Angela Bekkala: No More Processed Foods

An apple pie smoothie post-run replenishes Angela Bekkala's muscles—and tastes good. Photo: Angela Bekkala

Listen in on any conversation between runners and there’s a 99.9 percent chance that food and drink will come up.

It’s our second most favorite thing to talk about besides running!

Over the years, I’ve found that what I eat and drink daily has just as much impact on my running as the mileage I log. If I eat junk, my performance usually tanks. I feel weighed down and just “blah.” My body isn’t performing at optimal capacity. When I made the switch to eating more natural, with very little processed food, my running improved greatly. That being said, I’m not perfect nor do I strive to be that way. I definitely have my food weakness and I don’t deprive myself of treats. What fun is that?

Since I do most of my training in the early morning during the week, I do not eat anything before a run. I guess you can call it my own glycogen depletion experiment. I just don’t have time to let food settle in my stomach before I head out. It usually doesn’t bother me except when I run past a local diner prepping for breakfast. I may start drooling a little bit at that point.

Prior to a long run on the weekend, I do have a piece of toast with almond butter and banana slices. It’s simple and works for my stomach with no problems. I’ll also have at least two cups of water.

One thing I plan on working on during this marathon training cycle is what to use for fuel during the run. It seems like my body is constantly changing when it comes to what agrees with me. I think I have it figured out and then the next time, I’m left with tummy distress. My cadet, Kailey Ingerman, is also in need of finding the right fuel for race day. She’s hypoglycemic and has low blood pressure, so we’ll need to find something that won’t make her crash and burn. She’s not a fan of gels so we’ll be experimenting with real food.

After a workout, I usually will eat steel cut oats made with almond milk, chia seeds, flax seeds, berries and nut butter. It’s a great combo of protein, carbs and fat that leaves me feeling satisfied. In fact, if I only could eat three foods for the rest of my life, I think I’d be happy eating oatmeal, nut butter and berries. I can’t get enough of that combination!

Another favorite is an Apple Pie Smoothie—especially during the summer. It’s a refreshing way to replenish my muscles and I still get my oatmeal/nut butter fix.
I drink a lot of water throughout the day. My favorite accessory is my water bottle. It goes with me everywhere. However, I’m really bad about drinking during my runs. I don’t like to wear waist packs, handhelds or just plain forget to stash bottles before a run. I’m a very heavy sweater, too.

With the summer weather here in New Hampshire, I’m trying to be better about hydration during a run. In addition to finding the right fuel for marathon training, I’m also experimenting with new hydration options. Most that I’ve tried have been too sweet and over processed with funky ingredients. I prefer a more natural drink that will help replenish electrolytes.

Too bad iced coffee and lattes aren’t an option.

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.

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