Massaged Kale Salad with Beets: Is a Diet Rich in Nitrates Key to Endurance Performance?
Could the nitrates in this massaged kale salad with beets help you shave a couple minutes off your next race? I’ll share a secret with you. Even though it’s been 7 years since my last marathon and over 10 years since I ran a sub 3:40 marathon pace, deep down, Boston is on my mind. I signed up for the California International Marathon in December as part of my “this is 40” years old goals. But as the training ensured, I began thinking, could I qualify for Boston? At the time, the cut-off for my 40-year-old age group was 3:45. Then, my bubble got bursted. The Boston qualifying team raised the bar, and recently set a lower time goal at 3:40. #sadface
How Hard Do You Push?
While a 3:45 marathon pace would be NO walk in the park, the new goal feels out of reach. If I’m truly honest with myself, that push would mean a lot less joyful training. Over the years I’ve learned, the joy lies in the training, not the actual race. Maybe, as an older, wiser 40-year-old, I’ve learned to push less and enjoy more? I’m over halfway through training, enjoying it and running injury-free due to the following:
- Listen to my body and back off if something doesn’t feel right
- Strive for 8 hours of sleep a night
- Do yoga 2-3 times a week
- Eat meals that include high-quality carbs offering energy, immune support and “foods-with-benefits” such as this massaged kale salad with beets and brown rice
Nitrates: Nature’s Ergogenic Aid
Kale and beets contain a compound called nitrates which actually help improve oxygen efficiency and improve performance in long-term endurance training. If you aren’t a kale or beet fan, try other nitrate-rich foods such as arugula, basil, cilantro, lettuce, spinach and beet greens. Hey, even if there is no amount of nitrates that will get me to a 3:40, at least I’ll enjoy a delicious marathon diet accompanied by a more relaxed marathon mindset.