Balanced vs. poor diets
Poor diets can severely decrease your optimal performance potential for running. We’ve all heard the same information over and over again about eating a balanced diet. We all need to lose weight, and we all want to have the lean athletic body. Runners, of all people, should know the difference between eating a healthy meal and a nutritionally starved meal, right?
Tracking calories burnt
You slap on your Garmin, Fitbit, Applewatch, or whichever step-tracking device and start tracking those miles. You run for a good 5 miles at a decent pace and work up a sweat. You slow down to a walking pace to enter your cool down phase. You sync your device to the phone, and you stare in amazement when your tracking app shows you that your body burned 500+ calories. (This is assuming that you burn 100 calories a mile. For larger framed, beginner runners, your calorie per mile consumption can be as high as 175 calories a mile.)
Eating is 80% of the equation
Your mind begins to throw images of what kinds of food you can eat with the surplus of calories. Not picking the right food is where new runners fail. Instead of replacing the 500 calorie surplus with good, nutritional food, new runners tend to go for the burger or side of fries. Not eating enough nutritional food is an example of a poor diet. While there is nothing wrong with a burger and fries every once and a while, the problem lies with the nutritional value you get from these foods which are less than what you would have gotten from a lean meat coupled with fruits and vegetables. Boring, right? Elite runners have known this for a long time. What you eat directly affects your performance while running.
Don’t go crazy
Lastly, some nutritional guides tell you that you should never eat processed foods and when you have one cheat day where you can eat whatever you want to, your body takes at least a few weeks before recovering from the surge of non-nutritional food. I’m not asking you to go crazy hardcore with your diet. Instead be mindful, and try to choose better foods for your body.