Monday, November 28, 2011

Cook Train Eat Race. First Runninghood Guest Post

The past few days have been kind of crazy.  The holiday season always feels that way and then you add on a traveling husband, vacation weekend (no school), and to-do lists all over my counter and you get one crazy mama!  I'm so grateful for a routine starting back up again tomorrow.

Quick Running Update:
I ended last week with 65 miles.  Felt GREAT.  Made me super confident that higher mileage won't be a problem for me if I want to go for it.  My 65 miles wasn't all easy miles either.  I threw in a few faster paced runs too so I could get a feel for how my body responded to the mileage and intensity increase.  I'm feeling so strong and I hope that this strong feeling only gets STRONGER.  I've noticed that my "base pace" or natural and comfortable pace is almost always landing between 8 and 8:15.  I'm okay with this...seems like this has always been the case for me.  An 8 minute mile is just that pace that comes when I settle in and just run without trying to hit a pace or run a recovery run.  This is pretty pointless information and I'm pretty much just babbling.  My 14 mile run on Saturday ended up feeling awesome and easy but again, strong.  I didn't intend on speeding up at the end until my Garmin stopped and I needed to delete lap memory in order for it to work again.  This messed my mile 10 split up so I felt the need to pick it up a bit to make up for lost time (like I was in a race or something.  Ha!).  Mile 12 was a 7:10 and mile 13 was a 7:22.  These miles felt relatively easy considering they were miles 12 and 13.  I was very pleased and they served as a huge confidence boost.  My average for the run was right around 8:10 but like I said, my Garmin had some trouble so this throws things off.  Whatever, it wasn't super fast but it felt strong.

I'll give more of a training update in my next post.  A couple of weeks with mileage drops, a possible race, facing some fears, and where I'm at with Boston training.  Until then, I'm going to try to keep from stuffing my face with all the candy I bought for the gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies.  Oh, and the leftover turkey, potatoes, rolls, and a whole slew of other crud that has surely made me gain about 10lbs this week.  Okay, 5.  And this brings me to the topic of how to fuel for marathon training.  Or in my case, how NOT to fuel.

Cook Train Eat Race
Many of you have heard of the blog Cook Train Eat Race written by endurance athlete and all-around awesome guy,  Jason Bahamundi.  If you haven't, then I'd recommend following this blog if you are interested in reading about endurance training, fueling properly and living a healthy and active life. I've found so many of Jason's posts to be useful and informative.  It has been especially nice to read his current posts since he is nearing the end of marathon training and his topics are relevant to what is forefront on my mind. For example, one of his recent posts on healthy snacks, made me think twice about stuffing the peanut butter M&M's down my gullet.  I still ate them but I did think twice.  Those of you that know Jason, know that he is dedicated, passionate, and knowledgable about eating, training, cooking and racing!  In fact, this weekend he is heading to Vegas to attempt a Boston qualifying marathon time.  You've got it Jason! You've definitely trained and fueled properly for it.

A week or so ago I was thinking a lot about what kinds of foods I will need to be putting in this body of mine in order to be fueling properly for marathon training.  I don't think that I was eating all the adequate nutrients when I was training for my spring marathons and I want to make sure I do it up right this time.  In addition to doing lots of research and picking my husband's brain from his research, Jason came to mind.  I've never done a guest post before but I knew that Jason would have a lot of insight to offer.  Plus, he is worth knowing about.  When I asked Jason to write up something for Runninghood, he gladly agreed.  Thank You!

 Below is a little about what Jason has to say about nutrition and fueling for endurance sports.  I hope this is useful to you. It was for me. And please head over to Cook Train Eat Race to wish Jason good luck on his marathon this weekend!

Before we get into the topic of the day, I would like to thank Amanda for allowing me to write a post on her terrific blog.  It is an honor and I was humbled by her request. 

Amanda has asked that I write about nutrition and how to fuel the body properly for training for a marathon. I have to say initially that I am not a registered dietitian nor a doctor and that all my advice is based on my own research and trial and error.

Typically the first question I get is how much protein should I get while I’m training. The answer is going to be different for everybody because of their size, but I also don’t prescribe to the all things protein mentality. As a matter of fact I believe that protein is the third of the three macronutrients that I concern myself with.

