Nutrition and Exercise: Listen to Your Body

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Interviewer: Let's talk a little bit about diet. How important is that or
was it to you, especially when you were in competitive running, when you
are doing marathons, how important is it to prepare your body that way?

Dick Beardsley: Well I think that nutrition is extremely important. I'll be
honest with you, I'd never paid a lot of attention to it as far as
following a strict diet. I've always ate what my body tells me it wants.
And when I am running a lot, like I have for a long time now, my body kind
of tells me what it wants to eat. And there are some days it wants a big
ole hunk of red meat. Other days maybe a slab of fish, other days maybe a
bowl full of noodles, maybe some rice, potatoes, and when I'm hungry I eat,
when I'm not hungry I don't eat, and, you know, listen, I got a wicked
sweet tooth and, you know, I love cookies and brownies and cakes, and stuff
like that.

I don't over do it. I don't not let myself have any of that kind of stuff.
You know, I don't eat much candy. You know, I don't eat a lot of junk food,
but every once in a while, gosh, I'll pull in and get a big ole juicy
hamburger at one of the local burger places and it tastes so good and goes
down good. I think anything that you do in moderation and don't live off
cheeseburgers 24/7, I think you are going to be fine.

Now, I travel a lot with my speaking and I am at different events around
the country, and still running, so I do supplement. I am over 50, so I take
a men's multi-vitamin for 50-plus people that are kind of energetic. Just
to cover my bases, I take an iron capsule every other day because back in
1980 I got real anemic out training and so I have always had a little bit
of low iron in my system so I take that. Other than that, you know, I just
try and eat as healthy as I can. Otherwise, I think some people make too
much out of the nutrition thing, but then there's others that it's like Big
Macs every day and that's not good.

Interviewer: Were you in to carb-loading, is there something to be said for

Dick: Yeah. The carbo-loading part before a marathon, I love carb-loading
because I eat a lot of carbs anyhow. There used to be an old adage back in
my younger days where you would deplete first. Basically, the last week
before the marathon, the first three days you wouldn't eat any
carbohydrates, basically all protein. By that third day you could you could
hardly get out of bed. You go out for a run and you think, how am I going
to run a marathon in four days, so you deplete your system of carbos, then
on that fourth day, or after the third day I should say, which I guess
would be the fourth, you start loading up on carbs and then supposedly you
over compensate, your body is able to store more.

I never did it. I've had friends who did it and they were so crabby by the
third day that their spouse or girlfriend were ready to kick them out the
door. And now they have proven that the depleted part is not such a good
idea, but the loading part is. So I just make sure the last week I am
eating a higher concentration of my foods are carbohydrates. The place
where I see a lot of people make mistakes is, is that day before. They go
to the before-the-marathon pasta dinner the night before and they try carbo-
loading all in that last night.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dick: And I see them going back with plates of spaghetti. I'm thinking how
in the heck are they going to digest that all. You don't want to over do
it, but if you just, that week of the marathon, if you just make sure that
you are eating more carbohydrates that week, making sure you are drinking
lots of fluids, like water or some kind of electrolyte drink, because that
will help store the carbs in your body, you are going to be plenty good.
But to over do it at the last night, then you are going to end up having
problems, perhaps, the next morning out on the course. Not good.
Dick Beardsley was a world-class marathon runner in the 1980's. He still runs today and he's always listened to his body when it comes to nutrition. He discusses his diet when training and talks about the phenomenon known in running circles as 'carb loading'.

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