Top ten tips to fuel your run
Whatever challenge you’re taking on this year, from a 10k run to a marathon, diet and nutrition can be the key to helping you go that extra mile on the day.
According to Sports Nutritionist to Team GB, James Collins, there are several nutritional elements to consider that can help to maximise your performance whilst running1. For example he recommends that with endurance training your calorie intake should reflect your volume of training, this is called ‘periodising’ your training diet. The training plan will normally be divided into three depending on the amount of training you will be doing in preparation for the big event. For more information on meal plans for runners visit BBC Good Food’s website.
Help maximise your running performance with our top ten tips…
1. Replenish carbohydrates2.
According to health and fitness expert Sam Murphy carbs are the ‘five-star’ fuel for runners. Only a limited amount of carbohydrates can be stored in your muscles and liver, therefore supplies need to be constantly replenished. He recommends having a carb-based meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner. He explains that people who are active should consume around 5-7g of carbs per kg of body weight each day.
2. Eat porridge for breakfast3.
Porridge can be a great breakfast or pre-run snack as it provides long lasting energy in the form of low glycaemic index carbohydrate. The Scottish Running Guide says adding honey or some dried fruit will add some extra carbohydrate energy to your breakfast.
3. Eat fruit and vegetables2.
Eating fruit and vegetables when exercising regularly is important because they contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which help support your immune system. Boosting your immune system will help you to be less susceptible to colds and infections, whilst helping to provide antioxidants to lessen damage that can be caused through training.
4. Reduce your alcohol intake3.
Alcohol doesn’t just give you a hangover it can also dehydrate your body whilst preventing you from breaking down your energy stores into usable energy which causes dehydration and low blood sugar. As a result you will be unable to sweat enough and regulate your body temperature which can make you feel weak.
5. Keep your body hydrated4!
Long distance runner Gemma Steel explains that hydration before, during and after exercise is vital to ensure that your body is properly fuelled and fluids that are lost through sweat are replaced. She also explains that experts have said that if your body is not fully hydrated during exercise you may only achieve 90% of your potential performance.
6. Hydrate with the right fluids5.
Mens Fitness recommends staying hydrated with water if you’re running less than 15 miles and use a sport’s drink if it’s longer.
7. Don’t forget to consume protein6.
Many runners will plan their diet around consuming as many carbohydrates as possible which usually mean other beneficial food groups such as protein get forgotten. According to About Health Protein is an important part of a runners diet as it is used by the body for energy and to repair tissue that is damaged during training.
8. Don’t forget to eat within 2 hours of finishing3.
The Scottish Running Guide recommends replenishing your muscle’s carbohydrate stores or glycogen within 2 hours of completing your run. Running will use up some of your glycogen which is why it’s important to consume a meal consisting of protein and carbohydrates as this will optimise your energy and recovery for your next training session or race.
9. Give into your cravings from time to time6.
Whatever you’re craving, it usually isn’t part of a nutritious diet which is why you will probably try and avoid giving in. About Health explains that you should avoid this as a small craving can develop into a ‘monster’ craving which could lead to you over-indulging. They explain that it’s better to allow yourself to enjoy a small portion. Over a longer period this will save you when it comes to calories as you’ll feel more satisfied and probably are less likely to binge.
10. Resist the post-race celebratory drink7!
The Metro advise holding off on the alcohol for at least a few hours and focus on several small, protein-heavy, meals over two or three sittings
Looking to take on a challenge this year? From the Great North Run to the North Wales Half Marathon we’ve got you covered with our Great British Runs page.
1. BBC Good Food – Meal plans for runners
2. The Guardian – Project Marathon: Recipe for success
3. Scottish Running Guide - 10 things every runner should know about nutrition
4. The Guardian – Gemma Steel’s running tips: nutrition and hydration
5. Mens Fitness – The 50 best running tips
6. About Health – 5 smart eating rules for runners
7. The Metro – Top 10 tips for the London Marathon