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Liquid Diet for Marathon Recovery

Recovery food for marathon should be easy to digest, so a liquid diet might be the best thing for you, writes Nandini Reddy.

After finishing a tiring race it is important to reach for the right nutrition to aid your recovery. A liquid diet might be gentler on the stomach instead of an all-you-eat meal. The bright neon coloured electrolytes are great but there is also an array of choices that are available from natural sources.

How to choose your recovery drink?

A recovery drink should ideally be consumed 20-30 minutes post the run. If you wait longer then that means that your body won’t repair itself fast enough. The choice of drink should allow for the most efficient recovery of your muscles. It should give you the right nutrients to restore your energy levels. Milk is a natural protein that you can consider having post your race. If you want carbs then you can get them from fruit or vegetable sugars. Sports drinks are also heavy on your wallet so these natural options are more economical to consider. If you don’t like artificial sports drinks then there rare plenty of options that you can consider that are naturally available.

Coconut Water – Coconut water is rich in potassium and is perfect to maintain water balance in the body and also assist the muscles in relaxing optimally. The natural sugars in the water give your body enough carbs before and after a race. It is best had either 60 mins before the run or after.

Chocolate Milk – This drink isn’t just a kid favourite but is also a great meal option for post-run recovery for marathon runners. It speeds up recovery and is better than any sports drinks you might consider. The mix is rich in calcium and Vitamin D that assist in muscle recovery.

Vegetable Juice – A 100% vegetable juice that leaves in the fibre is a great recovery drink. The fibre is light enough on your stomach and the nutrients and anti-oxidants that you will get will help relieve the stress. These juices have more potassium and sodium that sports drinks, making them the better choice.

Banana Shake – For the vegans you can try a shake made from coconut milk and bananas. Its a great alternative if you are lactose intolerant also. It gives you enough carbs and proteins that are essential for a post-run recovery.

Tea/Coffee – Caffeine will provide you with a jolt that you need to boost your running performance. Tea is rich in anti-oxidants and drinking a cup of tea or coffee 45 mins before or after a run will energize you.

These drinks are refreshing and can also recharge your body. So give the shot after your next race!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Training Day Diet

Your diet plays a big role on training days and becomes the deciding factor on how intensely you can train, writes Nandini Reddy

Training days before the big marathon race are the toughest on our bodies. Apart from water, we need to fuel our bodies with the right kind of nutrition in order to make the most of these days. The intensity of the run and the duration of your training run will correspond to a certain number of calories that you will burn. So that means that you need to replenish your calories accordingly.

If you are in training your calorie breakdown would be

  • 70% of calories used will be from Carbohydrates
  • 20% of calories used will be from Fats
  • Remaining will be from proteins

Keeping this in mind you need to split fueling your body into the day before the training, a pre-training snack and a post-training snack or meal.

Day before Training

The idea is to increase the energy stores or glycogen stores so that you are adequately fueled to handle an intense session of running. The choice of carbohydrates should be the complex variety. Pick whole grains, high fibre vegetables, dals and yogurt. You can snack on high water-content fruits in between such as apples, oranges, water melons, etc. The idea is to ensure that you body gets a power-packed nutritional meal instead of just carb-loading.  Also don’t experiment too much with foods. Stick to a normal routine diet that is easy on your stomach.

Pre-Training Snack

A carb-rich snack just before you start you race is good idea. A peanut butter sandwich is a great choice for a pre-race meal. You can also have a fruit smoothie which would pack your stomach and also give you plenty of nutritive energy boosters. Eggs and whole grain cereals are also a good option for a pre-race meal or snack. The idea here is to eat something healthy but light so that you feel energetic during your run and not uncomfortable. If you want to have something to boost your energy during the race then bananas and almonds make the best snack options that are easy to carry.

Post-Training Meal

Ideally you should eat within an hour of finishing your training. The post-training meal should have more protein content and less carbohydrate content. If you cannot eat a big meal, start with snack like yogurt and fruits or a whey protein drink. You also need to replace lost fluids at this time so its a good time to chug down that bottle of water. If you are having a nutritious meal then you do not need an electrolyte post your training.

Never use running as an excuse to binge on unhealthy foods that are high in calories. Eating right will give you more energy to have intense and longer training sessions rather than simple energy bursts that will make you feel dull after the high comes down.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Recovery Foods for Cyclists

An essential part of your post cycling recovery is eating the right food, so what can you eat asks Nandini Reddy

Glycogen are the stores of energy you burn at the end of your long ride. So the most important recovery is to replenish these glycogen stores. Water, carbohydrates and proteins become the most essential foods to include in your recovery phase. The one thing to remember is that recovery food is not everyday food, these are the foods at give you instant energy and a punch to your flagging system.