As endurance athletes we have a rule of thumb when it comes to macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) and that is ~55%-60% of calories should come from carbohydrates. This is your primary energy source and if this is depleted your body will have to learn to burn fat and protein as fuel. This is not as efficient as carbohydrates and takes time to teach your body.

Fats should constitute ~30% of your calories and finally proteins would be ~15%. So you can see why I say that this is the last of the macronutrients I concern myself with.

Now that you know what your daily (not each meal has to be this way) intake of macronutrients should be, what are those to be composed of. Carbohydrates should be complex, fat and protein should be lean. You don’t want to put junk into your fuel tank otherwise your engine (your body) won’t function efficiently. It is that simple.

For me, I workout in the morning. Very early and the notion of eating anything substantial is not going to work for me. I drink a smoothie that has approximately 150 calories and some coffee. After my workout is when I get a bigger breakfast in. Typically I have another smoothie with Herbalife (carb/protein supplement) along with an egg on a slice of whole grain toast. Other options are oatmeal, especially in the fall/winter. And don’t make quick oatmeal but instead get the rolled oats and make them yourself. They only take about 5 minutes. Add in some cinnamon and some raisins and you are good to go for the rest of the morning.

Hunger will hit in about 4 to 5 hours and this is key. You need to understand your hunger queues. We eat a lot based on emotion, but as an endurance athlete you need to remove that from your thought process. Eat when you are hungry and there are truly only two ways to know when you’re hungry. One is that your stomach rumbles and the other is that you are not thinking straight. In other words you just had an argument with your significant other about nothing.....chances are you’re hungry. This typically happens every 4 to 5 hours after eating.

At lunch I will have a nut butter and jelly sandwich that is topped with a banana. I usually eat that on top of a rice cake. If I am still feeling hungry I will make another smoothie. You will get good fats and protein from peanut butter. You will get carbohydrates from the jelly and some texture from the rice cakes. The banana will provide you with great vitamins and minerals.

The next time you are going to be hungry will be for a mid-day snack. For me that is usually a piece of fruit (usually an apple) with 1 tablespoon of nut butter. Apples (any fruit) are great for you but they do have natural sugars and once those sugars burn off you will be hungry again. This is where the nut butter comes in. It will take longer to break down and make you feel full for a longer period of time. It is a perfect mid-afternoon snack. Other options are carrots and celery with homemade hummus.

Dinner will roll around and you are wondering what to eat. You don’t have a ton of time and everybody is yelling that they are hungry. As a vegetarian this is easy for me since I can eat vegetables raw. Not everybody is a vegetarian but they can make plenty of vegetarian side dishes to be served while the meat is cooking. Yes, this may interrupt the dinner to have two servings but it can also be fun.

My go to staple when I’m in a rush or don’t even feel like cooking is to heat up a sweet potato in the microwave for 4-5 minutes. This will get it nice and soft. I can then toss it into the oven to brown. While that is browning I will saute all sorts of vegetables and then serve them over top of the sweet potato with a side of homemade guacamole. I get plenty of carbs, fats and proteins in this simple and quick meal. I always walk away full from this meal.

This may seem like I eat exactly the same thing everyday and it is not that far off, but I also adjust based on my training for that day. Anything that is 1 hour or under and I eat a limited amount of calories. If I go over 2 hours then I make sure to continually nourish my body during my workout so I don’t go overboard when I’m done.

My one piece of advice is to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid of carbs or fats and don’t over do the protein. Protein, in my opinion, is the most mis-understood macronutrient and thus people go over board on it because they think they need so much of it.

Don’t be afraid to try new foods. When I ate meat I would get so tired of grilled chicken and never thought out of the box. Now that I have changed my diet I have much more at my disposable in terms of being unique and adventurous.

Do you have any nutrition questions? If so, please send them to Amanda and she will forward them to me and I will answer as quickly as I can.

Thank you for reading.



  1. Thanks for the great post
    Amanda and Jason! I can't believe I have never read his blog before! I need to head on over there. I love to hear from other vegetarian athletes especially when they say not to worry so much about protein. It stresses me out so much sometimes and that made me feel a lot better. Thank you for the great info!

  2. Great and informative post from Jason, even with all the nut butter :)

    Amanda, you are so strong!! 65 miles. 65 quality miles. You are well on your way.

  3. Amanda - Thank you so much for letting me write this post for your blog. I have told you before, but I'll say it again, it's an honor to be featured here.

