Eating Healthy To Stay Fit

No matter how hard I have been training in the past two years, the key to improving my running speed is weight loss. In my previous article, the Physics of Running, I present a graph showing that a runner weighing 100 pounds could run a 10K race (6.2 miles) in under 30 minutes.  According to the same graph, a runner weighing 176 pounds would only be able to run the same distance in at most 50 minutes. I could not believe this until I actually looked up the weights of the world’s fastest runners, and I was astonished to find out that they weigh so little!

1) Ryan Hall: 130 pounds/Height:  5’10 – Holds the US record for half-marathon with a time of 59:43.
2) Mo Farah: Weight: 128 pounds/Height: 5’5 –  Winner of the gold medal in the 10K and 5K events at the 2012 London Olympics.
3) Kenensia Bekele – Weight: 123 pounds/Height: 5’5 – World record holder for 5K with a time of 12:37.
4 Tirunesh Dibaba – Weight: 106 pounds/Height: 5’4  – Women’s world record holder for 5K with a time of 14:11.
5) Paula Radcliffe –  Weight:119 pounds/Height: 5’8 –  Women’s world record holder for marathon with a time of 2:15 and road 10K with a time of 30:21.

I was able to improve my half-marathon speed from 2 hours and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 38 minutes because I went from being 170 pounds to 140 pounds in one year.  My weight loss is mainly due to eating less.  While maintaining my running schedule, I noticed that my weight has started increasing again as soon as I went back to my old eating habits.  While I prepare myself for the autumn race season, I try to remember to what I did to lose weight in the first place.  The are some of the things that come to mind:

1) Eat healthy microwave food.
For eight months, my lunches and dinners consisted almost entirely of microwave food.  It’s easy to cook, cheap, and fast to prepare.  When I shop for microwave food, I choose to go for the lesser evil and try to buy the healthiest microwave food possible.  Unfortunately, this is not easy.  With  microwave food, you know exactly what you are getting, even if it’s bad for you.   Therefore,  I try to pick the meals with the least amount of artificial ingredients.   I stick to  brands like Kashi, Lean Cuisine, and Healthy Choice. These brands tend to have less calories, sodium, and sugar.  Here is a list of my top 5 favorite microwave meals that I would buy.

Microwave FoodsFinally, I would supplement my microwave meals with fruits and vegetables.  I would buy a salad, bananas, tangerines (easy to peel), prepared pineapples, and an avocado.

2) Keep better track of my calories.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the average American adult woman needs between 1,800 and 2,400 calories per day, while the average American adult man needs between 2,400 and 3,000.  Eating just 250 more calories daily than your body requires for body functioning and exercise leads to a 26-pound weight gain in a year.  This is scary given that most snacks and quick drinks I eat have more than 200 calories.  A 16 ounce latte from Starbucks  has 220 calories.  A Milky-way Midnight candy bar also has 220 calorie, and a 3 musketeers mini has about 26 calories.  Even only after adding a candy bar to your daily diet, running doesn’t really do that much to prevent weight gain. Running a over a distance of 3.1 miles (5K), I only burn 340 calories or approximately 110 calories every mile.  I love to eat a lot of 3 Musketeers-Minies and drink lots of coffee, so I’ve got a very long way to run if I want to keep eating them.

3) Avoid unhealthy foods.
I  believe that foods with too much sodium, cholesterol, sugar, and calories are unhealthy.  Just like with microwave food, I always go for the lesser evil when I have to eat in a place that serves unhealthy food.   Ever since I can remember, I loved going to McDonald’s.  My typical meal was Big-Mac, fries, and a large Coke. Sometimes, I would get one more big-mac.  They are so good.  Without the extra big-mac, my happy meal is 1,550 calories.   However, a hamburger with a side salad,  low-fat dressing, and a water would be less than 300 calories!  Now, I choose the latter instead of the former.

4) Eat foods that are healthy for runners.
These foods are rich in protein,  are low in cholesterol, have lots of fiber,  contain anti-oxidants, manganese, and copper.  Foods low in cholesterol promote better heart health, which is vital.  Protein, fiber, copper, and manganese are important for supporting muscles.   Maintaining energy to run is crucial, which is where carbohydrates or carbs come in.   Much of the literature I read on carb intake focuses on eating carbs low in sugar.  Also, carb in-take should be consistent with the amount of activity.  Before a long race, eating more carbs is useful. However, during normal training days, not so many carbs are needed.  Examples of my favorite foods include chicken, cabbage, broccoli, kale, falafel, dark-chocolate, low-fat yogurt, egg-whites, whole grains, and fruits.

5) Keep running!
For me, weight-loss is not the goal. Instead, it is a means to achieving the goal, which is to become a faster long-distance runner and eventually qualify for the Boston marathon.  I am not trying to break the next world-record and get down to 130 pounds like Ryan Hall.  When I ran my fastest 5K race in 22 minutes, I felt like I did my best and gave it all I had.  However, I know that with better training and eating, I can run much faster.

Miles From Last Week

Tuesday:  3.1 miles
Wednesday: 3.5 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Total: 10.6 miles
Miles Ran in June: 64

Ideas For Future Posts
How to Qualify for Boston
Ideal Exercise Routine
Diet Plan for Half-Marathon
Time for Cross-Training
Running in Parque Central
Time for New Shoes
Best Music for Running
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch
What do I think about while I’m running?
How I Started Running

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2 Responses to Eating Healthy To Stay Fit

  1. K@TIE :) says:

    Wow your half marathon time is amazing!! Awesome job 🙂

  2. MyRoadToStayingFit says:

    Thank you. Hoping to improve it again this year!

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