We did it! I am glad to say that the Naples Half Marathon is complete and it is now naptime around here. It was an overcast and slightly humid morning but a great race with great fan support. It wasn’t a perfect half for me – my hips ached and I was coming of a sick week, but I am proud to announce that I still have a boyfriend who is awfully pleased in his accomplishment this morning!
There are so many variables that affect runners and athletes, including nutrition and hydration status. Along with getting enough sleep and proper training, nutrition is a key component not only during the weeks leading up to the race, but also during those 13.1 miles – how much to drink, what to eat, when to start refueling… I can’t say I have this down to a science, but I do drink and eat Gu Chomps along the way. What you will hear is that it is very individualized and depends on the level of the athlete. Re-hydration also depends not just on you but on the temperature and the humidity.
I will get into more specific athlete nutrition at some point in the future, but right now I want to focus on the accomplishments of this morning. Earlier this week I pointed out the exercise recommendations for American adults, and I commend events such as this one that help a large number of people be regularly active. As I run races I always notice the different sizes, shapes, and ages of my fellow runners, which is just awesome! All of these people trained and raised their physical fitness caliber to meet a personal goal. We all had a challenge set before us this morning, whether the goal was just to finish your first half marathon or break a certain time. Not everyone reaches their goals, but in no way does that undermine the accomplishment nor the health benefits that are gained.
The rest of today will no doubt become a celebration revolving around food! My junk food lovin’ boyfriend is likely dreaming of a cheeseburger and fries right now… and we are likely going to get that for him a little later on. However, this is a gentle reminder that exercising is not a free pass to eat whatever you want and whenever you please. More often than not, people are likely to start exercising without changing their diet. Or the common thought process is “I went to the gym today, I can have a bowl of ice cream” and you end up eating more than you normally would. So like I said, today we may indulge a little, but tomorrow it’s back on track with good healthy choices. My advice to you is not to use exercise as the free pass in the kitchen, but to make healthy choices to fuel your workouts.
I encourage you all to look up local fitness events in your area, whether it is a running event, triathlon, zumba-thon, or stair climb challenge. These events are great opportunities for taking your fitness up a notch and getting committed to a regular exercise routine. To search for events in your area follow this link: http://www.active.com/