“Ok, I’m up, time for a run…need coffee and my first breakfast about 30 minutes before I leave. Coffee is in the press, need to put my hair up…yummmm, this Think Thin Bar is good! Looks like I found a meal replacement winner!! I really want to eat eggs right now or my Kashi, but can’t have that milk sloshing around for 3 miles…ugh! Crap, I’m running out of time before my run, only half a cup of coffee done, this bar is starting to taste like sawdust…this sucks so bad…who is cooking bacon right now, damn it! My whole building should not be making this worse for me…I hate people…ok, time for my run…why is some of that bar still in my teeth…what is on my meal plan for second breakfast? I think yogurt or cereal, great…it’s good for me, I know…I feel nauseous after this run, stupid humidity…not even hungry now. Ok, now I am hungry, I don’t want this Kashi, too bad moron, this is your meal plan, own it…Okay…I hate myself.”
So, if you haven’t figured it out, I will be writing about what’s going on with my marathon training every week until after it’s done. Considering I live, sleep and eat it, there’s nothing better to write about. Last week I talked about the aspects of running itself, this week, I am diving into my food life during this process. As a chef, you’d think it was easier for me…fact is..NO. Meal planning isn’t dieting, it’s not cutting everything out, it’s all about balance and knowing when to eat what and giving yourself cheat days. Just like training, there is a delicate balance between how you eat, how you think about eating and how you really feel about what you are eating. This journey, food wise, has been really weird and honestly, sometimes I don’t think I can handle much more of it!
Meal planning for this race…yeah, it’s been real…I’m over it. You know, when I first started training for this race, I was a mess. I didn’t watch what I ate, it was summer…who cared??!!! But, getting through 3 miles was the worst…and although I blamed it on humidity, it wasn’t the case, not entirely. I wasn’t eating right at all or moderating any intake of any sort. Fact is, for some, it doesn’t matter what they eat, doesn’t affect them when they are running. I knew at that point that I had to change my eating. Now, some of you think that because I meal plan for others as a living, it’s that much easier for me to do it for myself. It’s the worst doing it for myself…I don’t get paid to do it, I argue with myself, I know too much so I have too many choices and quite frankly, it’s plain old annoying. No wonder people ask me to do it for them! I won’t even get into the mental battle of meal planning until later, because it needs its own due diligence.
As for meal planning and execution itself, it’s a pain. The first thing you need to know is what your workout for that day is and the day after. This way you can adjust the carbs to protein ratios in your daily meal plan. The problem is that it’s not always the same formula for everyone and it may not be the same formula every week for me. The worst week was the first one. I based my meal plan solely on my runs and what I knew about cutting carbs and adding more protein. As I went through the week, I followed the meal plan to the T. I didn’t veer once. I had to see how this specific plan worked, even if I was reacting badly to it. By the end of the week, I wanted to kill someone. I had gained weight, I had to pee all the time and I was so sick of almonds! This whole thing becomes an experiment. You work from week to week adjusting what didn’t work week one and then what changes workout wise in week two! The problem is that by week three, I am making adjustments daily and by the end of the week it feels like I wasted all that time coming up with the plan in the first place. No, it’s not that bad, I have really become a robot. I eat at the same times every day, I create schedules around my eating times, but more so the fact that I have to MAKE time to prepare food and eat it. I can’t just skip a meal or grab something on the go. The physical discipline has actually been worth it, I’ve seen my muscle tone increase a lot, my stamina during my runs (although I made a carb adjustment after my first long run because I could feel I was toying with the needle hitting “E”) and just how much better I feel over all. I am not drinking much at all, a glass of wine on a rest day with dinner, absolutely no beer. I have 3 more weeks left, and I wonder how much I will adapt this to my life after this race. Even though I am burning through calories, it’s what’s left in my system after those calories are burned (fat vs vitamins) that makes or breaks me.
