There are so many things I have learned about since I started running. Many of these things I’ve learned from other running bloggers, RunnersWorld.com, and some from my own trial-and-error experiences.
One of the biggest reality checks I’ve had is realizing that my performance is completely related to what I eat. Not just physically, but mentally as well. I notice that it’s so much harder to push myself and work to my full potential when my head is going “This run would be so much easier if I hadn’t had those cookies/that second beer/the gigantic cheeseburger and fries.” My body feels it as well. I definitely can tell that I feel much more sluggish and it’s so much hard to get going and push myself when I’m running off of sugar and empty carbs.
My best runs have come on days that I fueled myself properly throughout the day (for evening runs) or made smart choices the day before (for morning runs – still a struggle!).
I talked about my whole FAUXleo idea in a previous post, but it’s SO hard to limit myself to certain types of food while still living at home. And I just can’t survive without sandwiches. I’ve been working really hard at listening to my body and trying to figure out what works for me throughout the day and I really think it’s been successful. I’m eating healthier whole foods, staying away from processed junk foods as much as possible.
I think one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned was also a big shock. You might want to be sitting down for this one…
Low-Fat, Fat-Free, Reduced-Fat, Diet, 0 Calorie, Low Calorie and Reduced Calorie DOES NOT MEAN HEALTHY.
I wish I had that little piece of information when I was in college buying Diet and Low-Fat/No-Fat everything. The fat in these food items is usually replaced with tons more sugar, and the calories are usually cut with chemicals and artificial sweeteners. I’m not about to start preaching about how bad this is for us, because I still choose diet soda over regular 99% of the time (but my soda consumption is rare), and I’m not a scientist so I know nothing about what these things do to our bodies and I never know which side to believe – the “It’s going to cause cancer” side or the “It will make you gain weight” side or the “It’s still OK to eat” side. I really don’t care to worry about all that.
My problem with these foods is that they lack the things I need to really keep going. I could eat an entire can of Pringles, follow it up with a couple Milky Ways, and top that all off with some Oreos – and still be hungry in 30 minutes! No bueno for my insides or my jeans.
I’ve found that just being more conscious of what I’m eating and when I eat it has really improved my athletic abilities. I tore it up on the treadmill for 2 miles yesterday, hit the stairmaster for a mile at level 10-12, then back on the treadmill for another mile and I felt great. I think this has to do with the fact that my diet for the past couple weeks has been whole wheat toast when I leave for work in the morning followed by a bagel thin with peanut butter and banana around 10. Then I usually have a granola bar at 11, lunch is a turkey and spinach wrap on a whole wheat tortilla, then finally a small bowl of whole grain cereal at 3:30 so I have energy for the gym. I usually snack on fruit like apples or oranges or melon sometime in the morning and afternoon. I’m constantly eating, but I’m eating the right things. I really am noticing a difference. I am starting to actually crave these good-for-me foods and I love it. That’s not to say I don’t reach into the Skittles jar everyone once in a while at work, but these small changes are definitely making a difference in how I feel on my runs.
Tonight my mom made a healthy dinner of orzo salad and teriyaki marinated tofu so I got to indulge in a Yogurtland treat after dinner. Tomorrow I’ll be up at the crack of dawn to run 4.5 miles with my dad, and then Jboo and I are off to see NeedToBreathe in Hollywood. Seriously check these guys out if you like Kings of Leon meets Lifehouse with a little folksiness to it.
***If anyone is running any upcoming races, I DEFINITELY suggest you head over to Janae’s blog and check out her adorable giveaway. It’s great for anyone who runs or knows a runner. Too cute!***