By Unnu Shukla, Longhorn Run Media Coordinator
“You are what you eat.”
We’ve all heard this expression countless times; and there’s a reason why. There’s a lot of truth to it! I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Amy Culp, Sports Dietitian and Assistant Athletics Director at The University of Texas at Austin.
“Nutrition is important in training for a race because food that you eat becomes fuel that you burn. If you eat well, you feel well,” says Culp. Food, which can be broken down into carbs, proteins, and fats, provide nutrition for fuel and recovery. “When you’re training for a race like the Longhorn Run, you should be following a basic healthy diet. A good plate is ½ plate of colorful fruits and veggies, ¼ carbs, ¼ lean protein.” Carbs help you recover while protein helps build lean muscle mass that’ll power you through those tough Austin hills. “You want to make sure you’re consistently eating small meals throughout the day, every 3-4 hours or so.”
In regards to the biggest mistake people make, she told me about the two extremes: those who decide to do a drastic overhaul on their diet and cut back too much, and those that develop the “I can eat whatever I want” mentality, which also harms your training progress. (Guess which category I fall into… #bottomlesspit).
At the end of the day though, it’s all about what works for you. “Especially for runners,” Culp says, “it’s all very individualized. Play around with what you’re eating during your training and see if you notice a difference in the way you feel.” Use the Longhorn Run to not only work towards a goal and improve your running, but also improve your nutrition. The two go hand-in-hand, and when you eat well, you feel well.
Let’s crush this race by fueling our bodies properly as we cross that finish line as stronger, healthier athletes.
Amy Culp, RD is the Assistant Athletics Director and Sports Dietitian for The University of Texas at Austin Athletics Department.
One of the amazing things about The Longhorn Run experience is that it brings people together. Read on to learn more about how faculty member Heidi Toprac stays active and gets her students involved on race day!
In Nike’s mission statement, it states that anyone who has a body is an athlete, and is capable of reaching great heights, and travelling great lengths. “ I have heard about the Longhorn Run several times over the years,” Toprac says, “but never felt capable of doing it. This year, I just decided to go for it!”
In regards to motivation and goal-setting, “I find that I am much more likely to follow through on a commitment if I make that commitment public. Telling my class of 700 students that I wanted to run with them gave me the motivation to prepare.”
“Have you read the Wall Street Journal this past week?,” she asks me. “Scientists have long known that exercise reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases, but they have recently discovered the reasons why. I want everyone to be healthy and happy, which means I want everyone to exercise! Plus, it is often more fun to do things as a group than to do things alone.” A group mentality with her classes is not only a great motivator, but a great bonding experience as well.
Professor Toprac herself is an avid fitness junkie. “I run 3 times per week, plus I attend Shannon’s Tabata class at Gregory Gym once or twice a week. Now that the weather is nice, my husband (Paul Toprac of UT’s Game and Mobile Media Applications program) and I bike on the weekends. Plus, I often ride my bike to work during the summer months.”
“But I am WAY too slow to call myself a runner. I think “slogger” might be a more accurate description,” remembering that running is a journey, not a destination. The things you learn through training extend past race day, pushing you to just start, and from there, to get better each day.
Professor Toprac, a Senior Lecturer at McCombs, teaches the core Finance courses for undergraduate students—both those students in McCombs and those in the Business Foundations Program, and is also head up the undergraduate internship program for McCombs. Since joining UT 14 years ago, she has taught nearly 20,000 students! When not at work, she likes to spend her time biking, gardening, cooking and eating.