When I started running, I was told it was a simple as putting one foot in front of the other. Though I appreciated the simplicity of it, over the years, I’ve discovered that statement is about as true as the one where running is apparently supposed to be really cheap. Riiiiiiight. Turns out, there’s a bit more to it than just getting out there and doing it. Turns out, there can be a lot more to it if you’re looking to improve your times, conquer longer distances and really compete with others around you.
I’m not going to tell you how long it took me to really understand and embrace all that running is and can be because it took an embarrassingly long time for me to really *get* it.
(I’m going to pause by saying that there is truth to my opening statements if you enjoy a casual run and aren’t looking at the competition aspects of it as much as the enjoyment of heading out for a run. The context I’m speaking in here is my own experience, my own realizations based on my hopes, dreams and planned achievements.)
The first couple of years of running were very frustrating for me. I found I was in the same cycle of running, not getting faster, always feeling like I was running up a mountain and never down one and just treading in place while so many around me were hitting milestones, reaching goals and conquering obstacles with a smile on their face. What were they doing that had them so bloody happy when I was crossing every finish line and finishing every training run with nothing left in the tank, in pain and trying not to blow my biscuits in the finisher’s coral. I had tempo, speed and steady long runs in my training arsenal but clearly, there was a missing piece. Clearly.
What I slowly figured out (and am actually still learning on a daily basis) is that nutrition and fuel were as essential to running as proper running shoes and body glide. I thought I could eat whatever I wanted and drink some water and I’d easily qualify for Boston, or better yet, not have to qualify because I’d be so amazing, Boston would be calling on ME to come run their race.
Apparently, this isn’t true. Or perhaps Boston has simply lost my phone number.
Then came the next dilemma: Sport drinks do not agree with my stomach. They do quite the opposite. Most protein powders do the same. Now granted, the fight to not shart ones pants will definitely get you moving faster toward the nearest port-a-potty, it’s a less than ideal outcome in the grand scheme of things. It was through this…um…ordeal, that I came across Vega, quite by accident. I can’t remember exactly why and how but I purchased a tube of their chocolate recovery sport powder and haven’t looked back since. This was before vegetarian Fit Mom, before clean eating Fit Mom. What happened was that I started educating myself on proper training AND properly fueling my body all day, every day. It’s a continued learning process for me but the more I learn, the more everything makes sense and the more I can see and feel the difference.
I love that my friends over at Vega have recently launched yet another amazing site dedicated to their new #FUELYOURBETTER campaign in conjunction with their Vega sport. As a longtime fan and fanatic of their products, I’m so excited for this launch and for the site. Knowing how Vega Sport has been an essential addition to my training only adds to my excitement. That they want to help YOU achieve your best is just icing.
The best example of how I fuel my better that I can give is the differences between my first half marathon and my second half marathon. The first, I was under my old philosophy and eating habits. I ran it about 15 months after having my first baby and was essentially running on empty. My second half marathon was run a couple of years ago when my second baby was 8 months old. I started running again 8 weeks postpartum doing a couch to 5k program where I literally spent the first 3 or so weeks running 1 minute at a time and walking anywhere from 1-3 minutes in between. The difference between the year that I was running after baby 1 vs the 6 months I ran after baby 2 was nutrition and fueling. I was slowly learning how to fuel my body, had adapted a mostly vegetarian diet, focusing as much as possible on whole, fresh, plant-based foods and incorporating my Vega recovery into my workouts. What I found was my recovery was faster, my traditionally very sore knees were not bothering me nearly as much and I had energy to spare after most of my workouts. Half marathon number 2 was run with significantly less training time (not to mention significantly less sleep) but nearly 12 minutes faster.
Since then, I’ve been getting better and faster because I’m training smarter and incorporating all facets of a healthy lifestyle into my training. Before getting pregnant with 3.0, and especially during my more vigorous workouts (long run, speed work or a 2 hour swim in my triathlon class), fueling was essential. My routine was pretty simple:
–Pre-Workout: light snack (banana, peanut butter on toast, bagel) and an energizer drink (the Vega pre-workout energizer in Acai flavor is amazing. It’s also sugar-free, which keeps my tummy very happy)
–During the Workout: gels (usually for long runs and swims only) The gel I started using last summer before injury was the Vega Endurance Gel in Orange zest. The first taste was a bit of a shock but after that, it was great and really gave my legs the kick they needed to finish out my runs. There’s also a raspberry one that I just tried for the first time and is super yummy. I love how it adds some pep without the crash. I don’t feel like I’m fighting the clock on when my gel will wear out, leaving me feeling depleted and hungover.
–Post-workout recovery: I will almost always make a simple smoothie with almond milk, banana and Vega Sport Performance Protein powder in chocolate. If I’m on the go and don’t have a fridge to store a smoothie in (like after swimming when I’m not necessarily going straight home), then I pack a Vega Sport Protein bar (chocolate coconut is pretty much to die for. Seriously, it’s like candy).
I can honestly say that the way my body has functioned since learning how to fuel it is nothing short of amazing. I would never have thought that I would be able to see such a difference in my performance, as well as my mindset from something that, on the surface, never seemed that important before. There is so much truth to the saying that peak performance is really about integrating fueling your body with training it.
Now that I am pregnant, I’m still moving and still feeding my body as I did before but I’m not using the Vega Sport line because it’s not recommended in pregnancy. Once 3.0 is out and I’m working my way back into fighting form, you can bet your buns of steel that I will be re-incorporating my Vega Sport back into my training. I already have my 2015 and 2016 race calendar on my mind and I have every intention of achieving my goals (hello 26.2 and 70.3…watch out because I’m coming for ya!).
That’s how I fuel my better. How do you #FUELYOURBETTER?