Nutrition, Christmas, and going the distance (13.1m)

Hi All.

I trust you are all settling in well into the Christmas period and are beginning to enjoy the festivities, work parties and long sunday morning runs!


I wanted to ask a general nutrition based question, and then ask for some additional advice.

I am training for the Brighton half marathon in February 2013, and I also have a 10 mile race on January 20th 2013 as a preparation step for this. At the moment I am able to get out for a run in the gym twice a week, where I will typically run abour 7-8 miles at a pace around 80% of race pace. At the weekends, I will get out early and run 13.1 miles at around 1 hour 46 minutes.

Now here is my question: I eat around 1900 calories a day, regardless of how much excersise I am putting in. These longer runs at the weekends burn around 1000-1200 calories a time, should I be eating most of this pack in order to progress?. I currently weigh 141 pounds, and 5 ft 10, and have 12.2% body fat. I don't want to eat too much and end up not being able to complete my race becuase of bad information!

And as for general advice - how are you all tackling Christmas food this year? - I have plenty of family events that revolve around eating and being merry with the wine, what's the best advice to keep this in check!!??




  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    Anything you eat or drink over the Xmas period will be a distant memory by the 20th Jan, so it wont have a direct impact on your races.

    You may find that your training runs are harder if you've over-eaten or drunk too much the night before.  I find my heart rate is elevated after drinking the day before  and I feel lethargic if I've had a heavy meal the day. Although I'm an early morning runner, so the effects may wear off by the end of the day.

    With your BMI and body fat % you don't need to worry about gaining a couple of pounds over the Xmas period.

    What time are you targetting in the Brighton HM?

  • The general food intake question is an interesting one, and i'm in a similar though much heavier postion. I'm 5' 10" 11.5st, i've only got down to this weight by cutting kcals to 2000-2200 per day, like you regardless of how far I run, this includes training for and running a marathon 4 weeks ago. To begin with, when much heavier, this calorie intake and less was perfectly adequate as I had vast reserves of fat to draw from when running and after the initial calorie deficit shock I felt fine. As I get closer to my goal (11st) i'm finding that I sometimes have a lack of energy to the point of dizzyness after running. I really feel like i'm reaching some tipping ballance where though I still have a lot of fat, I need to eat just a little bit more to maintain and keep running effectively. The trouble is obviously striking a ballance.

    You will get a lot of replies come through stating (as their own fact) that you should be eating more blah blah blah, you need to find your're own ballance.

    The Christmas question is easy, as i'm on a diet I shall be eating exactly the same calories and food as I have been. I dn't buy chocolate or cakes, and if someone offers me something such as this I say no thanks. Same with drink, I don't buy it and I won't take one from someone else. And I won't be eating Christmas dinner, I have 10 miles with 5 miles tempo to do then.

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    I'll eat a bit more than usual for a couple of days, but I'm eating less than usual at the moment, in order to have "room" for the extra.

    You just have to learn to say "no thanks" some of the time.  When dealing with people who try to make you eat more (mothers, for example), I found that as long as there is still some food on my plate, she doesn't keep pressing more food on me.  

    Once my plate is empty, she starts with the "have some more this, have some more that..."

  • I've set myself a simple rule, when I go to a friend or families house and they offer me something to eat, whether it's Christmas dinner, a Birthday meal, sandwich or just a wafer thin mint I no say no thanks. It saves having to set levels.

  • Thanks for the replies guys, it sounds as though this could be an interesting thread!

    I am aiming to complete the brighton HM in under 1:50 if possible. This is my first competetive run of this size (I have run 10ks before), so I will learn how to approach this on my 10 mile practice run in January.

    Unfortuatnely at Christmas I have to visit lots of family members and we usually have a focus around dinner (As with all families at christmas I expect!) - I think what I will do is dish myself a plate, and stick with that, no seconds, no extras, just what I have chosen and accounted for. Desert is an exception, its christmas and I am going to have som pudding darnit! image


    Lardarse - congraulations on your marathon, it must have taken alot of hard work and determination. I too would like to complete one, possibly towards the back end of 2013, if not early 2014 as a marker.


    Wilkie - I too have been eating at a defecit over the past few weeks to 'compensate' for the bigger days of eating and enjoying myself. So far in december I have run up a defecit of 6500 cals (through less food and excersise), and this will more than adequately line me up for a net zero once christmas and new year have been dealt with!!

    On a serperate note, is 141lbs at 5ft 10 too light? - I know runners who weigh 170 lbs at the same height and are just fine




  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    I don't count the calories, I just keep saying no to chocolates, cake, etc.

    I do what you've suggested - have a portion, but no seconds.  Have a pudding, but just a small one.  Keep away from the crisps, peanuts, snacks and sweeties.

    141lbs is less than I weight, and I'm three inches shorter than you (and female)!

    It's very much an idividual thing - I consider myself a little overweight, but others may say that I am not.  On the other hand, some people would think me a porker image

    If your ribs are visible then you may be underweight.

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    Hi Tom, if you are aiming to complete the Brighton HM in 1:50, your training runs of 13.1 miles should be taking over 2 hours.  You should be running at least 1 min slower per mile than your target pace.

