Thursday, July 16, 2009

I hate to eat & run (I mean it, I really hate it! Advice??)

I wake up, I run, and the parasites eat their breakfast. I’m so thoroughly devoured from my pre-dawn trips through damp, mosquito-infested paths that I’m just waiting for the other members of the animal kingdom to discover me. It would only half-surprise me if one morning I returned to my doorstep wearing an armor of head-to-toe leeches, with a dog chewing on an ankle and a bird's claws entangled in my hair.

But enough about what’s eating me. Can I get some advice on what I’m eating?

I run as far as I run because my legs are strong and because to say that my will power is “relentless” is a bit of an understatement; I haven’t let fevers, walking pneumonia or even a burst ovarian cyst keep me off the trail. (I’m not bragging about this, by the way—I recognize that the adage is “starve a fever, feed a cold,” not “run for 3 miles if you have a fever, 6 if you have a cold” and that it’s not the wisest thing to stress your body so much when sick.)

As I’m running, though, particularly for long distances, I start to feel weak about 45 minutes into a run, which is probably why after 60 minutes I am very tired and 80 minutes is as long as I’ve been able to go without getting woozy. 80 minutes at a 9 ½ minute mile pace is not sufficient to get me through a 13.1 mile half marathon.

I know when I start running with Team in Training in August, I’ll get some pointers, but it would be nice to be able to go beyond 80 minutes before then.

I am pretty sure the issue is what I eat and not my leg strength (it’s definitely not lack of will, I can promise you that!) Which is why I’m hoping to get advice from any regular runners out there.

I’ve tried pre-run breakfasts of pancakes (wayyyy to0 heavy!) a single wheat waffle and an egg white (wayyy to0 light!) and just about everything in between—and have had to deal with either sluggishness, nausea or both, or worse.

My faithful blog reader, veteran marathoner and long-time BFF Kelly had recommended I try a slice of wheat toast and peanut butter, and that suggestion has been great. No more tossing my cookies—or, err, pancakes—during a run.

But while it’s prevented severe gastrointestinal distress, it’s not been a cure-all. I still get weak at that dreaded 45 minute mark of my run. I still think I might need to switch up my diet a little—maybe what I eat the day before, or even everyday—to be able to complete the half-marathon.

I know “carb loading” is important, but overdoing pasta and pizza the night before a long run actually seems to backfire on me, making me more sluggish the next day. Currently, being a Weight Watchers veteran, I have a pretty balanced diet with lots of fresh vegetables, berries, whole grains, lean dairy, “good” fats like olive oil and avocado—and a little bit of fish and poultry. (I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m a very unenthusiastic carnivore.)

So what am I doing wrong? Let me know if you have any suggestions on a good runner’s diet—or if there’s something else I could do to stay strong longer.

OK, off to go soak in some Calamine lotion…

If you’d like to support this bug-bite-covered, pancake-puking but extremely dedicated runner’s efforts to raise money for leukemia & lymphoma research by sponsoring her at the Miami ING marathon, click here to view her fundraising page.


  1. You really need to be taking in something during your run. For some people it's after 40-45 mins, and then every hour or so after that.

  2. Forgot to add, I do my carbs 2 days before my long, it works better for me. I usually do extra fruit, bread, or pasta.

    I find that my APs will more than cover anything I take in during runs (gels, candy, etc). See what works for you

  3. Thanks, I'm going to try out this advice tomorrow during my long run. I agree: the APs will more than cover the gels and then some. :-)