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08 2013

Achieving My Ideal Running Weight – Lace up for Hunger

Syndicated from: Daily Bread Food Bank

About 22 to 23 kilometres into the 30k Around the Bay (ATB) road race in March I started to experience pain in my legs. As I continued running up the hills (and the hills in the last 10 of the ATB are many and huge), the pain got progressively worse. It was like being stabbed with knitting needles in the muscles just above my kneecaps. By the last three to four kilometres, my calves started getting into it too, tightening to the point of seizing (which they finally did in the last 400 metres of the race). I stopped running completely for minutes at a time at the last few aid stations, walked up a couple of hills and literally hobbled the last metres of the race, barely able to finish. I had never before experienced “the wall” – the point at which the energy stores in your muscles are so depleted you cannot keep up. I certainly had read about it, but I thought it just meant being really tired. I didn’t realize it involved the full breakdown of the muscles in your body. I am certainly not going to let it happen again, least of all this October 20. One thing I learned from that experience was that I was carrying around a bit too much weight. It’s pretty simple: extra pounds slow you down and put more pressure on the muscles carrying you. I was one of those runners who thought a long run was a licence to eat anything you want afterward (Sunday morning long run = Sunday evening large pizza and chicken wings). But as experience showed me, this is not true. So in the three months between Around the Bay and the start of my marathon training, I set out to improve my nutrition and lose about 10 to12 pounds, with the goal of lowering my body fat percentage and increasing lean muscle. I picked up a couple of tools to help me. The first was a book called Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. The real challenge of losing weight while running is that typical weight loss diets (reduced calories) can interfere with the goal of improving your running. Not only that, but many types of diets, like low-carb diets, are detrimental to running, since carbs are fuel for any physical activity. The book is quite good at laying out a plan to achieve your running goals while also slowly lowering your body fat. It even has running tips to maximize fat loss. The other was a calorie counting app called MyNetDiary. I started tracking everything I ate, which made me far more aware of what is in foods. Not only did it help me track overall calories, but it also helped make sure I was getting the proper amounts of carbs and other nutrients to fuel my runs. MyNetDiary, and other similar apps, are a great tool for anyone training to run long distances, even if you are not concerned about weight loss. By cleaning up my diet (i.e., eating whole grain pasta instead of white, more fruit and vegetables, and eating less refined foods) and minimizing alcohol consumption (I’m not as fun anymore, but at least I can run pretty fast), I was able to drop the weight and lower my body fat percentage considerably in about three months without any noticeable sacrifice of strength and speed. I feel quicker in my runs and have less wear and tear on muscles and tendons with less weight to carry around. In general I feel much healthier as well. Running is great way to be fit and active. By incorporating some of these tools, it can also be a great way to achieve your weight goals. Click here to register for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and run with the Daily Bread Lace up for Hunger team. ___________________________________________________________________ Food and nutrition plays such an important role in running, it’s easy to forget that so many people in our community don’t have the same food choices available to them because of lack of money. Running for Daily Bread, I came up with a list of foods that I use regularly as part of my running diet that are also appropriate to donate: Oatmeal: this is my food of choice before early morning runs and races. High in carbs, and easily digested, oatmeal provides instant energy. Combine it with a banana and you’re getting a very high level of healthy carbs. Canned Fish: provides a high level of protein for muscle repair, and the omega-3 oils in fish reduce muscle pain and inflammation. Refried Beans: a good source of protein, I often spoon it on a whole wheat or corn tortilla with veggies for a tasty, high protein/high carb lunch. Peanut Butter: peanut butter is fairly high in protein and healthy oils. I often eat a bagel with peanut butter within an hour of a hard run – the ratio of carbs to protein is optimal for beginning your body’s repair process. Stick with natural peanut butters with no sugar added. You can drop off food donations at your local fire hall, or click here to find your closest on-going drop off location. You can also support Daily Bread by clicking here to make a financial donation to Daily Bread through the Lace Up for Hunger Team. by Michael Oliphant, Lace Up For Hunger team captain (and Daily Bread staff member)

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