Is marathon nutrition an all-or-nothing kind of thing for you? Meaning, do you tend to go in cycles? One week you’re really good – you plan all of your meals, bring your lunch to work every day, and eat a clean meal before your long run?

Then life catches up with you – things get busy. Pretty soon, you realize you’ve spent two weeks eating lunch at the deli down the street, snacking on Twizzlers for breakfast, and going out for martinis the night before your long run.

Sound familiar? I would like to suggest that marathon nutrition doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing kind of game. In fact, cycling back and forth between good and “not-so-good” eating can wreak havoc on your body.

Your body won’t be able to anticipate what kind of treatment it’s going to get from you, and therefore, you won’t be able to trust that it will perform consistently during your training sessions.

How about adopting a more moderate, realistic approach?

Here are a few strategies you can use to make sure you have a few healthy meals on-hand whenever you need them:

PROBLEM: “I don’t have time to make my lunch in the morning!”

* SOLUTION: Spend one night a week cooking for yourself. Take 1 hour on Sunday to make a few dishes (one pasta or rice dish), one veggie dish, and one protein dish. Then divide them up and put them into individual containers. Come morning, you can just grab one and go.

PROBLEM: “I don’t have time to get to the store!”

* SOLUTION: Since I assume you don’t have a live-in butler who goes to the store for you, why not borrow time from a non-essential activity (i.e. TV time) to go to the store?

Or, how about walking to the store on cross-training day and carrying the bags home for your own version of strength training?

Take 5 minutes to make a list before you go to the store, and you should get in and out in less than 20 minutes. Isn’t that time worth it when you are relying on your body to get you through an endurance event?

You can also order organic produce that will be delivered directly to your door.  Try or (for Boston area).

PROBLEM: “I don’t know how much food to buy – my food always goes bad!”

* SOLUTION: If you don’t use the fresh food that you buy, then be realistic with yourself. Stock up on canned soups, Amy’s frozen meals, canned tuna and salmon, frozen veggies, frozen multi-grain waffles, frozen fruit, protein powder, bars.

That way, your pantry and freezer will be stocked even if your crisper isn’t. You can buy fresh produce/protein on an as-needed basis.

PROBLEM: I don’t know what I should be eating – marathon nutrition is complicated!”

* SOLUTION: Let’s make it really simple, then, for those of you who don’t have time to count calories, grams of protein, and Omega-3’s. Try to get complex carbs, protein, and veggies/fruit into every major meal… and munch throughout the day on healthy snacks like veggies and hummus, fruit and nut butter, carrot sticks, Terra chips, pretzels, yogurt, trail mix, etc.

Not too complicated, right?


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