Friday, March 4, 2011

Eating for Ultra Running & Fun Photos Friday!

I made an album of the few-- but great!-- running legends I've had the opportunity to meet over the past few years. The catch? You have to go to my facebook "fan" page to see them. This includes everybody from Maniac legend Dave Mari up to Marathon god Dean Karnazes! If you look to the upper right corner of my blog, you'll notice that I've added a social media link. Feel free to follow the facebook icon to my fan page and if you're a twitterer, I just did my first tweet this week! I'm still learning so any tips and tricks would be wonderful :)

Eating for 4!
No, I'm not pregnant with triplets but, I am eating even more than my usual gluttonous self. My friend, Marlene, has been twittering about food a lot and I don't blame her! With all the miles we put in, we need lots of fuel to aid in recovery. When I first started increasing my mileage for this crazy ultra training I noticed my appetite (which was already remarkably large) was getting even bigger. Now? I'm practically famished 20 minutes after having a meal. I found my options were to either eat whatever I could find constantly-- which reminded me of a squirrel storing up for winter-- or get smart about it and start eating foods that stayed with me. 

Fun fact! You may notice some marathoners actually start to GAIN weight as they pick up their training. With all the miles, how is this possible? There are a few reasons for this: 
1) They say "hey I ran 26 miles, I can eat whatever I want"... and do so for approximately 3 days after, consuming far more calories than they're burning. 
2) Your body is adjusting to the increase in activity and will start to store food whenever it can, expecting that you will surprise it with another marathon sneak attack!!! 
3) Building Muscles! The longer the distance, the most muscle accumulates in those upper thighs! Muscle weighs more than fat.. but don't use this as an excuse past a few lbs. 

Eating for Ultras...
I've always been the "5-6 meals/day" kind of runner, but this ultra training was really getting to me. I found just eating a lot and eating balanced wasn't enough. I needed to find foods that stick with me through the day and increase my consumption of those without increasing TOO many calories. The things that I've found to help me are:

~Rice!!! The days I have rice I can run longer and faster with much less fatigue. I also notice I don't get as hungry. This goes the same for other starches like potatoes.... you may or may not know this put MOST ultras have cooked-- and sometimes salted (yum!)-- potatoes at their aid stations to help the runners. The salt is also a key element for us runners as we lose a lot.. esp in the hot months. 

~Fruit & Fiber! These will fill you up as well as put back all the vitamins and good stuff you lose while exerting yourself. My fav? Apples and Peanut Butter! I'm a sweet eater and this helps balance the need for fruits, natural sugar, protein, and a little bit of fat! 

~Fats & Oils! Part of keeping a balanced diet is including some fat-- this is especially true for runners. But, it's all about picking the right kind of fats. I try to work a little olive oil or avocado into my diet a few times a week when I'm feeling sluggish. 

~Carbs! RW recently posted that for every hour of addl activity you should increase your intake of carbs by 50-100 grams. What do I do? Eat Pasta at key times. The first? 2 night before my longest run. The 2nd? For me, I have a hard time digesting so I need to eat earlier in the day on marathon eve. Pre long run or marathon I always have at least 1 bagel. 

~H2-Oh-no!!! If you know me, you know I HATE water! It tastes terrible and I'd rather consumer liquids through other means... like my bad habit of Mnt Dew-- or "crack in a can." But, H20 helps to fill you up and helps get those healthy foods above into your system more efficiently. Also, as Joe from the marathon show pointed out recently... drinking water can help keep your heart rate down during exercise so you can run longer and faster. 

This ultra training is full of lots of new and different but hey-- the fun is in the learning, right? Right! As I get closer to WS hopefully I dont get MUCH more hungry or I may end up going broke from grocery expenses! hehe. 

Have a wonderful weekend. If you're racing, remember to find a goal to push yourself. If you're doing a long run good luck and have fun. How far are you running this weekend? 

Happy Running,
"Run to Win" -Meb


  1. I love love love this post. I've been noticing the same things! I am hungry.all.the.time. And after last weekend (I did a 25k trail run Saturday/Marathon Sunday) I've been eating nearly nonstop, and still am under my normal weight. I was warned when I started Ultra training, there would be a point it would be tough to eat enough. I have really really upped those good oils, though, and it seems to help, some. And I made a giant pot of potato soup for my 2nd breakfast yesterday. :)

    I met Lyle in Oklahoma! Saw on FB we are mutual friends with him. Gotta love how small the world gets with running/Marathon Maniacs!

  2. Oh, and I'm on a cutback week. 10 Sat/5 Sun.

  3. I feel you! I'm training for my first ironman and I can eat all day every day. I'm definitely trying to learn what works for filling me up. A protein/berry smoothie after my morning workout has proven to have good staying power in the morning (at least until my next breakfast an hour later)

  4. Thanks for this post! FEED THE HUNGRY! OMG I am seriously hungry constantly. Great tips here - I do follow most of them, but a little reminder never hurts!

    I'm "only" running 13.1 this weekend (but I intend to run it FAST) and no, I won't be running it twice some some little cuckoo bird I know. :)

  5. Great information, thanks for sharing. I may have to try some rice for lunch on a day I am doing a post-work run to see if it helps me.

    I'm shooting for nine miles tomorrow.

  6. Hey Steph- it's Maia from the ZYY! Glad I found you! I wish we could have talked more when you were in MN- I would have loved to talk about ultras! So great you are running WS100. Also- maybe we can meet up when you come for Minneapolis- chris and I are running that one as well!

  7. But Steph I am STARVING!!! hehe

    I am running 22 tomorrow and 10-13 on Sunday.. WOOT..

  8. Steph, you should definitely check out Rachel Cosgrove's book - she has a LOT of insight into the whole "marathoning gaining weight" thing and her strength training program is incredible. It will def help you!

  9. As someone trying to buy steph clothes for her birthday who is a size 00 and having a hard time finding 00 big girl clothes I think she has nothing to worry about. Now if anyone can give me places to buy big girl 00 clothes please let me know