Nutrition for Distance / Road Runners
From The Philippine Star Updated October 05, 2011 05:10 PM
Advised by Sally Parsonage, Head of Nutrition Division, IMG Academies Performance Institute.
Before you lace up
Starting any exercise with a slight degree of dehydration or blood glucose at the minimum will affect your performance, regardless of fitness level. Even a minor degree of dehydration can affect how well your muscles work, and a low blood sugar will increase the amount of lean body tissue that gets burnt in order to fuel your muscles. So make sure you are 100% hydrated by drinking plenty of water in the hour or two before your run, and if you haven’t eaten anything for more than two hours, take a light snack to raise your blood sugar level above baseline.
Early Morning Runners
- Always drink some fluids before you run. Diluted fruit juice or isotonic sports drink work well, water is ok if you are eating something too
- Boost up a low blood sugar with a small banana, a cereal bar, a couple of wheat crackers or plain biscuits, or a piece of toast. Keep away from foods that have proteins of fats, like milk, eggs, butter, as these digest slower
- Make sure you eat something mid-morning, a banana, some Trail Mix, or a muesli bar will all help to boost blood sugar
- Drink plenty of water during the morning
- You won’t have time to digest a full lunch before your run, and running too soon after can cause discomfort when you run as the critical food components don’t have enough time to get to your working muscles
- If lunch at work means a sandwich, you will need to eat something before you go running. Keep it small and major on carbohydrates if it’s just before you set-off
- In addition to the bottle of water during the morning, drink one throughout the afternoon to keep in good fluid balance
- If you are feeling a bit weary, a cup of coffee can boost your mental state and help conserve muscle fuel reserve for the later stages of your run. Don’t be tempted to load up with ‘energy’ drinks which can dehydrate you.
Keeping Your Body Running
On the Road
- Always try to take some fluid on-board to offset sweat losses. Water is ok at lower intensities (jogging rather then running), and if your run is no longer than about 30 minutes.
- If you are working harder, it is hot and humid or you sweat heavily, you can really help maintain your running form by taking an isotonic sports drink to replace salt losses and support blood sugar.
- Don’t wait till you are thirsty, that means you are already dehydrated and then it is hard to get back in balance while you are still exercising
Recovery starts when you stop!
- Make sure you drink at least 500mls of fluid as soon as possible, water sports drink, juice and water
- Refueling means carbohydrates, and rebuilding means protein, and the good news is that delivering them both in the same package enhances the uptake of both into the muscle. If you are going to eat a meal soon after running, that will take care of both needs, but if it is going to be more than one hour before you eat, start your recovery with a small snack.
- Milk plus cereal or a muesli bar
- Small sandwich or roll with ham or turkey
- Low-fat yoghurt plus a banana
- Low-fat chocolate milk or a ‘recovery’ product like protein recovery shake
The golden rule is eat and drink something!
Long-term performance strategy
You can maintain a good level of muscle glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrates, just by making sure you always include a carbo-rich food like bread, cereals, rice, pasta or potatoes in each main meal of the day. Aim for these foods to make up around a third to half of your plateful at each meal and you can be sure you are always well fuelled for your run.
Help your body to recover more effectively, and support your immune system by having at least 5 servings a day from the fruit and vegetable food group. Never ever forget the final magic ingredient that goes hand-in-hand with good nutrition to making real advances in your running – REST! You body needs time to
repair and rebuild the muscles to make you a faster, fitter runner in the future!
- Water or Sports Drink? (nlm.nih.gov)
- Sports Drinks (runworkeatsleep.wordpress.com)
- Caffeine: More Harmful Than You Think (belmarrahealth.com)
- Sports Drinks and Exercise (everydayhealth.com)
- Electrolytes and Sports Drinks (scepticalprophet.wordpress.com)
- Bananas Are Just As Good As Drinking Sports Drinks (losethattyre.co.uk)
- Got Milk (319running.wordpress.com)
- Crazy coconut water (thegumbootchronicles.com)
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