#grtwproject26.2 ‘Keeping a food diary has helped prevent me chain-eating biscuits’

For the first time, #grtwproject26.2 runner, Marie Knight, believes that running the marathon really is possible. And how to ensure that she doesn’t eat herself out of house and home as the miles increase 

Marie even had time to learn to ski within her training

When I was growing up, The Wizard of Oz was one of my favourite films and never have Dorothy’s words ‘I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,’ felt more true.

I’m writing this feeling very pleased with myself for having finished my long run, 17 MILES. This is the longest distance I have ever run, and more than I’d normally cover in a total of seven days running in my normal running world. 

Approaching the end of block 2 of GRTW project26.2, and with just 6 weeks to go until the Brighton Marathon, it’s not a surprise that my running mileage has increased considerably, but it is a surprise to discover how good I feel about it. Today was a prime example of waking up with a multitude of reasons for not running.

It was a perfect Sunday for staying inside with coffee, newspapers, Netflix – dark sky, horizontal rain, and gusty winds. But the great thing about having a race approaching and a tailored plan to ensure that you make it to that goal, is that you feel compelled to get out and run and it holds you accountable. 

The leap in mileage this month has been accompanied by a massive increase in my appetite. And whilst it’s been tempting to use this as an excuse to chain-eat cake and biscuits, it has made me much more mindful about nutrition, the value of what I put into my body and how this effects my running.

I’ve noticed that when I’ve had a few days of quick food on the hop, or lazy cooking that isn’t really ticking all the right boxes. As part of project26.2, we were all asked to complete a food diary over a weekend which helped me understand more about how I was feeling both during and after the different types of run that I do.

I can quite often feel headachy or nauseous at the end of a long run and looking at my food diary I could see that I wasn’t drinking  enough water on the days before a long run. Hints and tips from Coach Rachael have helped me adapt what I eat and drink, and more importantly, what time of day I am eating it.

The two big revelations for me is that I rely too heavily on sports rehydration salts to hydrate (I thought the salts were helping!), and that by bringing my meal times forward by an hour or so here and there, I can remove the need for unnecessary snacks. The result so far is feeling better fuelled and feeling more settled during and after each run.

Everyone told me that marathon training is all consuming and I can confirm that this is true – joyfully so! But as well as noticeably building up my strength and mileage in February, I also managed to enjoy a full week away from running for some much-needed holiday time. I am not sure my legs would 100% agree that the holiday was a true rest from running given that I decided to put them through a different kind of punishment instead by learning to ski.

It was amazing to go away and feel confident and fit enough to give this a go. I’m not sure I would have done this three years ago and a lot of this confidence has come about from my running and the different events I’ve done in the past, knowing how much the human body can do if you give it the chance. It was a good reminder that completing the marathon is definitely possible!

A week off in the middle of training like this would normally have felt like a ridiculous thing to have planned, and put me in a spin about what a disaster this would be for the rest of my marathon training. However, part of the point of a personalised training plan is that it works around your life and the plan was designed to work me hard in the weeks before I went away to allow me this week of ‘rest’.

My plan is giving me a new-found respect for proper rest and recovery. Despite giving my legs and feet the shock of their life by spending a week in ski boots, I came back from my week in the Alps feeling well rested and ready to get back to running. There was a 16-mile run scheduled for day after I returned which initially felt impossible, but I managed to get out there and complete nevertheless. 

Rest and recovery remain a key feature in my training now that I’m back from the mountains albeit that it sadly involves a lot less cheese-based cuisine. Sleeping is my super power; my friends often joke that I could sleep standing up and I think I’ve come pretty close a couple of times this month. I’ve noticed a definite need to sleep more in February as the miles have increased and particularly after the interval sessions which did not normally make up part of my weekly running routine. These seem to work me harder than the long distances.

Sports massage and foam rolling are also regular components which is a lot less easy to make myself do than heading to bed an hour early but are still a necessary evil. My feet in particularly are feeling tight which apparently is a result of tight calf muscles and hamstrings. I now have a whole selection of beastly but annoyingly effective foam rollers dotted around my flat so that I can roll whenever I have a free moment or chance to watch the tele. I definitely prefer the deep baths full of fancy bath oil to treat tight muscles and aide recovery, but they don’t seem have quite the same effect. On the plus side, I’ve stopped arguing and ranting at the TV and radio because I am now too busy grimacing on the foam roller.

 

Vegan Curry

This delicious curry is SUPER quick to make and it’s also raw! Which means it’s perfect for these hot running conditions, while also being really tasty…

Ingredients

2 avocados, 2 lemons, juiced, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp curry powder, 4 carrots, 1 apple, 3oz green beans, 1 red onion, 2 stalks celery, 1 red pepper, 2oz pine nuts, 1oz raisins.

Method

Blend avocado, lemon, sesame oil and curry to a cream in a food processor. Meanwhile, grate carrot and apple, fine slice green beans, onion, celery and red pepper. Add remaining ingredients, stir and serve.

