Training Tip: Energy Food

Excerpted from Running With Joy:

Many people run to lose weight, but I maintain a delicate balance of staying lean while still fueling myself well. I often remind myself when I am training hard that yesterday’s energy in equals today’s energy out.

The body can absorb only so much in one sitting. I eat often (every two hours), choosing from fruits, veggies, and a balance of carbs, protein, and fat. I learned a lot from working with nutritionist Dr. Clyde Wilson from Stanford.

Dr. Clyde taught me that when carbo-loading, my body can store only about 400 extra calories from loading the day before, so there is no point in adding more than this amount to my typical intake. I also learned to spread the load over the two or three days before a race.

Living and training at altitude requires me to closely monitor my iron levels. I avoid calcium and wheat in conjunction with the iron-rich foods because they hinder the absorption of iron.

I also make sure I get enough omega-3 fatty acids. Instead of supplements, every day I add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to my cereal or eat some sardines, salmon, or walnuts. I also focus on foods that are naturally high in antioxidants, such as green tea, berries, cinnamon, and other antioxidant-rich food. Great recovery foods include pineapple, whey protein, and juice.

I try to avoid consuming a lot of sugar, but I still include it in my coffee, and like to end my meals with the darkest chocolate I can find (in moderation, of course). I eat lots of healthy rice and grains, as these provide the ready fuel I need. The healthier I eat, the more I crave such foods and enjoy giving my body high-quality fuel. I like to focus on what I can eat, not on all the things I am choosing not to eat. When I do make an occasional indulgence, I realize I don’t really miss the highly processed and refined foods that fill our supermarkets today.

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  1. Posted April 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m doing the Eugene half marathon in a few weeks and I am really excited to find your tips about what to eat a few days beforehand. Thanks!

  2. Heather
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I find this blog VERY helpful. My husband and I have changed our diet dramatically over the past few months training for our first marathon. May 1st, we run the Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins Colorado. I have been very nervous since our 20-miler, but reading this makes me think that my nutrition intake is right-on. Hopefully that will get me through on Sunday. Thanks Ryan! :)

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