I first started to truly think about food's effect on performance after reading a 2005 interview with Sally Jenkins, a Washington Post sports columnist and coauthor of Lance Armstrong's book, It's Not About the Bike.
In the Poynter Institute interview, Jenkins compared athletes performing under pressure to journalists writing under deadline and how the brain functions in high-stress situations. She argued that the brain robs the body of energy in order to think. Therefore, the better shape we're in, the better we'll react to pressure.
A big part of that equation is what we eat.
"Any athlete will tell you that what goes into your body is what comes out, in the performance," Jenkins said.
The interview inspired me to pursue a healthier lifestyle so that I could better deal with the deadlines of my then-new job. Consequently, I started running the next March. (Seriously, read the interview.)
It didn't take me long to latch onto the concept of food as fuel. Running lets you know pretty quickly if what you ate beforehand was a good choice or not.
For instance, beef jerky and Mountain Dew will not take you very far. A better choice would include a mix of complex carbohydrates, sodium and potassium -- like, say, a Fiber One bar and a piece of fruit. And for goodness sake, drink water, not soda pop.
"A marathoner doesn't drink a Coke and eat a glazed doughnut before a race, because he'll collapse," Jenkins said.
Ryan Hall recently wrote about staying hydrated at his blog, suggesting that a glass of water first thing in the morning will give you a jumpstart on your daily hydration needs. He also drinks eight ounces of water before and after a meal to help with digestion. That's a smart way to get your water and help avoid the grumble gut on your run.
I'm pretty good about drinking water throughout the work day, as I have a 32-ounce bottle at my desk. I tend to drink two full bottles before I go home, but then I kind of forget about hydration.
I need to get better about drinking water at home and on the weekends. Eating smarter before a run will always be a battle, which is why I prefer to run before I eat.
Wherein we exchange our water for something a little more appropriate.
The multi-blogged TinaGirl was worried that the Sierra Nevada Summerfest had sullied my enjoyment of this brewery's, uh ... er, brews: "Sierra Nevada is in my very own backyard (well at least on the other end of town) and for a small brewing company they have many different options, so you may not have enjoyed Summerfest enough but there are lots more 'heavy Hitters' to choose from!"
Answer: Never fear. Sierra Nevada has been on my A list for years. I'm always willing to try one of their new creations. The Porter and Stout are still my favorite. The Summerfest was exactly as advertised -- very refreshing. In fact, I had one last night after another bout with Memorial Hill.
On that note, Happy Hour is nearly upon us, teammates. Have a finely brewed weekend. Run well and drink well. Cheers!