Spiced Almond Dessert Salad

A delicious post-run sweet snack, packed with protein for muscular recovery – plus it’s good for your joints too

 

Ingredients

olive oil spray

50g whole natural almonds

1 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

1/2 finely chopped red chilli

1 tsp sea salt

4 finely chopped tomatoes

1 tbs chopped coriander stem

1/4 cantaloupe melon

1 tbs blueberries

1 tbs fresh mint

Method:

1. Toss the almonds in oil and cook over gentle heat for 4 mins, tossing them around regularly. Add the chilli, salt and garlic and cook for a further 2- 4 minutes or until the garlic turns into a golden colour.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander and tomatoes

3.  Toss the melon, fruit and fresh mint together and serve with salad leaves. Delicious with a spoonful of natural yoghurt.

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Power Bombs

So, you hate gels or want to avoid them while training? Try our all natural energy balls

 

  • Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 15 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (plus 1/4 cup for rolling)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • pinch of rock salt
  • 1 tablespoon water if needed

Method

Put almonds into a food processor and pulse until it forms a flour (or you can use packet almond flour). Now add the remaining mixture and pulse until combined. If it seems dry, add a bit more coconut. Then spoon out the mixture and roll into balls. Coat each ball by rolling in coconut.

These are great for afternoon snacks, pre and post run and every time in between. You can also play around with the ingredients, changing the nut (pecan and walnut?) and add cinnamon, ginger, even a bit of cracked black pepper.

If you’re lucky enough to run with us in Brighton, some of our runners even get these at the end of a run.

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Ricotta Pancakes

We don’t know about you, but we often fantasise about what we’re going to enjoy eating during a long run. And so after we tried a version of these at Ott0lenghi one weekend, we had to give them a go ourselves. They’re delicious, and make for a perfect post run brunch at the weekend…

Ingredients 

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup plain flour*

1/2 tsp baking powder

1  tbsp caster sugar

3/4 cup of milk or non-diary substitute

2 large eggs, separated

2 tsp cinnamon

Butter for cooking

*for an added protein kick, replace the flour with almond flour although it will make for a denser, less fluffy pancake.

Method

Combine, flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk ricotta, milk and the yolks of the eggs.  Combine with the dry ingredients and add the egg until it forms a smooth mixture. It should be a thick batter so if need be, add more milk. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the mixture.

In a hot buttered grill pan, drop two ladles of the mixture into a hot pan. Turn the heat down and wait until you begin to see the edges brown and little bubbles appear on the surface. Now flip over. Cook until golden both sides, put to one side in a heated oven until all the mixture is done.

Serve with fruit salad, Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup. Sit down, devour!

The best thing about these pancakes is, if you make too many, you can keep them and eat them the next day as snacks.

 

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

Sleep, or more widely, how to maximise your recovery has been on my mind this weekend. This is partly because I was chatting with Jonathan Robinson, exercise physiologist at the University of Bath at the recent Elevate conference, and because it appears to have then cropped up in numerous conversations with clients over the weekend.

Time and again, as runners – and particularly if we ‘re also mums and runners, we tend to focus on running only as our training, and perhaps if we’re really good, a bit of foam rolling and yoga. But this is NOT what we mean by recovery, and if we got this right, we’d optimise our performance, prevent injury and avoid mental burn out.

All the research points to how recovery is the cornerstone of your training, not an add on. Ignore it, and you effectively undermine all those hard training sessions that you’re doing.

So, what do we mean by recovery strategies? 

What might come to your mind are compression socks, ice baths, recovery footwear and the like, but according to scientifically proven studies, your foundations for recovery are simple -sleep, body management and nutrition.

Grantham and Jarvis 2005, Recovery Pyramid

 

Sleep

When we sleep, our bodies get to work, helping our muscles to repair and adapt to grow stronger. According to research in the British Journal of of Sports Medicine  cognition, metabolism and tissue repair are critical physiological processes that contribute to training capacity, recovery and performance and are all positively affected with the right amount of sleep.

What you can do? 

Start tracking your sleep to see how many hours, on average you’re getting. I have a Garmin 920XT watch which tracks not only my sleep, but the quality of my sleep. It’s a helpful reminder to show when I’m not. If you are consistently getting injured, or not seeing improvement despite lots of training, take a look at your sleep patterns.

Body Management

Simply put, this means how you are managing your body. Are you only running or are you adding strength training, yoga and foam rolling?

Recovery methods, such as at home yoga, stretching even for 20 minutes per day can help promote blood flow to the muscles and improve range of movement, which in turns helps you to run with better economy, which means less stress on the body.  Moreover, focused, good quality strength training not only helps prevent injuries. Research shows that the fitter and stronger you are, the less time you’ll need to spend on recovery strategies.

What you can do?

Try a Yin Yoga class, try to remember the poses that are the most challenging for you and do those ones on your own at home. Strength wise, we have lots of free exercises on our YouTube channel that you can follow to build stability. Our more dedicated month long gym or at home strength workouts will launch in a few weeks for our dedicated Virtual Training Hub members. Pre-register here.

