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A runner's diary: Nutrition is not to be taken lightly

Dave Emilio is documenting his training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 16.

Even though I have run 24 marathons, I have only trained specifically for eight of them. The others were run as tune-up races or as fun runs after a goal marathon. I entered some simply to see if I could do three or four marathons in a month. This time around, it's all about staying on track with only one goal in mind: to run one solid race.

There are many elements to a marathon training program, and I've learned that nutrition is one not to be taken lightly: 42.2 kilometres is a long way to carry extra pounds. I still catch myself taking in more calories than I require, and often I consume food with low nutritional value. I'm trying to limit my post-run trips to the pub, but I still find time for burgers, fries, cookies and my favourite snack of cheese and crackers. But when I treat myself too often, I start to feel sluggish, making each run a slog.

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It's hard to say no to second helpings but clearly I need to. Theresa Albert's latest book Ace Your Health, a fantastic down-to-earth guide to eating right, is a part of my current arsenal. For marathon training, I have always turned to Tara Postnikoff of Toronto's HEAL Nutrition (Healthy Eating Active Living). I first met Ms. Postnikoff while I was instructing a marathon clinic. She convinced me to eat more leafy greens, colourful foods high in vitamins, iron and fibre and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids. Now, I just need to make use of what I know about nutrition and practise what I preach to my wife and the many other runners I train. The secret for me is to shop smart. If there's bad food in the house, I will eat it. I've learned to cut it off at the pass.

So far, I have showed some improvement but I plan to finish the training as strong as possible. There is no time left for excuses.

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