I ran my first marathon in the Olympic trials this past January and it was a blast! In order to participate in the race you have to run a certain time in either the marathon or the half marathon to qualify. I was able to qualify by running a half marathon (because I had never run a marathon leading into the race) only four months after having my daughter. The training into the race was intense! I was running up to 90 miles week to prepare and some of my workouts seemed nearly impossible on paper.
Training for the race was not only running lots of workouts, but also paying attention to my nutrition. There were times in my past during high school and college when I would neglect the importance of nutrition and this led to many problems, such as loss of my period and a negative impact on my athletic performance. While training for the marathon, I was not only adamant about eating lots of extra healthy fats, proteins, carbs, leafy greens and fruit, but I was very serious about taking lots of nutrition while actually working out.
During workouts I would have up to three energy gels, would sip on electrolytes in between intervals and would always follow my workouts up with a 300-calorie recovery drink that included a perfect balance of protein and carbs. I would have the drink ready before the workout so that I could literally start sipping on it the second I was done. The 30-minute half hour window after an intense workout is a critical time for your body to intake calories to start the recovery process.
Getting in the habit of paying careful attention to your nutrition as an athlete is crucial. Without supporting our sports with healthy, balanced foods we cannot perform and recover at an optimal level. More importantly however, it is imperative as women that we support our sports nutritionally so that our general health (including our bone density!!) is not compromised.
I was able to finish the Olympic trials marathon in a very fast time of 2:35, which put me in 16th place. I would never have been able to become the 16th fastest marathoner in the country in my first marathon if it were not for the amount of thought I put into making sure I got plenty of the perfect foods to support my training and the race. Even in the race, I ate three energy gels along with a sugary electrolyte drink. Not only is the marathon a time to focus on nutrition, but ALL sports are, so whatever your sport may be, make sure you are paying attention to fueling your body at an optimal level. This way your body will be happier and thank you by performing better and staying healthy!
Nutrition tip of the week: Spinach smoothies!! We make smoothies a lot in our house. They are great because you can put so much stuff in them! From peanut butter, to protein powder the list goes on. Another thing we like to do it put frozen fruit in so that it comes out nice and icy. More importantly however is using smoothies to get dark, leafy greens into your body. Dark, leafy greens not only have tons of vitamins, but they also have calcium; they are critical for an athlete’s diet. The problem is sometimes they are kind of boring to eat, so putting them in your smoothie is a perfect solution! It really doesn’t alter the taste at all and as long as the green color of your delicious smoothie doesn’t freak you out, this is a fantastic way to get those leafy greens into your diet!