“OK, let’s do this meal plan! This is going to be easy, I’m a chef, I do this for others…how hard can it be? Ok, template done, it’s pretty, I’m so good at making pretty tables. Breakfast…eggs with meat…wait what meat? Bacon? No, too fatty, I’ll do turkey sausage…Lunch…easy, salad…Dinner…grilled fish, veggie…I’ll just snack on jerky and cheese all day! Yeah baby…Week 1 is done!!!!…Week 2…Breakfast…eggs…no wait I have a run, no time…yogurt and crumble…too bland, I don’t want yogurt, maybe the Kashi? I don’t know, it wasn’t that filling last week after my Tuesday run, but no time to make eggs, I will have to eat a snack before lunch…which is? I am starting to hate kale, too much already….crap, I don’t have time to shred brussels sprouts this week, I’ll just get baby spinach and toss it with whatever veggies in the fridge, it’s all healthy anyhow…I totally messed up my carbs last week and nearly died during my 16 mile run…MUST have carbs, protein and veggies before my 18 miler…I wonder if my mom can just cook up a whole Indian meal the night before, I could use some rice and lentils…let’s just hope that works, I don’t want to be gassy during the run…at least I am not running with a group…I am starting to not want to eat right after my runs, need to adjust what I am eating. Less is more…keep eggs and veggies for breakfast, it’s easy and works well, saves time. What other snacks can I have? I can’t stand much right now, it’s all starting to taste the same…crap, I still have 3 weeks and it’s only going to get worse…I need to find better recipes, I need to go home between meetings and eat, I need to figure out how to make things more efficient…ugh, how have I not figured this out by now? “
Yeah, that mumbo jumbo is my brain right now. It’s about as scrambled as the eggs I am making 3 days a week. I feel like a robot…GIZBOT….Gizmo hungry, Gizmo make eggs, Gizmo eat eggs, Gizmo eat almonds, Gizmo go on run, Gizmo drink water, Gizmo eat chicken and veggies, Gizmo eat raspberries and cheese, Gizmo wants to strangle herself…this mental game is a crapshoot. There are days where I want to say screw all this, I want the largest plate of fries I can find! I have allowed myself cheat days…BUT I DON’T EVEN CHEAT ON THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s so unfair! I have managed to hard wire myself so much these last few weeks and it will be that way up until the race, if not worse. Everything I do, I think, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT MY RUN THIS WEEK? Should I eat this? Can I eat this? What will one plate of fries do for me? Well, if for some reason I can’t finish that 18 mile run or struggle hard those last two miles…guess what? I will blame all of it on that plate of fries…not my knee pain or back pain…that stupid decision to eat that plate of fries. That’s what goes through me every day, every meal. This mental jenga that I play every day is exhausting, but I’m so scared that if I don’t pull out the right pieces and put them solidly on the foundation I have already built, this whole thing will topple ruthlessly.
I touched on this last week, but food is just as emotional as training. That first week of this new meal plan, I went from anxious, to excited, to happy, to productive, to moody, to irritated, to angry and fed up. As proud as I am of myself that I took this all on, I sometimes loathe that I did. I love food, I live for it…but right now, it’s making me work for it. I get upset when I can’t see friends because they are going to dinner. I feel great the next day when I kill my 14 mile run because I didn’t go out. I get angry when I am still hungry after eating, wondering how much more freaking food do I need to eat to feel some satisfaction???!!! I feel like some days NOTHING works. I did discover a protein based ice cream that doesn’t taste like paste, which soothes a craving here and there. I am always HANGRY and I literally had a crying episode over pizza! I know that maybe I am the extreme and that most runners training for this race aren’t as certified crazy as I am. I know that a part of this comes from my own discipline, tenacity and drive when it comes to going after a goal. Along with that comes guilt and anger…the shame of eating something that you know isn’t benefiting you. The self-inflicted belittling thrashing you give yourself, it drains you to pieces. The emotions may not be directly related to eating or even to a food item, it’s the pure will to stay on track and the struggle that accompanies it. I will tell you one thing thought, that first fry I eat after this race, I will be bawling.
I know most of you might be thinking now…”WHY ON EARTH IS SHE EVEN DOING THIS??” Thing is, I didn’t know this was all going to happen when I decided to do it, but weirdly, I wouldn’t change a moment of it. Maybe that makes me crazier than I already am, but what goals don’t require some sacrifice? But what people don’t think about is how horrible my body could be if I didn’t practice this vigorous training. How much more I would have to work to run half the distance? This race is my Olympic event, the only medal I am going for is the one at the end (there better be one) and I will do what it takes for my body to take me there.
Check out Gizmode if you haven’t yet, anything helps us get closer to a cure!