VO2 Max will improve your overall fitness and speed.

The workout: 15 minute warmup, 10 x 800 meters on the track with each rest period equaling the same amount of time as it took you to run the 800, 20 minute cool down

3. Fast-Finish Long Runs

Long runs teach your body (and mind) how to handle the distance of a marathon and the challenges that come with it. For that reason most beginner marathoners aren’t (and shouldn’t be) concerned with the pace as much as getting in the miles or kilometers.

But once you’ve grown comfortable with running long, you have room to start playing with the effort and pace. The fast-finish long run is a great way to incorporate speed training in the long run.

On some of your long runs, use the last 30 to 90 minutes to increase speed and effort up to your goal race pace. For example, on a 15 mile long run, run the first 10 miles at your typical easy long-run pace. For the final five miles, slowly increase your pace until you’re at or near race pace through the finish.

Running at your desired race effort will test your mental and physical stamina by simulating late race fatigue, and teach you how to push through the discomfort to finish strong.

One quick note for this workout: I don’t recommend running all your long runs as fast-finish long runs. At the most, rotate between a fast finish and a standard long run week by week.

The workout: Run the first two-thirds of your long run at your standard pace. In the final third, or for roughly 30 to 90 minutes, gradually increase your pace until you’ve hit your desired race pace, and maintain that pace and effort through the end of your run.

You Can Run a Faster Marathon

I believe that the hardest part of running a marathon is learning how to mentally cope with the distance, and that it takes actually running that far to get the full understanding of the difficulty.

But once you do — once you run a marathon or two — the distance itself becomes much less of a challenge, and the motivating goal usually shifts to training to do it faster.

By strategically sprinkling one or two speed workouts per week into your training, you’ll quickly see results in your overall speed and stamina.

And that new personal best suddenly becomes a reality.

Written by Doug Hay and originally published on No Meat Athlete

When did running get so complicated?

I ask myself that all the time, usually when frustrated by a tough workout on my training plan or a confusing training concept.

Running is such a simple act — exactly what drew me to it in the first place — until you complicate it with drills, exercises, and complex workouts.

Of course, it probably comes as no surprise that the workouts on your training plan aren’t there just to piss you off. They’re included to help you run stronger, faster, and for longer distances.

Unfortunately that doesn’t make it any less complicated, so today I’m going to break down eight common running workouts, and share examples of how the work, and show you how to structure a well rounded week of training.

The Importance of Variety

Before we start wading through the details, let’s first talk about variety. More specifically, why variety in your training is so important.

There’s a little running phenomenon I like to call “Single Speed Running,” where a runner logs nearly all of his or her miles at the exact same effort. Day after day. That speed is usually around 75 percent of max effort — not fast enough to really make your body work hard and adapt, but too fast to build much endurance or count as a “recovery” run.

Sound familiar?

Chances are it does, since that’s exactly what most runners do.

Not only does Single Speed Running keep you from getting stronger; it also significantly increases the risk of injury: our bodies need variety.

We need uber slow runs just as much as we need Lightning Bolt style sprints. The variety works the cardiovascular system and muscles in different ways, and makes room for both strength-building and recovery.

By understanding the importance of each workout, you’re more likely to begin incorporating a variety into your training, and in return, reaping the benefits.

But first, those workouts need to become less daunting and confusing … the goal of this post.

8 Common Running Workouts, Explained (With Examples)

Below you’ll find a description of eight common running workouts for endurance runners. With each explanation, I’ve also included examples of how to put the workout to use.

Let’s start with the easiest:

1. Mile Repeats at Tempo Pace

I’m putting the easy run first because it’s often the forgotten workout. But it’s also one of the most important.

Running at an easy pace builds endurance, promotes proper form, establishes routine and base mileage, and facilitates recovery. This type of run should be your most common, making up about 65-80% of your mileage (the percentage will vary depending your running philosophy).

The easy run is your aerobic workout, staying within heart-rate zones 1 and 2. If you’re unsure where that is for you, ask yourself this question when you’re running:

Can I keep a conversation going, speaking in paragraphs with full sentences?

Ask it out loud if you’re really unsure … just maybe not when others are within earshot.

If the answer is yes, you’re running in that aerobic, or easy zone, where your body and muscles have the energy and oxygen they need. For most runners, this is also where they should run the majority of their long run miles.

