Racing Weight: Experiment 2

Oh my, that race in the rain on Sunday has had some consequences! It turns out that even sub-50 10K runners are susceptible to a catching a chill. Alas, my steely immune system has let me down and I’m sniffing and sneezing like a regular human.

Lesson learned: If you think that it might rain during your race, or (as in my case) it’s already raining when you leave the house, pack a towel and a clean, dry set of clothes! I spent the best part of an hour running in the rain and then another hour sitting in soggy knickers and socks on the tube home. It’s no surprise I’m poorly.

That’s enough whinging about my sniffles though. On to today’s post: the outcome of my nutritional analysis!

Do you remember last week’s post about how hungry I have been? I’ve been struggling to find foods and meal schedules that can satisfy my hunger, fuel my morning run and cycle commute to work, but do not jeopardise my racing weight ambitions. Regina (a nutritional therapy student and, for the duration of her project, my nutritional advisor) knows all about my confusions because while analysing a diet log that I kept for her she also analysed this blog so that she could find out more about my training routine, my lifestyle, and my racing weight goals. Her conclusion was pretty interesting.

Firstly I was pleased to hear that the kinds of food I am eating aren’t that bad. However I’m not eating enough. My average daily intake was just under 2100 calories per day – the average recommendation for an adult female, but below her recommendation for someone of my activity level. Apparently 2400 calories would be more suitable. Despite the pigeon portions I was getting a good variety and balance of nutrients though, and she noted that my carbohydrate intake was suitable for my level of activity (This made me very happy, because no way I’m letting a nutritional wotsit come between me and my carbs…).

It wasn’t all good news though. My iron intake was below average. I like to pretend that I’m not that tired, and I’ve got a terrible reputation for just getting on with it all, even when I’ve only had time for a few hours kip or when I’ve worked an obscene number of hours. But I am tired. Perhaps my low iron intake is the cause. Or perhaps it’s just the obscene number of hours I’m working…

So what were Regina’s recommendations for me?

She has made some small adjustments to my usual eating habits and suggested some additions, all in the hope that I will be less hungry, have more energy, continue to lose a little bit more weight, and run faster.

1. Breakfast

Normally I would go out for my morning run on an empty stomach. Regina has very politely requested that I drop a teaspoon of honey into a cup of tea before heading out of the door.

Upon returning from my 30-40 minute session I would normally have homemade wholemeal pancakes with fruit and yoghurt, or occasionally porridge. Regina has suggested making oat porridge my staple breakfast as it releases energy more slowly and will keep me feeling full for longer. She has also provided me with a list of fruits to add that are less likely to trigger IBS symptoms. Today I added banana and honey and made the porridge with almond milk rather than dairy as it is lower in saturated fat. I can report that it was delicious.

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2. Lunch

We discussed my lunch at length. I eat my lunch before I cycle to work, burn it all off during the bike ride and arrive at work absolutely Hank Marvin. Lunch at the moment is normally pasta and salad. Regina has suggested that I add some extra protein and fat to the meal as both of these take longer to digest and will therefore sit in my stomach for longer, thus making me feel full for longer. Add more food? I can do that.

This week I ate leftover sweet potato and squash risotto (low fat cheese = protein) and made a dressing for my salad (rapeseed oil = fat). This was also delicious. And I didn’t start getting hungry until 4pm, which I think is a perfectly reasonable time to start getting peckish.

I also had my usual pasta/pesto/salad lunch, but this time with added cheese, salad dressing and aubergine (fried in a little rapeseed oil with salt). Mmm…

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I took the initiative to buy some fruity cereal bars too and keep them at work for when I get off the bike. I got low sugar ones, but to be honest I should probably try to make my own flapjack bars. I’ve got a cupboard full of porridge oats now, so there’s really no excuse.

3. Dinner

Dinner at work is the trickiest meal to adjust as it has to be a meal that I can prepare with a kettle and/or microwave in the staff kitchen. Regina approves of my daily jacket potato, despite being a simple carbohydrate that releases energy quite quickly, because I eat it with more slow release energy toppings. Similar to my lunch, these toppings need to contain protein so that I stay feeling full and have enough energy to cycle home.

My tinned tuna got a thumbs up, as did my frozen mixed vegetables. However tinned baked beans (my other topping of choice) are high in salt and sugar. I could eat low salt/low sugar baked beans instead, but as anyone who has tried these can verify, they taste like crap. Instead I will have to make my own baked beans and have tinned ones as an occasional lazy treat. Homemade tomato sauce can be made in bulk and used in a variety of dishes. Baked beans will now be one of them, as will bean-filled vegetable chilli.

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4. Supper

I get home from work around 11pm after a 6 mile cycle and go to bed soon after. Eating late at night isn’t recommended because sleeping on a full belly makes restful sleep difficult and often leaves you feeling groggy in the morning. Grogginess is not conducive to early morning running and so I have had to get used to going to bed hungry. Regina has suggested eating something to calm my hunger pangs though, such as a few almonds and some herbal tea. I like being told to eat more…

Once again I am keeping a food diary, a simple act that in itself makes you more conscientious about what your eating. Here’s hoping these tips help me reach my racing weight goals! I’ll keep you updated.

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