Nutrition For Runners


Eat to run/Run to eat

There are many reasons why people run. We want to get fit, we want to compete in races, we want some time out, or we want to lose weight and lots more. I discovered a long time ago, that I could run, and I could run a long way if I kept practising. I also discovered that I could run anytime that suited me and it didn’t cost me much to do it.  I found running was a good stress buster and after a while I liked the idea of training for and entering events as it gave my running a focus.

A few years into it though I also discovered that I never had to diet again! And over the past few years running has proved to be a good way to keep my weight at a steady level. I was about 15kgs over weight when I had my last child, 15 years ago. I couldn’t shift it, so I looked around for help. I joined Weight Watchers and after about 6 months lost the weight and become a life time member.

In the past 14 years I have never been on another diet and I have never fluctuated more than 3 kilos either side of my goal weight. All of this I contribute to my 'eating to run and running to eat' philosophy!

For me, I love all food, bad and healthy, and I enjoy a drink or two. If I cannot have those things I feel deprived, sad, irritable and lacking energy....therefore I refuse to diet…but of course eating and drinking everything I want, leads to weight gain.

On the other side of the coin, I don’t mind running, I can do it, it suits me and it gives rather than takes my energy. My theory on life is do what suits you and what you are happy with. I like to eat anything and everything, but I know I wouldn’t be happy if I was fat (I’ve been fat and I hated it), so what to do?? I run…I have calculated over the years how much I need to run to stay in a healthy weight range. For me who eats a lot it’s about 40kms a week. If I run less than that and continue to eat and drink the way I do, I find I start to gain weight, and over years if I have trained to 80 or 90km a week for a marathon, I have lost weight.

It can be very individual but everyone has their own limits and the ability to live a normal, healthy life and stay in the right weight range, but they need to find out what their equation is. Once you figure it out then it’s all easy! You may like healthy food and hate running, so you are happy to reduce your food  intake or give up chocolate if it means staying in nice warm bed every morning, that’s fine, if that suits you. When you find your balance, it’s good, but remember when you get out of the balance it could lead to weight gain.

Also it’s important that your equation involves things you like. You are not going to eat gojo berries everyday because you heard it was good for you if you hate the stuff…you just won’t do it. You are not going to go to the gym everyday for the rest of your life if you don’t enjoy it and find it boring, you just won’t do it.

So my advice is find something you can do and you don’t mind doing. I bet there is some form of activity out there you like and fits in with your lifestyle, but you have to enjoy it. For instance you may be a social person, so walking or running on your own doesn’t stimulate you enough. You may be a competitive person, so team sports suit you. You may hate working out with other people watching you, so the gym would be out, but early morning walking or running suits. You might be a music person, so would rather run alone and listen to your iPod. I bet there is something out there that is just right for you, if you say you don’t like any form of exercise then you probably haven’t tried the right one yet.

Now I’m also saying you don’t have to love it! I don’t always love running, sometimes I hate it, but I weigh up the pros and cons. I don’t mind it, I enjoy running with other Lazy Runners , I like it when I’ve finished! I like it when I’m training for something etc. You are not going to love all sports all the time, but at least if you like it is more likely you will continue to do it.

My eat to run regime has taken on a new level over recent years as I have taken to attending lots of events both in Australia and Overseas and I’m amazed at the catering at some of them. Now when I’m looking at entering an event or suggesting a tour for Lazy Runner one of my first prerequisite is what is on offer to eat and drink during and after the run. In South Africa, it was like a smorgasbord along the route, potatoes, fruit, lollies and every drink was on offer on the course, even Sambucca shots if you like to have a tipple and run!. In Bangkok, we had a dish of stirfy prawn and vegies shoved under our noses as soon as we crossed the finish line, and all washed down with buckets of ice cold Pepsi and don’t get me started on the Los Vegas buffets!

I'm pleased to say that many Lazy Runners share my love of food, and also know that running is a great way to maintain a healthy weight. However, last year I met my match in the ‘eat to run/run to eat’ competitive category, when I took a group of Lazy Runners on the Warwick Pentath tour. Darren and I realised we has something in common, eating and looking for free food.

In fact we took it to a new level and instead of being competitive in the running arena, we tried to outdo each other in the after race food grab.

The Warwick Pentath (one of the best running events I’ve ever had the pleasure of entering) organisers were great at providing food after each event. When I finished the half marathon, I wandered down to the tents thinking I would just grab a drink and I surprised and delighted when I saw a table laden with bakery products. I was in heaven.

As I was watching the rest of the half marathoners come in and having a lovely time munching away, I saw Dazza run across the finish line, he made a bee line straight up to me. We didn’t bother with the usual race formalities of ‘how did you go?’ ‘what time did you get?’, he launched straight into “where did you get that” referring to my jam donut, I pointed towards the mess tent, well off he went down that hill faster than I’ve ever seen him run in a race, back he came with a huge Danish. ‘I didn’t see those…Where did you get that?’ I asked,  he nodded towards the tent, off I went and came back with  date scone, one look from Dazza, no words needed, back down the hill as fast as his legs could carry him, every time he came back with a new delicious morsel, I would be off and running. It got to the point that we were so full and bloated, but we couldn’t help ourselves, we had to win!

The Warwick Pentath is a marathon run over two days, but Dazz and I reckon we ran an ultra with all the to and fros to the food tables. As competitive as we are though we both agreed that they could have had the food table closer to the finish line, or better still, lining the last 200 metres so we could just do a run and grab as we finished, combining our two favourite things, running and eating simultaneously .

The competition between us to grab the best food off the bakery table became so great that by the second last run, a 10km up hill nightmare, we didn’t stop when we crossed the finish line, we just did a Forest Gump and kept going, running randomly all around looking desperately for the donuts and danish’s.

All the way home on the bus, while the other runners talked up the races, the times the other competitors…Dazza and I compared notes on the food we ate, we also discussed how we could break our own PBs next year, I’m aiming for at least a dozen donuts or to beat Dazza…whatever comes first!

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