On Saturday, my husband and I decided to celebrate my birthday by loading the dogs into the car and driving to the Niagara area for the day. Along the way, we stopped at Tim Hortons for tea. Hubby had a winning 'roll-up-the-rim' tab for a doughnut and asked me if I wanted it. Sure! For lunch, I had a burger--and yes--fries. On the way home, we stopped at Pickards Peanuts for chocolate almonds. That evening we had take-out pad-thai, yeung-chow fried rice...and Dairy Queen Blizzards.
I should quickly mention that although I do eat things like this on occasion, I can't even guess the last time that I ate like this ALL day. I work very hard at maintaining a healthy diet and weight. When I started running in June 2013, I was further motivated to make my choices even cleaner and found my cravings for real food increased, while my cravings for junky foods decreased. Day to day, almost all of our meals are homemade with real, natural ingredients.
On Sunday, I headed out for a 28K long run. I'm training for Around The Bay, and this was to be my longest run before tapering for race day. In the weeks prior, I had succeeded in competing 26K and 27.5K distances. I had fine-tuned my fueling, timing and clothing. So, in all honesty, I wasn't really worried about this run.
Over the first couple kilometers I felt sluggish, but it passed as I enjoyed the sun, clear sidewalks and anticipation of breaking my furthest distance record. I arrived at the half-way point and turned back, with a smile and a couple photos. I continued to nibble my run fuel and drink my water. Twice my stomach felt a little off but when I slowed to a walk, the feeling passed. All was going well until suddenly, at 25K, my knees stiffened right up and started to ache. I had experienced something similar during a training run before and was able to stretch and walk it out. I slowed to a walk. I stopped and stretched. Repeatedly. Over the next kilometer, each time I tried to run again my knees would scream back at me with pain and stiffness. Sigh. Listen to your body, my brain told me. For the first time ever, I called my husband to swing by and pick me up--just 2K from home and my record distance.
Over the rest of the day I felt 'off'. Actually, I felt like I had just completed an intense race. My knees ached especially on stairs, while other aches that had been under control returned. I was chilled. I was tired. And, I was thirsty.
Then it dawned on me. My birthday smorgasbord the day before. All the different food. All the sodium. Very little water. All the additives. All the poor quality. All. The. Food.
So, while I had put fuel in the tank, it was a brand my body didn't recognize and didn't know what to do with. It was used to the high octane, premium fuel that had kept it firing well.
I find that when something is going well, you get complacent and sometimes don't realize how good you have it. I truly didn't appreciate what the good food was doing for my body--until I filled it with something not so great and expected it to perform the same way. Instead I was stiff, dehydrated, sore, spent.
To further prove the power of good fuel, over the next day I returned to eating my usual foods. Oatmeal, fruit, veggies, lean meat, peanut butter. And as the day went on, I felt better. And as the week went on, my energy returned and pain disappeared.
Sigh. Yep, I should have known better. I've had to remind myself that it's not just the fuel you eat right before or during a run that matters. It's the food you eat everyday.
Alright body, lesson learned.