Eating enough for a marathon

This morning, I woke up at 2 a.m. with my stomach growling.

Not the kind of growl you can roll over and ignore. The kind of growl that demands immediate attention.

My tired feet padded out of the bedroom, into the kitchen and located the only clean knife left, a few pieces of bread and my trusty jar of Teddie’s peanut butter.

After my morning run – just a few hours later – my stomach was back at it again. FEED ME! It yelled. This time I popped in a bagel, poured a glass of milk and spread more peanut butter on each bite of a banana.

At 10:30 a.m. I ate a yogurt.

12:00 p.m. Lunch

2:00 p.m. second lunch

5:00 p.m. Snack.

I think you get the idea. I am less than two weeks out form my sixth marathon and I am eating (and drinking water) nearly constantly – except for the two hours before I run, otherwise the run will not end well.

Four years ago, still stuck in a life with ED, my growling stomach and constant desire for peanut butter (among other snacks) drove me wild. I resisted my body’s pleas for nourishment and ignored advice about fueling during long runs. Despite the fact that I was spending hours running each day, I worried I was over eating. I worried that I could – as many articles and people told me – out eat anything.

Well, as it turns out, that was far from the problem.

Nearly every athlete I have ever worked with as a dietitian tells me they are almost always hungry. They tell me that they eat what “should be” enough, but somehow are still hungry. They suffer injuries and set backs and sore muscles day after day because their body isn’t getting what it needs.

Me dying in the Philadelphia Marathon because I barely fueled.

To run more, faster, harder, longer – you need to eat more.

It sounds so simple, and honestly it is, but it can be incredibly challenging to execute. In a culture that constantly pushes portion control, moderation and the benefits of losing weight adding in additional snacks, drinks and meals can make any athlete feel like they’re doing something wrong.

Until I ran the Potomac Marathon in May of 2018 there wasn’t a single marathon I trained for that didn’t result in a relapse of bulimia. I would resist the urges to eat – to properly fuel my body – as long as I could until I ended up eating and then it all spiraled out of control. I would push my body to the absolute edge until my instincts took over.

That doesn’t need to be the case though.

This season as my mileage went up, my hunger went up and so did my eating. I added in drinks with my meals, snacks in the afternoon and dessert after dinner. I actually brought with me the proper amount of fuel for each long run and took it when my timer went off. I didn’t eat in response to my body falling apart as had happened for year, but instead I ate to keep my body together. To keep it moving forward.

More miles = more food = much more fun

Goodbye ED. You’re not invited to this marathon training plan.

If you want to kick ED out of you’re training plan email me at werthyourwhilenutrition@gmail.com

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