Sample Workout

  1. Workout: 6 miles at an easy, conversational pace. There should be no set structure or fluctuations in speed, but the hardest part will be resisting the temptation to speed up.
  2. Workout: 45 minutes at an easy pace. With this variation, distance doesn’t matter. You’re running for time instead of distance, so there’s no pressure to hit certain mileage.

2. Yasso 800s

The tempo run’s pace is often called comfortably hard. Difficult enough to require pushing, but comfortable enough to where you can sustain the effort. This is often around 85-90% of your max heart-rate, or just a hair slower than your 10K race pace, where short sentences are possible, but a full-blown conversation isn’t.

If you’re unsure of your paces, check out this pace predictor. It isn’t perfect, but will give you a ballpark pace to aim for.

We run tempo workouts to increase our lactate threshold, or that point at which your body switches from its aerobic system to its anaerobic system, and quickly fatigues thereafter. The higher your threshold at a certain pace, the longer you can sustain that given pace and build strength, speed, and endurance.

Sample Workouts

  1. Workout: 40 minute run with 3 x 5 minutes at tempo pace, and a 3 minute recovery in between. For this style workout, you’ll start the 40-minute run with an easy warmup, once warm, begin five minute tempo intervals with three minutes of rest, and repeat three times. Allow for time at the end to cool down.
  2. Workout: 90 minute run with 3 x 15 minutes at tempo pace, and an 8 minute recovery in between. A workout like this, with longer tempo intervals, is great for marathon racing speed.
  3. Workout: 60 minute run with 3 x 8 minutes at a tempo pace, and a 4 minute recovery, include hills during tempo sections. Tempo workouts can also include hill training, which is particularly helpful while training for a hilly race.

3. Fast-Finish Long Runs

A progression workout is one of my favorites, and commonly found in marathon training plans. The idea is simple:

Start slow, finish fast.

Over the course of your workout, you’ll increase in pace by starting easy and finishing hard.

This progression in pace gives you a complete workout, using both your aerobic and anaerobic systems, without over-straining your body or requiring the same recovery time as a traditional speed workout.

Sample Workouts

  1. Thirds Workout: 15 minutes at an easy pace, 15 minutes at a comfortably hard pace, 15 minutes at a hard pace. In this workout, you’ll increase speed at every 15 minute increment throughout the run, starting at an easy pace and making your way up to a hard pace.
  2. Fast Finish Workout: 30 minutes at a comfortably easy pace, 10 minutes at a hard pace, 5 minutes all out. Here you’re maintaining the easy pace throughout most of the run, until the final 15 minutes when you increase to hard and then all out. This a great option for mimicking a late race push.

Accordion 4

Hill workouts are often referred to as “speedwork in disguise,” because they offer many of the same benefits of a traditional speed workout, without having to run at top speed.

Running uphill is all about building that explosive power that promotes speed and improved running economy.

Running downhill works your quads, and builds strength in your tendons and joints.

Both are important to a well-balanced runner, so I recommend incorporating uphill and downhill days into training for any sort of hilly course. Just focus your workout on one at a time to get the biggest benefit and reduce the risk of injury.

Hill workouts can be done through hard, short sprints up (or down) a hill, or by running a sustained, gradual hill.

Sample Workouts

  1. Short Hill Repeats: 8 hill sprint repeats with light jog back down to rest, following a 3-mile easy run. This type of hill repeat will build explosive strength in the legs, and teach you how to attack shorter hills during a race.
  2. Sustained Hill Repeats: 5 x half-mile hill climbs on a gradual incline with easy run back down to rest. This is perfect when training for a hilly race, and builds endurance and strength on climbs and flats.

Accordion 5

When you picture the quintessential speed workout, you’re probably thinking of interval training. A set distance, repeated a set number of times, at a set pace. Usually with a short rest period in between. Interval distances can be anywhere from 100 meters to a mile or more. Most marathon training plans focus on distances of 400 meters or longer, but the details are left to the workout creator.

Warning: Don’t piss off your workout creator. Interval workouts will likely be your most painful runs, the ones that leave you doubled over and gasping for air.

Most intervals are designed to build speed and strength by working your anaerobic system, or lactate threshold running, and focus on shorter distances of a mile or less. They can be run on a track or along a set loop.

