Barefoot Angie B, the name of the blog she authors – just completed the Des Moines Marathon running barefoot. She is also a gluten and casein-free wife and mother to four brilliant boys, one of whom has autism.
Today’s post, part 2 in a two part series, reveals how she manages a gluten- and casein free diet and four small children – all while setting her sights for an ultramarathon. Part 1 shares her love for barefoot running — from day one up until race day
Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.
How do you balance running/training with caring for four boys, one of whom is autistic? That is a tremendous challenge even without a marathon training schedule.
I am very fortunate to have a husband who is supportive of my running. He is a barefoot runner now, too, so we either trade back and forth on running and childcare or we take the four boys with us. There is a park not far from our house where the boys can play while we run on the track that circles around the play area. The boys often will join us in running! We share the belief that family is the most important part of our lives and everything else must mesh with that priority. Having a son with autism has gotten easier over the years as we learn. We understand the importance of a clean diet for him and how it affects his behavior. Jupiter, who is almost nine years old, is a very affectionate and loving person to have around and does not fit the stereotype of autistics being stand-off-ish and in their own world. When his diet is clean, he is very much interested in being social. It’s his lack of communication and the fact that he is non-verbal that make it hard for him. He has a Dynavox communication device that is a touch screen computer, allowing him to communicate using the voice output. He is quite a wiz on his “Talker”! We don’t have strict schedules at home; however, he knows what to expect. We make our lifestyle and home a place of comfort and safety so he can come home from school or therapy and unwind — and just be. We have a relaxed go with the flow way of life.
You have a gluten and casein-free diet. Was this by choice or do you have food allergies? Does this diet ever leave you hungry or energy deprived as it relates to your marathon training?
I discovered my food intolerances by accident. Last summer, I was eating mostly out of the garden and mostly unprocessed foods. After eating a flour tortilla with cheese, I was incredibly emotional and cranky (to put it nicely!). It occurred to me that I had not felt that unsettled in quite some time and I was able to figure out that it was the gluten and casein. Jupiter has many food intolerances which profoundly affect his behavior. This is a very common occurrence in those with autism. I hadn’t even considered that I might share his food intolerances and that it was possibly genetic or hereditary.
My 4-year old also has the same food issues although neither of us has autism. Through elimination trials I have been able to narrow down the offending foods. They are gluten, casein, soy, eggs, and many nuts. Having food allergies does leave me in a bind as to what I can eat at times. I have to think ahead and prepare foods myself instead of enjoying the convenience of grabbing something on the go. It is a blessing in the sense that I can’t just go eat a bunch of donuts or pizza no matter how wonderful it might sound at times. It has also helped in getting rid of the remaining baby weight from having 4 sons. My diet is a work in progress as far as running is concerned. I like to eat sweet potatoes and sun butter and I eat meat for energy and recovery. One of my favorite foods is hummus, and I am very glad that winter and soup season is upon us now. I love cabbage soup, and who doesn’t love chili with black beans and pumpkin. Often, I find that I feel like I am missing something; although overall, I feel much better than I did 2 years ago and very glad that I made this lifestyle change. If I feel I am missing something I will increase my calories and include more variation in diet. It is amazing how foods can affect how I feel on so many different levels. I use Livestrong’s Daily Plate to track my calories. It keeps me accountable.
Can you share what a typical pre-run dinner looks like?
A typical pre-run dinner would be chicken or turkey. I also like venison when it’s available. I might eat some hummus and veggies or a corn tortilla. I try and carb load with potatoes and sweet potatoes in the day or two leading up to a race. I am going to try Quinoa again and I like organic polenta as well. Like I said earlier, though, it’s a work in progress.
What advice would you give to other aspiring marathon runners in regards to running and fuel/hydration?
Fuel and hydration are crucial to success in a marathon. I found that Clif gels and Shot blocks to be the best fuel for me and I love nuun active hydration tablets. For a marathon, I eat a gel on every 5 mile mark and a shot block or two on every two and more if I feel the need but I stick to the schedule even if I don’t want to eat. I sipped on nuun throughout the whole race and made sure to drink after each time I would eat a gel or shot bloks. You can’t make up from a crash if you didn’t fuel enough. It’s best to stay on top of your fuel from the beginning. I think it was the key to my success at not hitting the wall during marathons or long runs. If you are not having fun then you might want to re-evaluate why you are running. It takes so much time to train for a marathon and that’s a lot of time to be miserable if you are just pushing through it.