Posted by: Leonie Brown22/02/2010
I’m not a fussy about food. Seafood - love it. Juice with bits in (a persistent offender with picky eaters) - yes please. Offal - why not? You get the idea. But when it comes to bananas it’s a different story. There is a very small window of opportunity in which I will eat one. The perfect banana should be just the right amount of unripe. Once the skin has lost its green tinge, I won’t touch it.
From experience, I know that this edible state lasts for a maximum of two days. It’s frustrating because at 7am when I’m contemplating the run to work, a high-energy, stodge-free – and yet gorgeously green - banana would make a perfect pre-training snack. So I merrily buy them by the bunch-load, soon to realise that there are only so many a girl can eat in 48 hours.
Luckily, one weekend when the banana glut was particularly extreme, a helpful friend revealed that among his many talents was an off-the-top-of-head flair for baking banana bread. Genius. And edible for at least a week. (Although the slab of butter and mound of sugar that went in make it less appropriate for a pre-run snack).
With just nine weeks to go though, and as the 5-mile route to work becomes more tiring, rather than the walk in the park I’d anticipated at this stage, the banana saga has made me think more carefully about what I eat. As my fellow Hact runner and fundraiser Gary Lashko, of Carr-Gomm, says: ‘I haven’t got a clue about nutrition. At some point I think I shall need to eat more sensibly…’
I hear you Gary. The basics are well-known – carbs good, Atkins bad. But after that I’m floundering. The sweet people at Hact have helped with their regular nutrition tips – I can get my potassium fix from apricots, cherries and tomatoes apparently, leaving the fickle bananas on the supermarket shelf.
But perhaps what I really need is a personal chef, slaving over a beautifully balanced meal when I get home from a long run, and on hand to dish out nutrition-packed snacks throughout the day. Bread baking friend, with his own job to hold down, is unfortunately unavailable for the role, so as second best I’ve turned to marathon veteran Hal Higdon and his thoughts on healthy eating in his Ultimate Training and Racing Guide.
Runners burn approximately 100 calories a mile, he says. And while a chocolate fix would quickly restore those calories, a better recovery meal would have a carbs to protein ratio of 4 to 1. A tuna sandwich and a piece of fruit, perhaps. All good advice, but his observation which rings most true is this: runners need far more calories than those who don’t exercise and this, often, is why we do it. Our common cry is ‘I love to eat’. Now there’s a nutrition tip I can chew on.
Leonie’s run rate
Miles since 1 Jan: 140
Number of times I’ve missed dinner this week due to socialising: a shameful two (in a row). Must do better.
Caroline’s run rate:
Miles since 1 Jan: 170
Number of times I’ve used running as an excuse to avoid household chores this week: probably about 170
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From Home run
Tracking the progress of Inside Housing staff and others running the London Marathon for the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust