Monday, March 15

1/2 Marathon Monday, Part 4: Eating Well

Let me just say, diets and I, we don't jive.

I don't like diets. I never have. Fortunately, before having children, I never really needed one.

I LOVE food. Food and I, we jive, we tango, we dance. I've always had a healthy appetite, and by healthy I mean lots of the good stuff...but sometimes just LOTS of stuff in general.

Like many of you, the last couple of years have been hard in the arena of food and weight and exercise...especially when it came to being pregnant, gaining weight and post-pregnancy body issues and frustrations.

All that aside (all that body issue stuff is a WHOLE other topic, and potential future post), those who know me best could all very easily answer one question about me:

 "What are Lisa's food downfalls?"

There is only one answer to that question.

Carbs. Carbs. Carbs.

I love all things created carbohydrate. Potatoes in all it's many beautiful forms (french fries, potato chips, mashed, baked, home fries...mmmm, not sure I should be writing this at 11 p.m. at night!), bread...oh, bread...pasta, rice....did I say bread?

However, if any of you have read any of the weight loss literature in the last five years, most diets and weight management programs are quick to renounce the type of carb loading that I so love.

So, imagine my surprise when I started doing a little research about 1/2 marathon training and nutrition and I came across this lovely statement on marathon

"If you are on a low carb diet, then STOP. Carbohydrates provide the fuel for runners. Load up!"

So ladies, I mentioned in an earlier post that marathon rookie also stated that wanting to lose weight was not a good enough motivation and reason for wanting to run a 1/2 marathon...that you needed to dig a little deeper...Well, I just found all the motivation I need to run 1/2 marathons for the rest of my life...An encouragement to eat carbs. Hallelujah!

Alright, joking aside. I was really excited to read that little tidbit, but realize that everything must be in moderation...that I need to opt for more complex carbs (beans, grains, barley, oats, whole grain pasta and rice) and that if I eat them ALL the time I likely will have trouble losing any weight, and while it is not my main motivation for doing this 1/2 marathon, I am hoping to shed a few pounds.

 While I am no expert, I have been learning a few things about training and diet and how the two work together either for you or against you.

Generally speaking here are a few things your body needs to stay balanced, healthy and strong:

1. Vitamins: I don't know about you ladies, but as a mom I feel a little ragged these days. I try to get enough sleep, eat well, relax, floss my know, the important stuff...but it doesn't always happen. Therefore, especially since having children I have been depending more and more on a multivitamin.

Besides a general multi-vitamin, while you are training you need plenty of calcium and either find a supplement or load up on foods full of the stuff.

I also recently found out that, particularly because I live in the Northeast (Vitamin D is made naturally through sun exposure) that my Vitamin D level was dangerously low. It should be between 30-40, mine was 14...I'm now taking a 5,000 i.u. supplement a day until my level gets up to where it should be (my dr. initially prescribed me one 50,000 i.u. pill one day a week, but the idea of ingesting that much of anything in one day weirded me out, so my compromise was to pick these 5,000 i.u. pills up at Wal-Mart and take them once a day). Vitamin D is INCREDIBLY important and a deficiency can lead to all sorts of ugly things (read here), so next time you're at your Dr.'s ask if they can do a blood test to check this for you. I have a LOT more energy since I've started taking it.

2. Water: This one is simple, but one we can tend to neglect. If you are training, or even if you are not, you NEED lots of water for lots of reasons!

3. Protein: Protein provides the building blocks for muscle production. I'm running, but also weight training and it is important to provide your body what it needs to rebuild. See my post-run recovery suggestions below. Try to add more lean protein into your diet while you are new favorite is Stonyfield Greek Yogurt. It's pricey, but 1 container has only 110 calories, 13 g of protein and less than 14 g of sugar (compare to many yogurt with almost 30 g of sugar!). Also, turkey, lentil soup (yummy), and almonds among many other things.

Lastly, eating the right things at the right time is important for providing energy and recovery. A few things that work for me:

Before: something light. Before my long run on Sat. morning I had a Luna bar, a banana and 1/2 a glass of milk. This seemed to be just the right combo for need to find what works for you, but if you can sneak in some good carbs and a little protein, it will give you strength and energy.

During: I don't usually eat during a run, but have read that once you start running for more than an hour you need to introduce energy gels or bars and also keep hydrating every 30 minutes or so.

After: It is important to refuel within 30 minutes if possible. My new favorite is a protein powder mix my husband has been using called Muscle Milk. We buy the chocolate and I mix it with milk. I don't usually do the full two scoops, though as my runs get longer I probably will.  Afterwards I often eat some fruit and yogurt, or even an egg white or turkey sandwich.

A great suggestion from my brother (a trainer)- start keeping a little diary...what did you eat before or after a run or workout and how did you feel?  I'm going to do this this week.

So, my training last week in a nutshell:

Sun: 3 miles outside
Mon: off
Tue: 3.2 miles outside
Wed: stretch/weights
Thur: 4 miles outside
Fri: off
Sat: 7.2 miles outside! Did not set out to do this much, but was feeling good! 

By the way, my new bloggy friend Denise from Run DMT has agreed to write a guest post for next Monday! She is a momma who has been running races and training for some time now, and I'm really excited for her to share some of her encouragement and experience with us!  Check out her blog before next Monday and say hello! 

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