I probably drink more coffee than you. It’s a vice I’ve embraced wholeheartedly, to be honest. There’s something comforting about a hot coffee in the morning, afternoon and evening. As I’ve trained more and more for the Spartan, though, I’ve become more aware of the little things that go on in my body when I consume different foods and drinks.
Food is the fuel that decides the quality of a training session. In fact, it often decides the quality of my day. If I eat crap, I feel like crap. It’s like putting the wrong fuel in your car. You wouldn’t be shocked that your car broke down if you put water in the tank instead of fuel, so why do we act surprised when our bodies break down after we put sugar and grease into them instead of proteins, good carbs and fresh fruit and veg?
I once tried running after eating a Happy Meal, and it resulted in me almost fainting. I had no energy, and was nauseous for a while afterwards. I’m not advocating for gourmet cooking, because I currently live in a dorm where most of my food is supplied. I am, however, advocating wise eating, especially when training.
What does my coffee addiction have to do with fuel, then? Coffee is average fuel, especially if you drink sugary milky concoctions. My body really dislikes dairy, so I either drink soy lattes or long blacks. Over the next few weeks I’ll be ditching the lattes and switching to long blacks alone. Is it because I love the taste? Sometimes. But mostly because if I’m going to drink coffee, it should be the coffee that fuels me best.
As for food, I used to eat a lot of pasta because it was quick and easy. It also makes me feel heavier than a morbidly obese elephant. Protein gives me energy for the day. Eggs, fish, chicken, spinach, small amounts of red meat. Accompany those with a good dose of vegetables and a small serve of some sort of carbohydrate, and I’m good to go race the Energiser Bunny.
What about when all I want is something sweet, though? What then? My first port of call used to be red frogs. Problem was, I ended up eating the whole packet and then feeling sick. There’s something much better, though. Cheaper, too. They even taste more decadent than red frogs and even sweeter. Strawberries and grapes. I could eat them all day long and never get bored. Sweet tooth satisfied, and body fuelled well. It’s brilliant.
Here’s my thoughts on fuel, in a nutshell:
- Don’t fuel your body with crap
- Drink water all day long (even if it means more frequent bathroom trips…)
- Eat well so that you train well so that you live well and race well.
I probably will always drink more coffee than you, but whatever your vice is, consider where it fits in the fuelling of your body. If it breaks your body down, quit it. If there’s a way to increase the benefit, do it. You wouldn’t put water in your car as fuel, so don’t put crap in your body as fuel.