Today on the Doc On The Run podcast we’re talking about how if you eat like you are racing you will recover like a champion.
Whether you are a marathon runner, an Ironman triathlete or a trail runner, if you are training you always are at risk of getting an over training injury. Every time you go out for a run you deliberately damage the muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments just enough to stimulate healing response that makes them stronger and makes you a stronger, better runner. But the key component of that routine is the healing that happens during the very short recovery process before your next run. It could be only one day or two days, but that healing must happen to make your tissue stronger before your net training run.
An overtraining injury is nothing more then a little bit too much tissue damage, in one particular tissue, like a metatarsal bone or your Achilles tendon, and that damaged tissue doesn’t fully repair itself before you run and injure it again with the next work out on your training calendar. That’s when muscle soreness turns into a muscle strain. It is when a normal stress response in your metatarsal bone turns into a metatarsal stress reaction or full blown stress fracture.
If you are training for a marathon, your number one priority is to make sure you are recovering fast enough to avoid an over training injury.
If you are an inured runner, your number one priority is rebuild that injured tissue so you can get back to running.
I get asked all the time about what runners need to eat in order to rebuild tissue. And recently I was thinking about how it’s not really so much what you eat as how often you eat.
Think about how you keep your system intact and keep fueled and moving forward when you’re doing a marathon or an ultramarathon. You don’t sit down and eat two or three meals during the course of the race. You eat continually. Depending upon your routine that could be as frequent every half hour. Maybe you eat every forty-five minutes during a marathon. Or maybe you just take in a gel once an hour or so. But most runners have a nutrition routine that they stick to on race day.
The most important part of race day nutrition is consuming enough calories to keep everything running.
When you’re injured you have to keep the building blocks entering your system with enough frequency to keep everything building as efficiently as possible.
You can’t run out of building blocks.
You can’t run out of nutrients.
We know when we’re training, if you eat frequent meals, three times a day is fine, but if you’re eating five times a day with much smaller meals, we know that you actually have a continual influx of nutrients and you can build tissue more efficiently.
It’s sort of like a great analogy to running a race. When you’re running a race, you wouldn’t just eat before the race and then halfway through the race and then at the end of the race, that wouldn’t make any sense. If you can take in nutrients in smaller amounts, more frequently throughout the day and hopefully in a wide array of nutrients, that will also help.
You have to have antioxidants. You need vegetables. You need fruits. You need fats. You need carbohydrates. You need all of it. If you can do very small meals, many times a day, it should keep your system regenerated and refueled the same way that you refuel yourself through the race.
Think about whether or not that’s something that you could modify. Is there a way that you could just add some small sort of super meals that you add in between your normal meals throughout your day so that you go from eating three times a day to eating five times a day just by preparing a stack of little, not huge, but little meals in some containers that you can take with you to work, that you can have at home and just get easily, mid-morning, mid-afternoon? Sort of a super snack, if you will, that will really help keep your tissue on that rebuilding track. That’s really the key.
You’ve got to make sure that when you’re injured, you’re doing everything possible, and it is the little things that will make it possible, to rebuild that tissue as quickly as possible so you can get over your over-training injury and get back to running as quickly as possible.
If you have a question that you would like answered as a future addition of the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me PodcastQuestion@docontherun.com. And then make sure you join me for the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast!