Candy, soda, potato chips, ice cream, pizza, and french fries are just a few of the foods nutritionists tell us to avoid on a daily basis. But before a race or hard workout, what you eat is even more critical. Eat right and you will feel strong and have the energy resources you need. Eat wrong and you could be in for a world of hurt. Have you ever chosen poorly and lived to tell the tale?
I improved my disastrous dietary practices dramatically when I got to college, but in high school I believed I could eat anything I wanted, and still race well. My junior year I would eat six chocolate frosted Boston cream doughnuts before every cross country race. It didn’t seem to bother me. Maybe my early success was a result of extreme sugar highs!
I think I finally learned my lesson later that same year. On a dare from some of my less mature teammates, I ate a six inch subway sandwich and drank a can of coke only 30 minutes before a mile race at an indoor track meet in Boulder. I ran 4:25 on the congested 200 meter track, set the meet record, and spent an hour staring at the bottom of a toilet bowl in the bathroom. It was one of only two times I ever threw up after a race. After that, I limited my culinary adventures to chocolate chip pancakes and lemonade!
Eating anything greasy before I run is a bad idea. I am predisposed to heartburn even if I eat right, so the smallest mistakes can have large digestive consequences.
One weekend I was scheduled for two runs on a Saturday. My morning workout was great and I was looking forward to a solid second run later in the day. Unfortunately, we were invited to a lunch time birthday party at a neighbor’s house. I was avoiding the greasy foods and about to escape unscathed, when the host told me I had to try one of his “World Famous Double Bypass Burgers.” I didn’t want to be rude but I also didn’t want to eat this fat bomb of beef and bacon. In a moment of weakness, I accepted the offer and sealed the fate of my afternoon run. During my six mile death march, it felt like my veins were pumping straight grease instead of blood, and my legs were made of bacon. What should have been an easy second run, was one of the worst I can remember. I guess you are what you eat!
Based on the comments below, Adam and Tim each selected their top 5 worst foods to eat before a race. We read 15 nominations and then selected these top 5 on our radio show which aired October 17, 2010. You can listen to the show by clicking the link below.
Adam’s Top 5
5. Hot Cheetos
3. Kung Pao Beef
2. Mom’s Tuna Melt
1. Orange Juice and a Microwave Burrito
Tim’s Top 5
5. Mom’s Tuna Melt
4. Hot Cheetos
3. King Sized Bag of Skittles
2. Chocolate Laxatives*
*Adam disqualified these from his list because he does not consider them real food.