Last November, my roommate pitched the idea of running a half marathon together. We had both run cross country in high school, and felt like it was time to take running to the next level, aka from running random 5Ks to The Real Deal.
My first instinct was to say no, ABSOLUTELY not. I’ve never been a person with speed on my side, so how was I supposed to do
well in a half marathon? My freshman year of high school, I could barely run three miles. I had no idea how that would work, but I ended up agreeing to run the race, labeled as “challenging”, which ended up being one of the best things I could have done for myself.
I figured that I should start watching what I eat more closely and kind of try to get my diet in gear for some hard core running, because if I was gonna do this, I was gonna do it right (being a dietetics major definitely helped this out a lot). I took what I thought would be some good starting points and went from there.
I trained my body to want healthy food instead of unhealthy. To do this, I cut myself off of fried and greasy foods almost completely, which I could tell helped me immensely by not having that sluggishness that you get from eating those junky foods. I also worked on cutting back any super high-sugar foods, like ice cream, frozen yogurt, cookies, basically some of my favorite things ever. Everything in moderation was key to my success in this. Fatty foods like mac and cheese were also a no no for most of the training.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love some junk foods (Ben & Jerry’s, where ya at??) and I would treat myself on occasion, I just wasn’t regularly eating anything with a ton of fat, sugar, or grease. It’s not as hard as you’d think, even being in college, and it makes you lead a much healthier, more productive lifestyle.
The foods I did load up on were whole grain cereal (Corn Chex ftw), apples, veggies, and other whole grains. Oh, and peanut butter. Peanut butter on peanut butter. I went through
a couple several jars during training, no shame. Another trail mix kinda thing that I made for consumption during class and on-the-go is a mix of craisins, almonds, and peanuts. Full of healthy fats and nutrients, this snack is my go-to. Every morning for breakfast I’d eat a bowl of oatmeal, sometimes with craisins on top. Not only was it full of whole grains and great nutrients, but it was also very filling and satisfying.
At one point during my training, I noticed during class that I was extremely tired, more tired than I should have been after having slept a full night of sleep for a few nights in a row. In my human nutrition class at about that same time, we were learning the importance of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in the diet. This is when I figured out that I could easily be iron deficient. So I went to Kroger and got a multivitamin that includes most of the B vitamins, iron, and some others. Supplementing my diet with the vitamins and minerals that I may not have been getting on the daily through my balanced meals was imperative to training, as it helped keep my body in balance.
After a few weeks of this, my body was feeling so good. I had more energy than usual and I was running really well. Basically, whenever I ran (which was a lot) I would crave healthy food instead of greasy, junky nonsense, a feeling that I can’t help but love.
The week of the half marathon came much more quickly than expected. I was nerve-wracked the entire week, keeping my nutrition in tip-top shape because I didn’t want my stomach to freak out during the race. Yeah, maybe I over-prepared a bit but whatever. I did minimal running that week, just going on 3-mile runs, tops.
The night before the race I ran from my dorm room to Bloomington Bagel Company (my love) and picked up a plain bagel to carry back to my room for the next morning. Bread and peanut butter is good for a nervous stomach, right? I also ate a ton of pasta filled with veggies as well as a slice of whole wheat bread, a delicious night of carb loading in preparation for the race.
The morning of the race, my roommate and I woke up at 6 a.m. sharp to eat our pre-race breakfasts and try to calm down before we went crazy on those 13.1 miles. We had trained hard for this run, and we were definitely ready, even if we didn’t feel like we were. We got to the start line plenty early and got behind the official 2:15 pace runner, the time we were hoping to beat.
When the race started I immediately got way less nervous and realized that, yeah, I had trained pretty well. I also instantly thanked myself for having eaten a bagel and peanut butter, because that sat really well with my stomach. I know that, had I not changed my diet, I probably would not have run as well as I did, since diet is an extremely large part of doing well in exercise.
When I crossed the finish line, I was incredibly relieved that the run was finally over. It seemed like forever, but I really did enjoy it. The nutrition clearly helped me out in detoxing my body of a lot of the negative chemicals that I had been consuming. It may have been hard at first, but the cleansing was definitely worth it in the long run.