Despite my recent weight loss, I’m not very strict about my diet… until two days before a marathon. With 16 marathons under my belt, I’ve had my share of unfortunate incidents like begging for a spectator to let me in their house to use the bathroom when I did my second marathon. I’ve since learned a lot about how to fuel and not to fuel for a race. This week, as part of Runners’ Lounge’s Take it and Run Thursday, I’ll be sharing my “Eat This, Not That” list of what to eat and what not to eat in the days before a race.
1. Everyone knows carb loading is a good thing. However, don’t take the “loading” part of that too seriously. Sure, a marathon is a long race, but you’d be surprised how quickly you can eat back those calories! On a normal day, I eat very few “processed” carbs (pasta, bread, etc) – I get most of my daily carbs from fruits and vegetables. Therefore, to carb up, it doesn’t take too many processed carbs to get my energy stores up and myself ready to race. Instead of looking at pre-race meals as a chance to stuff my face with bread and pasta, I now try to eat regular portioned healthy meals while making sure they include bread or pasta.
2. Dairy is the devil. One day before a marathon, I avoid it like the plague, even going far enough to use non-dairy creamer in my morning coffee. Not drinking milk is hard, but going through an airport without ice cream/fro yo is harder, and if I’m eating out, trying to find processed carbs without cheese is the hardest. I’ve learned that if I take Immodium, I can have just a teeny bit of cheese without problems, but I try to avoid it anyway just in case.
3. The other food devil for me before a marathon is any type of sweet baked good – these I avoid for two days prior. Free brownies in the office break room? Not for me. Cookies on the plane? No, thanks – I’ll stash them in my bag for after the race. Baked goods cause the same problems for me as dairy, but fortunately, they are much easier avoided.
The list was going to go on from here, and the plan was to finish it last night to post. However, last night started a whole second chain of events for what not to do two nights before the marathon. Namely, it’s probably a bad idea for your boyfriend to vanish into thin air when he says he’s on his way over at 9 PM, prompting 80+ phone calls to his cell phone (which he was not answering) from me and another 100 or so from various friends and roommates; an all-night crying session as I imagined the worst; calls to every hospital and precinct in Manhattan between Murray Hill where he was and the Upper West Side where both of us live; and finally, a visit from the NYPD to file a Missing Persons Report and compile every detail that might help to match him to one of the unidentified bodies they’ve found (right down to the sizes of every article of clothing he wears, to potential scars or tattoos, to the very personal “is he circumsized”).
Don’t worry, he showed up at his apartment door at 7:45 AM none the worse for the wear. I, however, am severely dehydrated, have a face and eyes so swollen I can’t put my contacts in, have nerves that have already caused me to spill coffee all over my desk and papers twice today, and a general shakiness and emotional level that suggest I’m still in some stage of shock.
Before you suggest that I’m crazy to have freaked out so much, I’d like to add that his roommates encouraged me to sound the alarm, and the good officers at the NYPD agreed that we should get the report in sooner rather than later because this was such atypical behavior for him. Without a doubt, that was the worst/scariest night of my life.