Some folks like to hibernate in the winter, sleeping in on the weekends and bulking up like bears. Then there are those who brave winter's worst to train for a spring endurance event. If you're in that second group of crazy--I mean, dedicated--runners, at this point in your training, you're racking up the miles, and your immune system is weakened. Co-workers, kids and partners are getting hit with colds (or worse, the dreaded flu). With your compromised immune system, it may feel like picking up a bug is inevitable.
But there are some simple tweaks you can make to your diet to stay well, keep on your training schedule, and get the greatest benefit out of your training:
• Vitamin A strengthens your body's first defense (your skin and mucus) to better repel viruses and bacteria, so enjoy lots of orange-colored vegetables like carrots, yams and butternut squash
• Vitamin C has a reputation as an immunity booster, but opt for natural sources over supplements. We all know citrus is loaded with C, but did you know cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli are also excellent sources? These cruciferous vegetables have other vitamins and minerals to offer to keep you generally healthy and on top of your running game, so include them daily (fresh or frozen).
• Garlic, ginger and turmeric are fantastic anti-inflammatory foods, helping to heal your body after tough long runs and workouts and promoting general health. These foods boost immunity and can also be used to stave off a cold at the first sign—make a big pot of soup with all three of these powerfuland tasty foods and enjoy!
• Probiotics are your friend during this season, giving rise to healthy bacteria in your gut that build your immune system. If yogurt is your go-to probiotic food, make it a plain or Greek yogurt (preferably organic) and add your own fruit and flavors. Commercial yogurt can be a sugar bomb in disguise as a healthy food! Local company B’more Organic also makes a terrific skyr smoothie loaded with probiotics and protein. Charm City Run carries them right by the front desk in the Timonium store. If you’re not a dairy fan, enjoy fermented foots like naturally made sauerkraut, tempeh or kimchi.
• The most important recommendation I can give a runner aiming to avoid sick days is to make sure you're eating as much quality, real food as possible, including lots of produce. Your body is working hard so give it quality fuel to perform your best.
In addition to dietary tweaks, you should be washing your hands like Lady MacBeth on speed and, mom was right, you need your rest! Your body heals from all of those tough runs during your sleep. Missed sleep equals missed opportunities to grow stronger in addition to further weakening your immune system.
Stay safe out on those slippery trails and roads, and be well!
Another post coming soon on the all important carb load! Need some help adjusting your diet to get the most out of your running and training? Get in touch to schedule a free consult: firstname.lastname@example.org