A running club with weekly Group Runs in Aurora, IL., Montgomery, IL. and Oswego, IL.
Have you wondered what is the “right” food to eat as a runner? You’ve probably read an article (or ten) in a runner’s magazine that touted the latest and greatest super-food to get you to be the best runner ever. It’s the article giving you 10 foods to eat, 10 to avoid, and bang, instant awesome. Wouldn’t it be grand if that were all it took? We live in a society that wants the quick fix; something that will get us to our goals just by simply making one simple change, like eat blueberries and you’ll live forever! If you have half a brain, you know how wrong this line of thinking can be.
When I jumped into the big kids’ running pool, I tried to read about every aspect of running that I could get my hands on. I like to know the science and the “why”. One topic kept my interest peaked. Nutrition. Since I’m looking out for number one here, I wanted to know more about what could actually impact my everyday life. Like everybody else, I wanted a formula that would tell me what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat. Like most topics, everybody had different (and sometimes dangerous) opinions. Eat paleo. Carbs are good, but still bad. Salt kills. Bacon is king. Beware of insulin surges, inflammatory diets, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. I was reeling. No one had the answers I was looking for! Finally, I stumbled on a blog post focusing on a few simple principles-eat in moderation, make small changes at a time, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Eliminate foods that aren’t “real.” ((head smack with palm)) So simple.
I started by cutting out a few non-food things at a time, and added at least 2-3 fresh fruits or vegetables a day. It forced me to have a plan every time I went shopping, which lead to more thoughtful meals, which lead to the consumption of foods with ingredients I recognized, like strawberries (I dislike blueberries, by the way). I started eating outside my comfort zone. Quinoa, other than its ridiculous name, isn’t as bad as I thought. Kale, is, well, kale. I could mix spinach in a smoothie, and I didn’t gag! Just as I committed to running, I made a commitment eating better, which I knew in the long run would make me a better athlete (no pun intended).
As for the other stuff? The minutia wasn’t as important as I how felt. I eat what I know what is good for ME. I eat pasta and other carbs; I just don’t scarf down an entire box of rigatoni. If I added a few shakes of salt onto my vegetables, I wasn’t committing grave sin. I love red wine, and in moderation (there’s that word again), I enjoy a glass (or 3). Does that mean I’m doing everything right? Probably no. However, I am more likely to make better decisions about what to eat now, whereas I was a lost little bird before. You don’t have to be perfect. We are athletes. We strive towards our best, not perfection. Who has time to be perfect, anyway?