The recovery food that you eat has a purpose, you should understand that it is needed for

  • Repairing the muscles with protein
  • Replenish energy stores with carbs
  • Getting your carb:protein ratio spot-on

A few suggestions on how you can recover quickly after a tiring ride beside a long nap include:

  • Chocolate Milkshake – This is the most optimal food and this is about the only time you can have it without guilt. A chocolate milkshake has a carb to protein ration of 4:1 and can immediately replace the used up glycogen aside from hydrating you as well. The immediate energy and endorphin boost from chocolate is also useful. When someone tells you to drink a chocolate milkshake, don’t ask too many questions!
  • Rice – Please indulge in the most simple carbs like rice. Its easy to digest and provides the right kind of energy. The high Glycemic Index of rice makes it the perfect recovery food. Include dal as an accompaniment with the rice to ensure you get the best combination of protein and carbs.
  • Eggs – Eggs provide significant protein and you can even carry boiled eggs with the shell with you during your ride and have it immediately after the ride as a quick recovery food. It is a favoured food for trekkers and other endurance athletes alike.
  • Root Vegetables – All root vegetables are great for carbohydrate loading. You can have it as a dry roasted snack or as a curry with rice. These vegetables are also rich in fibre, beta-carotene, vitamin C, manganese and potassium.
  • Nuts & Nut Butters – Nuts, dry fruits and nut butters are ideal for a post-ride snack. They are high in fats and protein and can help recover the glycogen levels quickly.
  • Whey Fruit Smoothie – Whey is a great recovery food and is a go to food for many cyclists. You can improve the nutritive value of whey by making a smoothie using fruits.

Never scrimp on post recovery calories because you are trying to lose weight. Training days need higher than normal carbs in order to fuel your body to complete the endurance task. You can avoid unnecessary snacking and stick to fresh foods for recovery.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Ensure Adequate Fuelling

Shiny Surendran, the city’s leading sports nutritionist, talks to Radhika Meganathan about what is important for runners to ensure adequate fuelling.

Shiny Surendran wears many hats. Not only is she a certified nutritionist and a published author, she also is the first Indian to be awarded Graduate Diploma in Sports Nutrition from International Olympic Committee, possesses a masters in food service management and is the Chairperson of the Website team of Indian Dietetic Association. Today, she speaks to The Finisher Mag about the kind of foods to eat and avoid when it comes to running

In your opinion, how does an avid runner err in terms of nutrition and eating habits?

I have often noticed that a group which runs together usually has a team breakfast post run. Sometimes with all the group energy, they might eat more than they have expended during the run! Portion control is a good thing to keep in mind if you’d like to maintain your peak running stats.

Some runners overeat carbs and not include enough protein. Another point to ponder is not getting adequate Magnesium and Omega 3 fats. These mistakes can be easily rectified by mindful awareness about nutrition, and more effectively, by consulting a nutritionist who will analyse your body type, health stats and suggest the best diet for you.

What is your recommended power foods for pre or post run?

A fruit milkshake such as apple / banana milkshake (use almond milk if you are lactose intolerant) is great for pre workout / post workout drink. For pre-/post-run meal, keep to complex carbs such as oats or Multi grain porridge mix, with fruits and/or nuts in it. Since most of our climate is tropical, watermelon and pomegranate juice are good for anti oxidants, aids recovery with phyto nutrients. And then there is the affordable and nature’s bounty coconut water which is excellent for hydration plus electrolytes.

What kind of food is best avoided by runners?

I’d have to say, fibre rich foods, raw salads, and sprout salad, especially before a run. Runners should also avoid legumes like peanuts, rajma, white channa, gas producing foods like cabbage. As a general nutritional guideline, athletes are recommended to avoid white sugar, maida, food with artificial colors and flavours. And I recommend avoiding fruit juice, ice cubes made from tap water, raw chutneys or raw salads if you are in a new city for a run. Chances of food poisoning or gastric infection is very high, so be on guard!

What is good for recovery nutrition?

Hydration is very important to replace the salts lost and vital for recovery. I advise runners to drink at least 1 litre of sport drink after the run, especially if you live in a city which is hot and humid. In case you have high sweat loss, it is a good idea to include pickle, papad, and salty seafood dishes which have high levels of sodium.

Recent opinion is that low carb diets like paleo or keto are harmful for runners, since runners need carbs for fueling. Is this true? 

