Literally No One Cares What You Ate (Last) Wednesday

Of all the blogging trends, WIAW is among the weirdest. At best, people share interesting approaches to fueling their workouts but overwhelmingly it’s an opportunity to humble brag about the various disordered eating patterns and faux sponsor foods that many of the “famous” bloggers eat. In reality, most serious runners I know eat really well and look at food as a key component of their training. In contrast, if you follow the trajectory of the standard orthorexic blogger, you’ll see a cycle of really excited about training/big goals –> injury “out of nowhere” –> depression/healing/vowing to be stronger –> really excited about training/big goals and on and on.

One of the first questions I ask athletes when they have an unexpected mismatch between training and performance is about diet. Sometimes consciously and sometimes not, it’s relatively common to find that people just aren’t putting enough fuel in the tank to train well. I used to use a car analogy when coaching but have now switched to a cell phone. I start by asking my girls if they would leave the house with a cell phone that only had 30% battery. Overwhelmingly, they’ll say no. But ask them if they would leave without eating breakfast or without their water bottles and their answers are more varied. Sometimes they are just using the wrong charger; in an effort to eat a healthy diet, many of my athletes opt for large salads at lunchtime which is GREAT for vitamins and general health, but sometimes lacks the carbohydrates needed to power through a 3:30 pm workout. We get around this by adding things like a bag of pretzels or a buttered roll plus plenty of toppings like nuts, seeds or beans.

My own personal philosophy towards fueling falls along the lines of the 90/10 rule. Eat well 90% of the time and don’t worry about the 10% of foods that don’t have a ton of nutritional value. This past weekend is the perfect example. With barbeques and time off, we all ate lots of grilled meat and drank way more beer than we normally would. By yesterday morning, all of us were ready to get back to normal foods and happily went back to huge salads, lean meat and water. In a normal non-holiday week, it’s common for Will and I to go get a creemee for dinner (Vermont soft serve ice cream) after a workout. Is it super nutritious? Probably not. Does it derail our training? Definitely not. We enjoy our vanilla with rainbow sprinkles (me) and black raspberry-maple twist (Will) and go back to oatmeal the next morning.

What’s your philosophy towards fueling your runs? Do you like reading WIAW from runners/athletes you follow? How do you evaluate your nutrition?

2 thoughts on “Literally No One Cares What You Ate (Last) Wednesday

  1. Jenn Fox (FoxRunsFast)

    Haha I cracked up reading this. I also find the WIAW trend a bit bizarre – and for some of the athletes I have to wonder if it’s really a “typical” day – there seem to often be a surplus of sweets as if they are trying to prove that they don’t eat as clean as you’d expect. I doubt I’ll do a WIAW but primarily because I am boring – I eat similar foods every week. For nutrition, I try to follow approximately the same 90/10 rule. But post marathon I indulge a bit more. Now that training has started again I’ve been paying closer attention – and the real kick in the pants has come from participating in a Whole30 with my friend, Sage. It’s been interesting. I’m 9 days in and while I am missing my bread, I’m also being forced to look up (and cook!) new healthy recipes – which I am appreciating.

    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      Part of my resistance to participation is that on some days, I am literally eating whatever I can find running from floor to floor which might be a stale graham cracker packet and an old apple. I’m similar to you in that I eat many of the same things daily. It reduces the likelihood of stomach upset on runs and I don’t have to think!


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