Hard to believe March is almost over, meaning there are only about 8 weeks of training left until the Cleveland Marathon! If you haven't registered yet, HKCLE10 still gets you 10% off your registration! My training is still going really well! I just matched my highest mileage week last week (42 miles) but I actually did not feel like I even ran that many miles and I still felt fresh at the end of the week. That means the training plan is working! But rather than discuss the running side of the training or the cross training, I want to talk about fueling. And I don't mean what I eat during the runs, I mean my diet/nutrition in general.
I was hesitant to even make this post because I know there are so many opinions out there. But so many people have been asking me to make this post--I'm guessing because of the noticable weight loss I've had over the past few months. So I decided to make it (if for no other reason than to share all my food pics), but first, a few disclaimers (I am an attorney after all).
1. I am not a nutritionist, dietician, etc. and I do not have any formal education on diet/nutrition (although I am a biologist, so I do understand fueling and energy usage in that regard).
2. I am not suggesting that anyone follow a specific diet/copy exactly what I eat/etc. I am simply sharing some of my meals and what works for ME.
3. Pictures sometimes distort size/portions. Sometimes an angle may make a meal look smaller/larger than it actually is. Again, please do not copy a portion based off of a picture.
4. I have a gluten allergy so nothing in my diet includes gluten. For me it's a necessary exclusion, but it's not right for everyone.
Whew, ok now that that's all out of the way, let's talk about the good stuff! FOOD! So with the mileage beginning to increase, I know I need to be upping by caloric intake to make sure I have the energy to go the distance and to refuel after depletion workouts. But I also want to be smart about giving my body the things that work best for it to build muscle and avoid the marathon training weight gain.
So what works for me? Well it really breaks down to a few key changes.
1. Protein. I eat a LOT of protein. I try to center every meal around a key protein item.My favorites are tuna, chicken and eggs. But the biggest change I've made is to snack on protein. Whether it's a protein bar, almonds, or cheese, I find that it fills me up and keeps me full.
2. I eat a LOT. It took me about 23 years to learn that you can eat a lot and lose/maintain weight. I eat breakfast, a mid-morning snack/second breakfast, lunch, late-afternoon snack, pre-run snack, dinner, and dessert. For me a typical day looks like: (1) Greek yogurt and granola, (2) oatmeal, (3) salad, greek yogurt, cheese stick, apple, gf crackers, (4) protein bar and almonds, (5) sweet potato chips, (6) varies (see pics below), (7) bowl of cereal with almond milk or fruit and whipped cream.
3. I take in most of my daily calories by lunch time. They always say your breakfast should be the largest meal of the day, and they say that for good reason. When I was in college, I spent a summer living in Costa Rica, training for my next season of college volleyball. When I was there, they ate HUGE breakfasts. Like bigger than you could imagine. Then they'd have a pretty decent sized lunch, but dinner was just a little snack. After a couple weeks of that I was amazed at how full I felt all day, how well I was performing athletically, and how much energy I had all day long. So for the most part, since then, I've adopted that fueling strategy and for me, it works.
4. Fat is my friend. I used to think that high fat content was a bad thing. And it can be. But there are healthy fats. Like nuts, avocado, cheese, eggs, etc. When I stopped fearing these items I found that these things actually keep me full and give me energy.
5. Carbs at the right time. My mindset used to be "oh I run, so I can eat all the carbs all the time." That's wrong. But cutting them out altogether doesn't work either. So for me, its about balance. Pre-long run I carb up, but I also add more carbs in before a hard workout and then eat carbs after a long run or a hard workout. Because I've depleted those glycogen stores and so I've got to restock them. I just don't reload with as many as I had pre-long run. In between those types of workouts, I keep the carbs to a reasonable amount, meaning they are in every meal but they aren't front and center.
Obviously there's more I use in my fueling strategy, but these are the three key things I follow. As for some things I love/staples and things I avoid:
So that's my marathon training diet and it's definitely working for me. I'm excited to see how it works as the mileage continues to increase. Do you switch up your diet for marathon training? What works for you? Let me know in the comments!