Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Let's Talk Food

Before I go anywhere with this post I'd like to say that yesterday I was totally excited to hear that Meb and Kara will be running NYC this fall! And then reality hit - I'm never going to see them. Tom's probably going to see each of them 5 times as a spectator, and I don't see them once. Their times totally crush my marathon times - so unless I somehow, miraculous run into them at port-a-potties at the start, it ain't going to happen. 

Who am I kidding, elites don't use port-a-potties. So my chances of seeing them equal 0.01%.


The first thought out of my head when the alarm went off yesterday was "****, I really wish I was still on the UVM cross country team." I had a track workout scheduled and no motivation to do it. I needed the girls to get my butt into gear. It is much easier to do a workout when you have your friends around you going through the same thing and pushing you to finish. It is 1000x harder to do a speed workout on your own.

I finally pulled myself out of bed 10 minutes later, got out the door and started running.

And felt really great.

Here's the thing - I shouldn't have not ever felt that great on the Tuesday workout of the Hanson Marathon plan. I am normally dying. My warm-up is necessary because my legs are still and sore and tired from 6 days of running and they are barely moving. My mind is usually trying to convince me I am crazy because I'm about to go do speed on a track and that it would be best to just turn around and go home.

But not yesterday. If my legs could talk, they'd be all giddy - excited to be going for speed. They felt strong.

What is going on?

I have two theories:
  1. I am indeed getting stronger. My legs are better able to handle the workouts at this point in the training program. Not teaching/being on my feet all day may also be helping. Perhaps the squats and lunges are even aiding in this new strength. 
  2. Nutrition: This summer I have eaten better than in the past. Lately I've been really focused on refueling. In fact, after a few weeks of research, I am tempted to....
Become vegetarian. 

Some Dupont Farmer's Market finds

I'm pretty close as it is already. I wouldn't have to give up much, but I would have to add in way more fruits and veggies. I even toyed with the idea of becoming a vegan after watching Forks over Knives and a bunch of the videos on Thrive Forward. However, I know I am not ready to go that far, and that it would be best to make small changes, rather than one giant change to my diet. That would be giving up a lot. I mean, this whole blog was originally focused on dessert for crying out loud! Yet, in the last 4 years, I have changed a lot. My goals have changed. I am more aware of what nutrition does to health and sports performance.

Mixed berry smoothie

I need to refuel properly in order to train at my maximum. I have been having awesome smoothies over the last few weeks after a run in order to increase my daily amount of fruit. I've pretty much doubled my fruit/veggie intake from before - but I'll admit, it wasn't high to begin with. I've switched to bakery-baked bread instead of the packaged bread to eliminate the extra stuff that shouldn't exist in bread.

 Pineapple banana mint smoothie from Marin Mama Cooks

I was once told that if you take out something from your life or try to break a habit, you have to replace it with something else. Instead of coffee, I'm drinking tea. Instead of a cookie, I reached for a peach on Monday. Instead of candy, I'm now reaching for a date in the afternoon. The wonderful cashier at Yes Market even exclaimed "Ah! Nature's candy!" when I bought some dates a few weeks back. It makes so much sense. Nature has provided us with the fuel we need, so why are we, humans, creating our own or relying on sugar and caffeine to keep us going. It's startling to think that humans consume over 150 lbs of it a year.

Chia seed cereal: no added sugar - just fruit and maple syrup :)

So over the next few weeks I'll continue to work on my diet. I worry about what will happen once school begins. It will be easy for me to want to reach for coffee in the morning but I have to tell myself that two years ago I didn't drink it. I don't need it. I just need more fruits and veggies.

And over the next few weeks I'll make up rules like:
  • No meat, unless you're at a dinner party or at a really great restaurant that it is known for their meat dish. 
  • No meat unless you're at a tapas restaurant - Spain must live on in my life and you miss out on amazing tapas if you give up jamon. 
  • For now - fish is good. I would like to eliminate chicken completely but probably won't. Tom loves meat and is not going to be a vegetarian. I do not want him to sacrifice what he likes, and I would miss the times we cook in the kitchen together. Meals are more than just eating, sometimes it is the experience of creating it that makes a dish special.  
  • No desserts unless their worth it. What makes a dessert worth it? If someone is having a birthday, that is worth it. I will not give up a celebration. If I go on vacation, then it's worth it. You better believe I will be having Ben & Jerry's or maple creemees when we go to VT in August. Or if we are trying out a DC bakery/donut shop/ice cream shop because of its reputation, then it is worth it. I still want to explore the good eats of this fine city. 
So why am I doing this? A big reason is for health and for a more energized feeling. By the end of the school year I was hooked on sugar and caffeine and feeling more tired and even sick. My runs were sluggish. Yesterday's run was reason enough to keep going with the healthy eats. I know I won't feel that good every day, but if I can do a 9+ mile track workout and still feel just as awesome later in the evening to jog a few miles, then I don't want to stop it. 

I know I will fail and give in every now and then (or more than I expect to) but I can only try. And don't worry, I am sure I will not be able to stay away from desserts completely - you will still see them on this blog, as well as any future cakes that I bake. 


  1. I totally understand and agree with you! I did the same thing in the spring (but the funny part is I was going from being vegetarian to starting to eat chicken!) and felt so much stronger. I think doing anything that changes/jump starts your body in a healthy way is going to have a positive effect for sure! It is definitely time to refocus!

    1. Oh wow! Guess I didn't realize that you were vegetarian (or I forgot - sorry!) That's awesome how one addition made such an impact. I am very hesitant to totally give up meat. I feel like if I have a craving for some fish or a hamburger then my body is trying to tell me that I need the extra protein. We definitely need it with all of this running we're doing!

  2. You ARE getting stronger, don't discount that. Nutrition does play an important role, I have noticed over the years that it can make a big difference in performance AND recovery. I like that you want to make rules (and not be SO strict with everything) That will make it much easier for you to follow :)

    1. So true, Laura - on all accounts. We have to make sure we're totally taking care of our body if we expect it to perform where we want it to. It's so hard to stick to a drastic change, so some flexibility is necessary ;)

  3. Sending you lots of support and good vibes!

  4. I have been eating much cleaner this summer too. Probably not as clean as you, but I have made some huge improvements. I feel better with the changes I have made too.

    You will have to tell your hubby to take lots of photos at NYC of Kara :-)

    1. That's awesome Tasha! It's nice to feel the effects of small changes.

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