My peak performance training program at Canyon Ranch concluded with meetings with nutritionist Hana Feeney. I described my diet to her in great detail, from typical off-season meals to what I eat before, during and after long runs and speedwork.
I stay away from junk food, rarely drink alcohol, and pasta addiction is in my DNA. I always eat before a run, always use PowerBar Gels during long runs, and always have a Naked Juice fruit smoothie when I’m done, followed by a full breakfast. I’ve never had stomach problems while running and I thought my diet was the least of my problems.
But, as usual, I was wrong.
While my diet was perfectly adequate for a healthy middle-aged male, it was far short of what was necessary to fuel the number of miles I was running. Hana computed my average daily intake at 2,300 calories. My proportions were good, with carbohydrates making up about two-thirds of my diet. But for a training schedule with a lot of hour-long runs, plus several multi-hour runs, Hana figured I needed about 3,000 calories – an increase of about 30 percent.
I doubt there are very many people who hear the words “you need to eat more” from their nutritionist. I was licking my chops at my unexpected good luck. But, of course, there was a catch.
This wasn’t an invitation to load up on ice cream and cheeseburgers. The list of foods included apples, bananas, berries, low fat yogurt, natural peanut butter, almonds, brown rice, sweet potatoes, beans, and a huge raft of whole grain foods – including some dense, but tasty, breakfast cereals.
Hana also instructed me to reduce the time between gels during long runs, drink the Naked Juice Protein Zone for muscle repair, and added recommendations for vitamin supplements. I now take daily an antioxidant packet of Vitamins C and E, natural beta-carotene, CoEnzyme Q10, and glutathione, along with an omega-3 fatty acid supplement.
It was a lot to swallow, so to speak, but your engine won’t run well on beer and hot dogs. Food is more than fuel, but let’s face it: we’ll try almost anything to improve our running, but a revolutionary change in diet is probably the last thing we’ll consider.
So, with a folder full of papers, charts, graphs, and the hearty best wishes of the good folks at Canyon Ranch who examined every aspect of my physical well-being, I headed for home. Has the program turned me into a peak performer? Tune in next week as I wrap up this saga with details of my progress.