My work has opened me to the possibility of achieving athletic feats I never new were available to the human body let alone my human body. Most recently I was able to participate in the activities of one of America’s most iconic one-hundred mile foot races, the Western States without actually having to run it. I had the pleasure listening to the scientific community interested in studying ultra-runners while also getting to know some of the leaders in the sport like Nikki Kimball, Stephanie Howe, and Scotto(typo I choose to keep because I liked it) Jurek. Not just these athletes, but all ultra-runners (and many other athletes outside the scope of running) show us that the seemingly impossible is possible. I believe it is this desire for possibility that drives those seekers of challenge.
Running one-hundred miles sounds more and more possible despite the fact that my own legs have never carried me more than thirty-one miles at one time. I get chills when I drive by Auburn on I-80 knowing this is where the finish line is after the start far away in Squaw Valley. When I think about it as a beautiful journey along some of the best trails and scenery only accessible by foot, it sounds so reasonable to move along from Squaw to Auburn at my own pace, in my own time, and on a journey with an incredible community of people who support runners or who are runners. Thinking about running anything in this way is appealing – a journey of unknowns with a spirit of adventure to carry me – sounds a lot like life, only living life is more challenging. This thinking leads me to believe that running these types of “journey races” is possible and available to those who have the desire because humans meet the challenges of life every day which breeds the strength and determination to carry you over more miles of trails than your rationale mind thinks possible. I am reminded daily of this when I look into the eyes of my enthusiastic eight-year old, born at twenty-six weeks and two days, fourteen weeks before his due date. From this seemingly impossible place he began growing bigger and stronger. When I feel like I have nothing left he smiles and inspires me to dig deeper and see through pain to joy. If that isn’t ultra-training, I don’t know what is. Would I run a hundred miles? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I am certainly open to the possibility.
For years, any time running felt bad or I felt low-energy I looked straight to what and how I was eating. I learned early on the profound affect eating could have on performance. The problem with this was I couldn’t get the food “just right” to provide the energy I needed to train and race. I needed to eat so energy flowed like a steady stream instead of peaks and valleys.
|Sometimes post-run recovery food might just be that 2 day old powdered donut
It took me years to realize that if I just trusted my common sense and intuition around nutrition and let healthy eating flow like a steady stream I would achieve more and feel better than of I weighed, measured, and counted every bite. I had to trust what I knew and let go of self-doubt, judgement, and comparing myself to others.
I have been running races and fun runs since I was ten years old. I was competitive in high school until I hit an extremely rough patch in my ability to run fast while also adapting to the changing body of a teen. I started getting slower, losing races (the year before I had one every single race I ran). I was depressed and looking for answers. My coach and parents had now answers. With an interest even then in sports nutrition I looked to food for answers. Problem was I became obsessed. Food didn’t have the answers I needed to become a better runner. Food was a symptom of something greater effecting my ability. It was years before I realized this. A degree in nutrition, some bummer races, and two children later I can now eat in way that matches my ambition to be a healthy and athletic mother of two.
Most healthy active people I know will thrive when they accept these five truths and stop obsessing up the “right” way to eat:
1. Give yourself permission to eat. Don’t go hungry and skip meals.
2. Stop comparing what you eat to what others eat. They are not you and they do not know what your body needs
3. Accept the nutrition is never black and white. There is variation in eating and it doesn’t take perfection to eat healthy.
4. Accept that there is no magic bullet or quick fixes. Healthy eating and achieving a steady stream of energy is a slow and steady approach with lasting benefits to health and athletic performance
5. Stop paying attention to nutrition trends. You know what to eat and how to stay healthy (fruits, vegetables, grains!) These headlines will turn you off course.
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On the “snack-hand” this is really cool but on the “athletic-performance-hand” it is concerning. If an athlete is uneducated and tries to eat these in replacement of gel or even frequently during a run they could end up with some serious gut issues.
It is important to know that the fat they body uses during activity is NOT the fat eaten during activity but rather stored fat. Fat eaten during activity lasting longer than six hours has some digestive benefit in small doses and may help with pallet fatigue so I could see eating maybe one these every six hours or spread out over 6+ hours.