We run so we can eat, right? Okay, okay, I do toss that around here quite frequently because, yes, being a runner entitles us to be a little more gluttonous than our slothy counterparts. BUT at the same time it would be a lie if I said that I only eat crap. And despite all of food gorging stories you share with a rightful amount of pride, wolfing down a whole pizza and ice cream by the pints is pretty cool when ‘earned’, I’m pretty sure 90% of you do too.
It’s a balance thing but it’s also that as runners I feel we fall into the healthier living category, no? In my most recent Competitor.com article: ‘The Runner’s Guide to Eating Out’ I’ve got the line, “Competitive athletes are wise enough to acknowledge that what goes into their mouths has a direct correlation to what their legs can put out.”
Despite those hamburgers larger than our heads and boxes of Pop-Tarts the majority of our diets are made up of ‘better’ choices or at least making sure we DO get in the necessary nutrients to fuel our body right. To fuel us for performance. We are running ‘machines’ not just pretty, cool bodies to look at. Yea, runner bodies are way cooler to look at too, but that’s beside the point.
I’ve talked about my little filling the foundation of your house with the ‘good’ stuff and do what you will with the attic before and that applies here. In tying in with the dining out at restaurants article I wanted to share a little more on what Krista Austin, Ph.D had to say.
* Athletes Aim for Intuitive Eating: Austin stresses that the aim is to listen to your body when gauging how much is enough, “Athletes should always remember to gauge their hunger to help control the volume of food that they eat-if you’re hungry eat and as you get full-stop!” In being a runner part of our JOB is being better attuned to reading the signals from our body, right, we do that all the time in training. For many, listening to those hunger/full cues from your brain is tricky because growing up and our environments/society has skewed our perceptions of hunger, satiety, appetite, cravings, boredom eating, and all of that jazz.
* Runner Entitlement: Here’s what I was talking about in filling that attic and being ‘entitled’ to eating more freely than most. “My policy is that at least once a week every athlete should have a “fun meal” where they don’t think too much about what they are eating and just enjoy fun food-the key is to watch the portion sizes,” says Austin. Win goes to the runners here, bring on the food trough. Juuuust kidding.
* Calories CAN Get Sneaky: Okay, here is where I will admit to being downright floored at some of the nutritional stats of restaurants. Krista and I both agree on that one, are they injecting straight lard into some of those dishes to get stats that high?! Sure, now and then eating totally blasé on stats is fine, but if you do make it a habit of going out to eat you might want to school up on the nutritional stats of some of those restaurants. You don’t need to obsess, but just have a little awareness.
* Gluten Intolerant Folks: “Gluten intolerance athletes can go to restaurants like PF Changs or Red Robin that highlight their GF options but if you don’t know whether the food is GF or not, first start by asking if the restaurant knows and then if you must really eat without knowledge just try to ask for food items that we know are GF such as fajitas with corn tortillas or salads with meat on top etc.,” explains Austin. Amy Yoder Begley is a big fan of PF Chang’s especially when traveling for races; she also warns that if you don’t know of something is GF you REALLY need to be careful of cross-contamination in the kitchen. [I did a whole post on more GF living advice.]
* Race Travel: Revisit the article I wrote because it addresses this more in detail, but basically DO NOT try something new the day before or the day of a race, People. We know better…nothing worse than a burrito induced port-a-potty disaster mid-race, no??
* What Can Your Plate Do For YOU and you the RUNNER?: It’s the yin and yang of being a PERSON but also a RUNNER. You want both parts to feel fulfilled and satisfied, “Ask yourself when choosing menu items, 1)what will the food do for me? Is it going to refill my glycogen stores, help me recover from training, help me obtain the body composition I desire? and then 2) does it contain foods that will make me fill satisfied so I don’t then go for other foods later when I’m not even hungry just because I didn’t like what I ate,” explains Austin.
Runners and nutrition is an interesting topic to put it bluntly. It shouldn’t be as ridiculous as it is sometimes, but such is the nature of the beast. Keep things from erring on the side of driving yourself insane; the best runners I know are adept at finding the balance of person and runner.
Enjoy the entitlement that being a calorie-furnace runner but still be mindful of the times when you’re eating to perform.
1) Do you go out to eat very often? If so, what are some of your favorite spots?
2) When you do go out to eat, what kinds of things do you seek out? How do you balance the person and the runner?
3) What is your stance on having nutritional information available on more and more restaurant menus either online or on site?
I think having them available online or if you ask for them at the place is good; I don’t think necessarily on the full menu only because at the same time if you don’t want to feel guilty on something you shouldn’t feel forced into that guilt. Lol.
4) If you’re gluten intolerant, what are some of your favorite restaurants?