Perseverance.  Focus.  Endurance.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, (2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.)
        Hebrews 12:1-2
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Blog Archives - 2012
Good Nutrition for Runners

Hey all you runners! I'm Agne, just a girl who eats, sleeps, and runs! (I promise there's more to me than that, but for now:

As someone who wants to become a trainer and dietitian, I've done more nutrition research than you would believe. Just ask the librarian at our local library--I have skyrocketing fees to pay for not returning any of the nutrition and dietetics books I checked out....3 months ago. I take lots of notes when I'm reading, so absorbing all that information takes a while! I'll try to bore you with the old standby and menagerie of useless advice, I promise you will take something away from this!

I have always been a vegetarian runner, I never really cared for meat, any meat. Along with that, I'm that crazy person that hates animal cruelty. Now before you jump to any conclusions there, I'll tell you that I'm not so extreme as to go all PETA on you. Yes, it's a great cause and I love that someone is taking action, but at the same time, I feel that they take things a little too far more often than not. Let's just say I'm a little more mild than that, and have more of an open mind to things than they do. But as a vegetarian runner, it was always hard to get protein in, along with the iron that I needed. I was actually diagnosed with anemia resulting from that deficiency. Anemia is basically where you don't have enough red blood cells in your body. This is pretty dangerous for serious runners, especially women who are serious runners. You see, women need more iron and hemoglobin in their bodies because of our menstrual cycle. We lose quite a bit of blood then, and it's hard to replenish that, unless you have a very sufficient diet. My mother has always been slightly anemic, and she consumes protein and iron all the time, yet nothing really changes. I inherited that, and being a serious athlete, it's been a bit of a challenge.

 Since we're on the subject of iron, let me tell you about minerals and nutrients your body needs as a runner. Iron, like I said before, is good for your red blood cells, and extremely crucial in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Iron also keeps your whole body in robust health, helping you in all aspects: hair, nails, skin, digestion, bones, muscle, and energy. You can find iron in a large variety of foods, so even vegetarians are able to get the iron they need without popping up to 9 different supplement pills in a day. Foods such as legumes, lentils, soy beans, whole grains, and dark green leafy vegetables are surprisingly rich in iron. These dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and even broccoli are really good sources of iron, and I make sure to include one of these into every meal. Dried fruits also have a higher iron content. Try dried cherries, cranberries, prunes, dates, raisins, mango, banana, and even dried blueberries. But keep in mind that they are all pretty high in calories and sugar, so eat in moderation! For males, anywhere from 8 to 11 mg of iron a day is needed. And for females, you're gonna need about 15 to 18 mg of iron a day.

Calcium. Calcium is extremely important in a runner's nutrition. It will greatly help you in the prevention of osteoporosis and stress fractures. (stress fractures, by the way, are devastating to ANY runner, they take a long time to heal and are easy to prevent, so take note!) You may or may not already know this, but professional athletes claim that having a sufficient intake of calcium help to prevent muscle cramps, and we all know how those are. OUCH. You also lose calcium through perspiration (sweating) while running longer distances and even just doing a high intensity workout. Your bones will be stronger and you'll be able to do more, while keeping injury-free! Calcium is not just found in dairy products, and you should know that just consuming dairy products isn't that great because they aren't absorbed into the bloodstream very well, at least according to the latest scientific research (that's another book I still need to return). Foods like sardines, salmon, dark green leafy vegetables, and tofu are good secondary sources of calcium. As an adult, you should be consuming about 1,000 mg of calcium a day, and 1,300 mg for teens.

Sodium. I know what you're thinking. You're kidding me right? So you're actually saying I need MORE sodium?! But yes, you do need sodium as a runner, and although high sodium levels are dangerous, low sodium levels are just as bad, especially as an athlete. You see, we are constantly losing salt through our exercise and training, by sweating. You know what sweat tastes like, when you lick your chapped lips during a workout and taste salt. Not to sound gruesome or anything, but if you licked yourself after a hard workout, you'd be tasting salt everywhere. No not THERE! Get your head out of the gutter! What I'm saying is your body is always trying to expel those toxins from your body, and sweating is one way it does that. You also need other electrolytes to keep you going as a runner. If you have a nicely balanced diet, you will naturally be getting those electrolytes. But if you're randomly craving a salty food, it's likely that your body doesn't have enough of a sodium intake and is deprived of it! Sport drinks have a good amount of both sodium and electrolytes, so that's the form I take it in. There are also a number of supplements on the market. You can also consume a slightly salty snack after your runs.

Now go run!

1 comment | Add a New Comment
1. Greg | June 19, 2012 at 10:44 AM EDT

Nice Job!

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