After almost sabotaging my love of running by working out on an empty stomach for three years, I have to come realize how crucial a role food plays in our lives. And it's capacity to heal is nothing short of a miracle. In just a couple of weeks since resuming my old habits, my love of running has returned in full force and my body has finally begun to heal. So what am I doing these days that are making such a difference?
I am not one to strictly follow the optimal carb/fat/protein percentage. I'm sure a quick search on google will yield thousands of pages of info if you're into that kind of thing. On my off days, it's usually eggs and toast for breakfast with half an avocado (500 cal). And coffee, of course! 4 or 5 hours later its a fruit and whey protein shake. My current favorite is a banana and cantaloupe with 15 grams of whey protein and three dates. I usually add a scoop of beet extract to the mix as well. About 400 calories. Three hours later and I'm on my local trails for my long runs which usually run between 7 and 10 miles. This combination seems to give me the all the energy to not only enjoy my run but also lets me push my body as much as possible without feeling too tired. Which pretty much kills my appetite for the remainder of the day. I'll eat a bowl of oatmeal before bed just to stave off hunger till morning. If I don't do this I often wake up in the middle of the night and my choice of foods isn't always healthy when I'm half asleep.
On my work days it's almost the same. Peanut butter and jelly with the same protein shake with extra whey protein. Two hours later I'm at the gym for 90 to 120 minutes of fartleks, hiit, strength and cross training. I find the treadmill is a great way to do my intervals as it lets me precisely control my speed. And again I try to push my body as much as possible without overextending to get the most benefits. Know your limits here. I know a lot of people don't like to sweat but , seriously, if you aren't pushing your body you won't get to where you want it to be. I don't believe in the that no pain/no gain bs. But being a little uncomfortable isn't too bad and can be quite pleasurable if done right. It's 30 grams of whey protein for recovery after and I'm off to work. 4 hours later I try to force down some dinner. Usually some sort of whole grain with beans and vegetables. I usually end the night with two servings of oatmeal and another 30 grams of whey protein mixed in on my gym days. My body is almost always recovered by the next morning and ready to go again. Which is a stark contrast to how I have to crawl into bed the night before?
I still can't believe how just a few small changes in my diet and my timing could have made such a huge impact. And the benefits extend well beyond the trail and the gym. In just a couple of weeks, my cravings for sugar have all but disappeared. My alcohol consumption has gone done a great deal as well. Don't get me wrong I still like a beer or two after my long runs but I'm no longer overdoing it. And there is a general feeling of peace and well-being that lasts throughout the day. Which just goes to show that the right food at the right time can make all the difference in the world.
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