Rotorua Marathon Blog: Do Run to Eat or Eat to Run?

By Hayden Shearman // I love to eat. But I also love to run. And it just so happens that, on the whole, these two pastimes have an incredibly complimentary relationship. But, with the festive season upon us, this relationship, and our waistlines, can get a little strained. So here are some tips for balancing calories-in and calories-out this Christmas.


1) Treat Yourself
When you start the day with a two-hour run, there’s plenty of room left in the calorie tank to be a little more generous at the dinner table. The odd dessert or a pizza night or a chocolate bar make wonderful rewards for all the hard work you’ve put in on the trails or track.

I’m all for these treats. In fact, most of our TempoFit Sunday group runs start and finish at good cafes that stock good carrot cake (a particular TempoFit favourite!). But the secret to managing treats and not letting them ruin all your hard work is to keep them as treats that are enjoyed only every so often (say at the weekends) or after key workouts (like weekend long runs or races).

Treats aren’t bad when left as treats. It’s when they become regulars that they start to lead our bodies astray.

2) Balance
At this stage in your Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon training cycle, you should be increasing your mileage with longer weekend runs and gradually increasing the overall mileage and number of runs you do each week. This extra workload will put greater fuelling demands on your body. In other words, run lots and you’ll get hungry.

Many new runners make the mistake of increasing their calorie intake just with carbs or just with treats or, even worse, products marketed as “sports performance” fuel (typically just an expensive way of selling sugar, food colouring and salts). Instead, when your calorie demands increase, look to increase your food in a way that balances the macronutrients of fat, protein and carbs.

So, instead of just loading on more rice or pasta, you’ll also load on more meat (or other protein source) and vegetables and good fats (like olive oil, avocado, salmon etc). This approach can help avoid the gastro problems that often occur with increased carb intake.

3) Avoid the Punishment Run
For me, this is the big one … I might have had a bad day of nutrition and wake up regretting the trip to Burger King and that Whittakers ever invented their Dark Ghana (so good! Oh my days!) and so go out and run more miles than I needed to according to my training plan.

Do this too many times and wham! you’re injured!

As runners, we walk fine lines between doing less-than-optimal training and doing too much, to the point of injury. So it’s really important that we don’t allow nutrition slip ups to upset this balance. My recommendation when a slip up occurs is to acknowledge that it happened, but then pick up with your plan as though it never happened. Betting yourself up or doing something drastic to compensate doesn’t do anything aside from increase your stress levels and create negative associations of failure in your mind around being healthy and fit.

Instead, control what you can control by picking up your plan to make good choices today—let yesterday and tomorrow take care of themselves. And don’t forget to celebrate the wins with the odd treat and maintain that balance.

Finally, let me leave you with our No Treats Till Christmas 30-Day Challenge. This challenge runs from 25 November to 24 December and the rules are as follows:

  • Select the vices that you’re going to avoid. These could be chocolate, fast food, pizza, alcohol—you’ll know the half dozen treats that are your regular weaknesses.
  • Avoid these vices for six out of seven days each week between now and Christmas.
  • Each week you’re allowed a cheat day so that you can still enjoy a Christmas function or end of year BBQ without looking like a total party pooper. But for the following six days you’re back on the horse being the Spartan disciplined warrior athlete that you are.
  • Then, come 25 December, celebrate your hard work and sacrifice with a well-earned meal and desert (or three!) with family and friends.

Read more of the #notreatstillchristmas challenge.

This is a series of blogs all about getting you trained up and raring to go for the 2017 Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon (or half or quarter).

Grab a fully personalised and tailored training plan to take you to your next race.