As a Punjabi, I have a relationship with food! It’s called “heavy and haunting” ! I mean it’s amazing how the word “diet” has been punishable ( my father thulped more food in my mouth if I ever told him I was watching my intake) in my growing up years! All my life, raised in Amritsar, Chandigarh, Delhi, I have always been told to eat ‘well’ which means eat loads of heavy curries, ghee, full cream milk, 3-4 rotis, for every meal, heavy desserts post every meal and also excitedly participate in family discussions around food!!!! You get the drift???
If I refused to have Channa Bhatura ( a combination of spicy chick peas and fried bread made of maida flour) and Lassi (sugar laden yogurt shake) for breakfast every single weekend of my growing up years, all my ‘heavy’ relatives would look at a petite and lean me most unbelievably and say – What are we going to do with her??? or if I demanded an early dinner – I was looked at as if I had murdered someone in the household! Honestly I felt like ‘Alice in Heavyland”!!!!!
My mother, completely out of love for watching her daughter burn the midnight oil, would feed me for 3 people before I left for my college exams. I remember vomiting before writing 3 of my 5 exams before entering the examination hall!!!! ( yes – I passed).
Coming back to the point – Running, Runner and FOOD have a relationship! One that should be sensible, planned and that fuels the body especially when you are getting into marathon training! I recently wrote about my first full marathon and a few queries on my nutrition came in.
- I did not reach out to any nutritionist. Nothing wrong with getting one, but firstly I lacked time, secondly I understand what foods worked for my body.
- I understand every runner has a certain body type, food preferences, body requirements and lifestyle – all the foods mentioned by me are what suited me through that period.
- My training weather – Delhi winters ( November, December, January and February)
- Embarrassing but true – I was underweight before I started my marathon training. I was also psyched about my glucose levels etc falling, because the run plan didn’t leave enough room for mercy! I had to build good physical reserves and I knew that was not possible without proper nutrition. So I had to work hard on not only running, but also keeping myself from fainting due to lack of proper nutrition.
- You must get your yearly physical tests done before you start training. Know what your body is going through at that point in time, what is lacks, what precautions to take.
- There is no substitute to home cooked food. Yes you can eat out but lesser the better. Reduces risk of falling sick. Home food is the freshest!
- If this is your first time, don’t get bogged down by the 10000 articles on food online. A good sports nutritionist or a good online food tracker can help!
- No missing of meals. Also no delaying of meals.
- Large portions or big meals definitely don’t work for marathon training. You need to fill yourself up and still stay light. Big meals lead to lethargy, which is not to be confused with the need for more sleep.
- Supplements I took – Vitamin D, Spirulina, Omega 3, I took an iron tonic too. Am sure they helped me physically but I think it was more psychologically as it made me feel that I was taking care of myself!
Here’s all that was a big part of my Marathon Training Nutrition
Lunch options – On daily basis, my lunch had either daal (legumes) or chicken curry or Chola (chikpeas) or Rajma (Kidney Beans) or Black Channa (Black small chickpeas) with a lot of soup ( I added 2 spoons of hot ghee to my bowl). I had a bowl of curd separately. One fresh seasonal veggie (it was winters, so we had enough green options). I ate either rice or bajra roti or jowar + bajra roti.
4 pm Snack Options – I ate homemade sweet and salty mixtures. The sweet ones were laden with crushed nuts + roasted oats+ jaggery+ various kinds of seeds. These were homemade and I regularly replenished my stock. The salty mixtures were – roasted rice flakes + roasted peanuts + raisins (cut to tiny bits) + roasted flax seed+ roasted pumpkin seeds. I enjoy the spicy Alu Bhujiya too ( but kept that to once a week).
Dinner: Lots of sautéed veggies, leaves, potatoes, sweet potatoes+ grilled chicken/ fish and soups ( everyday we tried a different one). Before 30km + runs, my dinner was pasta cooked with a large variety of vegetables and mild soup.
My Indulgences: Indian desserts (mostly bought) and bakery desserts made by friends, ginger lemon honey tea at least once a day, an occasional glass of wine. I also enjoyed some brandy in the month of January on nights when I didn’t have a run next morning. Yes – I know this is not marathon nutrition or hydration, but I enjoyed these occasional indulgences and looked forward to them.
My post run snacks – This is something I really looked forward to, because I made sure that this was delicious by all means! Dry fruit, along with a hot chocolate (it was freezing in Delhi) was my usual go to. Cheese sandwiches, homemade laddos along with hot Turmeric milk was another go to for me. I also boiled garlic cloves in my turmeric milk. It’s extremely soothing for a sore body beaten up by miles of running day after day.
Certain foods help me sleep well: I drank fresh Turmeric milk ( not powdered, fresh) every night. I did not drink slim or skimmed milk. It was full cream milk for me. I boiled freshly grated turmeric + some pods of fresh garlic in the milk (don’t crush the pods) and let it simmer and let it simmer in milk for 20 minutes and drank it as hot as possible 30 minutes before sleeping. I was trying to ensure that I get at least 6-6.5 hours of sleep.
Self – Control :
I am a die hard chocolate fan, but had to keep myself in check given that it does play with my sleep pattern. Plus I was avoiding extra sugar. It was a test of will every time chocolates came in on Christmas and New Year since most of my well wishers knew my love for chocolate. In hindsight, it was useful to let go of heavy chocolate indulgences because I did sleep better for that period. Am 100% sure that there is one such sweet villain in your life too!
And That’s it!
So that’s pretty much how I went about my nutrition. You definitely need to work on it and not go with the flow. Happy to know what worked and works for you. Stay healthy, don’t starve yourself, marathon training is demanding on your body, so figure out what works for you, take help professionally if you are confused, don’t deplete your reserves, keep replenishing and don’t forget to treat yourself to some Cheesecake or Caramel Custard once in a while!!!
And OH YES! OUR MARATHON SEASON IS HERE….HAPPY TRAINING!!!!