Problem with waking up at 5:30 to go to 6:30 yoga class: Iâ€™m exhausted. So exhausted that I finally succumbed to a mid-work day nap. And it was good.
When I woke up, I was a little surprised that my stomach was growling. I had eaten cherries right before crashing:
Very groggily, I stumbled into the kitchen and went for an oldie but goodie: a sandwich, a fruit, and a vegetable. Check, check, check off those food groups. 😉
I had a veggie burger on toast with spinach + ketchup:
And a vegetable salad:
Fueling for the Long Haul
Since I announced that I am going to train for my second marathon, Iâ€™ve received a few comments and e-mails on how to fuel for long-distance running.
Itâ€™s true. When you run double digits, you need to eat a lot to recover, refuel, and maintain your weight in the process. Like the time I ran 22.0 miles and ate a loaf of French bread + cream cheese on the hood of my car before even driving home. Yes. I ate the entire loaf.
As I discussed in this post – â€œPost-Marathon Bodyâ€ â€“ I lost a few pounds while training for the marathon (but nothing significant). I also lost definition, as you can see in the before and after pictures; you canâ€™t run yourself tone! This is why I plan to get serious about cross training the second time around.
However, when I wrote that post (two days after the marathon), I hadnâ€™t weighed myself for about two weeks. When I did finally step on the scale (I hate to weigh myself), I had gained about four pounds over my starting weight during the taper period.
This means that I fueled properly during training, but I found it extremely difficult to step down my eating (no more entire French loaves for a snack!) and ended up overeating in the two weeks proceeding the marathon. Also, I was still pretty hunger because I find it takes my body a few days to â€˜catch upâ€™ to my current needs once I stop intense cardio. I was also a little nervous and tend to eat more when Iâ€™m emotional.
So â€“ the question is â€“ how do you make sure youâ€™re eating enough without overeating and without driving yourself crazy? And not driving yourself crazy really is the big goal, isnâ€™t it? Youâ€™re training for a half or full marathon; the running and pride should come way before the scale. Always.
Hereâ€™s what I do:
- Learn to listen to hunger cues on daily basis <â€”this assumes you have a good history with food and hunger. If you have or have had an eating disorder, it might be more difficult to listen to hunger cues accurately. When I am hungry, I eat. If I finish a meal and I feel hungry shortly afterwards, I have a snack. Iâ€™m talking about real hunger, not â€œIâ€™m boredâ€ or â€œThat brownie looks tasty.â€ If Iâ€™m not hungry and itâ€™s not mealtime, I donâ€™t eat.
- Strive to eat a slightly larger meal + snack following a moderately long run. For example, if I run 8.0 miles, Iâ€™ll have extra peanut butter on my sandwich at lunch and also drink a Green Monster. Dinner might include an extra piece of toast.
- Refuel during my moderate or long runs. This is very important! When I run 7.0 or 8.0 miles or more, I always take in calories in some way: Gatorade, Gu, jelly beans, etc. The glucose is important for your muscular processes and will prevent physical and emotional burnout. I took in about 500 calories during the actual Disney marathon.
- Calorie count on long run days. A women who is my height and weight burns about 80 calories per mile of running. If I run a half marathon (13.1 miles), I burn just over 1,000 calories. Thatâ€™s a huge deficit and can be difficult to make up when youâ€™re eating whole, natural foods, especially voluminous foods like veggies and fruits, which take up space in your tummy. So, I typically calorie count on long run days to ensure Iâ€™m getting enough and not overeating, either. On long run days for marathon training, I easily take in 2,800 to 3,800 calories in a day.
- Remember it balances out in the end. If I undereat on a long run day, I donâ€™t really stress out about it (and certainly donâ€™t force food down my throat to make some calorie goal). Odds are that Iâ€™ll go out to dinner and want a fancy dessert the next day. Same theory applies to a day or two of overeating.
- Eat quality calories. This is the HUGE one and the primary reason I believe a lot of people gain weight while long distance training. Itâ€™s really tempting to eat back your calories in pizza, ice cream, and beer, but those foods donâ€™t have the nourishment of a veggie, brown rice, and tofu stir-fry. I aim for a variety of protein, whole carbs, healthy fats, and veggies and fruits. Of course you should use training as a fun reason to get a big treat after long runs, but donâ€™t go overboard everyday.
- Remember why Itâ€™s Important to pay attention. I definitely do not give this much thought to calories and energy intake on a daily basis. I just try to eat a variety of foods and listen to hunger cues. However, itâ€™s important to pay attention to calories during training because underfueling can led to injuries and make it difficult for your muscles to repair themselves.
Of course, Iâ€™m not a registered dietician, but this is just what work for me in my training. :) Do what works for YOU or what a professional advises.
How do you approach eating when training for an endurance event? Do you think running jacks up your hunger more than other sports? Whatâ€™s your favorite post-long workout meal? Are you an RD who can offer professional input on this subject?