Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Ultra Diet

My Ultra Diet

I'm not much for dieting most of the time.  I like red meat. And beer. And fried foods. And Beer. And chocolate. And lots of it. One of the reasons I fell so in love with running is I could eat so much food and still lose or not gain weight. That said, running an ultra takes an extraordinary amount of fitness. Running alone does not get you to successfully completing an ultra marathon.
When I ran Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler, I dieted for about a month before the race. But this diet is not a diet based on calories, or losing weight. It is a diet to make me feel my best and be my healthiest at race day. Its super simple. I lost about 12 pounds the month before Rocky Raccoon. Even though I had knee trouble at that race and my hydration could have been better, I finished feeling pretty darn good.

Still feeling good after 50 miles.

I attribute all of this to a simple dietary change: I did not eat meat until dinner. That's it. This time, I plan on two other changes:
  1. Generally no more than 2 beers, and no drinking beer two nights in a row.
  2. No more energy drinks, and cut down on caffeine in general.
Here is how this changes my average day when I'm at work as far as eating:

Off Diet:
Breakfast: Oatmeal and pop-tarts or 2 bacon egg and cheese breakfast tacos, 2 16 oz. Monster Energy Drinks
Lunch: Either a diet meal like lean cuisine and Greek yogurt OR fast food (about 70/30), 2 Pepsi Max Energy Drinks
Dinner: Varies, usually something somewhat healthy, but add soda. A lot of time we eat out though, either fast food or just a restaurant.
After Dinner: 2-4 beers

On Diet:
Breakfast: Protein shake, Amazing Greens Shake, banana, possibly Greek yogurt, 1 Pepsi Max
Lunch: Veggie Sandwich or Pasta with Veggies, possible Greek yogurt, 1 Pepsi Max
Dinner: Something reasonable, almost always at home. Examples are Tacos with extra lean beef and rice, or homemade pizza on Fridays instead of Dominoes

There are reasons for each of the three parts to the diet.

1. Going Semi-Vegetarian

I'd love to go full on veggie. But I can't don't want to. So I at least cut way down on meats. For endurance athletes, I believe the less meat the better. I am really looking to explore this more, but for evidence, I look no further than Scott Jurek.

Jurek wins Badwater 146 Mile Race

Let's take a look at Jurek's career highlights:
  • United States record for 24 hour distance on all surfaces (165.7 Miles/266.01 Kilometers).
  • Won the Spartathlon 152-mile (245 km) race from Athens to Sparta, Greece three consecutive times (2006-2008).
  • Won the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run, and held the record time for one year until Kyle Skaggs set a new record in 2008.
  • Won the Western States Endurance Run seven consecutive times (1999–2005), and held the record time (15:36:27 in 2004) until 2010
  • Won the Badwater Ultramarathon twice (2005, 2006), and held the course record for two years (2005).
  • Finished first three times (2002–2004) and second three times (2001, 2005, 2006) in the Miwok 100K Trail Race.
  • Won the Leona Divide 50 Mile Run four times (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004).
  • Won the Diez Vista 50K Trail Run twice (2000, 2003).
  • Won the Montrail Ultra Cup series twice (2002, 2003).
  • Selected as UltraRunning Magazine's North American Male Ultrarunner of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007.

And of course, he's a vegan. I just ordered his new book, Eat & Run and I'm hoping to learn a lot more. I hope to learn more ways to incorporate plants into my diet. It may not just be endurance athletes, either. There are other reasons, of course, including longevity.

It also helps me find out I like certain foods I never would have tried. I really enjoy veggie sandwiches too. I just toast bread, put cream cheese on one side, guacamole on the other, stack sprouts (or lettuce), tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, and black olives in the sandwich, add some pepper and salt, and its great!!!

It seems that every month something comes out about the benefits of a plant-based diet. But most of all, I know that when I was eating more veggies and less meat, I felt better. And my endurance shot through the roof.

Reduced Caffeine

I've got to the point where I am drinking two Monsters a day and 2-4 Pepsi Max drinks. Not only is that too much caffeine, its about $5-$7 a day! There has been mixed literature on the influence of caffeine on athletic performance. Most of what I've seen says it can help some. But of high importance to me is its role in dehydration.  A good article suggesting moderation in caffeine intake is here: I am basically moderating my caffeine intake greatly. The single biggest reason is that it has a dehydrating effect. This effect is slight and I don't think people would notice if it they are running in moderate temperatures or moderate distances, but when running ultras in Texas, it is a serious concern.

I also witnessed what caffeine can do for someone who does not drink it as much. Around 40 miles of Rocky Raccoon, Chaser was getting visibly tired. He rarely drinks caffeine. He then chugged some Mountain Dew and turned into a near super runner. It was pretty amazing to see this 15th wind he gained. Hopefully I can use that to my advantage.

Reduced Alcohol

Okay, The Beer Runner is a runner I seriously respect. And I think beer has some absolute benefits.

But beer does dehydrate me and slow me down if I am drinking too much. So my rule of thumb is no more than 2 beers per day, and no beer 2 days in a row. I am mixed on whether I should drink the night before a race or a long run. I drank the night before RRUM and most Friday nights I have a beer or two. With RRUM, it really helped me relax and go to sleep. On long runs it makes me have to make a pit stop 6-10 miles in, but after that I'm great.

So that's it. I am dieting, but not to lose weight or look better. I'm dieting to be a better and more functional endurance athlete. With my training being much less than I hoped due to some injuries, and my ankle being sore enough to really add to my taper before El Scorcho, I hope this helps me make up for some of those shortfalls. 

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking the other day about the difference between joggers and runners, and I think joggers jog to loose weight and look better while runners eat better to imprI've their running abilities.

    Oh, and WOW!!!! Do you really drink that many soft drinks / caffeine during a normal day??? You know that stuff stunts your growth.