Krissy Moehl: Focused on Nutrition and Recovery
Without telling you what to eat, I’m going to tell you how to figure out what to eat. I have a strong desire to see people tune-in and figure out what works for them. If I tell you exactly what I eat hour-by-hour, it may or may not work for you. Instead I encourage you to keep a food journal, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just track the timing and everything you eat for a week. Correlate that with your exercise and keep notes of how you are feeling each day. My hope is that you will see trends, create a plan, and be able to find principles that help you make healthy fueling decisions.
Working with a doctor early in my ultrarunning career taught me many valuable lessons about fueling, quantity and timing. The most valuable being to not limit what is available to me as fuel. From that time, I have some pretty general guidelines that help guide decisions for daily fueling, and in that post-run hunger state.
My nutrition rules are:
Something is better than Nothing
Quantity over Quality
Quality over Convenience
Timing makes a difference
1) Something is better than nothing. My favorite example of this was after a long run early in my ultrarunning career. My trail buddy—with his metal bowls full of colorful, healthy eats—was refueling as soon as we returned to the trailhead. I, on the other hand, could only scrape together a few pieces of Halloween candy from my glove box. Even though this guy is known for his strict food regime, he encouraged me to eat the candy. We’d just run for over three hours and still had to drive back to the city. It was more important to put something in my system, even if it was candy, than to wait, (and he shared some of his food). Something is better than nothing.
2) Quantity over Quality. 3) Quality over Convenience. I put these two together because it is important to me that runners/athletes do not write off their fueling with a statement like, “Well, I have to eat so I’ll just pick up something at the convenience store on the way home.” That is a last resort! Plan ahead, like my trail buddy did with his prepared meals in the noisy, metal bowls. Elaborate or not, you should plan to have recovery foods ready for after your run, as well as good snacks and meals throughout the day to fuel you for that run.
Some of my go-to snack options: * PB&J with a banana. * Recovery drink. * Hearty salad. * Clif Bars. * Yogurt, 7Sources, Maca powder, granola & fruit (aka Krissy’s Concoction). * Smoothie. * Hummus, carrots, pita.
If you’re looking for some race specific options, I have a race nutrition log on FirstEndurance.com
Timing makes a difference. There are these wonderful periods of time after your long (90+minutes) runs that are opportunities to replace the glycogen stores that you used while running. Aim to fuel well (there is a science to the: grams of protein in ratio with grams of carbohydrate relative to your body weight) within the first 30 minutes of finishing your workout and then again roughly 90 minutes to two hours after you finish. Hitting these recovery windows have proven to be beneficial in back-in-back long run training, and help get me out the door the next day with energy for more miles. Back to the metal bowls story, he was eating before I put the car in drive.
The timing of your fueling relative to your workouts will also help you get the most out of your body. If you drink coffee for breakfast, eat a heavy lunch at noon, feel sleepy by 2:00 p.m. and then don’t work out until 5:00 p.m. you’re probably not going to have your best run/workout. On the flip side, if you fuel well first thing in the morning, including fat and protein, snack between 10-11am, enjoy a colorful, balanced lunch, another snack around 2:30 and perhaps a Clif Shot as you change your clothes, my bet is that you will get a lot more out of your run. And don’t forget your recovery windows after the run!
It is all about tuning in to the needs of your body. Trust and know that when you are taking good care of it, your body will tell you what it needs. That is, to be able to really hear your needs, your routine should include good sleep, an effective training plan and regular fueling. If you are distracted by stress, lack of z’s, and sporadic meals, your mind will try to trick you into sugar, caffeine and other temporary calorie surges. To help you tune in, try the food journal; track your responses to food, sleep and stress (workouts and daily). As you review the week, create a fueling plan that works for you. Don’t be shy to ask a friend or coach to review it with you. Having a good fueling plan as your base can be a great grounding point.
Krissy Moehl. Julbo International Athlete. Long-time Patagonia ambassador. Author of Running Your First Ultra. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And when she's out running around remote trails in cool places around the world, you can find her in the Breeze, Stony and the Megeve.