Nutrition 

Follow the three Rs, rehydrate, refuel, rebuild. Running is BIG business, and nutrition has kept pace with this resulting in the proliferation of products from protein shakes to beet and sour cherry shots. Some of these can be useful if you have a very heavy training load or are short on time.

What you can do?

You can get all the nutrition you need from the food you eat or drink, whether it’s a chocolate milk/almond milk shake after a run, foods rich in polyphenols, such as beetroots (grated in a salad or juiced with ginger and apple) to help with inflammation, fish, meat or pulses for a protein kick and green leafy vegetables and fruit for a vitamin kick to boost your immune system. It can be useful to keep a food diary for three days, noting what you eat and when you eat, plus when you run. That should be enough, without any expert advice for you to evaluate whether you are eating right for running.

We’d love to hear how you manage your recovery strategies, and if you have any tips that are useful for super busy women.

 

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Cumin Toasted Chickpea Salad

Thinking that carb loading means filling your plate with pasta, rice or potatoes is an old fashioned way of looking at nutrition. Keep it fresh, zingy and tasty so you fuel without flabbing out…

 

Ingredients

100g chickpeas
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 small cucumbers (280g)
2 large tomatoes (300g)
1 small red onion, peeled
240g radishes
1 red pepper, seeds and pith removed
20g coriander leaves and stems, roughly chopped
15g flat-leaf parsley, picked and roughly chopped
120ml olive oil
Grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 50ml lemon juice
30ml vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sugar
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp ground cardamom
1½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

seeds of one pomegranate

Greek yoghurt (optional)

Method

Dice the cucumber, tomato, onion, radish and pepper and mix with the coriander and parsley. In a jar or sealable container, put 75ml of olive oil with the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic and sugar, shake and season to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly.

Mix together the cardamom, allspice, chilli, cumin and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and spread on a plate. Toss the chickpeas in the spice mixture to coat. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and over medium heat lightly fry the chickpeas for two to three minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don’t stick. Keep warm.

Divide the salad between four plates, arranging it in a large circle with a slight indent in the middle, and spoon the warm chickpeas in the centre. Drizzle some Greek yoghurt on top and some seeds of pomegranate.

Serve either with Lebanese flatbread of with sliced chicken or salmon for extra protein.

This is a recipe adapted from Ottolenghi.

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Lemon Almond Raspberry Loaf

Make no mistake, this is calorific but if you’ve done a big run, what’s wrong with that? On the plus side, it’s largely made from ground almonds which packs a BIG punch in helping your muscles recover after exercise

Ingredients

Serves 8.

200g soft butter
200g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
40g plain flour
140g ground almonds
grated zest and juice of a lemon

Line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Then cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Then gently beat in the eggs one at a time, adding flour as you go to prevent curdling. Now, on a slow speed if using a food processor, fold in the ground almonds and zest.

Spoon into the lined cake tin, smooth the top and bake for 45-50 minutes at 180 C/gas mark 4. Test it with a skewer – the point should leave the cake without any mixture stuck to it. Don’t overcook though! Finally pierce with a skewer and squeeze over the juice from half the lemon. Leave the cake to cool in its tin before removing and serving with fresh raspberries.

 

 

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Grilled peaches with mint, honey and roasted hazelnuts

The season is on the turn and with it comes lots of delicious fruit which can make for some great, quick healthy desserts…

Ingredients

Peach or nectarine, halved

Small handful of hazelnuts

Fresh mint

Honey

Squeeze of fresh orange and lime

Method

Add a teaspoon of honey to a saucepan with a tablespoon of water. Warm through to help dilute the honey (some of the water should burn off) then add the orange juice and lime. Taste and adjust if it’s not sweet enough. Reserve the liquid.

Put the nuts on a roasting tray or a clean pan and toast for a few minutes until nice browned. Keep to one side.

Brush the peach halves with the honey liquor and then place flat side down on a hot clean griddle pan. It should only take a few minutes to chargrill. Serve immediately with the rest of the honey juice, hazelnuts and some chopped mint. Goes really well with Greek Yoghurt.

 

 

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: The Brunch

This is the perfect brunch on a lazy Saturday morning after Parkrun, or a fantastic carb-loading breakfast for a long run on Sunday…

I’ve never been to Iran or the Middle East but I do love the flavours and tastes associated with that area, with pomegranate and mint, spices and delicious creamy cheeses. Some day, I’ d love to run in Iran and meet with the female runners who defied the ban to run the Tehran Marathon and ran their own. (read their story here). For now, I’ll have to be content with trying to imitate the flavours of their food.

The brunch is egg with flat bread, hummus and a pomegranate salad with feta cheese, mixed with pomegranate, and mint and dressed with olive oil. Also try some Greek yoghurt whipped with garlic as a side to serve.

If anyone has any experience of Persian breakfasts, do let us know. What’s your favourite post park run breakfast?