Oh Shit, I’m Running A Marathon: Week 4 – Wet & Hungry

I'm running the Bristol To Bath Marathon (my first) in three months. This week, I learned what to scoff

Nice weather – for DUCKS!! (Cheers.)

I’ve lived in Manchester before, from 1996 to 2001, so I’d already experienced its legendary rain levels. Given that its nickname is The Rainy City, it doesn’t actually rain that much here – there are seven other cities in the UK that experience more rainfall in a year – but when it does rain in Manchester, it rains like something out of a scene from a Vietnam War movie in which stony-faced US soldiers are huddled together for pitiful shelter under ripped tarpaulin and jungle foliage.

Basically, it’s like the North Sea is falling out the sky. So it was unfortunate that my long run this week – all 90-odd minutes of it – coincided with the mightest Manc deluge I’ve witnessed since moving back here two weeks ago.

It was raining so hard that I genuinely couldn’t see; so relentlessly that my waterproof jacket gave up and started letting water in; so dementedly that people were openly laughing at me from cars, buses and extremely cosy-looking pubs.

Anyway, boo-hoo Joe, shut up about how it wained and your poor twainers got all wet. Nobody cares. God Almighty.

England’s greatest hero

Dealing With My Hanger Issues

Inclement weather conditions aside, this week I’ve been learning all about dietary changes I should be making over the coming weeks, as I transform myself from medium-distance runner to XXL-distance runner.

Rather than scroll through the internet’s eight trillion pages of conflicting dietary advice for runners (thankszzz, The Internet), I went straight to the reliably reliable Association Of British Dietitians and spoke to Rick Miller, clinical and sports dietician.

Clinical and sports dietitian Rick Miller

First off, I wanted some advice on dealing with all the advice out there. “First-time marathoners will often ask ‘What should I consume before a race?’ and some veteran will tell them something like ‘I always consume bananas en route’, and so they do that, and it’s bad advice, and they wind up with a bad stomach, and drop out of the race.

Don’t go switching to the latest dietary fad for the sake of it

“So your race is in October? That’s good, because it means you’ve got several weeks to ‘practice’ any changes to your diet, by making just small alterations and then recording the results. And if you’re performing well, don’t go switching to the latest dietary fad just for the sake of it.”

So, in terms of delicious carbs, how much should I be scoffing? “For something like marathon training, we’d recommend a diet fairly high in quality carbohydrates – wholemeal bread, rice, pasta, potatoes etc. Carbs should comprise around 50% of your diet, maybe even up to 60% or 70%, depending on how you’re feeling.”

Last night’s dinner: protein-laden salmon. I forgot to take a photo of my meal before I ate, so here are the leftovers. ‘Apols’.

And protein? “You should be looking to get around three portions of good-quality protein a day – animal proteins such as eggs and fish are a good bet. As a rough estimate, a ‘portion’ would comprise around a palm-sized amount, although that’ll vary depending on the person.

“You don’t want to over-consume, as you’re not looking to build huge body-mass. Look at Kenya’s amazing marathon runners – they’re string beans! They’re not going to be entering Mr Olympia anytime soon.”

You’re not looking to build huge body-mass. Look at Kenya’s amazing marathon runners – they’re string beans!

And fat? “You should be consuming a normal amount of fat – roughly 20% of your calories should be coming from the right sources of saturated fat, such as lean cuts of meat. Problems will only occur if you start actively avoiding fat, which can lead to depressed immune function, because straight after exercise there’s a window where you are at higher risk of infection.”

Vitamins? “Provided you’re eating a well-rounded diet, and changing things around, you’re probably doing okay for vitamins.”

So I shouldn’t be rattling a load of supplements down my neck, then? “You probably don’t need to. Most elite athletes don’t use supplements. That’s partly because supplement manufacturers aren’t regulated in the same way food manufacturers are, and what’s on the label isn’t always what’s in the supplement itself. All kinds of things have been found in them: banned substances, broken glass, even lead.

The whole notion of ‘more is better’ isn’t necessarily true

“The whole notion of ‘more is better’ isn’t necessarily true. They’re called ‘supplements’ for a reason – they should only ever be supplementary. If your readers are interested in using them, I’d strongly recommend they visit the Informed Sport website, which provides a list of supplements that’ve been thoroughly tested and quality-assured.”

And so there, ladies and gentlemen, we have it. Fish and chips (again) it is.

High point of the week: That salmon was pretty delicious.

Low point of the week: The aforementioned biblical deluge. I had water up my nose FFS.

Training tune of the week: Carl Craig – A Wonderful Life

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