    I'm guessing you are quite young based on your thumbnail picture.  When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I was around the 140lb mark (and also 5'10") and this didn't really fluctuate.  To most people this is skinny, but it was a healthy weight for me (and I'm one of many tall, skinny members of the family).  From memory, the healthy body fat range is 10 to 20% so you are at the lower end of this scale.   NB Body fat % is notoriously difficult to measure accurately despite the plethora of machines that are available to do it - so don't worry if the figure fluctuates a bit on whatever measuring device you are using.

    Some elite endurace athletes (e.g. Bradley Wiggins) go below this, but this is done with the help of sports nutrionists and scientists - so this really isn't advisable for amateur athletes.  


  • Ja5onWJa5onW ✭✭✭

    do what i do and eat everything. then theres no more to offer!!

    they hate it when im round, im one fat pig when it comes to food!!

    but i do weigh 10st (5ft 9) and have a SUPER fast metabilism image

  • Hi Jason - it's always great to have a metabolism like that, I think mine is alittle slower! although probably much better than when I was a younger guy.


    I am 23 now so yes pretty young image I would ideally like to put on about 10 lbs of lean mass, but am focusing on getting the half marathon done first. Thank you for your advice with regards to running alittle slower (stutyr), I will try that out this weekend and maybe try and get an extra 5-10% distance through instead

  • You say you're already running 1hr46 for a half in training ,& your target is under 1hr50 for the race ? Sounds like your either running way too fast in training or your target is way off.

    What's your 10k time ?

    At 10st & 23 you can eat what you like at Xmas, it'll fall off you before New Year!

  • 10k is around 47/48 minutes the last time I raced (November 8th)

    I think i'm alittle worried about putting on extra fat over christmas. I have a very strict excel spreadsheet that tracks my cals in  / out etc

  • Ja5onWJa5onW ✭✭✭

    tom im 23 aswell so dont worry about xmas.

    sounds to me like  your worrying about it too much. stop counting calories.

  • Just be sensible. Turkey, xmas veggies, nuts, satsumas etc... equal really good, healthy fuel, eat lots.

    Christmas pudding, mince pies, cranberry sauce = not great fuel.

    Brandy butter or clotted cream with the christmas pudding/mince pies = heart attack on a spoon (but bloody tasty!).

    And step away from the celebrations/miniture heros/crisps/salted nuts - these are where the calories go in, because if you're anything like me it just becomes mindless eating in front of the rubbish xmas tv. And go easy on the booze. Simples.

  • It depends how long "Christmas" lasts for you, if it's just a couple of days then you can afford to indulge in whatever you fancy but I know some people who have started their Christmas binging now and will carry on until 2nd Jan and then start really strict detox diets cutting out booze, dairy, wheat, sugar and wonder why are so miserable for weeks on end.

    I tend to eat what I like and as much as I like at mealtimes but try to avoid the endless bowls of crisps, boxes of chocolates and trays of mince pies that are lying around inbetween meals!

  • I lost 5.5 stone eating between 12 to 1500 calories a day I did this Upto 3 days pre marathon where I stuffed and actually gained 1 lb the week of my marathon!! So when I did long training runs I had between 1200-1500 calories still so had negative days (apart from twice having jelly babies as training for the day, so I added an extra 400 calories for those two runs.

  • Tom scott 8, as I said i'm 5' 10" but I haven't been 10st since I was 8 years old. From 16-24 I hovered around 12st, I only maintained such a low weight by only eating one meal a day.

    Booktrunk, I can beat that, in the last week of my last marathon I put on 5lbs by eating over 6000 kcals a day. That was pretty much my Christmas!

  • Hehe love itimage

    I did homemade pasta for three days was utterly stuffedimage
  • This is all really good information guys, thanks a lot!

    I need to just stop worrying and treat food as fuel, so long as its nolt just butterscotch and cake this Christmas image

    I have a pretty big family so kinda have. 2/3 'Christmas' days, I'll have to manage

    It carefully image or get some good runs in

  • Aid counting take 3 or 4 days off and just run it off after frankly, doing that occasionally is I'm sure good for you, just gives your body a little tweet. As long as you can just buckle down again don't hesitate and just totally enjoy yourself for 4 daysimage worse case scenario is you need an extra runimage
  • Ja5onWJa5onW ✭✭✭

    Im with boobtrunkimage on this one tom just enjoy yourself. 

    i too will have 3 christmas' so will just have to take each day at a time. i will be running in the week off. plus in the new year its marathon timeimage

    anything you consume WILL be burnt off soooo quick image

  • I love xmas puddings so to ensure I don't run like one I buy no more than 12 of the single ones to fuel a few long runs, they're a bugger to find after Christmasimage

    Early morning runs, more miles and January will be just like December

  • EDIT: Posted in wrong thread.... Ignore me
  • Suggest you ask a doctor if it is healthy to eat 1900 calories and burn 1200 running. Then tell them you have cut 6,500 calories from your diet to make room for nothing other than Xmas pudding. Once they have stopped laughing then maybe they will give you some sensible 'diet' advice.

  • Ha fucking ha.

    For some of us thats whats required to lose and maintain weight. For example Tuesday, 16 miles according to sportracks 2026 kcals burnt, I ate 2200 kcals. The last 4 months i've been eating 2000-2200 kcals a day and averaging 4000-5000 kcals a week running. I'm only losing 1lb a week, 2 at most, sometimes nothing. I'm not dead yet.

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