300ml of semi-skimmed milk, blended with a handful of porrige oats and a teaspoon of chocolate powder serves my protein needs after a hard training session. Protein powders are fairly pointless (and hugely expensive) for us mere mortals. Although, if you are out and about, or at a race, a protein bar would do until you get home. It will help to kickstart the recovery process.
Firstly, well done for making that first step. Secondly, as has already been said, it's a complete lifestyle change. The only downside is, you will need a whole new wardrobe very soon (not that you ladies need much of an excuse to buy new clothes ).
Keep away from processed/refined food, and back off the alcohol - all a waste of calories. Walk instead of taking the car/public transport where possible, and always take the stairs. These things will all become second nature, and just by making a series of small changes will add up to make a huge difference in the amount of calories you burn daily. Good luck, and enjoy the new you!
Back-to-back hard sessions can be done if thought out correctly. You could do a hill repeat session on a Saturday and a long run on a Sunday, but only as long as your hill repeat session isn't a particularly long one, and your long run is relatively flat.
It all dependes what you are training for and how long you take to recover. The older we get, the longer it takes to recover. A very gentle and short recovery run can help flush the system out after a particularly hard session, and I include a long run in this. Whilst the long run doesn't push the heart rate particularly, it does deplete the energy stores quite a bit and work the bones and joints just as much if not more than a shorter, faster session. I know this mantra is often repeated, but recovery is just as important as the training. Pushing too hard before you have had chance to recover properly is just asking for trouble.
All about getting the miles in and spending time on your feet. Should be able to hold a converation on the run. You could also chance a short recovery run the following day just to keep things moving. No more than 10 - 15% increase in overall mileage per week otherwise you risk injury. Dont forget to factor in 2 non-consecutive rest days a week (maybe one of those days being a cross-training session).
We evolved as hunter gatherers over thousands of years. It's only in the last 50 years or so that high calorie, refined foods have become so readily available. We now tend to let comfort rather than necessity drive our eating habits. Is it any wonder the population is getting fatter?