A view from my side.
Before I married Ex#3, I ran almost daily. I didn’t run a lot of miles, only about 20-25 a week, but I “ran”, I did not “jog.” I would jog for about 5 minutes to warm up, then run 2-4 miles at a pace of between 6:45-7:30 minute miles. Then I would jog another 5-10 minutes to cool down. 25-40 minutes a day, 4-6 days a week, and I felt great. My goal now is to return to that regimen.
Of course, I can’t simply do that Day 1. I’ve got to work up to it and like most things, that requires I make a few changes. My early focus is on overall aerobic conditioning. I have been running again now for about a month. I started simply jogging for 30-45 minutes at a relatively slow pace, 10 minutes per mile. The idea here is to build an aerobic base of fitness that will allow me to push the pace faster as time goes by. The other early goal is to get the legs in shape as well. While patience is not a virtue I exhibit in everything I do, I have learned it is often best when dealing with fitness programs. If I push to far, too fast, too soon, nagging little injuries result. And, I’ve had to realize that I’m not in my 20’s anymore. I can’t just demand peak performance of my body like I could back then.
One crucial element is the proper fuel. Diet is key to success. Phase 1 involves controlling my calorie intake and making adjustments to how much I eat. Phase 2 requires I change “what” I was eat as well. While many popular diets lately have focused on limiting carbohydrates, runners need carbohydrates fuel the runs.
Carbs come in two forms: Simple and Complex. Simple carbohydrates are the sugars you are most familiar with. Candy, table sugar, sweetened sodas, white breads and fruits. They provide the “quick hit” of energy, but peak out almost as quickly. A good example of when to eat these in a running program would be a banana about 30 minutes before running. It will give a quick lift of energy to get you started. So, other than the fruits, I try to steer away from the simple carbs. But, I do put sugar in my coffee, I’ve been known to keep M&M’s around the house and I love breads. The key, of course, is to limit these carbs in the overall daily intake.
Complex carbohydrates are the preferred form. These carbs are found in vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Zucchini, broccoli, beans, whole-grain (not necessarily whole wheat) breads, etc., are good choices. These carbs will also be vitamin and fiber rich. Complex carbs such as potatoes, corn, butternut squash also provide a good source of starch. (Although potatoes are more easily digested, they are still a complex carb. Many people treat them like a simple carb and try to limit their intake.) Overall, complex carbs take longer to digest and provide a better source of overall fuel for highly active people. As you plan your meals, these are the carbs you want to see on your plate.
John, over at Fit for a Year, posted a really good calorie graphic recently. As with most things, you need to make adjustments based on your needs and activity levels. When I’m on a running program, I up my carb percentages and total calorie intake. When lifting and focusing on muscle mass, I increase my protein levels and cut back a bit on the carbs. When doing neither, I try to strike a balance. I’m always one to limit fat, but fat is a necessary component of a healthy diet, so I make sure to include it in my daily intake. But for now, I’m running and carbs are on the menu.