Yesterday I started talking about why taking the time to figure out your calories and starting to look at the nutritional efficiency (the density) of what you’re eating is so important for new endurance athletes, especially ones who are trying to lose weight. Here’s part two of my tips:
Know How Your Body Runs
Try doing a few runs with a heart rate monitor. It needs to be one that has a strap that goes across your chest because this gives the most accurate data. I haven’t seen a HR monitor with a chest strap yet that doesn’t also have a calorie counter feature on it. This will give you an idea of how many calories you’re burning during your runs and how much you need to eat to recover properly. Generally, if it’s a fairly strenuous run, I’m burning between 800-850 cal per hour. That affects my diet tremendously. If I don’t eat right, I don’t run right.
Train According To Your Experience
Now, as far as training, you can successfully complete a marathon on three days of running. one tempo run a week, one long run a week, and one other sort of ‘easy’ day where you just get out and get some miles in. A lot of times I see people trying to put in too much training or stacking too many hard workouts up against one another. It’s a terrible idea to do a speed workout and then plan on a long run the next day, for instance. Most training plans have you running between 3-6 days a week depending on how advanced they are. Just make sure you’re programming is correct for your experience level. Basically, if you’re a beginner marathoner, you don’t need to be running 6 days a week.
Finally, A Little More About Food
If you finish your run, and you’re not hungry, that’s a bad sign. That means your body has started to shut down your stomach and is entering what’s referred to as ‘starvation mode’. It goes back to when we were hunter/gatherers. You’re body is turning off the signals from your stomach that tell you you’re hungry because it believes food is scarce. Your metabolism is shutting down (not good for maintaining weight) and your body is looking to conserve any calories you take in by storing them as fat to help it survive what it perceives to be a lean period of no food. The best way to get around this, EAT! and quickly. Trust me. I’ve been in that spot where nothing sounds good, but I’ll force myself to eat half a banana or some peanut butter and slowly but surely, the more food I get in my stomach, the more I start feeling like I woke my stomach up and I need to eat!
The more you bring into your body (especially if it’s high quality, natural, and nutritionally rich) the more it will stoke your metabolism, wake it up from sleep mode and get it going to burn calories. This is also why it’s so important to eat while you’re running -again, you’re stoking that proverbial metabolic fire and keeping your body running efficiently. If you do this diligently I absolutely promise you that you’ll never worry about weight gain and you’ll have plenty of energy for your runs. It can be a really difficult balance to find for some people. But once you do, you’ll see a big difference in your energy levels during and after your runs.
I hope these pointers gave everyone out there a few things to think about and try. It’s difficult to find that sweet spot where you feel like you’re feeding your body the right stuff (Gnarly products are definitely some of that right stuff, btw), but not necessarily over eating either. One last thing, enjoy the journey! Endurance training is most definitely not about point A to B. It’s much more about what happens in between and what you learn about yourself during the process.