Today we are talking about nutrition. I wish I had some awesome insight to impart, but I struggle with nutrition, both in general and during a run, more than with anything else running related. I run most of my races with nothing more than nuun. If I do eat, I prefer foods like pretzels, animal crackers, cliff bars, fig newtons, apple sauce pouches etc. over things like Gu, but in a pinch, I’ll eat Gu or gummy bears. Any other run specific fuel has unpleasant side effects.
And when I’m not running? I so haven’t figured it all out. I try to eat unprocessed carbs, healthy proteins, and tons of veggies, but despite quite a number of attempts at giving up sugar, I’m still totally addicted.
Here are a few things I’ve figured out for the high mileage I run during training for my multi-day events:
1. Eat enough calories – If I don’t eat enough, I bonk on my runs. You know the feeling – you are running along and suddenly, you have nothing left. Your legs are like lead and you have no energy. If I’m not eating enough, this starts happening regularly on my long runs.
2. Don’t eat too much – Newsflash: marathon training is not a license to eat.all.the.things. I don’t care how rungry and hangry you are, keep the portions in check and choose healthy options. One of the best ways to make sure you do this is to not get that hungry in the first place. Carry healthy snacks so you can eat when you first start feeling hungry to stave off the shoveling of food in your mouth when you pass the point of no return.
3. Hydrate enough – I know I’m not the only one who misinterprets my body’s requests. Sometimes (often?) dehydration is the problem, not hunger. If I’ve had something to eat and am still cruising the kitchen for food, I try to have a glass of fizzy water or nuun to see if that stops the eating urge.
4. Eat real foods – I’m far from perfect, but I try to eat mostly unprocessed foods. Some days it’s hard, but I try to reach first for a piece of fruit or some cut up veggies when I’m feeling hungry. I might add a handful of nuts or some cheese if I feel the need for something more filling. My goal each day is to eat as few things as possible with ingredients that I can’t pronounce. I’m sure I’ve never had a “perfect” day, but it’s important to have a goal to strive for.
5. Chocolate is real food. So is beer. – What? We all have to have our vices. These are mine. I like them and they are staying. ;o)