Some people eat to run; others run to eat. I do both. There are days when I just don’t feel hungry but know that I have to fuel up for that evening run. My weaknesses for chocolate and Starbuck’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies means that I need to run if I want to give into my cravings.
However, finding the right foods to eat can be a chore for me. First, I was born a fussy eater and never outgrew it. Allergies kicked in during my twenties; I can’t eat corn or rice without some major intestinal woes, which naturally causes many to raise eyebrows in disbelief. Finally, in the past five years, I have become lactose intolerant. This combination leaves me going back to basics – which is, really, quite a good thing.
Now before I go any further, let me make it clear that I am not a dietitian. I’ve just had to learn what works (sometimes, the hard way) and what should work. This is knowledge worth sharing.
The bulk of my diet is fruit, vegetables and meat and alternatives so, when carbs are important, I have the challenge of finding them in these food groups. However, not all carbs are the same so I consider their GI (or glycemic index) which measures how quickly carbo-rich food or fluid can be absorbed. Those with a higher value are fast-acting carbs, which are broken down quickly and absorbed, making them better after a long run. Intermediate and low GI foods are absorbed slowly and gradually release sugar in the bloodstream, making them ideal before and during runs.
Over the next few days (leading up to Sunday’s 15 mile long run), it will be low and intermediate GI foods for me. I’ll be into my favorites: apples, grapes, bananas and unsweetened juices; with veggies, I’m pretty much limited to boiled or baked potatoes and green peas (Most veggies are have little impact on glucose levels, but they do help with hydration).
If I could eat grains more easily, my personal list of foods would more than double. But I can’t. Like everything else, we have to learn to work with what we have – in this case, a digestive system – and try to get the best out of it.