    Katie - I started out like everybody else and was consumed with protein and then started doing more and more research and testing and voila I get 10%-15% protein in my normal diet. The only item I add is a smoothie to the days that are high intensity and duration because I just would not be able to eat as much as I would need to and the liquid calories work fast.

    I'm not sure if you follow Matt at No Meat Athlete but he writes a great site and provides great information for us vegetarian/vegan endurance athletes. Branden Brazier is also a vegan pro triathlete that you can follow and learn a ton from.

  4. Excellent guest post by another one of my favourite bloggers. Jason always inspires me to be healthier!

    Nice job on your training last week, Amanda. Sweet mileage!

  5. Jason is the best!!!!!

  6. Hurray, 65 miles! Hell, strong!
    Yes, eating and sleeping are so important for the marathon. I completely agree with Jason, the emphasize on protein for athletes is silly! We need the carbs, people (which is great since I love them all). I don't do shakes or smoothies and don't add protein powder things, I like real food. I eat a ton of cottage cheese, greek yogurt, all fruits and am not afraid of bread or chocolate:)

  7. Wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us Jason.

    And great job with the training Amanda!! I can't wait to see what you can do in Boston. You are right on track. :)

  8. Awesome post Amanda! Thanks Jason too :) Great job on your miles. You are amazing :)

  9. OK-again super congrats on the 65 miles! Yes, you are tolerating the mileage very well and you're running fantastic! SO glad your feeling strong and ready!!! I genuinely can't WAIT to see what you can do here!!

    Oh my, you are a WAY better mother than me-ha! I've barely even THOUGHT of Christmas baking or gingerbread houses. PLEASE, come and be my neighbor so my kids can have some memories:) I took a couple of "free" food days too, you know to help with the pain of my blister...:)

    Great post by Jason!! Thanks so much for sharing! I agree with the overemphasis of protein. Everybody obsessing about protein and also so many people turning their diet into one of protein bars and supplements. REAL food, so much to be found in real food. I rarely make smoothies, maybe I just hate to clean the blender-ha! Really, though, personally I haven't found much of a need for them. I eat spinach right out of the bag like potato chips, love green veggies which some people mask in a smoothie. God knows I get enough natural protein with my 6 egg white breakfast:) Yes, quinoa, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, black beans, almond butter, chicken, good real protein sources that I don't even think about. They are just part of my diet. I don't try to overdo them, they are just there. I never have to think about carbs as I could live on bread alone:) And sweet potatoes. Another good one Jason!! I LOVE them as do my kids! OK-I'm rambling but I really enjoyed Jason's input! Thankyou.

    OK-finishing this up with a peanut butter M&M! Have a great day girl. Keep up the great running! Looking forward to a race report from you again someday soon:)

  10. It's interesting. I know I had the protein part totally wrong in my diet - but I was eating too little not too much. I was the carb queen and since I've introduced more protein I'm recovering better from my training.

  11. Ana-Maria and Jenn - for me the smoothie is great because at 3am when I drink them the calories go right into my system and fuel me for my training that starts in 2 hours. I also use powdered protein for that same reason because for me to try and eat at that time is nearly impossible.

    That being said eating real food is always preferred. Avoid processed foods at all costs as in the long run it will be cheaper since your body will thank you for it and you won't develop any number of issues that we are seeing in society today.

  12. I can't wait to sit down and REALLY obsorb this! I need help in the food department BAD!!!

  13. and great job on the 65 miles A!! maybe High mileage is for you after all!! I am still figuring out how I am going to fit in 60 this week. I think 65 WILL be my peak mileage for Boston, but I'm totally okay with that:):) talk soon!!!xx

  14. Fascinating guest post! Nutrition is certainly one area I need to pay better attention to. I am learning even from your comments!

    Nice work on the miles. I will be looking forward to your races :)
    I think the 8- 8:15 range is natural because you are really a faster marathoner than your PR.

  15. The 'hood mama and Baha. Two of my favorite blog friends!! :) I LOL'd at how you at least thought twice before eating those m&m's. It is the thought that counts right?

  16. this was a great post! one thing i am always striving to learn more about is nutrition and fuel for running. it is an area i am not as familiar with and tend to ignore when there is candy around ;)

    also...congrats on a great week of running!! incredible mileage! great work!

  17. great post! thanks for sharing.