When it comes down to it, there’s two main things I want to achieve by putting the time and effort into eating 2 run. I want to run stronger and I want to run faster. Today I want to talk about how to run stronger. After all, it’s super important to build a strong foundation of health and longevity before any faster running can sustainably be accomplished anyway.
Three and a half years ago, I’d had enough of struggling through injuries, lack of energy, poor immunity and constant health complaints. I’d been running for 9 years but really all it felt like was a constant struggle. Within those 9 years there were complete breaks here and there due to injuries that made it impossible to run altogether (until I healed, which eventually I always did – only to get injured again a few months later).
So I began ‘eating 2 run’. Within four months, I dropped all my health issues and shaved over 25 minutes off my marathon time and BQ’d – and have brought it down another 2 minutes since then (and am currently training to knock another good chunk off that!!). Since then, I’ve also remained injury-free (well, except for that darn sprained rib!! not a running injury haha), maintained my health and energy, and I continue to get faster (new PB’s in 3 distances alone this year!).
But let’s be honest – can I really attribute my successes solely to ‘eating 2 run’?
Truthfully… Not entirely, no. Which is why I want to share with you today the three key princibles I find to be absolutely essential to health and strength – ultimately, the ability to Run Stronger.
1. Follow a smart and well-built training plan that is suited to you
About the time I began ‘eating 2 run’, I simultaneously began to follow a new training plan (what can I say, I like to jump in with both feet!!). I discovered that I thrive (and I do mean THRIVE) off of high mileage and that certain ‘short and fast’ workouts break me down and tear me apart pretty darn quickly.
Everyone is different. I honestly cannot stress that enough. What works for me certainly doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. But here’s a couple exceptional books to help you determine what might work best for you.
RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald. Not only is he a fantastic writer, he does an excellent job of breaking down the four types of runners there appear to be, and how each needs to train in order to reach their potential.
Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels. No not the whiskey (lol). Daniels is a world-renowned exercise scientist and one of the best running coaches out there. He has coached and advised dozens of Olympians and medalists. This book made me completely re-think the way I’d been training the last 9 years. Upon applying it’s principals it took me only 6 weeks until I saw mind-blowing results in the First Half half marathon… And then 10 weeks later my ultimate BQ achievement at the BMO Vancouver Marathon – and I’ve continued to roll in the PB’s ever since.
There are other great books and training methods out there, including Hansons and Run Faster. Really, the more you can educate yourself on the various tried and true methods, the greater chance you’ll finally land on what works best for you.
2. Adopt a mindset that supports your specific goals
This one is honestly incredibly important. Along with changing my training, one of the most important things I also changed at the very same time was my mindset. I switched my tune from:
I can’t, it’s impossible, I’ll never…
I can and I will and when I do I’m going to turn around and do it all over again even better, faster, stronger!
It was easy for me to doubt my abilities. After all, I grew up dreading PE class and dodging sports of any kind (because I had zero natural ability or talent and was always picked last). I ran my first marathon in 4 hours and 18 minutes crying my way through the last few miles – it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. I ran 8 more marathons, each time crossing with disappointment because apparently I’d been born with the gene that made it impossible for me to break 4 hours.
One of my first blog posts after changing up my training and mindset was on how our potential is limited only by how many excuses we have. I have to laugh now, because honestly I’ve seen that play out over and over again. Even today, years later, I’ve still got the tendency to every once in a while slip back into making excuses for myself. It’s tough to shed the excuses – in some ways they feel comforting.
3. Build a nutritional plan that is individualized to your requirements
Well you knew this one had to be in here right?!! When I changed up everything, I did spend four months training hard and keeping my mindset positive, but I also spent four month in kitchen turning nutrient-dense food into tasty dishes that powered me to run stronger. Nearing the end of that training cycle I wrote, “when we treat our bodies well by fuelling them well, they have so much to offer us in return“. I was so much stronger at that point. And indeed, the next week I ran my BQ marathon.
First: Eat lots (and lots) of nutrient dense foods. Yes kale tops the list, and tart cherry juice is my ‘secret’ – but there are so many more nutrient dense foods to choose from – each runner lands on different favourites, and (believe it or not!) not everyone likes kale. A more complete list can be found here in Why You Probably want to be Eating More Nutrient Dense Foods.
Second: Avoid the foods that cause you inflammation. The foods we are best off avoiding varies from person to person – for me of course it ended up being just about everything haha. Seriously, no coffee, no alcohol, no gluten, no dairy, no sugar… the list went on. But I was in a bad state of health when I began this journey. It happened that’s what I needed to do. Does that mean everyone needs to give up all those foods to run stronger? No, not at all. This list of 10 Foods Runners Should Avoid gives you a good idea of where to start.
Curious to dig even deeper? Click here to check out the September 26th, 2015 Eat 2 Run Stronger Workshop (registration now open!).
I’m going to bet you kinda see a theme in the strategies listed above. There are NO one-size-fits-all strategies when it comes to any of this! But take the time to land on what works for you within each of these principles and all of a sudden you accomplish things you once only dreamed of. I know it, because I’ve not only experienced this myself, I constantly have the honour of being a part of helping others make their dreams a reality also.
I’m now in the midst of another ‘hard-core’ training cycle, with high hopes and big dreams. So yes, you bet I’m full on applying each of the priniciples listed above – and running stronger than ever.
To deliciously healthy food and stronger faster running… Cheers,
Sarah J Cuff, RHN
PS. I recently had the pleasure of working with Natelle Gulevich – she was training for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon and was really hoping to reach the start line injury-free. Every single other race she’d ever attempted she had been injured for! Long story short, Natelle successfully achieved BOTH of her goals: she reached her desired weight goal for running, and ran her goal race injury-free. She sees her new Eat 2 Run strategies as the key to help give her the longevity in running she had been looking for! Click here to read Natelle’s story on how she achieved her goals.