This post is dedicated to all the Runners out there (especially those at the Running Room). You inspire me. Train smart, eat smart. - Jacqui
1. When it comes to carbohydrates, variety is the spice of life.
Often, when runners think of carbohydrates they think pasta. Carbohydrates are indeed important for fuelling our runs while replenishing are energy stores (muscle glycogen), but the type of carbohydrate you choose is important too. Pasta, along with simple carbohydrates found in sugar and refined white flour like breads, bagels, etc. tend to shoot our blood sugar to the moon, resulting in a subsequent sugar low. These blood sugar ups and downs can mess with not only the consistency of our runs but effect how we feel between runs as well. In addition, refined carbohydrates are devoid of any other benefits, offering you ONLY carbohydrates, but what about vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibre!? Choose a variety of nutrient dense carbohydrate sources such as whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, spelt, kamut, rye, etc. as well as carbohydrate-rich vegetables. My personal favourites are sweet potatoes (which I add to smoothies), squashes, beets, carrots, turnips, and parsnips to name a few. Whole fruit also offers simple sugars with the addition of fibre to reduce the blood sugar spikes experienced when straight fruit juice is consumed. The point is, if you have a continuous rotation of nutrient dense carbohydrates in your diet then your food goes the "extra mile" for you.
Note: during your runs, the "complex-carbohydrate" maltodextrin makes for an excellent fuel source because it is easily absorbed (ie. won't sit in your stomach and aggravate digestion) so you can excess the fuel quickly without it creating major spikes in blood sugar. Some "natural" energy gels are made from dates which is also acceptable.
2. Post-run power protein.
After a run, have 30g of carbohydrate to 20g of protein. Protein should be consumed within 2 hours of your work-out to keep muscles strong. This is easily achieved if you keep a protein smoothie at the finish line. Don't forget to get in your carbohydrate as well.
In general, you need to get AT LEAST 1g of Protein per Kg of body weight. Therefore, a 60Kg person needs at least 60g of protein per day. For the vegetarians/vegans out there, your calculation is 1.2g of protein per Kg of body weight.
3. How you fuel and stay hydrated during a run matters.
Help ease the "hitting the wall" effect by reserving muscle glycogen stores when you refuel with carbs.
Less than 60 minute run: have only water. Regardless of length of the run, drink 150ml-300ml of pure water every 30 mins. (Fuel belts= 8 oz containers= 237mL= 2 bottles per hour) * mark larger bottles in 150mL increments to keep track
Longer than 60 minutes: take in carbs every 20-30 minutes for a total of 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of intense exercise. (experiment with this, if the run is below tempo, you may not need as much). If refuelling carbs with a sports drink or gel look for one that will give you 4-8% carbohydrates (4g-8g per 100mL for drinks). In other words, the label should read: each serving contains 15-30g of Carbohydrates- have this every HALF HOUR.
4. Carb loading does work, but more so for men.
Research shows carb loading is only beneficial for races lasting over 30Km. Carb loading helps maximize muscle glycogen stores providing energy during a long run/race. “hitting the wall” during a marathon is often a result of depletion of muscle glycogen stores.
Carb loading has been shown to help runners maintain race pace during the last part of a run.
For 2 days prior to your marathon (or run over 30K) you should be consuming 8-10g.Kg.day of carbohydrate in addition to tapering runs (ie. getting more rest)
That means that a 60Kg person would need to consume roughly 480g of carbohydrate per day. This is ALOT of carbohydrates which is why for the ladies, this is a hard feat to achieve. Carb loading for the ladies, is only beneficial if you are willing to eat way more calories in carbohydrates than usual.
Best way to do this is eat 3 meals a day with carbohydrate rich snacks in between. If you do choose to consume pasta, add fibre in the form of spaghetti squash or fibre and protein with beans or chickpeas.
5. Fat before a run is a no-no.
Although I am a huge lover of healthy fat- olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, fish and avocado- before a run (within 2 hours) it should be avoided. Fat slows digestion which is the last thing you want when your heading into a race. I haven't met a runner who enjoys the unpleasant sensation of food sloshing around in the stomach. With that said, fat is a key energy source during anaerobic activity like hill running and sprints. Healthy fat between runs is highly encouraged and a must for runners (and pretty much everyone else).
If you're still with me, here are some extra little running tid-bits.
Home made electrolyte replenisher (to use between runs)
Like Buckley's it doesn't taste the best, but it works.
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp honey (ladies, use black strap molasses if history of low iron)
1/2 c orange juice (high in potassium)
1 L of water
Running Juice (have before or after a run or add it to a smoothie).
This is adapted from the Juice Master: Jason Vale's "Marathon Juice"
Contains beets which promote nitric oxide (NO) production. NO vasodilates blood vessels allowing more oxygen to reach the muscles which can be helpful to recover post-run.
1 × peeled lime
3 × apples
(golden delicious pref)
2 sticks celery
3rd of cucumber
1 × bulb RAW beetroot
Run through a juicer and voila!
For a nice little snack idea (because runners are always hungry) presenting.....
Easy-to-make, raw, energy bars!
All you need is a food processor, some parchment paper, a baking pan/dish and a fridge!
note: these have a good dose of fat (from almonds) in the them so be mindful of having them too close to a run.
For the recipe, click here
HAPPY, HEALTHY RUNNING!