As a runner I want to run faster. I want my running to feel easier. I want to post personal bests, personal records. And I want to recover quickly, avoid injury and not get sick.
But wait. There’s something else. Not that I’d ever admit this to anyone, but I want to maintain a running beach body also.
Besides, knocking off a few percentage points of body fat will result in faster running times, right? Sure (granted you have a few percentage points of body fat to lose), yes it most likely would. That’s called your racing weight.
And a focus on the core is actually not a bad idea for runners. Building a strong core improves running efficiency and endurance. It also lowers the risk of injury.
In the world of holistic nutrition weight loss for aesthetic purposes is generally discouraged (weight loss, when required, is a side effect of a healthful, whole foods lifestyle). Instead it is encouraged to pursue more noble goals – optimal health, well-being, disease prevention, a sound mind/body/spirit…
I truly understand the reasoning behind this thought process. But nothing excites me more than the promise of a six-pack.
Tosca Reno, author of the Eat Clean series, is 54 years young. She recently posted about being her best self. As someone who weighed 204 pounds 14 years ago, she is truly an inspiring role model.
Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan are Olympic marathon runners who sport some terrifically kickbutt abs, if I might say so myself. Kara wrote in her book Kara Goucher’s Running for Women how tough it was to lose 30 extra pounds she’d gained at one point when injury took her out of her running game for a time. Again, super inspiring!
Meb Keflezighi is also an Olympic marathoner who sports an impressive six-pack. Runners World quoted him as saying, “It’s hard work … but in order to be the fastest, you have to be the fittest.”
There is nothing wrong with striving to be the best version of yourself. And if that best version of yourself includes a running beach body complete with a six-pack, well, rock on.
So… Just what might the road to your running beach body look like? Let’s review three things you need to pay attention to if you want a beach body and the one thing that can destroy all your nutritional and training efforts.
- Stick to your menu and meal plan. Eat regularly: 3 healthy meals and 2 snacks per day (no skipping meals or snacks). This assumes you sit down on a regular basis and plan out your meals and snacks – pretty much an essential component to reaching your beach body goal.
- Aim for your last meal of the day to be a lighter one – a protein and vegetable combo, and ideally finish eating 2-3 hours before going to bed (and aim to get to bed by 10pm as the prime hours for rest and repair are between 10pm and 2am – this is when the highest amounts of melatonin and growth hormone are secreted).
- Practice nutrient timing. To ensure you’re getting enough carbohydrates to fuel your running, but not so many as to destroy your beach body efforts, ensure your last snack or meal prior to running was carb-rich and then drink your carb-rich recovery shake within 30 minutes of finishing your run.
Lastly, the one thing that can destroy all your efforts (and you really want to do your best to avoid it)… Is STRESS. Yes, stress. Stress results in:
- a slowed metabolism
- intense cravings (which of course if you give into, halt your beach body efforts)
- fat storage (especially around your middle, abdominal fat – not helpful)
- low energy
It’s to your runners beach body benefit to find ways to deal with or reduce stress!
I’m hard at work on my runners beach body six-pack. How about you? Do you have your runners beach body going on? Or are you working on it too? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts or any beach body secrets you’ve learned over the years!
Happy running 🙂
Sarah J Cuff, RHN