I had one of my first races on August 27th since the birth of my daughter this past April. The race I was in was called the San Francisco Giants Half Marathon and it was a blast! The race started at the Giants stadium and went to the Golden Gate Bridge and back. My goal was to run at least one hour and fifteen minutes because this time would qualify me for the Olympic Trials for the Marathon coming up this January.
I ran awesome! I cleared the time I needed by 29 seconds running 1:14:31! Not only did I win the race (well, tied with my coach/friend who is very fast and paced me to be sure I would run the time) but was also very pleased with myself because it was only four and a half months after having my second child.
What I attribute my success to so quickly after having a baby is directly tied to nutrition. Not only did I take a few energy gels during the race, but the days leading up to the race I was also sure to be very on top of making sure I was eating the right foods and many of them to support my training and the race. Eating lots of healthy fats (like avocados and nuts), healthy carbs (like brown rice and potatoes), iron rich proteins (like flank steak) and plenty of fruits and veggies was critical. I of course am always sure to have dessert too, because training for endurance events at high levels always allows room for all the calories you can get!
Additionally, after the race it was critical to get nutrition back into my system because the thirty minutes post exercise is the most important time to eat during training because it helps with recovery. I conveniently packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and banana to be sure I would get food back into my system as soon as possible.
It is because of my nutritional choices that I am able to compete at the levels that I do. If I do not pay careful attention to matching my energy in to my energy that I put out then I would not only be compromising my athletic performance but also my bone health. Making the choice to eat lots of healthy foods is not only easy and delicious, but also gives me the benefit of keeping my bones strong so I can live a long and happy life with a strong foundation.
I am very pleased with one of my first races back, and as I train for the Olympic Trials now, I will keep my nutrition plan the most important part of my journey to getting as fast as possible for the race!
Nutrition tip of the day: Eat energy gels during exercise! If not gels, there are also other things out there like exercise gummies, caloric drinks, energy bars or even fruit thats easy to digest like bananas. If its during a soccer game, cross-country practice or if you are just doing some cardio at the gym, make sure you are keeping your body fueled not just before and after but during the actual exercise!
Clara Horowitz, Runner, NCAA 5-time All-American National Cross-country Medalist.