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These Competitive Athletes Use Blood Testing to Guide Their Rest Days

By Jimmy Kennedy, CF-L1, November 22, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-11-21 at 6.50.20 PMWe’ve heard it before: couples who train together, stay together. And that is no exception for functional fitness athletes Alison Scudds and Raphael Durand. These InsideTracker users and power couple sat down with us to chat about how they eat, train, recover and use blood tracking to optimize their performance in and out of the gym. Here's what a typical day looks like for them, how they use InsideTracker as a training tool, and how important health tracking is for both the elite athlete and the everyday gym goer. 

 

Where Rufio and Ali's CrossFit journeys began

Raphael (Rufio), who was born in France, started CrossFit when a friend of his created a club at college. He was hooked after a single workout! Fast forward six years, he’s now a CrossFit trainer and full time athlete who has competed at the CrossFit Games at the team level and several times as an individual at the California regionals.

Born and raised in Ohio, Ali began competing in CrossFit about 7 years ago when she was looking to fill the void after retiring from competitive cheerleading. Like many of us, Ali was looking for a new way to stay in shape, train intensely, and scratch that competitive itch post-cheerleading. Having recently moved to California to live with Rufio, the pair now train together full time at NCFit Redwood City.

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Their typical training days have lots of variety—and lots of sleep

Although both athletes have separate coaches, their days are pretty similar. “My typical training day consists of a few areas. I usually start with an aerobic warm up that can be anywhere from 5-30 minutes and my first session begins with strength work or an Olympic weightlifting session,” says Rufio adding, “I throw in some gymnastics capacity work before doing some traditional CrossFit metcons that usually last an hour or two.”

Ali tells us, “My day is very similar to Rufio’s and I typically break up my day into 2 sessions of about 2-3 hours each. Training varies depending on the time of year and what I’m prepping for but those are my typical days.”

The pair finish the day off with 10-20 minutes of accessory work before heading home for the evening, where mobility and recovery work are always on the schedule. “Mobility and sleep are tools I use every day,” says Rufio. “Stretching and mobility have only recently become tools I utilize regularly, but it’s making a big impact on my performance. I feel sleep is essential, we don’t mess around when it comes to sleep, minimum 8 hours but we prefer 9 hours plus!” On top of this, Ali and Rufio occasionally visit a physical therapist for a massage or manual body work on one of their two rest days each week.

 

Their nutrition is a huge piece to the performance puzzle

They spend close to 5 hours in the gym every day, so nutrition has become a top priority for these athletes. Neither Rufio nor Ali follow a strict nutrition plan, but the couple definitely focuses on eating quality foods that replenish all the calories they burn and help them recover from training.

I used to count macros, but haven’t in a couple of years. In 2018, I felt like I was too light, and wanted to add weight. Since then I’ve put on almost 15 pounds of muscle,” says Rufio. “I’m not very strict around my diet, I enjoy what I eat, and try my best to get enough volume. Only recently have I been giving more thought to eating a variety of foods.”

Here's an example day of Rufio's meals:

 

Breakfast Eggs/egg whites, breakfast potatoes/waffles, broccoli/spinach, fruit
Lunch 8oz lean meat (chicken/steak), 2 cups of rice, vegetables
Dinner 8oz meat, 1-2 cups starch (sweet potato fries/rice), vegetables
Snacks Yogurt & granola, corn tortilla chips, beef jerky
Desserts & Treats Cookies, ice cream, chocolate milk

Since the two share a home together, their nutrition habits have become quite similar. Ali tells us, “I count macros loosely, I have done it for many years so I am pretty good at intuitively eating. I’d say I’m close to about 3000 calories per day. My macro breakdown is roughly 100 grams of fat, 160 grams of protein and 350 grams of carbs. I try to keep my diet well balanced with a lot of fruits, veggies and lean meats.”

 

Supplements also play their part

While both Ali and Rufio prioritize balanced diets with whole foods, they both use whey protein and creatine to supplement their intense days in the gym. Ali adds a carbohydrate supplement like cluster dextrin for added energy and to boost recovery, particularly on longer days.