Sample Workouts

  1. Workout: 8 x 400 meters on the track with a 400 meter light jog in between. Try to maintain a consistent pace for each of the 400 meter intervals.
  2. Yasso 800s: 10 x 800 meters on the track, with a light jog for the same amount of time it took you to run each 800 in between. The classic “marathon predictor workout.” I don’t believe it’s great at predicting race times, but it’s certainly a solid speed and endurance building option (and very tough).
  3. Workout: 2 x 1,000 meters with 2 minute rest periods + 2 x 800 meters with 90 second rest periods + 2 x 400 meters on the track with 60 second rest periods. In this workout you’re decreasing in the length of each interval, but increasing in pace.
  4. Workout: 4 x 1,600m with 120 seconds recovery in between. This is an endurance building interval workout. Aim to maintain a consistent pace for each mile, or increase slightly in pace over each interval.

Accordion 6

The Ladder Run is a popular form of interval workout which climbs up, down, or both up and down in distance with a short (often 90 seconds or a 400 meter jog) rest period in between each interval. It’s a fantastic way to challenge yourself and mix things up, with a variety of high-intensity running paces and distances, all in a single workout.

On a track, increase in distance to the “top” of the ladder, or the longest distance interval, before decreasing back down. If you’re just descending the ladder, increase in speed as you decrease in distance.

Sample Workouts

  1. Up and Down: 400 meters x 2, 800 meters x 2, 1,600 meters, 800 meters x 2, 400 meters x 2, with a 400 meter light jog in between each interval. This is an incredibly tough workout, which tests and builds both your endurance and leg speed.
  2. Down: 1,600 meters x 2, 1,200 meters x 2, 800 meters x 2, 400 meters x 2, with a 400 meter light jog in between each interval. As you decrease in distance, you’ll increase in pace.

Accordion 7

Ah, the classic Fartlek run. If you’d like to make fun of the name, be sure to pair it with a Jack Daniels joke.

The word fartlek means speed-play in Swedish, and that’s exactly what the workout is. An opportunity to play around with different speeds and distances in a single workout. This was my favorite workout day when I ran cross country in high school, and not just because of the name.

In a sport that requires plenty of structure, the Fartlek run allows your creative juices to flow. The workout is simple as this:

Intermix fast running with slower running, and vary the pace and distance of each interval. It could be as flexible as randomly picking a street corner, tree, car, or lamp post to sprint to, or run at a tempo pace for three minutes, followed by an easy pace for four minutes, and a sprint for one minute, and so on. There are no rules, other than to have variety in your paces and distances.

Sample Workouts

  1. Unstructured: 5-mile run with the final 4 miles consisting of Fartlek intervals. This is probably the most approachable workout here (other than an easy run), since you have the freedom to do as you please.
  2. Structured: 1-mile warmup + 3 miles, including four to six 5-minute surges each followed by a 2- to 3-minute period of easy running + 1-mile cooldown. If you need a little more structure to stay on track, this will still allow for flexibly and play, but is defined by set intervals.

Accordion 8

Your weekly long run is arguably the most important run of the week. It’s your chance to build endurance, and learn how to handle increased mileage both mentally and physically.

But for most people, that’s where it ends. They view long runs as only an opportunity to go long, not fast. I believe strategically planned long runs throughout your training are a great opportunity to work on late race speed, mimic the final push on race day, and toughen your mind to push through the fatigue.

By adding a workout element to you long runs, you’re giving them more structure and added benefit.

Now a few quick rules I recommend:

  • Don’t run a long run workout every week, but instead begin to integrate them into your training once you’re already comfortable with the distance.
  • Limit your long run workout pace to below a tempo pace, preferable somewhere around your marathon race pace.

During a long run workout, you’ll either increase from an easy pace to your marathon race pace, or alternate between the two.

Sample Workouts

  1. 1-2-3 Workout: After your warmup, run 1 mile at marathon pace followed my 1 mile easy, then 2 miles at marathon pace and 2 miles easy, 3 miles at marathon pace and 3 miles easy. Alternatively you can structure this with kilometers instead of miles.
  2. Countdown Long Run Workout: Take the difference between your easy pace and race pace and divide that by the number mileage of your run. Increase your pace or “count down” by that set increment each mile, so that by the end of the run you have steady increased your pace from easy to race pace.

Putting it all Together: What a Sample Training Week Actually Looks Like

Now that you’ve got the workouts down, let’s explore what a sample training week — which includes a number of these workouts — could look like. I say could, because training structure depends entirely on your distance and pace goals, skill level, and where you are with your training.

