I normally enjoy running solo; I can run at my own pace, on my own schedule, and I don’t have to worry about carrying on a conversation and breathing at the same time. But this past week, I ran with a friend Thursday evening and joined the Reston Runners for their 5-mile Saturday morning run. After both runs, somehow the conversation turned to what we eat and how it makes us feel.
Don’t overdo it.
My friend Anna and I ran together in college. She was one of the first people I met at school and I’m happy to say she is still one of my good friends and, even though we’re not teammates anymore, she still motivates me to be a better runner. We both have a sweet tooth, so in college we always had the mentality of “I ran X miles in X minutes, so I need to eat more and, hey, a little ice cream never hurts.” Now, I haven’t completely abandoned this notion but I’ve certainly cut back on that eat-anything-I-want mentality (and no longer having an all-you-can-eat cafeteria with an ice cream bar helped, too). After our run on Thursday, Anna made use a delicious dinner of whole wheat wraps, quinoa, peppers and onions, avocado and organic salsa. On my drive home, I couldn’t help but think how differently we were eating compared to only a year or two ago at college…
Make better choices.
And then, this morning after a rolling 5 mile run, I got into a conversation with another runner about how much more important nutrition is to your health than exercise. Neither of us are doctors and I’d obviously still recommend that everyone get out and put a few miles in, but he said something that stuck with me: “You can run as many miles as you want, but if you’re fueling your body with junk then it really doesn’t matter.” He explained that he was in the habit at work of snacking on sweets throughout the day to get a little sugary pick-me-up. When he went to the doctor for his cholesterol check-up, the doctor noticed that his blood sugar was elevated as well. He traded in his sweets for an apple or other piece of fruit and the next time he went to the doctor, his blood sugar was back to normal and his cholesterol had lowered 20 points! It’s amazing what a big impact small changes can have on your body.
Eat fresh and local.
The two conversations in the course of a few days really made me think about what I’m eating. I generally eat pretty healthy (mostly vegetarian and as many whole foods as possible) but there’s always room for improvement. On my way home from the running club, I stopped at the farmer’s market and picked up this fresh, tasty, sustainable collection of fruit, vegetables and herbs. There’s something unexplainably satisfying about handing your money to the person who actually grew the food you’re buying.
I made a protein-packed egg and spinach wrap for my post-run breakfast and can’t wait to cook with the rest of it this weekend. Hope you have a wonderful and healthy weekend!