You read and hear about new year’s resolutions until you’re ready to throw your phone out the window.
The problem is, nearly all of them require commitment.
It’s just about like anything else in life – you make a decision and then you have to figure out if you have what it takes to stick with it.
Most runners already know this. If they don’t conform to a regular training regimen, chances are they won’t reach their goals, such as faster times, weight loss, better overall health.
Diet change falls under this heading.
Now that we’re almost 20 years into this new century, it should be worth noting that a good number of runners are making a conversion away from a diet which includes some form of meat, poultry, fish and/or dairy.
What better time than at the start of a new year than to consider a partial (or full) switch to a healthier diet?
Start by eliminating the fast food stops, the in-between meals snacking and edibles which contain a lot of fat.
Here’s one trick that I employ: Don’t turn on the oven from Monday to Thursday: Get out the biggest bowl you own and make the world’s largest salad, including lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, shaved almonds, peppers, toppings, lemon, carrot shavings, etc.
For dessert: Fruit and maybe an oatmeal-based muffin.
The rest of the day is simple: A double whey-protein post-run drink, along with a bowl of slivered almonds for breakfast and then cashews or walnuts.
On the weekends, it’s back to a more regular diet: Salmon or chicken, broccoli and potatoes for dinner and maybe a turkey sandwich thrown in for lunch.
I got rid of the red meat some 35 years ago but am not a fanatic about it. If a friend is hosting a barbeque and hamburgers are the main option on the menu, I dive right in.
There are some nutrition experts out there who believe a modified vegetarian diet can help your performance in the long run, especially with overall health.
Obviously, a plant-based diet will help you cut down on your body fat and a lighter runner is a faster runner.
According to an article by Molly Hurford on the MapMyRun website, there are a half-dozen things to keep an eye on if you are contemplating a move to the Big “V’’:
>1. Keep a food log. If a notebook doesn’t suffice, try the MyFitnessPal app. This will give you a record of what you’re eating and how much. The purpose here is really no different than a mileage log book.
>2. Make smart choices: Shop for things like ground oatmeal, chocolate protein powder, tofu, soy curls, meat substitutes, vegan protein, rice cakes and fruit. Some of these are an acquired taste but it’s just like anything else, it takes that commitment.
>3. Macros matter: Maintaining a healthy level of protein in a vegan-based diet can be tricky. Healthy fats such as those found in coconut oil and avocados can be added to help out.
>4. Track your performances: I know back in the early ‘80s when I was cranking out the 100-mile weeks in preparation for the New York and Philadelphia marathons, I fell victim to anemia twice. The main culprit: Low iron. So if you are getting by with a lot of fish and salads, make sure you supplement with things like spinach, canned peaches, etc.
>5. Plan ahead: If you’re traveling to a race, etc., not every town has a health food store. So stock up ahead of time. Examples: Mashed potato burritos, rice balls, fresh vegetables, cut fruit and so forth.
>6. Be creative and have fun: Check online recipes for vegan runners and come up with some really oddball dishes. Who knows? Eventually weird becomes the normal (sound familiar?).
In addition to these tips, you can ensure you’re getting enough nutrients by going the vitamin-supplement route.
According to an article by Dr. Lewis Maharam in the New York Daily News, vegetarian athletes can experience fatigue because of a shortage of the aforementioned elements.
Runners should make sure they’re getting enough carbohydrates, protein, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B12, riboflavin, alpha-linolenic acid and vitamin D.
For carbs, eat whole grains found in barley, whole wheat pasta and brown rice. Also whole fruits, squash, beans, corn, sweet potatoes and lentils.
For iron: Dried apricots, prunes, fortified breakfast cereals, beans and nuts.
For calcium: Almond or soy milk, sesame tahini, almonds, green leafy vegetables.
For zinc: Seeds, mushrooms, split peas, black-eyed peas.
For vitamin B12: Fortified and soy-based cereals. Add B12 supplement since this is found in natural form only in animal products.
For alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3): Go with fish oil. Buy the good stuff. It enhances B cells (white blood cells). If you have aversion to fish, try flaxseed oil.
For vitamin D: Spend an hour a day in the sun. That’s tough in the winter. Short of that, hit the orange juice or get yourself a bottle of vitamin D (2,000 units).
Even if you manage to take on only half of what we just listed, your running and overall health should improve.
See you on the roads!
Bucks County Roadrunners Winter Series Wild Card (distance 4 to 6 miles), 9 a.m., Tyler State Park, Newtown. Contact www.bcrrclub.com/winterseries.
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