Today on the show, I’m talking running and food with Ms. Katie Rosenbrock from Hungry-Runner.com.
Less Than Ideal Marathon Training
When I asked Katie about her favorite distance to race, she highlighted the half marathon as her race of choice.
But she also mentioned that her first (and so far only, though she’s got another one on her calendar) marathon was pretty difficult. When I asked her about the difficulty of her first 26.2, she told me that she was sick with the flu TWICE during her training for the race!
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, one of the weeks of training that she missed was her longest long run (20 miles) of the training cycle.
Talk about a bad break!
I have some experience in running a race completely unprepared, but I was woefully undertrained because I was stupid and simply didn’t train well enough!
While both of us struggled through the race due to less than ideal training, Katie was quicker to warm up to the idea of another marathon than I was.
Hopefully her next go at the marathon will go quite a bit more smoothly in the build up than last time!
The Roll of Nutrition in Training
Another aspect that Katie talked about, that is somewhat easy to overlook, is the importance of our daily nutritional habits on our training and our health.
Contrary to what many of us runners believe, just because you’re training for a marathon doesn’t mean you can eat whatever food you’re craving. Making healthy choices is important to your body to recover from your workouts, fuel your running, and keep your immune system firing on all cylinders during the build up to the race.
One thing to keep in mind is the importance of focusing on the nutrient density of the food we eat, and not the number of calories.
Aiming to eat a diet that provides plenty of nutrients (as well as a wide variety of nutrients) is important to keep all of our body systems working optimally.
While there may be no “right way” to eat for all of us, making sure that we are eating plenty of vegetables on a daily basis is typically a great first step for most of us.
We All Still Struggle With Eating Well at Times
In talking with Katie, I asked her about where she struggles when it comes to eating well on a consistent basis.
One of the things that she mentioned is some of the snacks that are available at work (for free!) that aren’t always the healthiest choices.
This is definite struggle for many people, because the temptation is always there.
One thing Katie does is try to keep some healthier options available at her desk to combat the temptation of the pretzels, goldfish, and other less than nutrient dense snacks that are around her all of the time.
Sometimes the temptation gets the best of her. Katie isn’t perfect, nor are any of us, but by simply having some better options available she is able to make better (i.e. healthier) choices on a more consistent basis.
When Katie Started to Focus on the Roll of Nutrition
Katie was a competitive swimmer growing up, and eating healthy wasn’t exactly the most important thing to her at the time.
But after college, she started working with a personal trainer that shined some of the light on the roll our food plays on our overall health.
And on the running front, there are lots of half truths, myths, and downright lies out there in regards to fuel and food.
One such “myth” that she’s seen first hand is the idea that just because you’re training for a race means you’re bound to lose some weight. Sure, a lot of people have lost weight during the course of their time spent running. But where runners get in trouble, especially newer runners, is when they think they can eat just about whatever they want because they are training for a marathon.
That’s simply not true!
It’s impossible for us to exercise away poor dietary choices (if we make those choices consistently), even if we are training for and running a marathon!
Another fueling “myth” that we talked about was the roll of the pre-race pasta gorge/carb loading “tradition” that many runners still practice.
While carbs are important as a fuel source (unless you’re keto), eating nothing but a bunch of processed carbs the night before the race may not be the best choice for your body.
Instead, eating higher quality carbs (like sweet potatoes) and some good fats and proteins is a much better option for most of us the night before a race, which is a strategy that Katie has definitely learned and implemented.
Figure Out What Works Best for You Via Trial & Error
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: we are all an experiment of one.
What works for me may not work for you, so it’s important to try different food/fueling plans during your training so you’ll be able to know what you need to do when it comes to race day.
Katie recommends keeping some sort of food journal while you are in the trial and error phase, so you can really pinpoint what things work for you. The journal doesn’t need to be super specific, i.e. down to the gram, but at least noting what foods you’ve eaten before a run, and how you felt during/after the run, can be a great way to learn what your body needs when it comes to race day fuel.
And remember, it’s always better to learn the hard lessons about what doesn’t work during a training run as opposed to learning that same lesson on race day, so keep experimenting until you find the right formula for YOU.
As Always, I’d Love to Know What Stood Out to You From this Episode! Let Me Know Your Takeaway in the Comments Below!
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