I rediscovered my love of Jelly Bellies during Ragnar Weekend when someone on my team (not me, I swear) brought along a giant 2-pound bag of them.
I swear (again) that I don’t normally eat Jelly Bellies as training food, nor do I seek out Lay’s Wavy Potato Chips, either, but that weekend, after those hot and sweaty runs, I was shoving alternating handfuls of them into my mouth like they were greatest foods on this blessed Earth.
Clearly, I needed to replenish my sugar and salt stores at that time. There are better ways to do it, I suppose. No, there’s not.
I think I’m eating “clean-er” than I have in prior training cycles. I have become a little better about listening to what my body needs, food-wise. Even if it means eating things that I might not normally eat. For example:
I do not eat beef. I just don’t. I was a vegetarian from about 2000-2005, and even before then, I didn’t eat much beef or pork anyway – I just didn’t like it and the way it sat in my stomach. I have since fallen off that wagon, adding fish and poultry back into my diet. But I still have a mostly plant-based diet.
But there was a time during this cycle when I took a big weekly mileage leap, and I felt my energy dwindling and I felt weak constantly. That’s when I knew I might be getting low on iron (not uncommon in females during a time of hard training, especially after a visit from Aunt Flo), because I HAD to have a hamburger RIGHT NOW.
Just like a pregnant lady, I asked my husband to go get me a burger from the Whole Foods up the road. Because if I’m going to get a burger, it is NOT going be from a fast food joint. It’s going to be from a cow that was grass-fed, sustainably raised, groomed with conditioner and tutored in French. Oh, I’m just joking. The cow was tutored in Dutch.
And it tasted heavenly.
And when I was done, that was it. Craving satisfied. Iron levels restored.
Yes I could’ve just taken an iron supplement (though that makes me nervous, because too much iron is VERY BAD), or I could’ve perhaps eaten some extra spinach and lentils, but both of those things wouldn’t have squelched the craving, just like having some fancy-schmancy recovery drink wouldn’t have had the satisfying c-r-u-n-c-h and saltiness that the Wavy Lay’s had in the back row of that Ragnar van.
This is the first training cycle where I did not lose much weight. In prior cycles I’d lose 3-5 lbs during peak mileage. This time I lost about 2 lbs, depending on Jelly Belly intake. But I FEEL like I’ve re-arranged some of the poundage and I am RUNGRY constantly. Perhaps it’s losing fat and gaining muscle? Aside from the burger and the Ragnar food, I’ve been eating much better than last year’s marathon training.
Some of my staples for this training cycle have been…kale salads (prep ’em and let em sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes…it softens up the kale and reduces bitterness), “green” smoothies, lots of apples and bananas, eggs, whole wheat bagels with Soy Nut Butter, spinach salads, Greek yogurt, whole wheat pasta dishes, LunaBars (for snack at work), and lots of homemade, brothy soup or chili, courtesy of my school’s Lunch Lady, who makes soup…soup! and healthy sandwiches for the teachers. The night before each long run, I have one nice hoppy beer, which I usually don’t finish. When the higher mileage started cranking up, I started drinking one Emergen-C packet each day, so I’m getting a blast of vitamin C and some extra water. It also contains electrolytes and some athletes swear by it as part of their recovery plan. It’s also apparently good for hangovers, which would have come in handy for me about 20 years ago.
I’ve had to reduce my dairy intake (due to increasing lactose intolerance…thank you, Forties) and reduce my sugar intake due to being back on my steroid inhaler for the cold season (it lowers your immune system a bit and can therefore cause a wicked case of thrush). Some supplements I take regularly are fish oil (it’s mainly for Dry Eye, again, thanks ever so much, Forties), calcium, and probiotics. I don’t take a multi-vitamin much, mostly because I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t make me gag.
So while I’m not the “cleanest” of eaters, I’m pretty happy with how I’ve been fueling, and hopefully all of the above things combined with Coach Erin’s spot-on training will hopefully help me run 26.2 in SIX DAYS!
Someone had better have some Jelly Bellies at the finish line waiting for me.