But let’s assume you’re training for a marathon, and roughly 10 weeks into a 16 week training plan. Here’s what your plan could look like:

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Tempo workout — 70 minute run with 3 x 15 minutes at tempo pace, and an 8 minute recovery in between.
  • Wednesday: Easy workout — 45 minutes at an easy pace.
  • Thursday: Track workout — 2 x 1,000 meters with 2 minute rest periods + 2 x 800 meters with 90 second rest periods + 2 x 400 meters on the track with 60 second rest periods.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: Long run workout — A 17 mile countdown long run.
  • Sunday: Easy workout — 30-45 minutes at an easy pace.

As you can see, this schedule includes a lot o the variety mentioned above — both in distance, pace, and the types of workouts.

Challenge Yourself With New Workouts

Remember how we said variety was so important earlier?

Now’s your opportunity to take action. It’s easy to get caught up in a monotonous, comfortable rotation of just a few workouts and paces.

Mix it up. Try something new.

The variety just may increase your speed and strength, and reduce your risk of injury.

Which happens to be every runner’s dream come true.

Written by Aaron Stuber and originally published on No Meat Athlete

Ask any parent interested in staying or getting in shape and they will all tell you the same thing:

It’s freakin hard.

And the challenge becomes doubly difficult if you are a stay-at-home parent without extra support.

I’ve heard more than a few desperate parent friends tell me through tears (it’s cool, I used to cry a lot too) that it is, in fact, an impossible task, particularly when the kids are very young and require all of you.

But don’t panic. There is hope…

As a full-time working parent and athlete who now also stays home with his two very young kids, I’ve been learning that such an endeavor can be both doable and actually pretty fun.

The secret?

In order to be successful, you will need to be willing to get creative, step outside of your comfort zone, and embrace an iterative process that is constantly evolving as your kids grow and change.  

Below I’ve outlined the three most common struggles I’ve found my fellow parents face when trying to stay fit, and of course, creative, fun solutions for how to handle each of these challenge.

Let’s start with the most common: Time.

Struggle #1: “Ain’t nobody got time for working out!”

When I first became a parent, I was absolutely shocked at just how much time was required to properly care for a single child.

The diapers, feeding, crying, playing… This tiny little child that couldn’t even move from where you set it was utterly exhausting. Adorable, sure, but exhausting.

When we had our second, the time commitment was doubled or tripled, and so too was the exhaustion.  

I realized that in order to maintain my desired level of fitness, I was going to have to get both creative and highly efficient with my use of time.

1. The Solution: Reframe Your Time

I quickly discovered how much time I was actually wasting each day on frivolous activities like surfing social media accounts, checking emails, and other distractions. I was using them as a mental break from keeping a kid alive and fed, but in reality, those distractions were draining my time even further.

Eventually I learned that if you have 20 minutes to look at your phone, you have 20 minutes to do push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and anything else that moves you in the direction of your goals.

You may find that you can free up 30 to 60 minutes each day to exercise just by having this awareness and choosing movement over distraction.

A 60-minute workout broken into three 20-minute segments throughout the day might not look like your pre-baby workouts, but hey, that’s still 60 minutes of moving your body and building fitness.

The “When You Have a Few Minutes” Workout

Here’s an example of a basic strength workout you can try at home. If these exercises are unfamiliar to you, look them up on YouTube or consult a fitness professional. If you have any injuries or medical conditions, please consult a healthcare provider before trying any new exercise routine.

  1. 3 sets of push ups to failure
  2. 3 sets of pull ups to failure
  3. 3 sets of burpees (1 minute per set)
  4. 3 sets of kettlebell goblet squats (10-12 reps)
  5. 3 sets of planks to failure

If you were able to free up 30 to 60 minutes in your day, bust this out when you get a chance. If you will need to take the all-day approach, you could attack it like this:

  • Hold baby while you bottle or breast feed.
  • Put baby down in bassinet after burping and do a set of push-ups. If there is time, do a set of pull-ups on your door jam pull-up bar in the kitchen.
  • Hold baby and proceed with parenting until your next opportunity to pick up a kettlebell and bust out a set of goblet squats.
  • At nap time do a set of planks and some burpees between dish washing, showering, etc.

You will find that you can complete the full circuit I listed above throughout the course of the day and barely notice it. This strategy works just as well with toddlers and multiple kids. If you have older children, include them in your workouts and make sure they see that this is really important to you.  

Struggle #2 “I can’t work out when my 2-year-old is running around!”

If you’ve spent any time with kids, then you know the energy of toddlers can feel overwhelming at times, and the chaos that ensues can seem all-consuming.

Even the thought of trying to do something other than hover over your child for the sake of their safety (and the preservation of your home!) will often seem impossible.

