Running: Proper diet important for runners

Posted: January 19, 2014

When I tell non-runners that I'm training for a marathon, one of the first things they say - aside from that I'm crazy - is that it must be nice to eat whatever I want.

If only that were the case.

"Runners can eat whatever they want, but they might perform better if they eat the right food at the time times," said dietitian Nancy Clark. "You can't out-train a bad diet."

Clark, who is based in Boston, will be giving a free seminar, "Nutrition for Runners," at the Center City location of the Philadelphia Runner at 7 p.m. Thursday. She will talk about food, running, and the best way to avoid bad food plans, whether you're training for a 5K or an ultramarathon.

Clark has been a registered dietitian since 1974, and working with athletes since 1979. She has written six books. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook is in its fifth edition and has sold more than half a million copies.

A lot has changed since she wrote the first edition in 1983.

"That was a time when people laughed about food and performance because all the athletes I knew were on the 'see food diet' - they see it and eat it," she said. Back then, no one wanted information about what were considered "weird" foods, like tofu, beans, and whole wheat, which can be important parts of an athlete's diet today. There is also more specific information for female athletes, because each gender has different nutritional needs.

One reason that food for runners can be so confusing - what to eat and when - is that it can be hard to cut through the noise hitting us from so many fronts about what to eat: from the weight-loss industry, the sports-food industry, and even health clubs.

"The problem is that the banana industry and the potato industry and the broccoli industry aren't as loud," Clark said. Her goal with her clients, and her books and seminars, is to teach athletes how to use "fewer wrappers" and create a balanced food plan with real food. Plus, she shows athletes how to make their own sport drinks and supplements to take in while exercising without relying on commercially made products.

The specifics of her talk will change depending on who is in the audience. That's because Clark invites people to bring questions to the seminar.

For those looking for more in-depth information, or for coaches who want a basic course on how their athletes can fine-tune their diets, Clark will also hold a two-day workshop with Bill Evans, an expert on the relationship among exercise, nutrition, and aging, at La Salle University on Friday and Saturday. That workshop costs $250 for both days.


Running:

Racing Schedule

Sunday

BCRR Winter Series Honest Abe

4.6 Miler. The Boathouse, Tyler State Park, Newtown, 9:30 a.m. Contact Janet Lewis ( janet.lewis@alumni.duke.edu) or bcrrclub.com $10 per race.

Browning Ross Winter Series. 5K every Sunday, through Feb. 23. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race: 1 p.m. Race day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543 or

Jan. 26

BCRR Winter Series, Winter Series Terrible Tyler 9.3 Miler (15K). The Boathouse, Tyler State Park, Newtown, 9:30 a.m. Contact Janet Lewis ( janet.lewis@alumni.duke.edu) or bcrrclub.com $10 per race.

Browning Ross Winter Series. 5K every Sunday, through Feb. 23. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race: 1 p.m. Race day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543 or

Feb. 1

19154 5K, fun run, 1-mile walk. Fun Run at 9 a.m., 5K, mile walk at 9:15. Fee: $25 (before 1/24; $30 after. Fun Run: $6. Start, finish at St. Anselm Church, 12670 Dunks Ferry Rd. Packet pick-up Jan. 31, 5-8 p.m. in gym. Race day: 8-8:45

Feb. 2

BCRR Winter Series Pick Your Way

5.3 Miler. The Boathouse, Tyler State Park, Newtown, 9:30 a.m. Contact Janet Lewis ( janet.lewis@alumni.duke.edu) or bcrrclub.com $10 per race.

Plexus Fitness, 5K, 11:30 a.m. registration, 12:30 race start. Plexus Fitness, 1007 Orange St., Wilmington. Fee: $20 by 1/29; then $25. Register at Delaware Running Co., cash only, by noon, Jan. 29. In Greenville Crossing. Mail Entry: Plexus Super Bowl 5K, c/o races2run, P.O. Box 24, Montchanin, De. 19710

Browning Ross Winter Series. 5K every Sunday, through Feb. 23. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race: 1 p.m. Race day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543 or

Feb. 8

Chilly Willy Frostbite 5K, Camp Okanickon, 1303 Stokes Rd. , Medford, 9 a.m.

