by Sara Tommerup.
The Ron Skilton Half Marathon is a wonderful and challenging race organised by the Llanwrtyd Wells community in memory of Ron, a very active community member from Llanwrtyd Wells who loved running. Last month I decided to sign up to this race although I only had less than 3 weeks to train. Turns out the route is very mountainous (was this a good idea?!).
The following 2 weeks, I trained, steadily increasing my mileage and hill work. With all this came hours of reading about running and, of course, diet!
Move naturally to eat naturally
While reading, I came across two interesting food pyramids (see below). Both are anti-inflammatory diets where carbs and grains (and only whole grains are included) have been put in a more appropriate place than in the classic pyramid from the 20th century. Interestingly, as my running training progressed, I found that carbs would upset my blood sugar. I needed something much more slow release and steady such as fats and protein (a guy called Ben Saunders went to the North Pole on a 70% high fat diet with a fantastic result!). I thought it was interesting that the more I became fit I naturally wanted to eat less carbs.
I have now cut cereal out of my breakfast (only) to get more slow releasing calming fats and proteins. I can’t believe what a difference it has made for me in feeling satiated and focused. Back to (healthy) fry-ups:o)!
Did you know that LCHF (Low carb high fat) is an umbrella term for many different diets that are now by scientists recognised as effective in most disease cases incl. weight loss? Follow the references here.
It’s Race Day!
I stand among the 70 odd runners by the start line. The half marathon is split into two different loops and my aim at the start line is to definitely run the first and longest loop (approx. 8 miles) and do it well. The second lap (5-ish miles) – well this is what happened: As I descend the mountain towards Llanwrtyd Wells town square to finish first leg of the race an older guy runs up next to me and says “being and old guy I have struggled with one physical problem after the other, but then I started eating turmeric – 90 percent of my problems have vanished!” Breathtakingly I tell him that I am already a convert to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties which I honour by eating it every day as a supplement.
As I start ascending up-hill again he pants “you guys overtake me on the hills, but I always overtake everyone down hill, so see you later!” I run off and start the second leg of the race (up hill of course), but my mind decides not to climb any more hills. I end up walking! After 500 m I pick up running again but now I am following a little muddy animal track down an uneven steep hill, I have to step in a single line, and being really weary, this is difficult.
Suddenly I get these really strong pelvic pains and I am running in the most “silly walk”. From below, a marshal is looking concerned at me. I reach the road and she says “it’s that way, if you still want to go on!?” For the first time in 10 miles I stop moving. I do some stretching but feel the ground under my one foot disappear: my blood pressure has rushed down so quickly that I almost faint! As I stand there, my older friend from before pass me shouting “not enough turmeric?!”
The medal at the finish line: a cheese and pickle sandwich
Luckily a water post is coming up, I top up my fluids and start walking, regain my running pace and manage to run over the next mountain and some incredibly scenic landscapes before finishing the race – 2 h 45 min. Well, not a winning time, but I did it. Now I must relax, eat and hydrate. Sandwiches and drinks are offered to competitors – processed white bread with egg-mayo (that sort of thing) – what wouldn’t Ben Saunders say? Here is a link to foods that encourage recovery after hard exercise. Although some of them are exotic items, most things are not. You may notice that bread is not a part of the recovery diet.
Did you know there is a 5 k run taking place EVERY Saturday in Llyn Llech Owain Country Park, Gorslas? It’s open for anyone, just sign up and you can also print out a special ticket to time yourself so you can monitor your progress (optional).
Pre hab, not rehab
For a longer healthier, energetic life – diet is absolutely everything. But it is really not easy to be healthy in a society which at large has not caught on to this. Our doctors still don’t focus enough on it, neither do schools and care homes in order to foster learning, prevention and healing. We should think Pre-hab, as some runners call it, not re-hab. Turmeric, as an example, contains compounds that can help common ailments that many people suffer from (such as arthritis) – and it is just a normal food that we can incorporate into our diet. My friend from the race said he grates it into his stews. It shows how a varied, unprocessed diet contains nutrients that can keep us healthy – naturally. Spices are rightly included in the pyramid!
Running requires prioritising it, you need to take the time to do it. With family and work this means being really disciplined. The same accounts for our communities. We must prioritise being healthy and we should be really disciplined about it. Health comes before anything else because health enables us to live long and vibrant lives – with a smaller footprint too.
I encourage everyone to introduce REAL food into the heart of your families and communities by setting an example and educating leaders and children. Ask your schools if there is a way they can make a commitment to eliminate processed foods ENTIRELY and source their food seasonally and organically. Buy locally, and these local food economies can flourish to truly sustain us. Let’s run this home!
LET’S BUILD A FOOD PYRAMID FOR THE TYWI VALLEY! What do you think should be in a food pyramid for the Welsh bioregion? (Think local, environment and health) Give your ideas in the comments!:)