I’ve written a few posts on this in the past, but I think I’ll make this a bit more of a top level guide rather than going into detail on what I eat and when. My diet seems to be the most asked question on my blog, and this surprises me a fair bit, as most runners don’t seem to fret about it. However, I think they DO but just don’t talk about it much as they can be a bit embarassed about getting ‘the simple things wrong’ or it’s something they know they should do something about but just can’t get out of the routine they are in and the habits they have.
Firstly, my diet isn’t massively influenced by running, all running dictates is how much I eat! I eat 3 meals a day, try to avoid fatty foods, and get a good mix of carbohydrates, protein and fruit and veg. Variety is the name of the game and I eat a bit of everything. That’s probably the same as most people. I don’t count calories and I don’t worry about snacks.
So how do I change my diet to account for running 120 miles a week?
Well the first thing I do is try and graze between meals. Fruit, cereal bars, bagels etc. I get hungry pretty quickly so I try and make sure I’m keeping glycogen levels topped up between meals.
I also try and get electrolytes, protein, carbohydrates into mysystem as quickly as I can after hard sessions and long runs. This could be proein/carb bars (and I LOVE Clif bars – they are fantastic) or SiS protein shakes, or Shotz electrolyte tablets which dissove in water. These are high in salts and if you’re sweating a lot, you need to replenish your salts. After sessions where you put a lot of pressure on your body, you need to repair it and replenish it so it’s important to do this quickly.
I also use Argi+ right now which contains amino acids essential for muscle repair. When you’re training so often, you want to be repaired as quickly as possible and anything that can accelrate this process keeps the quality of training high and prevents injury. I’ve had really good experience so far, and recommend them greatly.
That’s pretty much it! I eat when I’m hungry and have no qualms about eating ice cream and chocolate, or a bacon and egg roll every Friday morning (!) as ‘rewards’ occasionally. The key for me is to mix up food groups and don’t obsess about anything. I know what I need to put into my body to keep training going and it’s fine to throw some ‘unhealthy’ things in there now and then. I find that I crave the foods I need anway – I love big pasta meals and potatoes and actually don’t want sweet things until after I’ve given my body what it needs.
I don’t stress too much about eating particular foods before long runs or sessions. we run at 8am on a sunday and so I’ll often just get out of bed, have a banana and get the run done. I’m a bit more particular before a race but I’m not too precious about being ‘100%’ for every training session. As long as I don’t feel sick and what I eat/don’t eat doesn’t affect the actual training significantly then that’s fine with me.
I find people stress a lot about getting their diet 100% right every day. If you just eat when you’re hungry, pay attention to what you need to put back into your body to replace the efforts of training, and don’t fret about the odd treat then you’ll be fine! I must admit, having an extremel talented ex-chef as a girlfriend does help, especially when she makes it her personal mission to keep feeding me after my sunday run! The most common line in our house on a sunday is ‘you haven’t eaten enough! there’s plenty more!’