Fueling Up for Faster Runs and Recovery

Grapefruit can have a reaction to some prescription drugs, so check with a doc before digging in! (Photo courtesy of Blaine Moats)


One thing I forgot about as I started training was how hungry I would constantly be. This might not sound like a problem, but when you live with a boy who can swallow an entire cheese pizza as if it was the last source of carbs on the planet, it’s easy to cuddle up on the couch and go overboard on the junk.

Rather than wait until my stomach started growling after a long run, I decided to stock up ahead of time at the grocery store so that when a hunger strike did hit, I was ready with foods that would help me recover from runs, rather than make me feel sluggish and just plain gross.

I always knew the basic foods runners should eat, things like peanut butter (no problem there!), bananas, and protein, like fish and beef, but I had yet to discover another superfood–grapefruit. It’s National Grapefruit Month, so my curiosity was peaked. But confession time: Until I did some research on grapefruit I had never eaten one. Weird, I know. But after some reading I found that not only does the citrus fruit help your skin, it actually curbs hunger,  meaning when that pizza binge session is happening on my couch, I can look the other way without wanting to duke it out for the last slice.

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Enjoying the Post-Race Glow

Marla warms up before conquering the race course!

Marla warms up before conquering the race course!

Mission accomplished! I hope all of you participating had as fabulous of a day as I did on Sunday. Crossing that finish line felt totally unreal, but I have to say, I was happy to finish when I did! If I had to run up another hill, I might have keeled over and died. How killer were they? I am going to have to start training now for next years race so that I can bust through them!

And how about that amazing weather? The sun was shining, the temperature was just right, and if you ask me, we could not have had a better day!

I started the race feeling really strong, but by mile six, I could feel my energy level start to wear down. I have tried using all of the different types of energy replacements in the running world, but have found that none of them really help me—and actually make me cramp—so I decided against them on race day. I probably should have been more prepared, but after a quick sip of Gatorade at the refueling station and I was feeling a little better. The best feeling of the whole race was getting to mile 12 and realizing that I only had one more mile to go. I think I started running faster in hopes of finishing sooner! Such a feeling of accomplishment!

I wasn’t really prepared for the soreness to kick in, but to reward myself, I took Monday off from work (so happy that I did because I could barely walk up and down stairs!), and treated myself to a massage and a mani/pedi. I would say that I totally deserved it!

How did you recover from Sunday’s race?

Gearing Up to Run

Marla will soon receive her hard-earned medal. (Photo by John Herr)

Marla will soon receive her hard-earned medal. (Photo by John Herr)

Two more days to go! Hope you are all ready for the big day. It’s crazy how fast time flies! Just 10 short weeks ago I was only running two to three miles and now I am gearing up to run 13. I am so proud of myself for getting this far. All that’s left to do is cross that finish line!

This past week’s training has been pretty low-key. I only ran and did some core work on Tuesday, and have decided to give myself the rest of the week off. I want to let me body repair itself so that I am in tip-top condition on Sunday morning! I have also been incorporating more carbs into my diet these past couple of days (loading up!) so that I can store some much needed energy. Instead of eating two servings of carbs a day like Stephanie Middleberg, my nutritionist, had me doing in the beginning of my training, I am now eating around three servings of carbs a day. Bring on the pasta baby! What are you planning on having for your pre-race dinner?

Before 8 a.m. on Sunday (race time), be sure to check out the expo, where you have to pick up your race number, as well as plenty of other fun goodies! I’ll be working in the Digital Lounge, where you can check out the new Fitness iPad app, tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Feel free to stop by! I would love to meet you.

Best of luck to all participating on Sunday!

Conquering the Longest Training Runs

Marla's getting ready to toe the line on race day! (Photo by John Herr)

Marla's getting ready to toe the line on race day! (Photo by John Herr)

Only two weeks left to go! Hope everyone is getting excited. I know I am (and a little nervous too!).

Over the weekend I tackled my longest run yet, the big 10-miler. All week I had been psyching myself up for it, and on Saturday morning I set out for it feeling strong. I met with Stephanie Middleberg, my nutritionist here in NYC, on Friday afternoon, and we discussed how I should be eating on days that I run hard. Because I like to wakeup and do my runs in the morning, Stephanie recommended that I eat a banana and half of a Nature’s Valley granola bar an hour before running, to ensure high energy levels. I took her advice, waited an hour, and then hit the streets. With the sun shining, the fresh air, a brand new running outfit from the Helly Hansen team, and my iPod blasting my favorite tunes, I felt like I could take on the world!

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Finding the Right Fueling Foods

Susan baked up a fiber-packed pizza this weekend. (Photo by Peter Ardito)

Susan baked up a fiber-packed pizza this weekend. (Photo by Peter Ardito)

I began the week running in sunny Florida and finished it back in colder NYC. You will probably think I am crazy, but as much as I enjoyed being in the warm weather, I realize I much prefer running in colder temps. Cold air is so invigorating during a run!

My training went well this week and I also had time to take my all time favorite class: Physique 57. It’s a 57-minute program of stretching, interval training and body weight resistance exercises. The classes are really challenging (at times tortuous), but I love it and always feel great when I am done! It will definitely make me stronger which can only help my running. I’m hoping to squeeze in at least one class per week until the half-marathon.

I’ve realized that eating the right food before and after exercise is critical to my performance, so I contacted registered dietitian Stephanie Middleberg for some guidance. As an extra bonus, she is also an athlete and able to provide me with some great tips based on her own experiences.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve obviously been exercising more often than normal and I’ve learned that I may not always eating the right foods, combinations of foods, or at times, enough food. I was also eating the same things over and over and kind of stuck in a rut, causing a crash or binge on unhealthy empty-calorie foods. As a result, my energy levels fell and my guilt shot through the roof.

Stephanie suggested that I add more fats and complex carbs to my diet. I was skeptical because these were foods I thought I wasn’t “supposed to eat.” However, I trusted her guidance and started eating avocados, flax seeds, nuts, carrots, sweet potatoes, lentil soup (Amy’s Organic), more fruit and peanut butter (l love Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter). I’ve noticed a huge difference! I’m no longer feeling hungry, crashing or binging, and I have plenty of energy and feel great.

If you’re looking for some other healthy and easy snacking options or meals, check out the March issue of FITNESS! I made the Oh-So Good Granola Bars (page 126) and Black Bean Pizza (page 136) this weekend and they are both delicious, simple and quick to prepare.

Do you have a go-to fueling food or recipe? Please share in the comments!