Monday, 22 May 2017

Appetite for Destruction - the importance of diet for the half marathon runner - by guest blogger John McCann

When I originally took up running, I used it as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted as the calories I was burning, were, in my mind, allowing me that extra leeway for the added few treats! At first, it didn't seem to matter too much, as the weight dropped, with any exercise being better than none. But then I began to stagnate - my weight plateaued (having not dropped enough pounds) and my times didn't really see an increase even though the miles and training had continued at pace.
Where I really struggled was just before half marathon time where training intensity lessened but appetite most definitely did not.
The problem with running (and any exercise for that matter) is, as you burn off all those additional calories and exert energy, you are obviously going to see an increase in appetite.The real results, from a health and time/pace point of view come from how you deal with this increased appetite and what you refuel with.
"You can't out train a bad diet" maybe one of the oldest (and most annoying!) catchphrases but is indeed true.
I look back at photos of myself in years gone by at the finish line of half marathons carrying at least two stone above the required amount and that was with running 40 miles a week. Another part of that argument suggests that this behaviour can't be good for your body - putting it under that intense physical pressure if you're going to put the incorrect fuel in the engine and somehow even though you've ran 13.1 miles and completed 2 months of intense training - still look overweight and unhealthy.
It took me a long time to sort it out (I'm not the brightest bulb in the box!) but I eventually realised that it's not about dieting or refusing yourself a treat or indeed going hungry - it's more a matter of nutrition and putting the right foods into your sytem pre and post run.
The results are well worth it, as becoming healthier and lighter means that training is also more enjoyable and less daunting. You ask any runner to do a race carrying that two extra stone around with them and see how they would enjoy it?
Put simply, a conscious decision to improve nutrition and diet will inevitably assist your training resulting in a healthier and faster you!

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