Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Great Eating Tips for Marathoners or Any Runner

I've mentioned Nancy Clark's Food Guide for Marathoners in previous posts, but it's such a great resource for marathoners (actually any runner) that I wanted to tell you a little more about it. Nancy Clark, MS, RD, has also written the best-selling Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Based in the Boston area, she counsels both casual exercisers and competitive athletes through her private practice at Healthworks Fitness Center in Chestnut Hill.

What I like so much about Clark's books is how they exude her passion for teaching everyday champions how to use food to help achieve their best. Clark mentions in the preface of the book that many of her clients have their training down but don't really have any idea how to use nutrition to improve their stamina and endurance. Clark provides this missing link. But her books aren't just full of food stats and figures. When you read her books, you really feel that she understands not only the elite runner, but the needs of the everyday runner as well. This is evident through her tips for how to deal with eating healthy in our busy, hectic lives—from making meals, to choosing healthful foods in our fast-food society, to providing dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes.

Nancy Clark's Food Guide for Marathoners is divided into four sections:
1. Everyday Eating for Marathoners
2. Balancing Carbs, Protein, Fats, and Fluids
3. Fueling Long Walks and Runs
4. Weight and Marathoners.

Each section covers 4-5 topics related to the section. For example, Section 2 contains "Carbohydrate Confusion" "Protein for Marathoners" "Fats and Your Sports Diet" and "Water and Sports Drinks." Clark has an exceptional knack for taking the most technical jargon and putting it in easy-to-use layman's terms. While Clark lists all the "right" foods to eat she also realizes that many of our cupboards may not contain these items. This is evident in her suggested list of nontraditional breakfast foods:
left over pizza
left over Chinese food
mug of tomato soup
potato zapped in the microwave while you take your shower
tuna sandwich
peanut butter and apple
protein bar

Clark says "any food—even a cookie (preferably oatmeal raisin, rather than chocolate chip) is better than noting" when talking about the importance of eating breakfast. She also provides a great chart showing the Iron, Fiber, and Fat contents of some popular breakfast cereals (i.e., Cheerios, Wheaties, Fiber One, Cap'n Crunch) so you can mix and match them to meet your specific training needs.

It's providing this type of information that makes her book so helpful and user friendly. She provides similar tips and useful information for lunch and dinner foods such as her "Quick Fixes: Dinner Tips for Hungry Runners" where she suggests what should be in a marathoner's cupboard (cereal, spaghetti, brown rice, etc.), refrigerator (low-fat cheddar, mozzarella and cottage cheese, low-fat milk and yogurt, etc.), and freezer (whole-grain bagels, whole-wheat pita, broccoli, etc.). I find the "Popular Snacks During a Long Run" list she provides very helpful too (dried figs, energy bar, tootsie roll, diluted juice, diluted (defizzed) cola, etc...)

I've read a lot of nutrition-related books and often (when I finish) I put them back in the bookcase never to be cracked open again. Clark's books however are never in the bookcase. They're full of dog-eared pages, coffee stains, and (embarassed to say) peanutbutter and jelly stains from constant use.


JenZen said...

I love eating left over pizza! Sweet! Who knew. Ha. Thanks for the recommend.

RunnerDude said...

Hey JenZen! Just leave off the anchovies! LOL! Not a good way to start the day! LOL!!

Lo said...

Ooh, thanks for the suggestion! I get so tired of my plain old routine. I will be picking this up!

RunnerDude said...

Hey LO! Cool! I really think you'll like it and refer to it all the time. Good investment.

Melanie Tait (Mel Tries to Run) said...

Left over pizza and cookies for breaky? SIgn me up! ;)

Jo Lynn said...

I've been putting off reading your post ALL DAY. I don't like reading about "eating right." I like "eating wrong" too much. I know, I know, I'm terrible. I appreciate you taking the time to refer a book that would help me eat better though. Really, I do. ;)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jo Lynn! Check it out, this book is pretty good. Doesn't dis you for what you're doing, just tells you what/how to eat to get that needed fuel for your runs. PUT THAT DOUGHNUT DOWN!!! LOL!!