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On Food and Running

March 28, 2016


A couple weeks ago (two and a half, to be exact) I had a really terrible food and running experience.  Yes, let me say that again, to be clear: I, the "nutrition professional" erred - rather horribly - in managing my own "nutrition" before a hill workout, recently.

Let's follow that up with this: this past Saturday I had what could be considered one of my best food and running experiences.  In a successful endeavor to run/fast-hike the Devil's Path with a few friends and teammates, I managed my food and "nutrition" possibly better than I ever have before.


So let's recap the two experiences to provide a learning opportunity for what to try again and for what to do better next time.


And a little preface: for the first time in my running life I've taken on a personal coach - thanks to Elizabeth Azze of Mountain Peak Fitness for sharing your expertise with me!  So, for my first time since endeavoring into the marathon, ultramarathon, and trail running world(s) I am not the only one in control of my running schedule.


Historically, my running schedule has looked something like this: wake up, take a few minutes to observe the state of affairs of my stomach, my large intestine (if you will), my legs, and sometimes my shoulders; drink some water, use the bathroom; don running clothes and shoes; go outside and run to my heart's, mind's, and legs' content.  Pretty easy.  What this means in terms of food: almost never did I think about food before a run; I usually ran on a rather empty stomach (running first thing in the morning), and would return home as soon as my stomach started rumbling anxiously.  Now, let's be clear, not every run looked like this.  When I first started to train for marathons I did have the wherewithal to realize that before my really long runs I needed to eat something!  That something was usually a piece of toast with nut butter on top.


These days I am rarely running first thing when I wake up...mostly because I am no longer a college student running in the mornings as a way to burn off the unnecessary pizza and beer calories I'd acquired at 2 AM the night before (er, uh, earlier that morning).  As I've grown up (sort of) my lifestyle has changed and so has my schedule: sometimes I have to be out of the house before 7 AM...I just don't feel like putting in a 2-hour workout early enough in the morning to afford leaving the house by 7 AM.


Since I'm now following Elizabeth's training schedule - and not just running on a whim - I also need to prepare myself with an eating schedule so that I can "fuel" myself properly prior to runs and workouts and "refuel" myself properly after runs and workouts.  Whereas, in the past, I've just run on whatever pepperoni and cheap beer calories were still floating around in my system, now I need to prepare my food intake (quite) a bit more specifically.  While I've understood the importance of all of this for years, I am still - apparently - acclimating the the concept of having to do it on a daily basis, as opposed to doing it once a week for long runs.  Also, I'm still acclimating to a new-ish work schedule that doesn't afford me the luxury of eating any second I please :)


So what happened?


Two weeks ago I set out to do hill repeats in Corning on my lunch break in between the classes I was teaching that day.  The