Everyone wants to be at their ideal weight and race their best. The best time to try and lose a significant amount of weight is in the off season, before getting into specific training and before training demands become high. Once you start getting into specific training and close to racing your body may start to find it’s ideal race weight. There are a few things you can do to try and reach your perfect weight for racing well and reaching your goals.
TIP #1: BALANCE CARBS, PROTEIN, AND FRUITS/VEGETABLES
First, it is important to pay attention to your nutrition before, during and after training. Although carbohydrates are important, it is wise to pay attention to just how much you are eating. There is no need to overload on carbohydrates for training purposes especially if you are only racing between 5 and 10K. The longer the race the more important it will be to pay attention to just how many carbs you are eating so that you can make sure glycogen levels remain high however, many people put a lot of focus on eating mainly carbohydrates and that is not necessary and may just cause you to add extra calories and weight. The goal is to eat a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
TIP #2: DON’T FORCE WEIGHT LOSS
Try not to force weight loss but rather let your body adjust to its most natural race weight through eating healthy and following your training program. If you have trouble hitting a certain weight you can try and cut out 200-500 calories per day and see if that helps to break through the plateau. The goal is to eat enough to refuel and replenish your body but also get down to a healthy race weight so that you are running your best, recovering and feeling great. Find out what foods work best for your pre-run and stick with them. For some this may be a piece of whole wheat toast with nut butter and a banana, a bowl of oatmeal with berries, honey and walnuts, or an easily digested granola bar. Then figure out what foods work best for your post-run and remember you want something that will help you recover optimally: a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio bar or shake, eggs and toast or a peanut butter and jelly with some chocolate milk. Then make sure you are eating every 3-4 hours to keep energy levels high and continue to fill the tank for the next workout. You can eat veggie and protein meals, lots of fruits and whole grains to keep yourself satisfied but not super stuffed. Nuts are a great source of protein and fiber and is a good option to have as a snack or to throw on top of a salad. Filling your body with nutrients is key.
Read more on this topic: The Runner’s Ultimate Nutritional Recovery Routine (RUNRR)
TIP #3: OCCASIONAL REWARDS ARE OKAY
It is also okay to splurge after those big volume days and hard efforts; having a burger and fries here and there when you are really craving some extra calories will not ruin all the hard work you have put in training and eating healthy. Remember to be kind to your body and that everything in moderation is okay. Have the dessert after your long run and enjoy it, just don’t make it a daily occurrence. This is an area many runners tend to go “cold turkey”. It is okay to have dessert in moderation, it will not make you slow. Try to find a healthy balance with eating just like you do with training. Have the cookie after dinner the day of a long run and be okay with it, just don’t make it an every day thing.
TIP #4: WATCH THE CALORIES IN SPORTS DRINKS
One area runners tend to not think about is the calories in sports drinks. Yes, it is okay to have the electrolyte beverage and actually quite beneficial, however, be mindful of how many calories are in the drink you are having. If there is more calories and sugar than you realized either water it down or find another drink to replace it with. Remember, balance is key and energy input vs. energy output is key for losing weight. Always remember to drink plenty of water; a tip is to keep a water bottle with you at all times and try to fill it up every hour or so.
Read more on this topic: Lessons on Fueling for Training and Racing
TIP #5: YOUR BODY IS A VESSEL
Lastly, learn to love your body and treat it as a vessel that is carrying you through your training. In college I saw a lot of girls body shaming themselves and doing whatever it took to get a few pounds lighter even if it meant not eating adequate calories and sacrificing recovery. This always results in stalled performances and injuries later. Everyone is built differently, try not to compare yourself to what other people are doing or what they look like. Instead, learn what kind of runner you are (endurance monster, combo, speedster, etc) and focus on getting the most out of your body through training so that you can realize your potential!
Think about your long-term running career and remember that your body will find its ideal weight if you train hard and put healthy food in the tank. Remember this rule: train hard, eat healthy and have fun!
Annika Braun is a McMillan Running Coach. Learn more about our Personal Coaching where you can train with a coach like Annika by your side to plan your training and talk about race strategy, performance nutrition, injury prevention, stretching, and much more.
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