2. The Solution: Corral (Or Hand Off)

From my experience, there are two reasonable ways to deal with this issue. The first is to utilize a babysitter or a daycare service provided to you by a fitness center.

My family has a membership to the local YMCA, which provides free daycare to parents who need to drop their kids off for an hour while they hit the gym. Many other facilities do this, including climbing gyms. This is something that seems to work relatively well for most people.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a gym person, having the freedom to hit the treadmill, a spin class, or a weight room can be a beautiful thing for both you and your child.

Option two is the Corraling Method, which is the one I end up doing most often (since my kid has major separation anxiety).

First, baby proof a room of your choice. This could be a guest room, your kids room, a space in the basement, etc. Make sure it is truly safe for them, and then clear out a space for you to do some resistance training.  

If you have kettlebells, dumbbells, TRX straps, or anything else you like to workout with, bring them with you. Lock yourself in the room with your child, throw on their favorite songs (just please, not baby shark. No more baby shark…) and start exercising. They can’t escape, can’t get into anything dangerous, can’t crawl up onto anything, and most importantly, can’t keep you from working out.

They might crawl on you and try to participate, which is a fun way to include them in your routine, and something both of my daughters still love doing. In fact, when you can get them to participate, your chances of success go way up.

Safety Precaution: Please do not do any high-velocity kettlebell exercises like swings while your kids are in the room, and be acutely aware of their location at all times. Save the dynamic exercises for a safer environment.

The “Kids in the Room” Workout

Here’s a strength workout you can try at home with your kids right in the room:

  1. 3 sets of dumbbell chest press on a yoga ball (10-12 reps)
  2. 3 sets of upright rows to failure with TRX straps
  3. 3 sets of jumping squats with a weight vest (10-12 reps)
  4. 3 sets of hanging leg lifts to failure from your pull-up bar
  5. 3 sets of Supermans to failure  

Struggle #3 “I don’t have the money or space for a home gym!”

As much as TV would make you think otherwise, a home gym doesn’t have to look like a miniature CrossFit studio to be effective. And you don’t have to drop several thousand dollars to build one, either.

In fact, between a few simple tools and your bodyweight, you have everything you need.

3. The Solution: Focus On A Few Key Pieces Of Equipment

I built up my modest home gym over the course of several years, getting discounted equipment at places like Play It Again Sports, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and local gyms that were either closing down or updating their inventories.

Here are a few things I recommend you start with to get the best bang for your hard earned buck:

  1. A pull up bar. You can get these for less than $30 on Amazon, and all you need is a door jam to put it up in, preferably one you walk through many times a day as a reminder to stop and do a set.
  2. Can’t do a pull up? Get some resistance bands to help you work up to it. And those resistance bands can also be used to do a wide range of other exercises, further increasing their utility.  
  3. Used kettlebells: One that is light enough to do upper body exercises with and another heavy enough to stress the stronger muscles of the lower body. Look up kettlebell exercises on YouTube and go to town (with proper form and safety in mind please!). Kettlebells are by far some of the most versatile and effective resistance training tools on the market. If you aren’t into kettlebells, get a few sets of dumbbells at varying weights.

That’s it! That’s all you need. But of course, if you want to keep going, here’s everything else that rounds out my home gym:

  • A set of used TRX straps so you can do full-body workouts at home and while traveling. And that pull-up bar you just got? The TRX straps hook right to it. I take mine on any trip where I won’t have easy access to a gym. I’ve hooked them to monkey bars at school playgrounds, off tree branches in the woods, in door jams in people’s basements and even in the door jams of parked cars (my cars of course).
  • A weight vest can be a great addition to a home gym because it adds further resistance to bodyweight exercises and stimulates important adaptations. I like to wear mine when doing pull-ups, burpees, planks, push-ups, air squats, jump squats, jumping jacks, and yoga poses. I even wear it often when hiking, especially if I am going to be doing any hill climbing. There are many different brands out there at varying prices. Look for used, and make sure you get one that allows you to add or subtract weight so you can work up gradually.

And finally, if you are looking for cardio equipment, I am partial to stationary bikes for home gyms because they are significantly cheaper than treadmills, ellipticals, or rowing machines. They are also easy to move and take up very little space if you don’t have a lot of room. You can find reputable brands like Schwinn and Nautilus at Play It Again Sports for very affordable prices.  

Now you may be thinking, “look Aaron, I’m a freakin TRAIL RUNNER. I don’t ride stationary bikes in my living room.”

I didn’t either until I had kids and was forced to get creative. Learn to embrace it, and remember that the change is temporary.