A former colleague and a fitness professional would eat a full south Indian meal 2 hours and run very well at long distance events. Somehow when he implemented the sport nutrition principles of eating 4 hours before the run, did not work well for him. The fullness / satiety helped him run well. He defied all principles of sport nutrition!

The reason I am mentioning this here is to stress that we are not all cut from the same cloth. Body types and their response to carbohydrate rich food are different. Our body has large amounts of fat which could be tapped for energy. People who are insulin sensitive can eat carbs in moderation but the ones with insulin resistance will benefit from Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diets. This will have NO adverse affect on their running efficacy.

You mean, runners do not need carbs at all?

As I always say, everything in moderation. My stance is that carbs are not indispensable, nor is it a bad word. Do consult a certified nutritionist before changing your diet or training, and find out what kind of body type you have. People have varying levels of insulin resistance – the ones who really struggle to lose weight in spite of eating healthy complex carbs and good dose of protein and fibre – they will benefit a lot from LCHF diets. During off season they could try LCHF until they reach ideal weight and then before competition training, they can reload carbs moderately.

 Did you notice anything interesting while training runners or athletes? 

While working in YMCA sports medicine department, I observed physical education students drinking aerated drinks with glucose added to it for that extra boost of energy. Little did they realise, they would have sugar levels crashing after 20-30 minutes. I of course told them to avoid this type of stimulating drinks.

A recreational runner that I knew got severe stomach pain while running. She experimented and found better results with electrol than the commercial sports drinks. My brother’s friend would consume fermented rice mixed with buttermilk every morning and run marvelously well. He was the best runner in school. Simple carbs worked well for him. One needs to experiment to find what suits their body types.

 Can you give some nutrition tips for our runner readers?

  • My first tip would be to eat real food. Not the one that comes in plastic or dripping in additives/sauces, but the food that is closer to what has been made in your home for years. Freshly made, with local ingredients and love and care.
  • Experiment during non-competition days. Figure out what works to optimize your running. Create a template of foods that enhances your running. Stick to it.
  • Pure vegetarians (lacto vegetarians) should consider whey or plant protein options to pep up recovery and build muscle mass
  • Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and B complex, Omega 3 fats are very important. Eat lots of red- and green-coloured locally available greens, such as radish and turnip greens, agathi keerai, drumstick leaves (moringa leaves), spinach, manathakkali, etc which are all excellent source of Magnesium, calcium and iron. Especially if you are a vegetarian who does not eat much vegetables (sadly this is more common than you’d think, many vegetarians consume a lot of carbs at the expense of vegetables) you MUST pay attention to your daily meal plan.

Balance is the key. You don’t have to deny yourself your favorite stuff, just make sure you enjoy all foods in moderation. Do not ape latest trends!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Gluten-free diet for runners – good or just a fad?

Being Gluten Free is no longer a diet fad and has become a lifestyle change for many, Deepthi Velkur writes about what it means for you to go gluten free.

Gluten-free diets are gaining popularity among the fitness community. The effects of gluten-free diets may not necessarily provide the benefits many athletes hope will give them a competitive edge. Sports nutrition experts believe enhancing nutrition does not mean avoiding gluten – a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Here’s what runners need to know about going gluten-free.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a stretchy protein that is found in grains, especially in wheat. A vast majority of our gluten consumption comes from bread, pasta and baked goods. Other grains that contain gluten are barley, rye, and oats. You’ll also find gluten in ice cream, sweets, processed meats, alcoholic beverages and condiments such as soy sauce.

So should you go gluten-free?

Embracing the gluten-free diet is a medically necessary diet for individuals with celiac disease or related disorders. Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease, where the body starts attacking the lining of the gut when you eat gluten. However, there are several non-celiac athletes who have cut out gluten from their diet and claim to have far fewer intestinal issues when they run, and even say that it enhances their performance.

Now, there’s no medical evidence that proves going gluten-free leads to enhanced running performance, but there is evidence of the potentially harmful effects that gluten can have in some people, for example, gluten can cause inflammation and irritation in the intestinal lining. Statistically speaking, nearly 90% of distance runners suffer from some form of digestive discomfort mostly cramps, diarrhea and bloating during or after exercise – cutting out gluten may help this issue in some runners. Other amateur runners also report they feel less brain fog, less muscle and joint aches, better sleep patterns, and more energy levels when they cut out gluten.

Is the diet workable with the Indian food plan? Yes, says a qualified nutritionist Naini Setalvad “We have many substitutes like bajra, jowar ragi, rajgira, singhada atta, white poha, kurmura and sabudana,” she explains. Food grains such as soy, quinoa, corn flour, millet, arrowroot, amaranth and rice flours all go with the gluten-free diet. Nevertheless, she warns, “If you stop dairy, as an Indian, you would feel less full”.

