Training to run a marathon isn’t easy. Many of you reading this may have run a marathon. You know it takes time, effort and can be hard on your body, mind and spirit. What I find one of the most difficult parts of athletic training (taking into account bike training, duathlon training and marathon training that I have done in the past year) is diet! The food and fuel that I consume pre and post exercise has certainly changed in the year that I have dedicated to becoming more active. Food choices have definitely changed for the better. Not that I didn’t eat well, it is just that my eating has become more refined and am now eating things that are better and healthier for me. I am going to break down food into 4 categories and explain how they have changed.
I am a product of the sugar cereal generation of the 80’s and 90’s. Frankenberry, Boo-Berry and Count Chocula are my favourite. (However, they don’t sell these cereals where I love and god bless my family who stock up on these cereal at Halloween and offer them as gifts at Christmas). However, now I have replaced cold cereal/toast/juice for breakfast with oatmeal covered in a mixture of berries, greek yogurt and chia seeds, a protein shake (almond milk, pomegranate juice, frozen fruit, bananas, avacado, spinach, protein powder, flaxseed, chia seeds) and some toast. I noticed a big difference as I am now less hungrier earlier in the morning and stay ‘full’ longer into the day.
When I work, I am guilty of not eating my lunch. In my profession, lunch is my ‘busy time’ and it is often hard to eat any (not just all) of my lunch. That is my one goal when my vacation is over. I need to eat lunch. Lunch is also difficult because I don’t really like sandwiches! So lunch can be very creative. Eating after a workout, I usually eat a fried egg on a bagel with spinach, tomato and avacado followed up with some greek yogurt and a glass of water or two. That will be hard to replicate at work so I need to figure out a way to eat my lunch but to pack things that I want to eat!!!
We don’t eat out of a box. We eat a lot of fresh food and all dinners are made and not just turned on. We no longer eat lettuce as it is replaced with spinach. We have started to eat more leafy greens (Kale, Chard) and more of a variety of vegetables (beets, beans) and more legumes (lots of lentils). I have been a long time vegetarian so we have a variety of recipes that we rotate through to make sure we are eating a variety of foods. I love making soup and when I take the time to make something that is delicious, it often slides into dinner rotation (like the roast beet, peach and goat cheese salad) and becomes a regular dinner time staple!
I like potato chips. Nope. I am wrong. I I think I may LOVE potato chips. However, when I sit down to eat some chips, I don’t have a lot of will or resolve to have a few. I can down a family sized bag in less than no time (more or less). However, the next day, when you go to exercise, you feel AWFUL! so, I have replaced my potato chip snacks with a variety of healthier snacks. Apple sauce, yogurt, crackers and hummus, a bowl of cereal (Jordan’s is my new favourite) and of course, the cliff bar, lara bar and uber bar have become the snacks of choice. They are like chocolate bars for athletes!
This change has helped me to focus my diet on properly fuelling my body to ensure that I don’t get injured and I can recover quickly after workouts, whether they are long, intense, short or long! I eat more fresh foods, especially fruit. I eat less processed foods and am now more conscious as to what I put in my body
After a year of changing my diet and training, I feel better. More energized, less tired and feel like I can meet the exercise challenges and goals that I have set for myself. However, that is another story for another time
ps. Here is a great blog post that gives you 25 foods/snacks that to have and when to have them
Here is another great link with 10 essential foods for runners
For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/