Working along side some of the world’s most talented athletes and athletic adventurers I see and hear a lot of interesting food-related behaviors. Not all are good. Some folks seem to have a challenging relationship with food that gets in their way of helping them accomplish their goals. Whether those goals are to pick up running again after having a baby or to traverse the big ridge lines in the mountains, it isn’t just what you eat that is important but, also HOW you eat.
Through my work and my own experimentation with food as fuel for my tara-sized adventures have identified three easily stated but, most difficult to accept practices around food. I refer to these behaviors as practices because like a yoga pose, there is always somewhere to realign or let go. Over the next three weeks I will share my food practices.
Eat! Yes, just eat. That is practice-pose number one. Eat in a way that helps you achieve what you have in mind for the day. For example, if you plan to do a lunchtime workout don’t wait to eat your first bite or drink your first drop until ten thirty in the morning. Pause for ten minutes to eat something healthy at the start of the day and, then again mid morning. The noon time workout should feel more energized and like an enjoyable step away from the sedentary office life most of us feel stuck in. If however, we miss the opportunity to eat the necessary nutrients at the right time, that workout is in serious jeopardy of being any fun at all.
It is crazy to think that some people need permission to eat but, it is true. Restriction and deprivation are rampant. Permission has become my own reset button when I feel that crazy thought that I would be better of without eating. Eat to run I will tell myself. This sets the stage for eating in a way that energizes my body the best. That is to eat small (relative to what I am doing) and often. This approach does several things for me. It helps spread important nutrients out throughout the day, provides a consistent energy source to my muscles and brain, and make me feel satisfied.
My energy level is directly reflected in my training, working, parenting, and ability to take care of myself. Visualize your energy level as an arched-shaped horizon of straight-up feel good! If you skip a meal, it will dip. What if that is the exact time you have planned for a run? The workout will be more of struggle and less satisfying overall. By keeping a steady stream of energy from carbohydrate and stored fat you have a better chance of being “up” when you need to turn it on. Spreading food out throughout the day also helps my stomach feel more satisfied and keeps “hangry Mama”at bay!
So there it is! My first big piece of advice for those seeking to energize athletic performance is EAT. Stay tuned for the next two