The stars aligned in April, and within the course of a couple days I had a solution to one of my top concerns while training for my second 50-miler: How could I improve my nutrition to improve both running performance and everyday health?
At first glance, the answer seems simple. Eat better.
But where should I begin? I’d already eliminated frozen pizzas, chips and salsa, and started drinking fruit smoothies for breakfast and eating more salads. But those changes alone weren’t doing enough. I still struggled to recover from longer training runs and felt sluggish during the day.
Then, in April I received a text message from my sister informing me that I’d be receiving an email from Door to Door Organics in Kansas City. She’d gotten me a month-long subscription to the service that brings a box of organic fruits and vegetables to my doorstep every week. She’d gotten the idea from her friend Melissa, a local TV anchor – as well as a runner, and had gotten a subscription for her family, too.
A few days later, I received an email from my friend Katie inviting me to take a month-long sports nutrition course with her that was presented by one of her friends.
What a perfect combination: fresh, natural fruits and vegetables arriving each week on my doorstep, and lessons teaching me exactly how to incorporate them into my training / nutrition routine. The result has been a positive, rewarding – and fun! – experience.
Various vegetables have arrived that I never previously considered buying – What the heck is chard? Oh, it’s kind of like lettuce. That’s easy! – and I’ve had vegetables show up that I’d only bought frozen (broccoli), only to learn that the fresh variety is so much tastier and so easy to cook. Meanwhile, the sports nutrition course taught me about broadening my health horizons, as well as being smarter about what my body wants and needs. I never before bought spirulina, but now it’s a key ingredient in my smoothies. I also have at least one avocado per day in my smoothie, or just as a snack. I’ve learned to sauté a variety of veggies and tinker with seasonings (ginger is a particular favorite).
The end result is that I have more energy on most mornings, and I’ve felt happier and healthier consistently during my training.
I haven’t focused as much on weekly mileage for this year’s 50-miler, opting instead to emphasize vertical gain and nutritional intake while slowly increasing the distance. Maybe the smaller miles will come back to bite me in the end, but time will tell. Regardless, I am confident that the revised daily nutritional approach will get me to the starting line stronger and healthier than I’ve been for any other ultra-distance race. Then, we’ll see what happens on race day.