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Marathon Training: Week 16

Eat to compete

Our training load is going to increase over the next six weeks so make sure your general diet is healthy and wholesome from here on in; it would be counter-productive to waste all of that hard work. And we all know in our heart of hearts what good nutrition is.

The marketing machines out there would have us believe that they know best and that we can get extra performance from their product in a pill or packet. Whilst on race day this can work, I’m writing here about our training and recovery diet. I’ve found from research and my own trial and error that you just can’t beat good old mother nature. Our bodies are still the machinery of our ancestors, we haven’t evolved to eat processed and packaged concoctions of chemicals that are thrust at us on the supermarket shelves and in adverts.

My Grandfather's diet

I’ve found my best performance by basically eating what my grandfather ate. He was a hard-working labourer of the land, a farmer. Food as close to its original source, picked or dug, with as little mucking with it as possible. Of course, nutritionists and dieticians can advise us as to an athlete’s specific version of this basic diet, such as the protein rich recovery food I wrote of last week, (week 15); just remember basic is best.

Ideas on nutrition wax and wane, and at the risk of being labelled conservative, I believe we need to be careful not to be the “guinea pigs” of the latest diet fad.

Recent research supports my “Grandfather” approach, and I’ll have to admit that it’s quite compelling. Whilst it’s centred on obesity, (and there is a landmark shift in likely causes) it has direct implications for us as athletes.

This will not only interest those of you who have taken on the marathon training to lose weight, but it’s useful for all of us with respect to healthy longevity (for us, and for our grandchildren).

The downfall of the "Energy in - Energy out" theory of weight control

The previous nutritional philosophy based on the thermodynamic laws of conservation of energy, argued that weight loss or gain was governed by the differential between energy intake and energy expended. Eg if you burn more calories through exercise than you eat, then you should lose weight.

Compelling emerging research suggests that, whilst this is true for some people, there might well be several other bigger factors at play. As a very basic summary, if you have the metabolism to get fat, then it’s not how much you eat or exercise, it’s what you eat.

In a nutshell, sugary and refined foods seem to be the main culprits for weight gain and obesity as refined molecules are assimilated, used and stored differently.

Furthermore, there are other possible converging historical factors such as socioeconomics affecting diet, economic pressures affecting what food is produced by farmers, marketing that influences consumption, changes to genetic expression and signals, if your mother or grandmother were overweight, viruses, artificial lighting affecting metabolism etc etc.

If you’d like more information, here are 3 articles I found interesting:




Translating this to your diet for marathon preparation, stick to wholesome foods, good basics, such as veggies, fish, red meat, eggs etc, and stay away from packaged food where possible. Minimise cakes and pastries that have lots of white flour and added sugars and chemicals. Avoid those sugary fizzy drinks. I personally opine that lollies are a slow-release poison.

Tough as iron

Athletes often need to put a bit more effort into maintaining good iron levels. Iron from red meat (haem-iron) is more easily assimilated than from veggies such as leafy greens (non-haem), so if you’re a vegetarian you’ll need to make more effort.

Iron absorption is aided by Vitamin C, so it’s useful to eat an orange, Kiwi fruit or vitamin C pill with dinner. Caffeine destroys Vitamin C, so avoid coffee and tea at least an hour each side of meal times.

Your body is your temple, inhabit it like a god. least for the next 6 weeks.

Thursday 25th Sept

Warm-up jog; 15 minutes

Intervals x 4 of the following.

3 mins hard; pace, unable to converse. Ideally up a hill

3 mins easy jog or walk, recovery; could be back down the hill to start again.

Warm-down jog; 15 minutes

Friday 26th Sept

Well earned REST DAY :) Treat yourself to a recovery sports massage, especially concentrating on tired / tender muscles.

Saturday 27th Sept

3 hrs 15 mins long, easy endurance run /jog.

Start at 8 am.

Eat breakfast 2 hours prior.

Pace yourself to jog or run the entire time, (no walking) to show yourself the discipline for race day.

Soft trails such as dirt, gravel, grass etc to avoid injury.

Stretch straight after, and ideally get a massage to aid recovery.

Sunday 28th Sept

Easy walk or hike, eg with friends or family. 60 to 90 mins. Make it scenic and fun.

Important to make it easy, to help recovery from yesterday’s long session.

Alternatively, an easy bike ride or swim.

Monday 29th Sept

Warm-up jog; 15 minutes

Intervals x 4 of the following.

3 mins hard; pace, unable to converse. Ideally up a hill

3 mins easy jog or walk, recovery; could be back down the hill to start again.

Warm-down jog; 15 minutes

Tuesday 30th Sept

Warm-up 10 mins brisk walk or easy jog.

Time Trial #13. Aim to beat last week’s time. Do this in the morning if possible.

Warm-down 10 mins walking. Record your time.

Wednesday 1st Oct

Steve’s Strength and conditioning clinic:

5:30pm sharp! til 6:30 pm Meet 5:25pm at the Tennis courts on the grassy banks Lake Avenue, Frankton, Queenstown.

Alternative: 60 mins, easy pace jogging with fartlek = speed play.. with 4 x 5 mins effort (fast run) in the middle. Undulating small hills.

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