According to Priya Karkera, a dietitian and nutritionist expert “Milk can be replaced with almond and coconut milk and quinoa, a cereal, can be used to prepare khichdi, upma, and kheer.

Grains are an important food source of carbohydrate, which runners require to boost their training and recovery. Runners going grain-free often develop symptoms of overtraining syndrome, including persistent exhaustion and deteriorating performance.

The final word

If you’re thinking of going gluten-free, the big question is can you manage one? There is no evidence to support that this diet boosts performance. When you cut out a large food group, including food with gluten, your compromising on your health and its nutritional balance. Always consult your doctor or a health professional before changing your diet drastically.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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A Vegetarian Diet for Runners

A well-planned running diet can be very effective even if it doesn’t include animal protein, writes Nandini Reddy

Runners need more calories and optimal nutrition to ensure that they have enough fuel for runs and recovery. All diets need not have animal products and vegetarian diets can be as effective for runners. What one needs to remember that the diet should have vitamins, minerals, fats and protein aside from carbohydrates and fats.

Why you should consider a vegetarian diet?

Vegetarian diets have a high amount of carbs and fibre and are rich in Vitamin C and folate. Runners who are vegetarians also find it easier to maintain a lower body weight thus their joints take less pounding when they run. A well-planned vegetarian diet will have your daily calories and nutrients coming from fruits, vegetables whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds and diary. A runner would need a 2500 calorie well-balanced diet with about 70% of the calories coming from carbohydrates.

Suggested foods

  • In your every day diet ensure that you include enough plant proteins from beans and diary.
  • You can meet your daily protein requirements with protein drink that contain whey.
  • Complex carbs like jowar and bajra release energy slowly and are great for runners.
  • The biggest nutrient that vegetarians lack is Vitamin B12 which is essentially found in animal protein, but you can include fortified soya or rice milk to get your daily requirements.
  • If you like rice, then you might want to switch out polished rice to unpolished rice or red/black rice.
  • Palak or spinach is a great source of Vitamin C and iron, two ingredients that are essential for runner endurance.
  • Curd is a great source of calcium and can be included as a lassi or buttermilk or during lunch.
  • You need to ensure that you have fats in your diet. Olive oil, rice bran oil, avocados and nuts are great sources of fat.
  • Natural fats help lubricate your joints and it is important for runners to have healthy joints.
  • Nut butters are also a great source – you choose between peanut and almond butters. They can be added to smoothies or just spread on toast. If you are creative, then you can make a salad dressing with them.
  • Diary and derivative so milk like paneer are good sources of protein but they have an upper limit of consumption every day. If you are looking at building body mass, then full fat milk should be included.
  • If you are vegan the you can opt for almond milk and rice milk
  • Sprouts make for a great snacking option

Sports nutritionists today are open to planning diets that are vegetarian and cover the protein requirement that is essential for runner endurance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Summer Foods for Runners

Summer is the time for runners to indulge in food, thus making it the best season for runners, writes Nandini Reddy

Hot and humid weather is always a big deterrent for runners. As the sun bears down, there is one
aspect that runners do love about the summer – the ability to indulge in summer foods. Getting
dehydrated and exhausted in the summer is easy. We get the freshest fruits and vegetables to
indulge in every summer and these help in lowering the core temperature and refuelling our bodies.
Refreshing the body doesn’t need electrolyte drinks, tabs, powders and pricey bottled drinks during
the summers because of the availability of fresh foods in abundance.
Sweat doesn’t just remove water from the body but also essentials nutrients. So, it is important to
eat the right kind of foods in the summer. Generally hot weather tends to kill appetite and its very
important to ensure that you get adequate nutrition. Even if don’t feel like indulging in a heavy meal
of protein and carbs, you should include the below foods.

Fruits
Summer brings a whole host fruits – watermelons, mangoes, strawberries and plums. Watermelon is
the best fruit for ensuring that you hydrate and regain your nutrients. Lycopene content in the fruit
helps in preventing sun damage to the skin cell. Plums help in improving the immune system and
prevents summer diseases. For runners it’s a great fruit for ensuring a healthy gut. While mangoes
need to be consumed in moderation, this fruit is rich in selenium and iron, thus making it a very
important addition to a runner’s diet.

Vegetables
The vegetables with high water content such as cucumber, zucchini and all the gourds, make for
great summer foods. The foods are good for digestion, replenish lost nutrients and helps in purifying
the blood. All the vegetables have a cooling effect on the body and help reduce the core
temperature. Leafy vegetables like Spinach and Amaranth are good to fight off the ill effects of
summer.

