Do you keep track of your New Year’s Resolutions? I do… or at least I try to.
I had as a New Year’s Resolution to race 3 half marathons and so far I have achieved 2/3 of those goals, racing the Miami ½ marathon in January and the Puerto Rico ½ Marathon at the beginning of May. In both, I have finished with my best times so far. I have a lot to thank to my coach, Chewi Candelario. He is strict and fun at the same time. I fully recommend him if you’re looking into training for a running event or a triathlon.
This running business is a newfound love for me… I have always been active, but never considered myself an athlete. I’ve always leaned more towards the artistic side. I’ve always been a dancer and later on, a yogi… but never an “athlete”. Now I train 4 times a week, I try to never miss a long run on Saturday mornings to the point of not going out with my friends on Friday nights to be able to get up at 3AM to be ready for our 5AM calls. I even have a running/training group when I am in FL visiting my sister and nephews, which is quite often lately. I now know the beauty of ice water baths and Epsom salts. It’s a sacrifice… but I’ve gained so much from it – the social aspect of running is the best part of it all. I’ve made so many friends who are all into health and fitness… it’s a real joy.
Part of all this training is how to fuel your body… before training, after training and leading to a race. Being a vegetarian, you just need to choose adequately those foods that will fit into your training regime and your veggie lifestyle. So many people stress the importance of proteins when working out and I was hesitant I would not be able to feed my body as the nutritionists were “educating me”. One of the funny things was a list of snacks given to us as examples of what to eat before training and after training. The list was 95% all vegetarian things… this was comforting and relieved me of the usual burden of figuring out what could be applicable for me as a vegetarian.
I want to share with you what has worked for me and maybe it can take a little pressure off you if you’re training or considering starting training for an athletic event. I want to make full disclosure that I am basing all these recommendations on my own personal experience. I am not a nutritionist or a dietician nor a certified trainer. I have applied the knowledge acquired from several sources, including listening to my very own body how it reacts when I eat something in particular.
I’ve noticed over the years that I can’t have 3 full meals a day. I have breakfast, as I always get up hungry. But I can’t have lunch and dinner too. This is too much for me… I can have breakfast, a snack, a late lunch at around 2-3PM and another snack at night or after training. When I have dinner, I find it just takes longer to digest and I won’t have a restful sleep and will wake up with a queasy stomach, especially at 4AM before a long run. So that’s what works for me… 2 full meals and 2 snacks. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s what works for me most of the time.
Snacks are what I mostly eat after training. I try to include a combination of protein and complex carbs to help me repair muscle and not feel tired and achy the next morning. This is what I tend to eat most of the time:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich on Whole Wheat bread
Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese Sandwich on Whole Wheat bread
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich on Whole Wheat bread
Hummus sandwich with tomatoes, baby spinach and mustard on whole wheat bread
Sandwich with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce on whole grain ciabatta
Cottage Cheese and Fruits
Cottage Cheese and Whole Grain Tortilla Chips
Greek Yogurt with Fresh Fruits
Fresh Fruit Smoothie with Yogurt and Flaxseeds
Granola with Greek yogurt and fresh fruits
Granola Bar with Peanut Butter with a glass of milk
Cold Cereal with a few slices of cheese and a banana or other fruit
Oatmeal made with Almond Milk with a banana on the side
Oatmeal-based Cold Cereal and a glass of milk
I recently learned the importance of adding lots of dark leafy greens to my diet when training to optimize my performance and avoid injuries. So I’ll be adding some spinach to my smoothies more often from now on. I have shared some ideas in the past that are just delicious:
Or just add spinach or kale or Swiss chard to your favorite fruit smoothie combination. I have drunk Swiss chard juice in the past and, believe me, you much rather have it in a fruit smoothie than a straight juice format. If you rather not see the green flecks in your beverage, I suggest you use dark berries, such as blueberries or blackberries. They will mask the green bits better than using just banana, strawberries or raspberries in your smoothie.
Before a race, we’re always recommended to bulk up on carbs the day before. Like I said, I usually have a pasta-based lunch the afternoon prior to a race. These are some of the pasta dishes that work best for me:
Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes mixed in with pieces of fresh mozzarella
Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes and Spinach
Orzotto with Mushrooms and Spinach
Do you train for marathons and half-marathons?? What do you fuel yourself with??