Eating: It’s one of life’s great pleasures. But when you’re training for a big race, sometimes you need to take a more business-like approach to consuming calories. Food is, after all, energy. Eat right, and it’s easy to remember why “run” rhymes with “fun.” But make poor food choices, and a jog becomes a slog (hey: that rhymes too).
While you’re training, you don’t have to count calories or measure out grams of protein. Make mostly smart food choices during the week, aiming to eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. (Don’t fret: everyone gives in to the siren call of the M&Ms or French fries occasionally.) The night before your weekly long run, pay special attention to consume enough calories and to ensure a good amount of them come from carbohydrates, like pasta, rice, or baked potato.
Put another way: If you run long on Saturday mornings, Friday night is not the time to try to subsist on chips, salsa, and a few Corona Lights. Then, at least an hour before your long run, eat a mix of carbs and protein, like a bowl of oatmeal topped with yogurt or multigrain toast spread with peanut butter. (And it goes without saying, we hope: stay well hydrated before, during, and after your runs.)
Even if you work out first thing in the morning, there’s no need to eat anything before a run lasting less than an hour or even 75 minutes: our body stores enough energy in our muscles to carry us through “shorter” runs. That said, if you need a banana or a handful of cereal in your stomach, have at it. But when your training runs climb into the double-digits, you definitely need to fuel on the road (or treadmill). Most experts advice taking in some fuel—an energy gel like GU, energy chews like Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews, an energy bar, cookies, hard candies, or even a Snickers—after 45 minutes of running, then every 30 minutes after that. Let’s say you know you’re going to be running for nearly two hours (gulp!) and you start running at 7:00. Take in some calories at 7:45, and again at 8:15 and 8:45. It’s also important to practice taking in fuel on your practice runs as you’ll need to stoke your fire during the actual race. Figure out what works for you; some people’s stomachs can tolerate anything, while others get queasy at the mere thought of an energy gel.
Staying well fueled on your training runs will make them much easier—and enjoyable—to complete, we promise. And the best part about long runs? You have plenty of time to figure out what you’ll eat when you finish.
Episode #52: Zooma Annapolis + What’s Next
Episode #51: Shut Up and Run – Reading Optional Book Club #3
ZOOMA Life Radio
Episode #50: Alison Désir, Running as a Tool for Change
Whether you’re new to running or a veteran of plenty of races, looking at a training plan for the first time can often send you, um, running for the hills. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the biggest numbers—I have to run how many miles at one time?—and if you haven’t gone that distance before, it’s nearly impossible to not be intimidated. If you’re a more experienced runner, you know you can go the distance, but you may also have not-so-fond memories of certain parts of a training plan.
The good news is that a training plan doesn’t have to be as scary to look at as your AmEx bill; here are some ways to mentally tackle any training plan.
—First of all, take your regular calendar, the one that has birthdays, family responsibilities and the like on it, and plot out when you can do your weekly long runs. If you’ve got a significant other, be sure to talk it through with your partner, so that everybody is on the same page: you get this chunk of time on these weekend dates so you can fulfill a goal you’ve set for yourself. If you’ve got a crazy busy schedule, feel free also mark out your shorter weekday runs, although sometimes that easier to handle on a weekly basis.
—Similarly, if you know you’ve got to travel for a wedding, work or some other reason during that three-month stretch, think about if you’ll have the time, energy and resources (like a good, safe route) to run while you’re away. If not, make a plan B now: you can juggle your plan a bit to fit your needs.
—If huge bite of training feels like too much to mentally swallow, then divide it up. Don’t hang the plan in a place you have to see it daily. Instead, week by week, write your workouts on your daily planner or enter them into your phone. Make it a Sunday night ritual to look at the next week and figure out when you’ll get your workouts in, then tuck the plan away for seven more days.
—Don’t worry about day 50 on day 5. A less-than-stellar run on one day can often hijack your thoughts and rob your self-confidence. “I could barely get through 3 today,” you think to yourself, “How am I ever going to do 9?” The beauty of a well-written training plan is that every run is preparation for the next. The fact that you got through a tough one on day 5—and that you’ll do the rest of the workouts leading up to day 50—means your body and mind will be ready for 9. Which isn’t to say that it’ll be cake, but you’ll certainly be able to get it done.
—A great way to reaffirm your progress in training and get yourself psyched for race day is to do a shorter race at least three weeks before you zoom. Jump into a local 5k or 10k , if you’re taking on a half-marathon, to feel how strong you’ve gotten. Ideally, you can slip a race into your training plan easily without rippling the waters too much; because racing is harder than training, a 10k can easily take the place of a 7 or 8 mile run, while a 5k can substitute for a 4 or 5 miler.
Episode #49: “Run Fast. Eat Slow.”-Reading Optional Book Club
Episode #48: Zooma Ambassadors in NYC
Episode #47: Spring Cleaning
Episode #46: When You’re in a Mood
Episode #45: How to Make a Race Calendar
With so many races, how does a girl decide which ones to run? In this episode, we explore different ways to make a race calendar, with a little help from the Zooma Ambassadors. We also make a big announcement about a partnership between Zooma and Every Mother Counts, a woman-founded maternal health organization.