The importance of nutrition for competitive runners.
After seeing on the trackie.ca forums a thread that was marked "Garbage in garbage out" and reading down through some of the posts it struck me as something I'd like to touch on. Even with some people who are really great athletes and are performing at a high level. Hearing them talk about nutrition, it's clear that this is a piece of the puzzle they are missing.
The new fad diet among serious gym enthusiasts right now is IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). The idea behind it is that a calorie is a calorie and that as long as we hit our caloric and macronutrient needs then we can eat whatever we so chose. I see runners doing this all the time without even knowing they are. The old theory of if you run enough you'll burn off anything you eat, while this is true in the sense that if your in a caloric balance eating 3500 calories a day from Pop Tarts will not make you gain weight. There is more to it then that. All calories are not created equal. I will submit to you that each and every gram of Protein out there from whatever source does in fact contain 4 calories and the same holds true for grams of Carbohydrates, while a gram of Fat will always contain 9 calories/gram. But the rate of digestion, micronutrient profile and effects on blood glucose level vary greatly depending on the source of the macronutrient (Also just to cover it, Alcohol is it's own macronutrient and contains 7 calories/gram and isn't metabolized in the same fashion as the others so serious runners save this for base training/off season haha).
I'm kind of getting off topic a little bit here. But what I want to say is your food is your fuel. If you drive a Ferrari you don't put regular unleaded in the tank. Hell, I drive an Audi and don't put anything other then premium in it. We, as runners, need to look at the foods we are consuming and eat according to our activity levels/training. I'm sure most of you reading this already know what I'm saying but it's important. I see so many runners just stuffing themselves with empty calories and aren't maximizing the calories they are taking in. The easiest and most effective nutrition plan is one based on whole foods. Nutrient dense foods will help keep your energy levels high and make sure you are recovering from training. Something to think about is try eating foods with only 1 ingredient. Stay away from things that are processed. For instance, lots of people will say "Ok I've got a workout this morning, I need some carbs to get me through it, I'll grab some cereal or toast then get at it". All that needs to happen is to take the train of thought one step further. Ask yourself what can I eat to sustain my energy and blood glucose levels for my run today. If it's a long run ask yourself will I need fuel during my run as well?
I'm not talking about anything you don't already know but this is something that almost everyone myself included could be better with. If this is something that you guys would like me to talk about further just let me know in the comment section below. I'd be happy to go more in depth into the science of nutrition or even how our weight effects performance and how to get to that optimal weight the proper way. Let me know!!
My week in training.
12 miles easy at 6:26 pace on the roads - AM
OFF - PM
10 miles easy on the treadmill at 6:30 pace - AM
5 miles on the treadmill again at 6:30 pace - PM
Workout - I wasn't sure what my coach had planned for breaks so I sort of did what I figured he would suggest, looking back at it I don't know why I took 2 minutes before my last 800. It should have been 1. Anyway the workout was a 2 miles, 2X1mile then 2X800. I took 2 minutes after the 2 mile 1 minute after the 2X1miles then 2 minutes after my first 800m. I went 9:41, 4:52, 4:45 then 2:20 for the 800's I just wanted to feel good getting through this. I was out of town and was just happy to get it in. I was overall very happy with it.
5km warm up + workout (my rests were standing) + 5km cool down - AM
OFF - PM
12 miles at 6:00 pace, I normally do a steady state effort on Thursdays but the treadmill at my hotel only went to 10mph so I worked with what I had.
12 miles - AM
OFF - PM
OFF - AM
11 miles at 6:30 pace on the treadmill then 10X100m strides on the indoor track
Workout - On the books I had a 4 mile at 5:00 pace then 2X1mile at 4:50 pace. The break was 2 minutes after the 4 mile and 1 after the 1 mile. Because the weather was bad I had to do this on the indoor track. I wasn't prepared to run a 4 mile tempo on it so I went upstairs on the treadmill for the 4 mile. It felt really easy as I've been doing longer tempos then that at 4:48 pace but I'm sure outside it would have been hard. I wiped down the treadmill and put my spikes on to get ready for the 2X1mile which ended up taking me a little bit more then 3 minutes so that didn't go according to plan but I got the 2X1mile in according to plan and pace so this was a good session all in all.
5km warm up + 4 mile tempo, 2X1mile + 5km cool down - AM
OFF - PM
Long run - I woke up Sunday and it was no joke 110km hour winds. So I jumped on my treadmill and watched a movie while I ran 16 miles at 6:30 pace. Anyone who has me on facebook or follows me on twitter saw a picture from that...not fun ha.
16 miles - AM
OFF - PM
I'm pretty happy with that week. Just over 90 miles with a couple of good quality sessions. As long as I can stay healthy and keep things moving in this direction I should be able to do some damage to my PR for the indoor 5000m I'm racing and then I'll set my sights on something in the 30:XX's for the first 10km I run on the roads this spring. I'm editing the video of the 5000m time trial I did in my previous week so I'll jump on here when I get a chance and post that up as a kind of workout Wednesday when it's done. Something else that's kind of cool is I'm running some miles in the soon to be released Saucony Zealot like I did with the Triumph ISO so when I have a better feel for them I'll post a review. Initial thoughts are very good.
On another note, I just got back from seeing Taken 3 with my girl. Is it just me or is Liam Neeson the most unlucky and badass dude EVER, I mean who gets their family into that kind of trouble 3 times.....the dude kicks some serious ass as well.....good movie for some mind numbing escapism after a long day but American Sniper is the one to see. SO GOOD!
Thanks friends, everyone have a safe week and good luck with your training.
Keep your sticks on the ice,