Monday, July 6, 2009

Running on Empty

I have been taking it easy lately, trying to build up a good reserve of rest before jumping into marathon training. I also haven’t been watching my diet as carefully, which is a problem since I’m still about 5-7lbs over where I want to be for the fall. Fourth of July was full of beer and bar-b-q; kind of a lost week-end insofar as fitness is concerned. Beer is especially troublesome since it takes a good five days or so for the excess water weight to dissipate. Meanwhile you carry that extra two pounds around. I feel like I’m sloshing every time I put my foot down. Stopping off at White Castle in the Bronx on the way back from Pennsylvania probably didn’t help any.

There are many opinions about the proper nutrition for runners; timing, composition of food, hydration, etc. In fact, there is a lively discussion on the topic over at The Well, the NY Times fitness blog. What I’ve been able to gather, is that aside from some areas of common agreement, i.e. the White Castle Bacon Double Cheeseburger is not a particularly desirable fuel source for runners, scientists and nutritionists are all over the map when it comes to this stuff.

When I started running 20 years ago I was a vegan. I lost a lot of weight, but I was also tired all the time and would feel like I was about to faint if I stood up too quickly. I think it was my vegan self-righteousness that kept me alive until I transitioned to a more normal ovo-lacto vegetarian diet several years later. Eventually, I tired of eating beans three times a day and switched to a more conventional diet, loosely based on the Zone diet, but less restrictive. My problem has always been volume. If my running exceeds 30 miles in a week I become an eating machine. I have been trying to figure out a way to prevent my weight from increasing along with my mileage, but so far I’m finding it to be a delicate balancing act.

People are different. It follows that bodies will respond differently to different fuel sources. Some people chug Gatorade at water stops with no problem, others end up heaving it up on the side of the road a mile later. The trick is knowing what works for you. My favorite pre-run drink on Saturday mornings is a large cup of coffee. Others prefer a smoothie. Vive le difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment