One day last week, after a hard interval run in the morning and a long day at work, I arrived home, turned on the baseball game and sat down on the couch for a second to think about dinner. Two and a half hours later, I cracked my eyes open and discovered I couldn’t move. It took another hour to muster the energy to crawl into bed. I wasn’t just tired – I was hit-by-a-truck fatigued.
The next morning, I called Alan Chud at Absolute Endurance in Toronto, my running adviser as I train for the half marathon that’s now only a month away.
“You were trashed – it’s common in endurance running,” he says, nonchalantly. I smile, quietly proud for having done an endurance runner thing at all. “You need to fuel and hydrate better,” and gives me the name of the resident nutritionist at his clinic.
As soon as Tara Postnikoff and I start talking, I realize how foolish I’ve been. I’m still going full-tilt “health food” during the week: unsweetened almond milk, fruit and protein powder smoothie for breakfast, shredded purple kale and tuna for lunch, and a salmon stir-fry or (if I’m feeling lazy) a big bowl of plain yogurt for dinner. And never mind a proper snack to refuel after a gruelling max-heart-rate-hitting run.
“Eat more food,” she says without hesitation. “Especially on run days, fuelling your body is important – and also providing a recovery for your body too. You’re depleting your glycogen stores on these runs, and not giving much back to recover afterward.”
I need more of everything. More protein in the form of hard-boiled eggs and Greek yogurt, more fat with a handful of walnuts and almonds. “And don’t be afraid of whole carbohydrates with every meal.”
And there’s that word – carbs. As a once-overweight kid, the c-word became my enemy when I began a weight-loss plan.
But the next day, I follow her recommendations – more food, more often, with more carb/fat/protein balance: Oatmeal with protein powder and berries in the morning, kale salad with tuna and carrots and quinoa for lunch. Dinner is halibut, roasted broccoli and sweet potato. I drink water all day. I snack on walnuts, a hard-boiled egg, yogurt and seven-grain bread with nut butter and organic honey. I run for an hour in the evening, and this time throw back an avocado-boosted smoothie afterward. Just call me Hoover, inhaler of all things.
It’s time-consuming and costly: My dishwasher has never been fuller, nor my wallet emptier – but the run was genuinely rejuvenating. I actually feel like a functioning person, with a spring in my step, at the end of the day.