Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Working on Nutrition for the Fall Race Season

My next scheduled race is coming up in just under two weeks. By then I will have had three weeks without races before my busy fall race season begins. I'm doing several half marathons this fall, as well as a number of shorter races from now until the end of the year (5Ks, 5 Milers, 15Ks, etc.). And then there's the big one: New York City Marathon, which I'm running as a charity runner. All the races leading up to NYC are training for NYC. Everything after NYC is just for fun.

I'm using this lull in between races to continue with my training plan. I'm still doing strength training and stair climbing. I'm still doing hill repeats and speed work. I'm also working on my nutrition. A recent weigh-in at my doctor's office was a wake-up call. I've gained too much weight in a short period of time. One reason for this is side-effects from a medication, but a good share of it is due to my poor food decisions. I have a problem with snacking. You know that "no one can eat just one" jingle from Lays Potato Chips? Well, that's me. It's not with potato chips, but it's with other snack foods. And even though the rest of my diet is fairly healthy, I've been really bad with portion control. No longer!

My new approach to eating is to have a whole fruit smoothie with protein powder for breakfast every day. I use 2 or 3 kinds of fruit, so I'm getting a good mix of vitamins, fiber, unprocessed sugar and carbs from the fruit, and protein from the powder. My new lunch is the refrigerator oatmeal that I used to eat for breakfast. It's full of whole grains and seeds and almond milk. More good healthy carbs and protein. And - it fills me up. Snacks, which were my downfall, are now healthy: I'll allow myself fruit or nuts, or maybe veggies dipped in a small amount of hummus (portion control, again). And dinner will be healthy recipes like what I have already been eating, but again - portion control. I'm on Day 6 of this new plan and it's going well. I do have some hunger pangs, but I welcome them as proof that the lower-calorie approach is working. I'm not starving myself, not at all. It's just that I never gave myself restrictions before, and now I must. It's interesting how I have found and maintained the willpower to improve my diet. I guess I needed to be 100% "in" both in mind and heart.

Refrigerator oatmeal dry ingredients: steel cut oats, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut flakes, blue spirulina powder; then I add the wet ingredients: almond milk, vanilla, maple syrup; looks funny but tastes great!
Usually I make berry-based smoothies, but this one was a fun change: coconut milk (the drinking kind, not the cooking kind), vanilla protein powder, banana, oranges; tasted like a Dreamsicle!

I'm still trying to figure out fueling for workouts. On my last couple runs I had some fruit before I went out, but I felt like I didn't have quite enough energy. I may need to do an energy bar and fruit (e.g. an apple). And for longer runs and races, I'll eat more the night before and morning of. I'll also fuel mid-race with gels and chews like before. It will be a bit of trial and error as I figure out how to do this and still maintain the overall reduced calorie diet.

What I'm hoping is that I drop a few pounds before my next race, the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon, so I can feel lighter and faster, and then a couple more pounds before the following week's race, the Prince William Half Marathon, at which I will be the 3:00 pacer. I'm not looking for miracles in just two or three weeks, but if I get the fueling bit right, I think my nutritional approach can make a difference in my performance. By NYC Marathon, there's potential for me to be significantly lighter and faster if I keep it up.

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