My eating habits change with each season of training. During marathon and half marathon training, I eat more carbs and overall calories to balance the increased training load. During shorter distance training, I found myself reaching for more protein to help my muscles rebuild after hard workouts. Now that I’m in off-season training and running mostly easy miles, I try to strike more balance in my diet.
With each training season, I naturally settle into a routine of how I eat. It’s balance of intuitive eating and being deliberate about my body’s nutritional needs based on the current physical demands.
There’s less need to be as careful about my nutrition during the off-season than there is during training. I find myself more relaxed about what I eat. I am also willing to experiment with different meals, as I don’t need to worry as much about beans or dairy upsetting my stomach on the next morning’s run.
I do still eat plenty to fuel my running during the off-season. While I may not be doing hard workouts or 20 mile long runs, I still run 30-35 miles per week and usually increase my strength training load. Hopefully soon, long weekend hikes will be part of the weekly activity as well. I may weigh a couple pounds more during the off-season, but I’m not trying to maintain racing weight right now.
Breakfast is my most carb-heavy meal of the day since I eat it after my run. Lately, I’ve been running with just some water and coffee on my stomach, but if I run at 7 AM I will have a banana before my workout (and more on the weekends before a long run). The combination of carbs and protein aids with glycogen resynthesis and muscle recovery after a run, and I really believe that eating within that 60 minute post-run window keeps me recovering well and improving with each training cycle.
Even in summer, my weekday breakfast is oatmeal. I cook 1/2 cup of rolled oats in 1 cup of water, whisk in an egg for protein, season with a pinch of salt and cinnamon, and then serve with fruit (right now, bananas and blueberries), sometimes shredded carrots, and chia seeds or peanut butter. And of course, a cup of black coffee on the side!
Lately, I’ve been making these blueberry teff pancakes after our weekend long runs. They are so good that I’m craving them each weekend and they keep me full for hours after a run.
I go through phases with sweet potatoes. I’ll go weeks without eating them, and then I will start craving them and have them daily for weeks. Oven baked sweet potato fries are my favorite way to eat them at lunch.
I don’t eat meat at lunch, both for health and environmental reasons. Usually my protein comes from eggs or legume. My favorite protein of the moment is this baked falafel from Cookie and Kate. I use spinach in place of the herbs for some extra nutrition (and because I forget to get herbs at the grocery store). I’ll serve them alongside sweet potato fries, have kale or bell peppers as a side vegetable, and add some tahini sauce for healthy fat and more flavor.
I eat meat at dinner, especially on the nights that I strength train in the evening. One of my favorite meals lately has been a burger bowl: a 4-oz. grass fed beef burger on top of short grain brown rice and served with vegetables (eggplant, kale, tomatoes, and bell pepper here) and avocado. I love to stuff my dinner full of fresh vegetables.
Kale or spinach salads with chicken breast, avocado, and roasted vegetables served with a side of oven fries are a weekly meal for us. It’s a simple, nutritious, and satisfying meal. Kale is my current favorite green, both in terms of its taste and nutritional profile. Kale provides vitamins A, B-6, C, and calcium, all of which are important both for women’s health and athletic performance. And, honestly, I love the taste of massaged kale with salt and olive oil. Themassaging (a minute or so of scrunching the leaves) removes the bitter flavor, makes it easier to digest, and gives it a good texture.
Yogurt with fruit will always be my go-to snack, regardless of the training season. The combination of protein, probiotics, and calcium make this a very nutritional snack, especially since I notice the difference in how my stomach behaves based on my probiotic consumption. While certain dairy products such as milk or ice cream can upset my stomach, the fermentation process of yogurt makes it easier for me to digest.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying Stonyfield Plain Greek Yogurt with blueberries as my afternoon snack. We are literally going through 3 containers of blueberries per week, if not more. The fresh blueberries are so flavorful this time of year!
Everyone have different opinions on alcohol intake, but I choose to drink in moderation each day. Some people like dessert, I like craft beer. I can be a bit high-strung about work and will work 12 hours a day, well into the evening hours, so taking a moment to have a drink with my husband takes my edge off and helps me relax. I don’t drink hard liquor often, so I stick to an IPA or a glass of red wine. On weekends, I’ll usually have two drinks – especially if we are out at a brewery. Eating well is about balance and allowing those small treats.
I also eat dark chocolate each day – the darker, the better! My current favorites are Theo 85% Dark and Endangered Species 88% dark.
What meals are you enjoying right now?
Do you prefer spinach or kale?
Do you like dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
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