Thursday, February 18, 2010

With a little help from my friends

My wife and I moved to Boston this past July. I'm pretty outgoing, and she goes where I go. But between planning for our wedding last September, both of our work schedules, training, and her school; we really don't know very many people outside of work. That's the primary reason we joined the triathlon team (although the training and sponsorships didn't hurt).

Thankfully I made some terrific friends during my time in Columbus. One of those, Bengi, is a former co-worker and one of my very best friends. Bengi, along with my friends Chuck and Dan, have been sources of support and inspiration to me for years. In fact, Bengi was kind enough to unknowingly supply the inspiration for today's post.

Bengi has gotten into distance running. She started last season by following a progression from walking to running, and then did a few 5k's while working on her goal of finishing a half marathon. Not only did she finish, but she threw a 2:32 in her first half mary last fall. I can run that far that fast too... in my dreams. Anyways, she's starting to ramp up for this season and because she looks to me as a font of knowledge, she asked me the following question:

"What do you eat in the morning before you workout? and after?"

Now that I think about it, she might look to me as a font of knowledge regarding just food. Not that she'd be wrong, but maybe I need to have a talk with Bengi about why she asked me this.

Anyways, it's my very amateur opinion that what you eat before you work out is important, but not nearly so much as what you eat AND drink after.

Of course it's important to eat properly before you workout. The question of what's proper depends on what you can tolerate having in your stomach during a workout. We're all different in this respect. I usually have a nice sized bowl of shredded mini-wheats about half an hour before my morning workouts. It's full of carbs, and has enough fiber to make me feel full without eating too much, and a little sugar to wake me up.

I only learned how important eating after my workout was when I started swimming long distances in the morning. As usual I learned the hard way. The first few times I swam long distance in the morning, I'd get to work, sit down at my desk; and eat my entire lunch before the rest of the office finished their morning coffees.

Now, I plan ahead. I pack something to eat right after the workout so I'm not starving before I pull into the parking lot. Usually its a Clif Bar, or sometimes a fiber bar. Fiber bars are pretty filling, and usually contain about 100 fewer calories than the typical nutrition bar.

Most importantly though, is to replenish fluids lost during the workout. Not only does better hydration lead to better workouts, but a nice big glass of water can help you feel fuller without extra calories.

I know there are a lot of different theories on how to eat, and research says a lot of different things. This is just what works for me. I'd love to know what hints any of you may have, and I'm sure so would Bengi!


  1. One tip I learned while working a contract where lunch came at 1PM at the earliest is to eat about 4-5 almonds and chase them with water.
    I buy the more expensive almonds that are toasted with sea salt so that I am less inclined to down them like a bag of popcorn.

  2. I don't eat a lot of nuts. I don't know why. I'll eat butter pecan ice cream, and I like peanut butter and almond butter, but I rarely eat just plain nuts. I may have to try that. I know the oils are really good for you.

  3. Haha, I ask you because you're actually doing the whole working out in the morning thing, whereas the couple of times I've tried it just drained me. And you *are* a font of knowledge (although I would have said fountain)!

    I love nuts, thanks Edie!

  4. You are lucky to be able to eat something before you work out. All I can handle is a handful of pretzels within an hour of workout. I find that a protein drink or a yogurt after a workout really helps me out. Normally have it within about 45 minutes of workout.

  5. Pre-workout, I usually have a banana and some cereal. Or a PB&J bagel. Then on recovery (this is where I am very bad) I eat everything in front of me...not the best training strategy, I know I should change it, but I am just so darn HUNGRY!

  6. Barb, that is definitely a problem for a lot of people. I know some people who follow whats called the GAPS diet that helps folks who have issues with long distance workouts leading to serious digestive problems.

    Caratunk Girl - I totally feel for you. I have done it more times than not. It's only these past couple weeks that I've been able to keep away from eating my whole lunch right away.