Smoothies
The berries in the summer are perfect for summer smoothies. You can combine strawberry with
yogurt or almond milk to create a nutritious smoothie that makes for a great post-run drink. The
popular mango lassi is also a perfect drink to beat the summer heat. Dark chocolate is also a great
addition to your smoothies. This is the best food to quell hunger pangs and it packs a whole lot of
nutrition.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are the best as they provide the right nutrition that you need to
rehydrate and fuel your body for your running training during the summer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Recovery for Senior Runners

Senior runners often battle fatigue more often than their younger counterparts, so what kind of recovery can help, asks Nandini Reddy.

For any runner if the body is allowed ample rest and nutrition then it recovers more effectively. Older runners will experience greater damage to their muscles when they have finished a half or full marathon. The extended recovery time should be accounted for in the training itself.

The Rest Period

The rule of thumb for senior runners is 1 week of recovery for every 10k run. For a full marathon it is important to get a full 4 weeks of recovery with little or no strain on the body. The light recovery exercises can include stretches, body weight training and walking. If you have run a full or half marathon, try not to do any sort of exercise for the first week. After that you can start working on light exercises that utilize your body weight and are low intensity. After the recovery period is finished you can also consider adding weight training to ensure that your muscles are strengthened.

The Nutrition Factor

There can be no recovery without nutrition. In the early recovery phase, pay more attention to carbohydrates and proteins. These will help you recover faster as the glycogen is required for your muscles to rebuild and repair damage.

Sleep Factor

Sleep is an important recovery component and getting at least 6 hours of sleep is mandatory if you are in the recovery period. Your muscles have the maximum recovery while you sleep and your body recovery tends to slow down if you do not sleep well. So remember getting that shut eye might just be the one factor that you are missing in your recovery routine.

Use a Coach

Sometimes our ambition might get ahead of us so it is important to have a coach who can monitor progress and give suggestions of exercises and running schedules that are suitable for your age and body condition. Even if you have run world famous marathons, the idea is to re-adapt your training to your current body and age. So its important to have a coach or at least be part of group so that you get tips on recovery and training runs.

While these are broad guidelines to recovery for senior runners, you need to remember that you should always listen to your body. If you need more time than your running partner then take it. There is no wisdom in causing further damage because of inadequate recovery.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Fuel for Senior Runners

As we grow older, we gain a new appreciation for our nutrition and our bodies and senior runners need to pay special attention to their diet, says Nandini Reddy

Beyond the age-related health concerns, senior competitive athletes need to be cautious about their nutrition. The competitive drive can be kept alive not by just training but also a diet that is suitable to the body at that particular age. There are few aspects that need to be understood in terms of energy requirements, slower recovery, adequate protein and hydration considerations.

Recovery Nutrition

Post run nutrition becomes very important as you get older. It aids in recovery and recovery is slower as you age so giving it a boost with post-workout nutrition is your best bet. Eating a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein within an hour of your workout is a great idea. Recovery is also enhanced if micro-nutrients are given prominence in your diet. Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Folate, Calcium and Vitamin E are the primary ones that you can include. You can get these from curd, milk, fish, legumes, whole grains and cheese.

Watch your fluids

Kidneys efficiency is reduced as you grow older. Their ability to decrease total body water, regulate salts and sense thirst will be reduced. Sweating also reduces as you grow older. In tropical climates like India, being aware of water intake is important. As a test during training, drinking 150ml of water every 30 mins will indicate how much water you really need on training days. If it is too hot and humid to run outside, training runs indoors might be more beneficial. If you can’t then just take the day off or run before sunrise, because putting pressure on your kidneys would not be the most productive idea.

Know your energy requirements 

When you hit your 60s everything changes in terms of energy requirements and metabolism. For most people activity will decrease with age hence their energy requirements might reduce. But if you are a runner the the amount of calories you require will be different from your younger self. You need to include fibre and fats into your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are the primary need. Fibre rich nutrition sources will also help avoid gut problems. The focus should be on including foods that improve performance. Any good nutritionist will be able to advice you on which performance promoting nutrition is good for you.

Medical Considerations

Older runners need to manage chronic conditions such as cholesterol, sugar levels and blood pressure. While many may be on regular medications, it is also important to ensure that the micro-nutrients are not compromised as a fallout due to the medication. Your doctor will be able to tell give you additions to your diet to ensure that you do not lose key nutrients such as sodium and potassium.

Adapting to training over the years will continuously feed your competitive spirit, so regardless of your age , if you get your nutrition right you will be running strong.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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