Hello from Emma! Your newest addition to the Eat2Run Team, as a Nutritionist and Educator. As an avid runner, with goal races just about every season, I have embraced the difference “Eating to Run” can make towards my training consistency, race day results, and longevity. I envision running strong, injury free, and with ample energy for many, many years to come. The key to this vision is being proactive while I am young.
On Eat2Run, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite performance recipes, nutrition inspiration, culinary tips, and working with Sarah on a series of workshops for runners, interested in improving and sustaining their performance through nutrition.
I look at longevity as a day to day practice. Running strong for years to come, remaining free from disease, and feeling my best takes consistency. The easiest way to remain consistent in your health habits is to start with approachable changes, and focus on one change at a time. Recently I started waking up earlier to train, as the evenings are becoming busy with other summer activities. This is the only change I am working on right now, so I set myself up for success.
When it comes to eating habits which support your longevity as an athlete, it’s the same idea. Apply yourself to one new habit, or modification at a time, and sure enough before you know it, each change can become your routine. Below are my Top 5 Tips for Longevity as a Runner. See if you can pace yourself, and work through each suggestion as a progression. Just like a training program, consider this a “building phase”.
Top 5 Longevity Tips for Runners
1. Eat a Salad–a-Day
I consider this the foundation to my diet. In a way it encompasses all the following tips as well, so establishing this routine is great place to start. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants (especially leafy greens) and aside from being rich in vitamins and minerals, it supports red blood cell production by increasing blood volume. Chlorophyll mimics the structure of red blood cells, but has a central magnesium ion instead of iron. I always keep fresh greens in the fridge (pre shredded salad mixes are great, or prep them yourself), frozen greens in the freezer for warm veggie salads on cold days, and also use shredded veggies for a quick garnish. Carrots and beets are great additions when shredded in the food processor, and keep for up to a week.
Quick and easy dressing: Mix equal parts of an Omega 3 rich dressing (flax, hemp, pumpkin) with natural almond butter. I love using Vega’s Antioxidant Omega Oil.
2. Eat Plant Strong Foods Before & After a Workout
This is all about reducing inflammation, maximizing your energy, and accelerating your recovery. This is a qualitative shift, emphasizing nutrient dense, whole foods. Reduce extra toxins found in processed foods, hormones or antibiotics found in many sources of animal proteins, and sensitivity aggravating ingredients found in both these types of food. This habit supports digestion, absorption and circulation of nutrients.
Foods to reach for: Porridge, granola, pancakes, smoothies, and energy bars made with all plant based ingredients, or fresh fruit are great options for morning workouts.
3. Use Sugar Functionally
Reducing your dependency on sugar is important to help reduce the levels of triglycerides in the blood (an excess of which is linked to heart disease), reduce a contributing factor for diabetes and heart disease (obesity), boost your energy, level your moods, clear your skin and improve your focus. However, some sugar from whole food based and minimally processed carbohydrates can play a functional role in running performance. These sugars provide glycogen to your working muscles, and can play a role in recovery too.
Try This: Strategically use natural sweeteners (such as raw honey, maple syrup, coconut palm nectar, date paste or fruit) in conjunction with a performance recipe such as homemade energy gels, pre workout or recovery drinks, or energy bars. Versus: eating it for the sake of something sweet. This will not only help re-set your palate to crave less sweet foods during the day, but will enhance the natural sweetness in other foods, such as vegetables and grains.
4. Improve your Digestion
Good Diet + Strong Digestion = Efficient Absorption of Nutrients. The less energy your body spends on digesting and absorbing your nutrients too, the more energy you have for your day-to-day activities, including training! A runner with ample enzyme intake (from your diet) and ample enzyme production (through mindfully eating), will often experience less bloating and digestive discomfort, which often impacts the quality of your training, and your rate of digestion.
Try This: Have fresh ingredients with each meal, especially sprouted or fermented foods, which contain enzymes and probiotics to support digestion. Avoid drinking too much liquid with meals, and chew thoroughly between each bite, sitting down to eat instead of on the run. This mindfulness will shift your body from “fight or flight” mode, and into “rest and digest”.
5. Ensure Smooth Elimination
Yes…I am talking about poop. Efficient elimination is crucial to the removal of detoxified wastes from the body. “Opening the doors” will allow stagnation to dissipate and refreshed energy to flow easily and naturally. The easiest way to boost your elimination is through adequate lubrication and bulk (fiber)
Try this: For lubrication, aside from drinking enough fluids through the day, try a daily serving of omega 3 essential fatty acid oils such as flax, hemp, pumpkin, a fish oil supplement, or a serving of sustainably caught fish. The “bulk” comes from adequate fiber. Think: oats, barley, brown & wild rice, quinoa, legumes, figs, whole chia and flax seeds (used daily). Chlorophyll rich greens also help bind and chelate (draw out) toxins from the digestive tract and bowels.
**Foods to Add to your Grocery Basket This Week**
- Salad greens
- Carrots and beets (to grate in the food processor)
- Almond butter
- Omega 3 rich oil (hemp, flax, pumpkin) – mix with almond butter for dressing
- Fresh fruit
- Oats and/or buckwheat (post workout granola and porridge)
- Raw honey or maple syrup (use on sprouted toast such as Silver Hills Bakery, or apples with almond butter for a pre workout snack)
- A variety of sprouts and sprouted bread (see above)
- Hemp hearts, chia seeds or wild/sustainably caught fish
- Wild rice or quinoa for chilled salads or a hearty stir fry
Feel free to comment with your favourite longevity foods. What do you eat to stay running strong for years to come?!