Eat­ing Your Way to a Per­sonal Best

Canadian Running - - CONTENTS - By Jen­nie Orr

RECIPE Chicken Stir-Fry

The Cal­i­for­nia In­ter­na­tional Marathon takes place ev­ery year in early De­cem­ber, a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to get the most out of your sweaty sum­mer miles, be­fore the snow and ice in At­lantic Canada sends run­ners scram­bling in­side to their train­ers and “dread­mills.”

Twelve of us f rom the Hal­i­fax Road Ham­mers team be­gan the jour­ney to Cal­i­for­nia a few days be­fore the marathon. Nutri­tion should al­ways be one of the most im­por­tant com­po­nents of any marathon, from be­gin­ner to elite. Over the course of the trip, nutri­tion was the most im­por­tant thing on my mind. While most of my team­mates were mak­ing lists of run­ning es­sen­tials like sneak­ers, and com­pres­sion socks, I was dis­sect­ing United Air­way’s list of foods al­lowed and not al­lowed on f lights. There were no race week nerves as I had my hands full mak­ing gro­cery store lists, and think­ing about a menu to fit the likes, dis­likes, and di­etary re­stric­tions of 12 hun­gry run­ners.

We ar­rived in Cal­i­for­nia late Thurs­day evening, and while most were think­ing about a nice warm bed, gro­cery shop­ping was the pri­or­ity on my list of things to do. Ev­ery day, I would drag a lucky vol­un­teer to the gro­cery store to help me pick out gro­ceries for a set menu I had or­ga­nized the week be­fore. I would then get to cut­ting, wash­ing, chop­ping and cook­ing with the help of my team­mates. For each of our meals I fo­cused on mak­ing car­bo­hy­drates the star, by pre­par­ing slightly less veg­gies and pro­tein at each meal lead­ing up to the race. Car­bo­hy­drates are found in grain prod­ucts like pas­tas, pota­toes and fruit. Car­bo­hy­drates are also found in smaller quan­ti­ties in dairy prod­ucts like milk and yo­gurt. If you think of your body as a car you want to put the best pos­si­ble fuel in your car so you can get to where you are go­ing in the fastest time pos­si­ble. You wouldn’t put diesel in a gas car, just as you wouldn’t eat a dou­ble cheese­burger be­fore go­ing out for a train­ing run. In this case, our best pos­si­ble fuel isn’t supreme clean, it is car­bo­hy­drates. Car­bo­hy­drates are the body’s pre­ferred source of fuel for run­ning, as they are used more eff iciently, and take less time and en­ergy to break down.

The marathon is a tricky race. It’s long enough to de­plete our stores of glyco­gen in the body (the fancy term for stored car­bo­hy­drates). So we need to make sure we take in some car­bo­hy­drates on the run, as well as mak­ing sure our stores are full and ready to go on race day. We can make sure our stores are full on race day by car­bo­hy­drate load­ing. Car­bo­hy­drate load­ing three to four days out be­fore a goal marathon is a great way to en­hance per­for­mance, but mind­lessly eat­ing spaghetti ev­ery night for a week isn’t go­ing to get you that big PB ei­ther.

LEFT The au­thor in Sacra­mento, Calif., pre­par­ing a meal for her team­mates

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