YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!
As I’ve become wiser as I have aged, I am beginning to recognize that some of the so-called logic I’ve lived by is flawed. As a runner, my thinking has been that as long as I run, I can pretty much eat whatever I want without serious consequences.
I did believe that certain foods such as fried and fatty were to be limited, but everything else was fair game. What I did not recognize was the lack of a quality diet would limit my success when it came to my competitive racing. I use to make the analogy of racing a high-octane car on low-octane fuel, yet did not apply to my own efforts.
My reality was clarified last month following my annual check-up visit to my doctor. I happened to have an excellent blood pressure reading that day and my doctor commented that if all his patients were as healthy as I was, he’d be done every day at 10 a.m.
However, the very next day I received a phone call directly from my doctor to report that my cholesterol was high. He and I were both surprised -- with my being a runner – that it was high and that I needed to get on medication. I agreed to make changes to my diet and give it six months and visit with him again to see if said changes will reduce my cholesterol to the normal range and not have to go on medication.
When I got off the phone with my doctor, I went back and reviewed my previous cholesterol measurements for the past four years which I have access to through my medical provider. I overlooked this important detail which revealed my cholesterol count has been on a steady rise, so the latest reading should not have been as surprising. I recalled that high cholesterol was noted after last year’s check-up, but what did I do to change the trend?
For the calendar year, I did not run as much in many, many years due to several minor medical issues, namely enduring an extensive battle with plantar fasciitis that cut my yearly mileage in half. In addition, I continued to eat out more than I would like and my choices obviously contain more cholesterol than I realize.
I AM WHAT I EAT!
I am no longer a competitive runner, but I coach 30-40 collegiate runners at Clayton State. As their coach, I must guide them to make better food choices. I must also make them aware of the potential problems they could face in their future if they possess the same mindset I have had.
Most of my student-athletes want to maximize their potential, but many have poor eating habits and they are not properly fueling their bodies for optimum results. All the hard training is useless if they are not eating the proper foods at the proper time. It is a challenge for most student-athletes these days with demands for their time are at a premium between academics and athletics. Most of my student-athletes are coming from class to practice and may not eat enough before training. Some have class right after practice and skip the important refueling meal needed to build their bodies that they just broke down at practice.
It is this understanding and recognition that is about being a champion in this sport of running. Since it is all about performance, many runners tend to not understand the importance of proper nutrition. There used to be a saying among computer programmers – garbage in; garbage out. This expression aptly applies to running.
We are what we eat! We need to recognize the delicate balance between training and fueling our bodies through adequate and proper nutrition. If you are striving to be your very best in the sport of running, take the time to study and equip yourself with nutritional knowledge and apply it. You may find that spending a little more on your food over a pair of expensive shoes may be the difference in getting that PR you are running after.
Obviously, my resolve heading into this New Year is to take control and lower my cholesterol. If you plan to be a better runner this year, I hope you will consider what you eat as a major factor in reaching your goal. Cheers!