$12 preregister, $20 post. JTiming.com

Feel the Love 5K, start and finish at Navy Yard, South 17th St., 3:30 p.m. Early registration by 1/15: $25. Before 2/6: $30. Race-day: 2-3:15 p.m. Total limited to 700 entrants. brynmawrrunningco.com or e-mail

Cupid's Cranium 5K run/1 mile walk,

10 a.m. Pope John Paul II High School, 181 Rittenhouse Rd., Royersford. $20 preregistered. $25 race-day. Long-sleeve shirts guaranteed only pre-registered. Proceeds benefit pediatric brain tumor research,

1st Fireside Frostbite Runners Seminar, 8 a.m.-11:45 at The Ambler Theater, Ambler Pa. Info, registration at www.aarclub.com/Frostbite/seminar.html. Fee is $10.

Feb. 9

BCRR Winter Series, Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe Half Marathon. The Boathouse, Tyler State Park, Newtown, 9:30 a.m. Contact Janet Lewis ( janet.lewis@alumni.duke.edu) or bcrrclub.com $10 per race.

Browning Ross Winter Series. 5K every Sunday, through Feb. 23. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race: 1 p.m. Race day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543 or

Feb. 16

BCRR Winter Series, Staggered Start 4.6 Miler. The Boathouse, Tyler State Park, Newtown, 9:30 a.m. Contact Janet Lewis ( janet.lewis@alumni.duke.edu) or bcrrclub.com $10 per race.

Browning Ross Winter Series. 5K every Sunday, through Feb. 23. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race: 1 p.m. Race-day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543 or

Feb. 22

Fireside Frostbite 5 Miler, 9 a.m. Wissahickon High School in Ambler. Register at www.aarclub.com. Limited to first 1,500 runners. Fee: Before Wednesday, $30 adult, $27 student; after Wednesday, $35 adult and $32 student. Feb. 21-22, $40 for all.

Feb. 23

Final races of Browning Ross Winter Series. Glassboro 10-miler and 5K. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race: 1 p.m. Race day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543 or

March 9

Icebreaker 5K and 8K Fun Runs at CrossFit Nassau, CrossFit Nassau, 255 Nassau St., Princeton. Races at 9 a.m. Day-of check in: 8 a.m. Proceeds benefit Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund and Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad.

March 22

Phillies Charities 5K, phillies.com.

April 5

"Fourth Spring Run" 6K cross-country run at the Institute Woods. Princeton Friends School, 470 Quaker Road, Princeton. Check-in at 8:45 a.m. 6K starts at 10. Limited to 150 participants. Walkers are welcome. Anyone expecting to take longer than 50 minutes should arrive by 9:30 a.m. for possible separate early start. Online preregistration only, until March 22: $30 including T-shirt, after $35. Discount for no-shirt option. www.princetonac.org. Questions:

May 17

3d Annual Rock N' Run 4 Kids. 5K: 9 a.m. Fun Run 8:30. Coca-Cola Park, 1050 Iron Pigs Way, Allentown. Live performance by Craig Thatcher & Nyke van Wyk. Fee (by May 1): 5K $25, then $30. Fun Run: $15 then $20. Register at active.com or rocknrun4kids.com. Call 610-821-7706. Pre-race packet pick-up, Friday, May 16, from noon-6 p.m. at the Salvation Army Children's Services office. Race day: 7:30 a.m. at Coca-Cola Park, cash or checks only.
E-mail date, name of race, site, time and fee, plus registration information, to sports editor John Quinn at jquinn@phillynews.com. Put Running calendar in re: field.

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