Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Fuel for Running
One of the things I wanted to add to this blog are some reference sources for running related topics. Over the last year I have found quite a few I think are worth sharing. And I have found as someone that is going on my third marathon in a year (and working towards my second ultra in the same time period) I field questions frequently from "newbie" runners. What better source is there for credible and practical information about running than other runners? At some point I will try to figure out how to post these by topic down the side of the blog. With that said, here are some of my favorite sites I keep bookmarked.
All runners need good fuel to burn. I know, there are those that can seemingly eat anything and run great but for the vast majority of us that doesn't work so well. I like to think that I have always been a savvy eater. But when I ramped up my running routine I became quite familiar with the BONK. Something was missing. Good fuel. My one stop shop for all things nutrition related is No Meat Athlete. One of the things I appreciate about NMA is Matt's willingness to try new things and provide open and honest feedback about how well it works (or doesn't) for him. Matt is a guy that more or less ran his first marathon on a whim, bonked hard, and then was bitten by the endurance bug. He has experimented with being vegetarian, vegan, paleo, raw foodie and the list goes on. Clear explanations are given about how the food we eat fuels the body and he does his homework. Great recipes from his sister, an excellent baker and the best smoothie formula ever.
Here is a book that changed the way I look at food, The China Study.
Another good one full of fantastic recipes and food facts, The Passionate Vegetarian.
Now you might be thinking that I am some whacked out, tree hugging, pathchouli wearing liberal. Not entirely true. I am not a Nazi about my diet. On a day to day basis I simply try to make smart choices for me. I still love my ice cream on occasion, can devour a pizza, a plate of bacon and crave tater tots. Yes, I ate a hot dog at a baseball game this summer with my kids. An occasional step off the path is OK. I am more concerned with the big picture. What I am is a guy that went from a fairly typical diet to one based much more on whole foods and saw my running performance step up and my recovery time decrease. It's that simple. If I eat right I can run longer and faster and more often. One thing I have done is a 30 day vegetarian plan before big races. No meat at all, limited dairy (some yogurt and cheese), I still eat eggs (fresh from my free range chickens), lots of fruit, salads and whole grains. If possible I eat it raw. I have no issues with protein intake or energy levels and I get to drop a few pounds. This way during the taper there are no concerns about putting on excess weight. I no longer use dairy milk (I use soy, hemp or almond). I seldom eat meat, especially the red variety. I quit using commercial sports drinks last summer (I now use nuun and Nathan tablets or simply Succeed S! Caps and water). I bypass processed foods if possible. And no fast food soda, cola, or carbonated beverages. Except beer, which is a great source of choline, a nutrient needed for endurance performance. If I can buy it local I will. Fortunately, I live in a place where there are countless backyard gardens and small farms and a couple of quality farmer's markets. In the last couple of days I have enjoyed local Concord grapes (insane flavor), mixed greens for salad so tasty no dressing is needed, bulgur wheat bread and these great cheese curds. My simple rule is this, if there is an ingredient that I wouldn't eat by itself, all alone sitting there on a plate, why eat it mixed in with something else? Examples being corn syrup solids, fractionated palm oil and agar. I look at ingredient lists and avoid stuff I can't pronounce, hydrogenated things, anything high fructose and artificial sweetners. Grandma never made anything with those. I'm pretty sure I don't need them either.