Pre-run nutrition …. Damn you Chuys!

Posted: February 19, 2010 in Nutrition

Everyone has heard of the Freshman-15 right?  You remember, you go away to school, start subsiding on cheap pizza and even cheaper beer.  You sleep in late, sometimes all day and by the time you make it home for Winter vacation – Wala! you are 15 lbs. heavier.

Everything is bigger in Texas

Since everything is bigger in Texas we have something here known as the Texas Twenty.  We do quite a few things really well here in Texas – Rodeo, pitching washers, two-stepping, football – most definitely football.  But there are very few things we do better than Barbeque and Mexican food.  When a transplanted Yankee like myself arrives we just can’t control ourselves.  It took me no time at all to put on that Texas Twenty – and boy was it fun.

But after getting serious about running in 2006 it was time to take a hard look not only at workout schedules and training runs, but also at the fuel that I was putting in my body.  I was able to cut out a lot of things with relative ease – Coca Cola, Fast Food, French Fries, (virtually all fried things actually).  Combined with my increased running mileage I was able to remove that Texas Twenty + another 19 lbs. to arrive at my current race weight.  But just as Superman has his Kryptonite, Werewolves fear silver bullets and Vampires avoid garlic – such is my weakness for Mexican food.

Living in the Northeast I really never fully appreciated authentic mexican food – I honestly could take it or leave it.  But after only a few months in Austin – I had found my kryptonite.  Cheese Enchiladas, Tamales, Chile Con Queso, Flautas, Burrittos, Homemade Guacamole …. man, is that good stuff!

Chuy's Flour Tortillas made from scratch on premises

For the most part I can keep the lid on the jar and behave myself  when I have long or important workouts on the schedule.  I focus on eating the right things the night before to provide the proper fuel for my run.  You guys know the drill right? Carbohydrates like pasta and potatoes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains.  In addition I pay close attention to my hydration level not only during my runs but the day and especially night before.  This makes a huge difference in your performance.  I know this.  No excuses.

Chuy's Austin, TX --- The Lion's Den

But on Tuesday night this week on the eve of an 8-mile pace run I had some colleagues visiting from out of town.  Traveling into Austin from Denver, Richmond and Boston respectively – they were looking foward to some authentic Mexican food.  At 6:00 p.m. we entered the Lion’s Den …. Chuy’s.  I had not seen this group of friends for awhile and as the homemade chips and salsa (that are actually self-serve out of the trunk of an old car) were consumed along with copius amounts of a lager type beverage …. I knew I was in trouble.

Wednesday's 8-Miler .... rough.

“It’s just one workout” – I told myself.  “Only 8-miles how bad could it be?”  Well 11 hours later as I was lacing up my new Asics Gel Kinetics for my morning run I was about to find out.  The Chuy’s 8-miler was completed in 59:08 at 7:24 pace.  Miles 1-3 were basically “all right”.  I didn’t feel tremendous by any means, but I was keeping it together pretty well.  Miles 4 through 8 however were gut-check time.  It was a struggle just to keep moving at my usual pace.  I found myself thinking negative thoughts about the sport that I love and question my desire to keep moving.

Me!  Unbelievable.  As I worked my way back up the last hill leading back to our home all I could think about was finishing the run.  Disgusted with myself I walked inside, crossed the 8-miler off my schedule on the “Magic Fridge”, quietly cursed myself as well as the dreaded Chuy’s and moved on with my day. 

Well this morning was a day of redemption for me.  Another 8-mile pace run stared me in the eye and today was going to be different.  Same route, same plan for the run which was to focus on even effort over the hilly course, not necessarily even mile splits.  Which is what I am working on right now leading up to the Boston Marathon which features long stretches of both downhill and uphill miles.  Trying to run 26 consecutive miles at the same pace is very unrealistic given the course – so instead I am focusing on exerting 7:25/mile effort.  This will allow me to hopefully achieve my goal of averaging 7:30/mile over a very hilly and challenging course.  For every 7:15 downhill mile I can count on an uphill 7:45 to balance my overall pace.

This morning with a much better pre-run meal last night of Ahi Tuna I covered the same course at a 7:19 pace, :05 seconds per mile faster.

Splits from the two runs are very interesting when viewed side-by-side:

Chuys 8-Miler          Friday 8-Miler

Mile 1:  7:26               7:23 (-:03)

Mile 2:  7:13               7:11 (-:03)

Mile 3:  7:17               7:18 (+:01)

Mile 4:  7:13               7:06 (-:07) 

Mile 5:  7:29               7:25 (-:04)

Mile 6:  7:32               7:29 (-:03)

Mile 7:  7:31               7:27 (-:04)

Mile 8:  7:23               7:16 (-:07)

For good measure I even added an additional .25 miles this morning at 7:00 pace to wrap up my run at 8.25 miles.  All the while thinking to myself that the “rocket-ship” was back.  (See rocket ship post here:

So if you were every wondering how much time is lost by poor pre-run nutrition – it appears to be :05/mile.  All things considered that seems like a small price to pay for the Chuy’s Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sauce, rice, refried beans, chips, salsa and guacamole.

I think I’ll stick to Pasta and bread on April 18th however.  I don’t know where any authentic Mexican restaurants are in Boston anyway ….

  1. Maggie Hurley says:

    After the race we’ll take you to Anna’s Taqueria–probably not as good as Chuy’s, but by far the best burrito in Boston!

  2. billso says:

    I lived in Austin for 5 years and was never a victim of the Texas 20. I credit RunTex and Town Lake for helping me fight off the after-effects of too many tasty visits to Chuy’s, Threadgill’s and the Magnolia!

  3. nyflygirl says:

    Haha…this reminds me of a 5K that I ran Memorial Day last summer where the 2 days before it, I was not properly fueled…the day before at a Yankee game, and the day before that at a friend’s BBQ…ate like crap and “carbo-loaded” on beer 🙂 needless to say, that was not my best 5K (and in fact, that exact 5K time was my 5K split in a 10K I ran 2 weeks later.) proper fueling counts! 🙂

    • joerunfordom says:

      So, so true on the nutrition – it is amazing how much of a difference that makes. I actually log my meals as well when I’m training for a marathon for any run over 12 miles — it is amazing to look back a year later and see what fuel source gave me the best times and how I felt during the latter stages of those workouts. For me it appears that homemade pasta (that I make here at the house) with shrimp and scallops tossed in olive oil with a dusting of cajun seasoning is my #1 training run fuel. Who would have thought that?

  4. David says:

    just a slight correction…the best food in texas (including Chuys! mmmmm…. texas martini’s!) is ‘Tex-Mex’! it’s the texan spin on *blah* mexican food… the reason you didn’t like mexican food in any other state is because it’s not tex-mex! cali-mex is another spin on mexican (like Berry Hill and Wahoo’s, who both have phenomenal fish tacos!) but typically slightly sweeter than our spicy tex-mex.

    very true on how sluggish it makes you feel though…i try to schedule my Chuy’s nights right after a hard gym workout and the day before an off-day for this very reason!

  5. Just came across your blog. I completely agree about the Texas Twenty. A lot of people from my college moved down to Houston and all the males gained 20 pounds and the females the Texas Ten within a year. It is that darn Tex Mex and margaritas! Glad to come across another transplanted Northerner

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