The marathon training diet experiment has come to an end. Overall, I believe it was successful and I learned a lot in the process. First, I call it successful because I kept my weight in a targeted range of 140 to 145 lbs the entire 13 weeks and didn’t really have any wild fluctuations from week to week. Second, it was successful in the sense that recovery between workouts seemed to be very good and I bounced back between hard workouts usually within 48 hours. And last, it was successful because I didn’t get sick or have any injuries during the entire training cycle.
The diet was not perfect, but I learned a lot along the way. Here are the top three things I take away from the experience.
1. To control your weight, it is really a simple formula of balancing calorie intake with energy expenditures. There is no magic to it. Although I didn’t count calories during the 13 weeks, the act of taking a picture before eating something gave me a good idea of how much food I was consuming each week. I found that having a meal routine of eating the same core items for certain meals kept things simple and easier to self-monitor.
2. Have variety to your diet and try to keep it 80 – 90% clean with high quality foods. You want to try and ensure you have balance and obtain enough carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your diet. At the beginning of the experiment, I was a little light on the proteins and just wasn’t hitting my planned workout paces although I was consuming a lot of carbohydrates. But once I added a little more lean meat, cheese, and yogurt, I was feeling noticeably stronger. Overall, I would guess my optimal training diet was probably about 65% carbs, 20% proteins, and 15% fats. I found that I didn’t have the discipline to eat 100% healthy, so I allowed myself an indulgence here and there. The key is to keep these indulgences in check because they can quickly snowball into unwanted weight gain if you are not careful. Fortunately, as an endurance athlete, you can compensate for these indulgences with a little extra training.
3. Your body has an inherent intuition and if you eat mindfully, you don’t have to be too scientific about what and how much to eat. When I slowed down and ate healthy foods, my body over time seemed to crave the more healthy food options, rather than processed or fast food. Also, the slower I ate and savored a meal, the less I ate. This is a difficult habit to cultivate and I still find myself rushing too quickly through meals, but it really is an effective habit to curtail binging resulting in that overstuffed feeling after a meal.
This was the last week of a three week taper period. As expected, due to carbo-loading and a significant decrease in training, I gained almost two pounds. Although I didn’t have any gut busting meals this week, but with training down 75% from its peak without a change in calorie intake, the weight gain was inevitable. But overall, I’m feeling fully fueled and anxious to get out on the marathon course tomorrow. I kept the diet relatively clean this week with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and tofu.
My weight (144.6 lbs) remained within my target racing weight range of 140 ~ 145 lbs. Although I would have liked to have been a little lighter going into tomorrow, I’m not really too concerned, I’m sure I’ll burn this extra weight pretty quickly during the marathon.
As final preparations, tonight for dinner I’ll have a simple moderate size pasta meal and tomorrow morning, a few hours before the race, will be Raisin Bran cereal, a buckwheat waffle, and coffee. The key for the rest of today is to keep hydrated, minimize the activity level and just stay relaxed.
Here is my weight for the past 13 weeks. The lowest I weighed was 141.8 lbs and the highest 144.6 lbs. Each weight measurement is taken first thing on Saturday morning.
Start – 144.4 lbs (65.5 kg)
Week 1 – 141.5 lbs (64.2 kg) – NOTE: Think I was dehydrated during this weigh-in.
Week 2 – 143.5 lbs (65.1 kg)
Week 3 – 143.1 lbs (64.9 kg)
Week 4 – 143.7 lbs (65.2 kg)
Week 5 – 142.4 lbs (64.6 kg)
Week 6 – 142.0 lbs (64.4 kg)
Week 7 – 141.8 lbs (64.3 kg)
Week 8 – 142.9 lbs (64.8 kg)
Week 9 – 142.6 lbs (64.7 kg)
Week 10 – 141.8 lbs (64.3 kg)
Week 11 – 142.9 lbs (64.8 kg)
Week 12 – 142.9 lbs (64.8 kg)
Week 13 – 144.6 lbs (65.6 kg)
List of things I ate: Rice, natto, vegetables, bananas, grapes, oranges, prunes, carrot/apple juice, nabe soup, sushi, kim chee, mango, turkey and cheese sandwiches, almonds, waffles, jam, raisins, whole wheat cereal, chocolate, tofu, whole wheat breads, protein smoothies, Greek yogurt, eggs, sweat potato, pasta, soy milk, ice cream, coffee and tap water.
Pictures of what I ate this week.