What To Eat When Training?

I want to feel as good as Will looks when I run!

I want to feel as good as Will looks when I run!

Today I was speaking with one of our Marine Corps Marathon runners about what to eat for optimal strength, energy and recovery when training and racing.  She mentioned she eats quite healthy – lots of raw food and lean cuts – but she wanted to know if there was more she could do to aid her body in this endeavor to prepare for race day this October 30th.

There are many different strategies when it comes to one’s diet.  I personally favor a vegan diet, many folks like vegetarian, many like fish and eggs, and many like dairy and meats.  I can share strategies and ideas for vegans, but I wanted to be a bit broader in this blog post.  A recent Runner’s World Nutrition e-newsletter article reviewed results of a 2008 Runner’s World survey taken by 4,034 people to see what the ‘masses’ ate and drank during training … not what is right but what is really consumed.

Here are highlights from the article, The Pack Rules: Eating and Drinking – Essential Advice from Runners and Readers by Yishane Lee.

1.  Eat Before.  If you’re heading out an hour or more, you need some fuel  at least 30 minutes before you run.

— I don’t eat before I run except for really long runs.  Then, I’ll have a bagel 30 minutes to two hours before.  If I’m going to be out for a super long time, I may eat something on the run.

2.  Or Sip Something. If you’re rolling out of bed, not starving, and only going for a few miles, you probably don’t need anything more than a few sips of whatever gets you going.


3.  Carry Candy.  You’ll need to refuel on the run if you’re going out for longer than 75 minutes. “I carry jelly beans and water for runs over 13 miles,” says Lisa Allison of Minnesota. Jane Cullis of Toronto prefers gummy bears, while Sarah Dreier of Appleton, Wisconsin, is a Swedish Fish fanatic.

My first marathon I carried orange slices.  My second, I gave in to using gels – 4 of them over the 26.2 mile course.  Make sure you test your gels before the marathon.  One brand caused me to have severe nausea – other brands worked well.

4.  Drink While You’re Out.  For runs less than 45 minutes, water is enough. Hour-long runs require replenishing with carbs as well as electrolytes, and sports drinks do the trick.

I don’t drink anything but water when I am running.  I do carry Celtic sea salt and eat that throughout my run to keep electrolytes balanced.

5.  Run to the Fridge.  Postexercise, aim to refuel within the “glycogen recovery window” of 30 to 60 minutes, says Len James of Savannah, Georgia. It’s when your body most needs the nutrients in order to repair muscle tissue and replace glycogen stores.

I like coconut water, fresh vegetable juice and high quality foods.

6.  Pour Chocolate.  A 2006 Indiana University study found that low-fat chocolate milk, with its optimal carbs to protein ratio, was just as effective as Gatorade at speeding recovery after exercise. And it doesn’t have to be cold.

Not for me!

7.  Carb Up.  Any complex carbohydrates you enjoy are a good choice the night (or day) before a race, long run, or hard workout.

Yep.  This is for sure the truth!  I like pasta.

8.  Be Wary.  Meat, dairy, high-fat foods, and fiber too close to your effort may make you just run to the porta-potty.

I’m all over being wary about meat, dairy and high-fat foods!  😉

9.  Be Boring.  If you do try something new, just make sure it’s healthy.

Agree.  You need to stick with what you know works.  Don’t try anything new.  Make your last long run in training the point of no return.

10.  Then Have Fun.  Reward yourself when you finish a long run.

But watch out about rewarding yourself for too long of a period after a marathon… that can go on for months and then you have excess poundage to work off!  I’ve been there!

Carb Faves (results from those polled)DSC_0122

Pasta 44%
Rice 9%
Bagel 11%
Energy bar 3%
Cereal 17%
Beer 16%