Ask A Marathon Mommy: You Are What You Eat

Hi, friends! I’m sorry for my absence from this column. Truth be told, I’ve been lacking a bit of motivation. My energy level has been poor, and for the past few weeks, I’ve been crashing by mid-afternoon. During my run last week, I mentioned this to one of my running pals, Myra, who happens to be a nurse. She asked some questions about my diet, and I sheepishly admitted to my very poor eating habits, including: coffee with loads of cream and sugar for breakfast; routinely skipping meals; and a diet low in fiber and protein and high in carbs.

My friend hypothesized that I was having a blood sugar crash. This occurs when one consumes a large amount of carbohydrates, which can cause an abnormally rapid rise in blood glucose. This causes an insulin spike, which then leads to the sugar crash. Symptoms can include tiredness, lethargy, and irritation, which was exactly how I’d begun to feel around 2:00 every afternoon.

With the help of Myra, my husband, and the awesome professionals at Jax Sports Nutrition, I evaluated my diet and have begun to make some adjustments. I’m increasing my protein consumption with various foods and the additional help of a protein supplement. I’m also increasing the fiber in my diet by having a bowl of oatmeal as part of my breakfast every morning. And I’m trying to replace simple carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, milk, products with refined sugars) with complex carbohydrates (bread, legumes, rice, pasta, starchy vegetables). I’m also trying to avoid consuming sugar on an empty stomach (i.e., sugary coffee) by eating something first thing in the morning, before I have my coffee.

It’s too soon to tell if these changes will make a difference, but I will keep you posted as I continue. A proper diet is absolutely essential to training for a marathon, and I will discuss that more specifically in a future post. Meanwhile, one more long training run (26 miles next weekend) until the big day! Now get out there and run with me!

Sharon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a background in mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare.

“I tried my hand at being a work at home mom, but in 2009 I decided that being a stay at home mom is what works best for me and my family, at least for now. As my kids like to say, I’m “The Boss” of the family, which includes my husband of 9 years, two daughters (ages 4 and 6), and a giant goldfish named Princess Leia. My girls are beautiful and curious and wild and exhausting, and life is never, ever dull! I love reading, traveling, trying new restaurants, and shopping for bargains. I’m also training to run my first marathon in February 2013.”

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