Developing a Training Plan Part IV: Lifestyle - Page 2
What we do when we’re not running can have a major impact on our performance. That’s why adopting a lifestyle that is conducive to your training plan is so important. Your goal should be to maintain a healthy balance between managing your running and recreation (exertion) with eating and sleeping (recovery).
I encourage my clients to establish short- and long-term goals for a given training period. Having goals gives your training purpose and direction. Furthermore, when faced with opportunities that could affect training, I challenge my clients to ask themselves: “Is this going to contribute to or interfere with my goals?” I’m not necessarily advocating that your life revolve around running, but when you are in pursuit of something you value (a successful race finish for example), questioning your actions will make you a wiser contributor to your training investment.
In addition to working a full-time job and training for an ultramarathon, my client Jeanne also participates in Pure Barre, yoga and tennis and deejays for private parties. If she were to implement even half of these activities everyday, she would soon find herself literally sick and tired, performing marginally (if at all!) at any of her favorite activities. Thus, we work together to divide her daily time primarily between work and running and then add classes and gigs each week when she has the time and energy. Your energy level is limited, so manage it wisely to consistently run well.
Eating is much more than simply meeting the caloric demands your body requires. In order to run well, your body not only needs quality carbohydrates, protein and fat, but also vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. I encourage clients to eat “real” food and limit eating things that contain ingredients that you’ve either never heard of, or can’t pronounce. Generally eating plants and high-quality meat, fish and poultry is the best way to satisfy your body’s nutritional requirements.
Stock your kitchen with healthy options, and pack nutrient-dense snacks that you can keep in your purse, backpack, car etc. Munch on fruit, nuts and veggies to keep your energy level up and your blood glucose levels stable. Plan your meals for the week in advance so you don’t find yourself suddenly starving with no idea what to eat for dinner.
Catching ZZZs is essential, allowing your body to heal and regenerate cells. To benefit from a given workout, you need to stress your body then follow it with a rest period to adapt to the training. Furthermore, our bodies behave similar to sponges: we can soak up a lot of stress to a point, but then we need to be rung out in order to subsequently soak up additional stress. Just as a sponge can become saturated with liquid and no longer absorb, so our bodies reach a point of diminishing returns in which we can no longer efficiently respond to the demands of training and then fatigue or de-training ensues.
Ideally, sleep eight to 10 hours a night. Making adequate sleep a priority can be challenging, but getting into a routine and viewing it as another component of training will improve your running.
Megan Lizotte is an elite distance runner and online running coach at www.hgrunning.com. She is a three-time World Mountain Running Championships competitor, two-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and 2011 USATF Trail Marathon Champion.
Read Megan’s first column, about simulation, here.
Read Megan's second column, about effort, here.
Read Megan's third column, about consistency, here.