I am excited to share a recent opportunity I had with Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine to learn more about food as fuel to help me more easily attain my running goals. It can be overwhelming, with all the information out there, for me to know what I should be eating, how much I should eat, and how to eat to be a successful runner. Sure, anyone can run without following an eating plan, but I made some big running goals this year. The two biggest ones being successfully continue to breastfeed our now ten month old baby, and simultaneously train for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on October 9th. I had about six months to recover from pregnancy and birth and run with the postpartum body, just to be in good enough shape to begin a four month marathon training plan.
I mention that because I needed to try my best to fuel my body to help make these two big goals work together: breastfeeding and marathon training! Thankfully, both of these goals burn a lot of calories. One thing I really haven’t had to worry about too much over the last few months is how many calories I consume. However, the quality of food is a factor I am constantly reminding myself to pay attention to. When I eat well, I feel good. I need to eat smart to help fuel my running goals and also eat to support my child.
In training and preparation for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, I met with Jill Merkel at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Minneapolis. Jill is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) specializing in sports and performance nutrition. My 60 minute session provided me with information to fuel running goals, increase performance, speed recovery, and improve my overall health as I continue to train.
We have seen a shift in the food pyramid as of late, stressing the importance of eating the rainbow, lean meats, healthy fats, and eating grains and starches in moderation. I was happy to meet with Jill and learn more about how to fuel my body with these foods. My one-on-one nutrition coaching session created a plan that supports my unique needs, goals, and lifestyle. Jill gave me a lot of information about eating clean, what to eat pre-workout to fuel me, how to eat post-workout to rebuild, and the importance of hydration.
Jill worked with my specific goal: running the Twin Cities Marathon. She created a daily game plan which broke down my daily caloric needs, a 6 meal day-to-day plan, and also the types of food to eat. These foods include fruits and vegetables to prevent injury, protein to build muscle, grains and starches for fuel, and fats for protection. Jill also taught me more about serving sizes, what a serving size looks like for common foods, and what types of foods you can eat more of in contrast to what foods we should eat less of. A key part of meeting with Jill was discussing available food options. For example, I can rebuild post-work out with protein of my choice like: lean meat, eggs, yogurt, or a great vegetable protein like, tofu.
This is where I go back to what we eat being so important. I am not at my best physically or mentally when I fill up my body all day long with foods that don’t fuel me. I love a big donut on Tuesdays with my family or pizza Friday with my kids, so I don’t have to cook. It’s all about balance. On Sunday and Monday I am meal prepping eggs, chicken and salad and trying to not drink an entire bottle of creamer in one day. I try not to eat late at night, so on that Tuesday morning when my dad gives me half of his Boston creme, I eat it without worry.
Jill gave me a lot of resources and paperwork to help remind me what types of foods help sustain my active lifestyle. This included a diagram of an “athlete’s plate” to make it easy to see what my meals should look like. She also gave examples of foods in the different groups I can find at the grocery store and keep at home. Jill is a big fan of smoothies, a food I have been trying to get in my weekly if not daily routine, so we talked about how to make that happen.
I had a pleasant and informative meeting with Jill to help attain my running goals and I recommend meeting with her, or another registered dietitian, if you are looking for ways to fuel your life! The session is also affordable, they can schedule around your busy life, and there is convenient underground parking at their Minneapolis location.
Want to learn more? Follow these links for more information:
Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center – EXOS Performance & Nutrition Services
Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon – Twin Cities in Motion Website