Saturday, April 4, 2009

Heal Thyself, Part II

I love coffee. I love it so much that I can’t remember the last time I went for 24 hours without it. The best part about my love of coffee is that although I need it every day, I don’t desire that much of it. Just a cup or two in the morning and my fix is done.

Coffee isn’t so bad for you, as it turns out. And some studies have shown that it may have some health benefits as well. However, when you drink it at the same time you’re eating nutritious breakfast and taking your multivitamin, it manages to suck the life out of all the good nutrients you’re trying to intake to jumpstart the day. It messes with iron absorption—something that female distance runners already have enough problems with—and is a diuretic. In short, it flushes all the good stuff out of your system.

As I mentioned, my friend Christine—holistic health counselor extraordinaire, triathlete, and all-around amazing woman—has come to my nutritional rescue many times in the past couple of years. The best part about Chris is that she delivers advice and suggestions without any sense of judgment about bad habits—and almost always makes me laugh in the process. She’s managed to remove 95 percent of any refined sugar, white flour, and a lot of gluten from my diet, without me missing any of it.

Naturally, as I thought about my eating habits and what they meant in terms of aiding my body’s recovery from the marathon-training beating I was giving it, I knew Christine would have some wise words.

“I would never tell you to stop drinking coffee—I drink it too,” she said. “But here’s the trick—drink it separate from your meals. Timing is key here—try to space it an hour or so before or after eating.”

Sounded easy enough, and it has been for the most part. But speaking of all those nutrients, I really wanted to know what kinds I should be focusing on. Obviously my tendonitis was a signal of a lot of inflammation. I thought that eating the right food was a better answer in the long-term than popping Advil every four-to-six hours for six weeks. For starters, I needed to be more diligent about taking in the necessary carbs and protein within 30 minutes of completing runs of more than 6 miles. That alone would start to improve my recovery time.

Aside from that, I do most of my own cooking at home, so changing things up with different ingredients and recipes wouldn’t be difficult.

Christine suggested that I add some healthy fats to lubricate joints and muscles, including fish, avocados, olive oil, and nuts. To reduce inflammation and promote healing, antioxidants are key. I can officially proclaim to be a new fan of pomegranate and acai juice, on top of the blueberry obsession I’ve always had.

“These are the colors in your fruits and veggies—make sure you’re eating a rainbow of these foods every day,” she said. “Mostly try to add citrus, leafy greens, and orange and yellow veggies.”

Do you know what else has antioxidants? Dark chocolate. So the day that I decided to make whole wheat banana bread (with flax seeds, for good measure), I also tossed in some dark chocolate chips to the recipe. Mmmm…I was going to freeze half of it, but I confess I ate almost the entire loaf myself. Yikes.

So, six weeks later, I’ve stuck to all the advice that the Holistic Guru has offered. I have followed the training schedule that Mike has diligently and patiently written, altered, and written again (and again) depending on how I’m feeling on any given day. I’ve taken his words of encouragement to heart and kept that ever-important positive attitude. I have spent a lot of time icing my leg and getting to bed early, even when I wanted to do neither of those things.

I’ve done all that I can do. And I am happy to say that it has all worked. The shooting pains in my right leg are gone, my energy level is increasing. The normal marathon-training soreness persists and some days are better than others, but in two weeks when I’m at the starting line in Boston, I’ll find peace in knowing that, without a doubt, I did everything in my power to prepare.

And no matter what the outcome, I’m eternally grateful for the unyielding support along the way.


HolisticGuru said...

Erin! I just decided to catch up on my blog reading and found this post :) I'm so glad that my advice was helpful AND that you're such a good listener!

Reading this made my day. Thank you for the thoughtful words Erin. And I'll be here watching your race updates and cheering for you on the big day!

Strouter said...

Well, they are all heartfelt words, so thank YOU for all your help!! Can't wait to cheer you on through tri season this year!!

Coach Adam said...

Good luck in Boston

Strouter said...

Thank you so much, Adam!

Acai Berry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Acai Berry said...

So acai juice has become the hottest superfood juice in town. You can't really blame it when it can reduce weight, cure cancer, heal diabetes and protect skin, all at the same time, can you?