Nutrition is one of the few areas of endurance sports products that seems to have genuine innovation in it at the moment. Not only that but innovation from small British companies who are delivering some excellent products and who are able to compete with the bigger brands. I’ve never really enjoyed the traditional gels/bars/drinks from Powerbar etc; not something I stomach easily and it didn’t sit well with my approach to eating in general where I try to eat fresh food that is organic/free range. Feels odd to be eating that way during the week and then stuffing sugary gels into my body whenever I run or ride.
That’s where companies like Jersey Pocket come in with products that use quality ingredients with little processing and no preservatives or refined sugars. If I was a Fitspo Instagrammer I’d be tagging all my photos of these bars with #cleaneating or #realfood but that’s just a stupid way of saying eating properly. But whatever you call it these bars are excellent, not all to my taste as you will see but I cannot fault the quality.
I was expecting a lot of things from following a training plan for this marathon; leaner and fitter for sure, confident maybe, but what I was expecting was for it to challenge me to reconsider my diet. I’ve always been generally a healthy eater, I don’t eat junk food or fast food, takeaway is once a month at most and we prepare all our own food using fresh ingredients.
However I do have a sweet tooth, if there is no cake or chocolate in the house then I’m fine. But if there is some then I find myself taking ‘just a little bit’ until it’s all gone in less than 24 hours. I also know that when hungry and looking for a snack I will inevitably grab for bread or carbs. There are few things I won’t eat but in those moments peanut butter on bread or houmous and cheese biscuits is likely to win. The quick carb fix is oh so satisfying.
As I’ve gone through this 16 weeks of marathon training though I’ve found myself craving green vegetables and brown rice and grilled fish. I could probably eat my own body weight in purple sprouting broccoli and I’ve been making salads for lunch with boiled eggs, ham and cheese on top and interestingly have almost zero interest in sugary foods. Clearly no bad thing but unexpected nonetheless.
Maybe it’s a seasonal thing with all those amazing fresh vegetables that come with spring and are part of our weekly veg box? Or is this just the logical result of spending so much time focused on getting your body ready for such a challenge? It naturally starts craving for the nutrients needed to repair the muscles from your training?
Clean eating is always a good thing and is the reason we have a weekly veg box delivered and don’t mind spending money on good quality food which we can cook into feats. But now I’ve started thinking about taking it one step further. If I became a vegetarian or vegan even would I feel different physically? Would it help me be a better runner? I’ve always wondered about the impact of dairy on us, we eat organic dairy which I think is essential, but could no dairy be even better? Plenty of theories on that one if not real scientific evidence to prove it.
What’s added to this is I’ve just read Eat and Run by Scott Jurek where he describes the journey of becoming an ultra runner and the focus that put on his diet which ultimately resulted in him becoming a vegan. It’s a fascinating read if you ignore some of the arrogance of his opinions and gives one perspective on what an athletes diet should be. He also includes recipes in the chapters, some of which are aimed to be eaten during the race and sound like interesting alternatives to the normal gels and bars.
I’m quite tempted to try being a vegan for a month and see how it feels. If nothing else it’s likely to expand my cooking and diet with lots of new dishes which we can continue to make even if I do start eating dairy again. Anyone else been through this experience as a result of training for a race? Are any of you already following specific diets to help with your running?
Parenthood is the perfect training for ultra running