Hello friends and Happy Tuesday!
I hope your week is off to a great start so far! I’m gearing up for the Seawheeze Half Marathon which is coming up this Saturday.
I have a feeling I speak for many participants when I say it’s not so much the race itself I’m looking forward to, but rather the festivities that accompany it! Exclusive Seawheeze-only Lululemon gear, lots of yoga, lots of socializing – it’s basically a big party for two days 😉 I’ve participated in Seawheeze the past two years and it’s just gotten better and better each year. You can read all about last year’s Seawheeze fun here.
Since I run at a snail’s pace to keep my IT band calm I don’t have quite as intense a preparation for half marathons anymore as I would if I were aiming to hit a time goal.
However, one thing I do pay extra close attention to on race weeks is the food I eat. Not so much in a “eat all the carbs” sense, but more in a “let’s have as little inflammation as possible” way.
I’ve been amazed at how the foods I eat affect my injury flare-ups. When daily Cookie Butter becomes a thing, more nightly yogurt bowls happen, and the occasional wrap or burger bun makes it’s way into my day (no judgement) this long piece of connective tissue that has been the bane of my existence the past two years acts up far more than when my diet is on point.
I’m no scientist or anything, but I have a hunch it’s due to inflammation.
So while there are certain things I limit or even cut out during race week (like dairy, wheat, and refined sugar), there are also some natural anti-inflammatories I like to include in my diet.
These 5 foods to eat during race week are helpful not only for those who are preparing for an endurance event – if you’ve been dealing with a nagging injury that’s affecting your quality of life, try incorporating them into your diet for a little while and see how your symptoms improve!
Not only that, they’re super nutrient-dense, so why wouldn’t you want to eat them? 😉
1. Fatty Fish
Our good old friends tuna and salmon (and sardines, but they kind of scare me) are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids which are excellent inflammation fighters. Try some grilled wild salmon or throw some sustainably-caught canned tuna onto a delicious salad for a super easy meal.
Not a fan of fish? Try omega-3 oil! There are flavoured varieties that don’t taste fishy at all, as well as vegan options for the vegetarians.
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are rich in antioxidants that help fight inflammation, and their high concentration of Vitamin E helps protect your body against cytokines, a molecule that promotes inflammation within the body. Steam some broccoli to serve with your salmon dinner, or add kale and spinach to your tuna salad and you’re set!
3. Nuts and Seeds
While all nuts are rich in nutrients, walnuts and hemp seeds will help you get your fill of omega-3s and can add a great texture to salads, oatmeal, and smoothies. You can also make some homemade trail mix with raw walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit.
Turmeric is one of the main spices found in curry powder, and has shown to help ease pain and inflammation in those dealing with arthritis, muscular sprains, and even digestive issues. Try making a big pot of curry that’s filled with veggies (especially leafy and green veggies!) and chickpeas, rub it on some salmon, or get really crazy and add it to a smoothie.
A common remedy for digestive upset, ginger is also amazing for reducing inflammation in the rest of the body. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds known as gingerols – how fitting, right? These gingerols have been shown to reduce pain caused by arthritis and injuries in numerous studies. Plus, it tastes amazing 😀
For the utmost in pre-race nutrition, try juicing beets and ginger and consume in the days and hours prior to a race. Beets have a high concentration of nitrate which, when converted to nitric oxide by the body, helps reduce muscular oxygen consumption and delays fatigue, which has made it popular among endurance athletes.
A word of caution: if you’ve never had beet juice, don’t try it for the first time the day before your next race. And don’t be afraid if your poop is a little more red than usual 😉
Remember – we are all unique and different foods affect each of us differently. If you’ve never had any negative experiences with the foods I listed above, try adding them into your regular rotation! But if you have a nut allergy or can’t stomach ginger, please don’t eat them 😉