I learn something new about myself on a regular basis. Something that may have worked for me in the past may not work for me now. I have mentioned in the past that I have struggled on and off with anorexia a couple of times in my life. There are days when I can’t fathom restricting food and then there are those tougher days when I scrutinize every morsel that crosses my lips.
Being a long distance runner isn’t as simple as putting on some running shoes and heading out the door. Running long distances not only requires you to gradually introduce your body to more time on your feet, but fueling properly before, during and after the run as well. For some people this is easy, as their stomachs easily accept whatever food travels passed the lips. For others this is a delicate balance. I am one of the others.
I have been running since 2008 and with a full marathon, 7 half marathons and numerous other races under my belt, I thought I had this all figured out. Guess what? I was wrong. I really began to struggle this summer when we were hit with a heat wave. Every run exhausted me. I had daily headaches that wouldn’t go away no matter what I did. One day my head hurt so bad that nothing sounded good to eat and I just wanted to sleep. I went to the store and while I was there I picked up a Gatorade because it usually makes me feel better when I am sick. It turns out that this simple thing made me feel so much better. Finding this out was the major key to why I had been feeling so bad.
Part of the reason that I had never used Gatorade in the past was the extra calories. I know, I am doing all kinds of exercise and that shouldn’t worry me, but deep down, it did. The G2 lower calorie version is out due to artificial sweeteners, so traditional Gatorade was it. I have a hard time drinking my calories, unless it is wine, of course. Not quite sure why my brain works the way it does – I can just tell you what I think. I am going to share below some recent changes I have made that have made all the difference in the way that I feel, yet have had zero impact on my weight – the thing I was most afraid of:
1. Adding in a glass of So Delicious Plus Protein after every workout
2. 16-24 oz of Gatorade a day, even on days off during the summer. I alternate with water.
3. Honey Stingers gel during runs over 8 miles in addition to the Gatorade.
It turns out that the way I had been doing things was actually more detrimental than helpful. Clearly my body was trying to tell me something. I wasn’t getting what I needed and the result was not having the energy to do much of anything else and having a killer headache, to boot! I thought I had covered all of the bases because I was eating plenty to fuel my body and drinking more than enough water. This just goes to show you that the brain is not always right – my thoughts were not leading me down the right path. My body was telling me that it needed more. More calories, more electrolytes, more hydration in another form than water. I am just thankful that I listened.
As I sit here and read over what I just wrote, I wonder how I could have let something so trivial as a couple hundred calories have such a profound effect on how I felt. I went back to something that I read earlier this year and should read daily: