usaf.marathon@us.af.mil (800) 467-1823
Does Nutrition Really Matter?

When it comes to training for a race, whether it is a 5K or a full marathon, does nutrition really matter? The answer is YES! Nutrition plays a very large role in your training plan. Many athletes function under the myth that because they are burning extra calories while training, then they can consume whatever they wish. This is most definitely false! Every single body is built differently therefore, how food consumption affects you as an individual may be different from the elite athlete.

Proper training includes proper eating. For every pound you shed, you will improve your running time. This is a proven fact. However, running itself is not going to necessarily create the ability to lose the pounds. Losing pounds begins with what you are putting into your body. Making healthy choices in meals, drinks, and snacks are a large part in how weight loss begins. And honestly, we don’t even want to focus on the weight loss aspect. We would prefer to focus on simply getting healthy. It’s not about a number on the scale, it’s about how the body feels. The better you eat, the better you are going to feel. You will have more energy, allowing you to move better; allowing you to run better; allowing you to feel better both emotionally and physically.

We are not going to tell you exactly how that will look for you. As we said, each body is built differently, and therefore, how a certain food might affect you is different from how it affects your running buddy. Two people can eat the same food and run the same distance, but have different results. You will be the best judge of what is working or not. However, we do want to encourage healthy eating habits and practices as part of your training, so we have a few tips to offer.

  1. Eat more green. Green foods are like a green light on a traffic signal. It means “go!” It means “good!”
  2. Eat more fiber. Fiber fills you and fiber helps your body properly process foods naturally.
  3. Keep a food journal. Yes, it can be tedious. But, let’s be honest, many of you keep a running journal, right? You log your miles…. Now log your food. Try it out. You’ll be amazed what keeping track of what you eat does for your body. Awareness is the first step. Remember, the better you eat, the healthier you are, the better you can run.
  4. Eat more slowly. When a person consumes food quickly, the brain doesn’t have time to process it effectively. Therefore, you don’t feel full so you eat more. The more slowly you eat, the better your brain can process it, the more full you will feel, the less you will eat. It’s a chain effect, beginning with slower eating.
  5. Use your non-dominant hand to eat. This is not easy and it can be awkward, we know. But, if you do this, it causes you to eat a little more slowly.

Does this mean you can never indulge in your favorite sweet or your favorite alcohol? Absolutely not. We are not saying you have to cut all of the junk all of the time. But, we are encouraging you to make nutrition a larger part of your training plan. Don’t just focus on the miles you need to put in every morning; learn to focus on what food you are putting in every day as well. Healthier eating = a healthier you! And who doesn’t want to be a healthier person?