As a runner, you already know that what you eat affects your performance. You know that a diet of cheetos, twinkies, fast food, and soda will slow you down, not to mention add a little pudge in places you don't want it. You know that eating protein helps you build muscle, and making sure you are hydrated is key to a good workout. You know not to try new foods on race day unless you want to hang out in the porta-potty. That being said, you may have a stomach of steel while your running partner may be very sensitive to certain foods. The key is learning what works best for your body while keeping yourself healthy and fit.
You log your miles and workouts, right? You keep track of each mile split on a tempo run, and each split for a fartlek, but are you keeping track of what you put into your body? By doing this, you'll likely begin to see patterns such as:
1. When I eat ice cream cake and drink martinis for dinner my workouts the next morning are typically less than stellar.
2. When I eat a balanced diet of protein, greens, and carbs my workouts and runs feel great.
3. When I forget to eat a meal, I feel tired (and grumpy).
4. When I do not drink enough water, my muscles feel fatigued and my workouts suffer.
5. Too much of a certain food means way too many bathroom stops on my long run.
6. I'm traveling today and forgot to bring any food along. McDonald's for breakfast, White Castle for lunch, and Five Guys Burgers for dinner didn't sit well with my stomach. I feel sluggish and unhappy. I'll be looking for healthier options next time.
7. I did a 15 mile long run and did not eat or drink anything after the run for 5-6 hours. I don't feel well physically, and I'm also mentally fatigued.
8. I ate a healthy dinner, slept for 8 hours, and my workout went very well.
You get the picture. Learn from these patterns to see what works best for you.
Training and competition require a lot of energy. This energy comes from carbs, fats, and protein in your body. If you do not consume enough of these macronutrients, your body will not be able to perform at the level you would like. Training induces controlled levels of damage in your muscles. Your body rebuilding stronger muscles is what leads to growth in muscle mass and increased strength and endurance.
A good diet is a lot like a good training program. Over time, it will help you produce the results you want to see. Since both diet and training programs are more important over the long run than in the short, both should be viewed as a big picture. It's hard to totally derail yourself in a few days. A few days of eating poorly will not ruin your racing form any more than taking a few rest days from your training program (we don't recommend doing this all the time of course). Don't be anxious about day-to-day. Just keep the big picture in mind. If you slip up and eat the nachos, the pretzel, and the hotdog at the ball game, it's okay! The world isn't going to end (although you may feel miserable). Just get back on track and remember how eating well and training right will help you nail that PR.
So - eat well, train right, drink lots of H2O, and don't worry if you slip up once in a while. No one is perfect - just try to maintain a balanced diet. Integrate a healthy diet with a good training plan and the right amount of sleep, and you're well on your way to success. Happy Running!
Who Picks the Topics?
Each week, we notice different things. We try to incorporate the questions we are receiving or the training issues we are noticing into our post(s) for the week. If there is something you'd like us to cover, let us know!