Hi runner friends. I was approached by healthline.com who asked if I’d like them to do a guest blog post here on 7marathons7continents and, since I’m amping up my training to get ready for the Austin Marathon and I know many of you are putting in some long miles too, I asked if they would write about nutrition and long runs.
Below is an article written by David Novak (see bio at the bottom of the article). I’d love to hear feedback from you. What resonates for you here? What would you add? Getting the right fuel, both before, after, and during a long run or a race is always a challenge for me. Since I grew up on junk food, I’m still challenged to eat my fruits, veggies, grains, and protein (true confession: as opposed to French fries and pizza). But the fact is, when I eat better, I run better.
So here’s what healthline.com has to say:
Best Foods to Get Ready For and Recover From a Long Run
It is essential when training for athletic events requiring endurance that you have a keen understanding of health and nutrition. The basics of proper rest, stretching, and considering the environment are just as important as proper nutrition for the machine; that is your body. Depending on your goals, whether you just want to stay or get into shape or in fact take the steps necessary to finish near the top, you need the fuel and power for your endeavor, both before and after each training day.
Just like if you are preparing for a cross-country road trip, proper fueling is essential. The primary fuel for the humans is carbohydrates which are stored in the muscles and liver. The body during the course of any activity draws on these stores for energy, which is stored as glycogen. For the reason that the body can only store a fairly miniscule amount of carbs, it is important to maintain your levels as they are depleted rather rapidly during strenuous exercise.
There are a few questions that need to be considered for every run.
Question: After I have eaten, what is the time frame I should wait before beginning to run?
This is a question that is based on your individual fitness level. There are beginners, intermediate runners who have some experience, and of course those who have run many contests. Of course, you have to know what’s best for you, which includes consulting with your doctor. A rule of thumb is to wait a few hours after eating a large meal, which will allow the process of digestion to begin. If you have eaten a small snack, your waiting time to run should be between 30-minutes to two hours.
There are some metrics you can consult such as the glycemic index score, otherwise known as GU. This metric helps you to understand how long it takes the body to process your food into glucose. Foods with a high GI scores are processed faster by the body. Additionally, the body has an easier time processing the food. These can include foods like banana bread, fruitcake, health shakes and pancakes.
Another rule of thumb is to eat foods that release energy into your system slowly over time thereby fueling your training over a longer duration. These are low GI foods.
Question: What kind of nutrition should I consider for a morning run?
Eating in the morning before a run enables you to also train your stomach for the running event you are training for. There are two types of athletes we are concerned with here; the early riser and the straight out of bed runner. The early riser is well served with a serving of oats and whole grains, eggs and muffins and perhaps a health shake or a smoothie. The straight out of bed runner prefers to push themselves fresh out, and could benefit by consuming fruits and nuts or perhaps a shake. These kinds of foods release their energy to the body immediately. This kind of runner can also benefit by eating a heavy meal the night before, rich in carbs such as pasta potatoes or even rice.
Question: What should I avoid eating before a big run?
Before going on a big run you should definitely avoid high-fiber, fatty or spicy foods as these are known to upset the stomach. Limit your caffeine intake and alcohol as well as these kinds of foods are associated with diarrhea and upset stomach by physical exertion.
Post Run Recovery
Just like proper nutrition is essential when preparing for the big day, it is also necessary to ensure that you eat properly during the recovery phase. You will want to supply your body and muscles with the nutrition that optimizes muscle building and muscle recovery.
Eat within 30 minutes after your run to ensure your body has the ingredients to rebuild damaged muscles and get the repair process underway. This is also true for training recovery leading up to the race.
You are going to need both proteins and carbohydrates. These are the main sources of energy and of course you need to replace these as they are heavily depleted after a strenuous training session or big run. To build back muscle tissues, protein fits the bill here because it limits muscle pains. If you find this difficult, you should look to drink plenty of fluids. Of course, this should be your course of action in any case. Here are some good recovery food ideas:
● Half liter protein or health shake
● Fruit filled yogurt or a smoothie.
● A sandwich, fat-free cheeses or eggs
All training regimens are based on individual preferences and your particular body type, as well as consultation with a nutritionist or health professional. You need to make sure that your priorities, whether it be weight loss, endurance training, competitive aspiration and the like are considered. For the most part, your body can be ready to resume training shortly after you have run a big race, but again it should be stressed, this depends on the person. Fatigue is of course a sign that your body is still recovering and you need to take the time needed to feel good again before you get back out there. A week is usually sufficient.
Always remember, ensure that you take care to get enough rest, rehydrate, repair your body and refuel your energy stores. By following these general suggestions, you can achieve most if not all of your goals when training for and running an endurance race.
David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest and GQ Magazine, among others. David is an expert on health, wellness, diet and exercise, and he writes on a wide array of health topics for various publications, including regular editions appearing in healthline.com. For more of his Healthline articles, visit http://www.healthline.com/.