As some of you may have noticed via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, my family and I ran the relay marathon at the Vienna City Marathon event last weekend. This was an amazing experience – a hundred times, no: a thousand times better than I had expected. The months before the run I didn’t only extend running distances and number or trainings, but I also kept an eye on which foods provide the necessary energy for me in order to be able to run longer. I’m neither a nutritionist nor an expert in sports, but I still want to share my experience with all of you here.
Me and a running event. I had never thought that this could ever be a good combination. But I was wrong – glad me!
I have always liked doing sports and I guess there wasn’t a single period in life when I didn’t do at least one kind of sports. Still, it was long distance running that never managed to become a passion. Being able to run longer and greater distances or maybe the drive to challenge myself in that point isn’t something that I really inherit (even though my father is a marathon runner – I guess something must have went wrong when me genes were combined about 23 years ago ;-) ). Therefore, I’m even more proud that I managed without greater problems, to go, or better: run, beyond the 10k-mark. I must admit: it was hard work. But I really can’t tell wether it was more work for my body or my brain, as the fear of coming up against limiting factors is much greater than I had thought before starting my training. Therefore, it was even more helpful to find out, which foods make it easier for me, to run longer distances.
Foods, I learned to love while training
During my training period I also did some research about nutrition and running. Some things I rejected immediately (I think I never really celebrated a pasta-party), and found out things I hadn’t really read of. I made especially good experience with the following foods:
- dried fruits
- raw brownie bars
Having a bite of one of these foods about one or half an hour before running each time provided a real energy kick. This is what I profited from on marathon day. My breakfast consisted of wholemeal crackers, avocado, almond butter and dates. About half an hour before it was my turn to run the final part of the relay marathon, I had a banana and me feet were able to move as if I hadn’t had massive problems in terms of motivation and strenght the weeks before.
It also helped a lot to have a full dinner the evening before. In autumn this wasn’t always the case as I often cooked in the afternoon, which means that my last meal was quite long ago when I went for a run the next morning.
For all of you, who like running after work or uni and before dinner, I can recommend having something small in the afternoon or some time before training, in order to have enough energy and not to run out of strength immediately.
A drink providing electrolytes is coconut water. In Austria you can get it at DM, health stores and even in some standard grocery shops like Billa.Ein Getränk, das in puncto Elektrolyte einiges liefern kann, ist Kokoswasser. Das bekommt man bei DM, im Reformhaus und mittlerweile auch schon in manchen Standardsupermärkten wie Billa.
But please keep in mind: every body is different. Therefore, it could be that your body reacts differently than mine does, in case you want to try the things the way I did.
Reliefing hips und revitalization: my greatest must
That your spine, hips and leg joints are under stress while you’re running, I couldn’t only read on fitness websites or blogs, but could also feel myself. Therefore, I started doing yoga postures in order to relief my hips and spine after each training session, of which I had about three per week (in winter, I often only had two). I have the impression that it did a lot for my body healthy and I didn’t really feel any kind of pain after a longer run, except one or two times maybe.
I’m listing all the postures I loved doing after a run.
- nakara asana (crocodile pose)
- virabhandrasana 3 (third warrior)
- ardha chandrasana (half moon pose)
- trikonasana (triangle pose)
- savasana (corps pose)
- adho mukha svanasana (down dog pose)
Each time it does wonders for me to stretch out and relax after running. Especially the effect of savasana I had always underestimated. I slowly realized how important it is (for me), to allow myself to have these minutes of absolute silence and relaxation. My longest savasana lasted for about 30 minutes. I have to admit, that I had never experience this leisure ever before and never experieced it ever again. I guess it’s not necessary to hold it for that long, but still, I absolutely loved and enjoyed it!
Some words about running and figure
Even though long distance running and me had never been friends before, I started running regularly in 2011. The main purpose was to simply be active, to hold my weight or to lose weight. I completely avoided these thoughts while training for the relay marathon, I actually turned it around: I didn’t run to burn calories, but I took in calories to be able to run. I’m absolutely conviced of this way and would do it like this again. Even in times when I’m not happy with the way I look or my weight, I would take in foods providing enough calories when I want to take part in a running event or am planning to have a powerful training session. I think anything else wold be counteproductive. For me it’s clear: who wants to run, needs to eat. Leaving out the one thing for the other would make it last longer or maybe even impossible to experience success in training. At least this is what I experienced and am now convinced of. And as my experience was such a great one at the VCM-event last weekend, I’ve got appetite for the half marathon. Wel’ll see wether I’ll be able to do this. At least I’ve already written the half marathon on my “Do Do In Life”-List!