Tip 6: Nutrition and Protein
When I read articles, I usually skip the nutrition sections because I am very fortunate to have a family that eats very healthily, but after speaking to my physio, I realised that I needed to be eating more protein. She advised me to buy protein powder, which I hadn’t bought yet, and this is because I have had a strange experience with protein powders in the past. In my first year of running, whilst living in Spain, I went to a shop to buy protein powder. Now, what I didn’t realise was that the protein powder was actually for weight lifters and body builders, so well, I quickly stopped taking it. The moral of the story is to research your protein powders, or go to a nearby health store and ask them for their advice or you might be taking something which isn’t suitable for your body!
I bought this protein powder from Holland & Barrett, a health food shop in the UK: https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/usn-100-whey-protein-powder-chocolate-60084297 The assistant in the shop was super helpful and recommended a few to choose from. He also gave me scientific reasons why each was suitable for me, so make sure you have someone who knows what they are talking about!
But, the most important reason why I bought protein powder was because you need to be eating more protein when injured. Why? Because when you are injured, your body is trying to repair your injured area, and the protein helps the process. I completely understand that running is seen as a pretty simply sport because you barely need any equipment, but there are so many other aspects that will help you recover faster and more efficiently and protein powder is one of these!
I bought the chocolate-flavoured powder, and when I first started incorporating the protein powder into my food, it honestly tasted disgusting. I was really put off by the taste. I tried it for the first time in yoghurt (honestly I’m not sure what I was thinking), and it just tasted horrible, so do not make the same mistake I did.
Then, I started putting a scoop of it in my porridge in the morning and it still tasted really dry and tasteless, so again, the protein powder taste testing, same as the stretching and strength training, was a lot of trial and error. It took me many many attempts to see how I preferred my protein powder.
So now, I only eat it in porridge. I tried it in water and milk and yoghurt and it was awful, so now I have figured out how I like it best. I love to add plenty of milk to the porridge, and I always add toppings. My favourites are:
- Dried banana chips
- Chia jam
- Peanut Butter (Organic)
- Linseed Mix – Easy to buy in local supermarket and HIGH IN PROTEIN!!!
- Coconut Flakes
Vegetarian turned Meat-Eater:
So, a little bit about my past. My parents brought me up as a vegetarian, and until May of 2019, I had never tried a piece of meat. However, once I started running competitively, I noticed how tired I would be after trainings. It was difficult to recovery and I would struggle to stay awake at school.
In the summer of last year, my family and I decided that I would start introducing chicken into my meals. I was really unsure whether it was the right decision because I had spent the first 14 years of my life vegetarian, but when I started eating chicken, I almost immediately felt a change. I had a lot more energy, and my race times were improving. I could also execute trainings with more speed and efficiency and I felt more revived.
The changes were incredible to see, but in the winter of 2019, my training stepped up again. I decided to introduce beef into my diet to see what would happen and the results were even better than the chicken.
I completely understand that there are vegan athletes who can perform at a very high level, but eating meat was truly the best decision for me.
I recommend experimenting with your diet, but definitely avoid doing it during the peak of the season. It took quite a while to figure out what was best for my body, but once you get there, you will notice such a change in your overall training and racing performance. It’s exactly like training, stay patient and consistent!!!
Lots of love,