In these initial days following the marathon, I have been fortunate enough to have also had a slower work week (as in, less night meetings). This has provided me will extra time to indulge myself by engaging in other hobbies that have been long neglected, such as reading.
Over the last few days I have started reading the book Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal. I came across the book on a whim (it was a coffee table book at the doc’s office that he kindly let me borrow) and it is far from my “typical” reading genre (which, like my TV habits, tends to be more on the guilty pleasure end of the spectrum). I must say that even just a few chapters in, there have been some very useful take-aways.
In short, the premise of the book is that eating well is critical to our health and well-being, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The book acknowledges the virtues of various diet “trends” (Adkins, Paleo, low-fat, South Beach, etc.) but notes that while all plans may “work” in the short term by virtue of the fact that they inevitably result in the individual paying close attention to their diet, diet is ultimately a very individualized thing. Some people may thrive on a plant based diet, while others may need greater amounts of meat. The key is tracking what you eat and how it makes you feel – making adjustments accordingly. There should be no “rules” and your body’s needs may change on a whim. This is not something we should be ashamed of and we should not become so stuck in our ways that we miss the opportunity to adapt.
It’s a simple truth, but it also provided a big “Ah-hah” moment with regard to my running as well (and especially as I am trying to figure out how to recover from this marathon). Admittedly, none of this is new. Nor is it “rocket science.” But it has taken me years, if not decades, as a runner to finally understand these principles…so maybe we are so hung up on finding “rules” to follow that we are blind to these simple truths?
1. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
What does this mean for race training and recovery? First, we have to stop comparing ourselves to others. Most of my friends on social media are also runners, so naturally my newsfeed is bombarded with status updates from friends discussing their latest workouts and training philosophies. While the sharing comes from a place of excitement on their part, it is all to easy to fall into the trap of comparing what you did to what they did (especially if you are training for the same type of race).