If he’s preparing for a big competition, Rufio might add a few more supplements to his regime. “When I’m dialed in, I will also take magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin B complex. I’ve noticed a major difference in my mood when taking ashwagandha as well.”

 

Ali Scudds Rufio Durand2

They use InsideTracker to gauge training intensity and identify gaps

When it comes to CrossFit, both Ali and Rufio are looking for a leg up on the competition. “As a professional athlete, you’re trying to outwork your competition. What drew me to InsideTracker was the question of, is doing more making me better?” says Rufio. “In some cases, the answer is no. I’ve found through biomarkers like testosterone, cortisol and creatine kinase that doing more is not allowing my body to achieve proper recovery.

So instead of bashing my head into the wall, I use my bloodwork to evaluate whether my current volume is an effective dose of training, whether I can push harder or need to take my foot off the gas in order to make better long term improvements. For me, there’s nothing harder than being told to rest, but InsideTracker helps me understand why it’s valuable.” 

Rufio has been a long time user of InsideTracker, so when Ali witnessed the benefits he was reaping, she was eager to jump on board. “I’m always looking for the competitive edge and I’m interested to check in and make sure I’m as healthy as I feel! I’m really curious to see if anything is off the mark or that I should be more aware of while eating and supplementing.” The first blood test is always exciting, and Ali is now incorporating her recommendations for better health and optimized performance. 

 

Rufio made a critical change after his first InsideTracker test

Rufio tells us, “When I took my first test, I was really sluggish in the gym. I was feeling like I couldn’t push through a barrier and was always getting crushed in workouts. After getting tested and seeing the results, I decided to take a two week break from training. I came back and felt completely different. My body was ready to train and I could push myself past that boundary that I was hitting in training before getting tested.” 

I’ve always been curious about the supplements that I was taking and whether or not they had an impact on my biomarkers. Turns out they were. When I’m regular about taking my magnesium, vitamin B and vitamin D, my biomarkers reflect it! It’s good to have the confidence that it’s working, and we’re not just throwing our money away.”

 

Ali Scudds Rufio Durand

The most important changes they've made

“Some biomarkers are easier to approach than others. For example, vitamin D can be as simple as getting outside when the weather is nice, and supplementing with Vitamin D when you aren’t able to get outside. Biomarkers like testosterone are harder for me to optimize. When I’m overtrained, I’ve had to take time off, which has helped bring my levels back up. I’ve also been making a conscious effort to add more fat into my diet through avocado or nuts. One of the challenges of an athlete is getting enough fuel, let alone the right fuel.”

“With the recommendations and insights from my bloodwork, I can feel confident that making good choices consistently allows me to move my biomarkers in the right direction. That’s why I’ve continued working with InsideTracker. I can work towards these goals every day, knowing that I have a test coming up to identify my improvement.

 

Elite athlete vs. the everyday gym go-er—why blood testing is important

For the elite athlete, it’s a leg up. Every athlete is looking for a competitive edge. InsideTracker gives me the confidence that my body is prepared to perform, and that I’m doing the right things to prevent myself from running my body into the ground so I can keep training all year long.

For the everyday gym go-er, InsideTracker allows you to optimize your health. There are biomarkers like glucose or cholesterol that should absolutely be optimized for longevity. InsideTracker can give people the knowledge that they need to impact their health positively for the long haul.”

 

When in doubt, Rufio tests with InsideTracker

For me, whenever I feel like I’m hitting that wall in the gym, I do 2 things: get tested with InsideTracker and prioritize my recovery through nutrition and sleep. Once I get my test results back, I analyze where my body is at. Ideally, I can make minor adjustments to ‘ride the line’ and move back in the right direction. If things have gotten out of control, I’ll consider taking a break from training. InsideTracker helps me evaluate what I’m feeling mentally and helps me diagnose whether it’s negatively impacting my training, or if I can continue to press, while being careful to take care of myself.”

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