The “Minimalist Home Gym” Workout

Try this strength workout utilizing the equipment above:

  1. 3 sets of standing kettlebell shoulder press (10-12 reps)
  2. 3 sets of standing chest press with TRX straps (10-12 reps)
  3. 3 sets of standing lunges with weight vest (10-12 reps)
  4. 3 sets of pull ups to failure using resistance bands for assistance
  5. 3 sets of Turkish Get-Ups with a kettlebell (8 reps on each side)

It’s Not Easy, But It’s Doable

While you’re bound to face other challenges as an athletic parent, keep this in mind:

The process should be fun, flexible, and as inclusive as possible with your children. This is your opportunity to lead by example and establish some important standards within your household.

With enough emphasis on time management, some creativity, and a willingness to step a bit outside of your comfort zone, it has been proven possible time and time again that most parents can achieve their fitness goals even in the midst of demanding parental duties.

Including you.

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HEAVY METALS INFO

By definition, heavy metals are usually metallic chemical elements with a relatively high density that are toxic or poisonous at low concentrations. Examples of heavy metals include mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), thallium (Tl), and lead (Pb).

While that sounds scary, most of these substances are found in nature and, unfortunately, that means they're in our soil – often in abundance. That means some will invariably be absorbed into fruits and vegetables grown in that soil. (And "organic" products are no less at risk of contamination than conventionally grown.)

There are, of course, limits set by the WHO and the FDA, for how much of heavy metals should be consumed daily with no adverse effects. Since these are naturally-occurring substances, the human body has evolved to deal with them, as long as the intake is relatively small and all systems are functioning properly.

Still, most of us would prefer to exclude these dangerous elements from our food. That's why the State of California went a step further with their Proposition 65, setting the acceptable levels at 1/1000 of the "No Adverse Effect Limit," on average.

Heavy Metals In Plant Protein

A few years ago, The Clean Label Project™ published a study examining 134 plant-based and animal-based protein powder products from 52 different brands. The organization looked at over 130 toxins, including heavy metals, BPA, pesticides, and other contaminants.

Across the board, they found a range of unsavory elements that are tied to adverse health outcomes. And some of the plant-based options ranked the worst.

According to The Clean Label Project™: “Contaminants are the result of sourcing and production practices. Contaminants can be found in soils because of pesticides and mining run-off (ex. heavy metals) and can be absorbed into plants just like nutrients. They can also be the result of the manufacturing process (ex. BPA/BPS is using the lining of cans and containers and leach into the protein powder.)”

This is indeed disconcerting, although there have been questions raised about the methodology used in the study, the reporting and the ranking. (For instance, the research methods were not published, and rather than listing actual test results, products were rated with stars.) What's more, there are potentially undisclosed industry ties between the organization. Some plant-based brands have also responded with their own 3rd Party test results which paint a different picture.

Regardless of all that, heavy metals and BPA in your protein powder are not something to be taken lightly!

When we created Complement Protein, we made sure we only used certified organic ingredients from sources regularly tested for heavy metals. (If you can believe it, some suppliers do not disclose this information - and those are the kind of people we absolutely do not want to work with!)

More importantly, the blend we created takes into account the range at which heavy metals may be present in each separate ingredient, and is formulated in such a way that, even at the higher end of this range, the total amount of heavy metals in a single serving will fall below the Prop 65 guidelines.

REFERENCES

1. Nutrition 411: Understanding the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) https://www.o-wm.com/content/understanding-protein-digestibility-corrected-amino-acid-score-pdcaas

2. Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score. https://www.healthknot.com/PDCASS.html

3. Building muscle: nutrition to maximize bulk and strength adaptations to resistance exercise training. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17461390801919128

4. Dietary protein for athletes: From requirements to optimum adaptation. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02640414.2011.619204

5. Protein turnover and requirements in the healthy and frail elderly. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16886097

6. When it comes to protein, how much is too much? https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/when-it-comes-to-protein-how-much-is-too-much

7. Heavy Metal Exposure from Foods. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1339/57eb1647c5217b417d64f36a4a317e137781.pdf

8. Heavy metals in food crops: Health risks, fate, mechanisms, and management. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412018327971

9. Evaluation Of Certain Food Additives And The Contaminants Mercury, Lead, And Cadmium.

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/40985/WHO_TRS_505.pdf;jsessionid=37E5E3EE524B5FA97C3A8C08EB3DA287

10. Proposition 65. https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/about-proposition-65