After two years of so many running and outdoor events cancelled, it’s good to see park runs, marathons and triathlons taking place again.
I know many of you have started this year training for an event, so I thought I would give you some tips on how to keep healthy and build the stamina and eating habits for running.
These tips, along with your training programme, should help you achieve your optimum These Running and Recovery tips, along with your training programme, should help you achieve optimum results with the correct nutrients.
Like any sport or exercise, if you want to achieve excellent performance and a healthy recovery, fuelling your body before and after any exercise or event with the right nutrients is key.
Running can be great for weight management, as it consumes a lot of calories. But it can also make you more hungry – you would be wrong to believe that you can consume a lot of calories and overload on unhealthy options because of this.
Feeding your body with the correct nutrients is vital for your performance, weight management goals, and recovery. In order to have an abundance of energy and get the most out of your workout, you need a balanced diet comprising of carbohydrates, proteins, and good fats.
So, ditch the processed foods and ready-made meals and add more fresh whole foods and follow these tips.
Don’t cut out the carbohydrates
Going carb-free is a popular fad, but you would be wrong to think that all carbohydrates are bad. Good carbs are essential for energy and endurance.
Your body needs to store excess glycogen in your liver and muscles for any type of physical exertion. When your body needs a quick boost of energy or when it isn’t getting glucose from food, glycogen is broken down into the bloodstream to be used as fuel. So, the higher the glycogen stores, the better your athletic performance. The lower your glycogen stores, the more your body will struggle with energy and endurance, resulting in early fatigue.
How much carbohydrate you need depends on your body mass and what type of running or training you intend to do. Long distance running and marathons will require more carbohydrates, especially leading up to an event.
Let’s be clear on what I mean by carbohydrates. I am not referring to refined sugars such as white bread, white pasta, cakes, pies, and processed foods. These have zero nutritional value and will supply a quick burst of energy by raising your blood sugar levels, followed by a quick crash.
You need complex carbohydrates to fuel your body. Complex carbohydrates are slow releasing and do not raise blood sugar levels, resulting in sustained energy.
Excellent sources include:
Eat the right amount of protein
Protein is important for muscle repair and healing, especially after a long-distance run or intense workout. It’s estimated that you need 20–40 grams of protein to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise.
Excellent sources of protein include lean organic meats, organic tofu, lentils, beans, eggs and quinoa. Another is the superfood spirulina, which is a blue-green algae rich in protein, iron and B12. You can add this to smoothies and juices or take as a supplement.
Fat is good!
Stored body fat is an important source of energy for any endurance exercise. So don’t think of fats as the enemy – body fat will act as a back-up source of fuel when you are running, especially if long distance.
Your good omega-3 fats, known as essential fatty acids, act as an anti-inflammatory by protecting your joints, ligaments and tendons. They are also good for brain function, cardiovascular health, endurance and stamina.
- Excellent sources include:
- Wild salmon
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Nut butters.
It’s important to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated when running. A lack of hydration will cause poor athletic performance.
You should aim to drink two litres of water a day. Water is also vital in flushing out toxins from the body.
When to eat?
In general, you should wait 2-4 hours before running after a large meal. This allows time for your food to digest. If you have a snack, then 1-2 hours should be enough depending on how much you’ve eaten.
On the morning of your event
What you eat on the morning of your event should relate to an overall fuelling strategy that you’ve developed during your training.
Eat a meal 2-4 hours before the start of the race, and include a range of foods depending on your taste. If you only have an hour then eat a smaller amount of the right foods.
Pay attention to carbohydrates as your main fuel source. Remember – you’re only able to store a relatively small amount of carbohydrate, which is why keeping it topped up is so important.
A nutritious breakfast to set you up for the run could be:
- Pancakes with mixed toppings, such as fruits and nuts
- Porridge oats with milk or plant milk and berries
- Granola with milk or plant milk
- Whole grain bread topped with eggs, smoked salmon, sardines, nut butters, cream cheese or hummus.
- Fruit salad and Greek yogurt.
- A nutritious smoothy with oats, nuts and berries.
Eating for a healthy recovery
Paying attention to your recovery and replacing fluid and nutrient loss after an intense workout or a run is just as important as fuelling it.
Electrolytes – like sodium, chloride and potassium, can be lost through sweat. They are vital for many key functions in the body and regulate muscle contractions and help to keep us hydrated. They also help balance our pH levels.
Potassium helps to restore and regulate electrolyte balance. Coconut water is a great source of potassium and is high in vitamin C, which is good in fighting against cell damage. Bananas and avocados are also rich in potassium and make a great recovery snack.
Watermelon is loaded with good nutrients like natural sugars, potassium and water. Nut butters will help replaces sodium and calcium.
Magnesium is essential for nerve and muscle function. Good food sources are nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.
There is a great supplement in a powder form called Ultra Muscleze by a company called Nutri. Put one teaspoon in a bottle of water and sip it throughout the day.
Magnesium is also nature’s tranquilizer so will help your body relax. A soak in a bath of Epsom salts for at least 20 minutes will not only provide you will magnesium, it will also help your muscles to relax and recover.
I hope these diet and nutrition tips for running and recovery help you throughout 2022 and well into the future.
If you need support in creating a bespoke plan for your fitness and exercise needs then get in touch via my Facebook page.