During lock down, it seems more people are taking up running, whether it is to clear their head or reach a new fitness goal. If running is starting to become a regular thing with some great distance covered, these top nutrition tips may help you.
Pre Run Nutrition
If you are starting to take on running, now may not be the time to be trying out a low carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrates are an important nutrient for long distance runners. Ensuring your diet is rich in high quality carbohydrates can help with performance.
Recommendations for carbohydrates pre-exercise are between 6-10g/kg/day. It is best to see what works for you, if you cannot stomach a lot of food before a run first thing in the morning, maybe have a carbohydrate rich dinner the night before and then a banana 30-60 minutes or so before you set off. If you are running in the evening try consuming carbohydrates rich snacks and meals throughout the day.
Nutrition During The Run
For a run less than 60- 90 minutes there is no need to consume food such as jelly babies or sports drinks. However, if you are running for longer than this, consuming these types of carbohydrates may help delay fatigue and maintain blood glucose concentration. Recommendations are between 30-60g of carbohydrates/hour for runs between 1-2.5 hours.
Post Run Nutrition
Carbohydrates and protein together has been shown to enhance recovery in endurance athletes. Carbohydrates replenish the body’s glycogen stores and the protein helps repair muscle damage. So if you have been lucky enough to get some beans, the classic beans on toast is a great post run meal. Don’t worry if you don’t have an appetite straight away, research shows that you don’t have to consume protein in the ’30 minute’ window. Consuming protein (approx. 15-25g portion) with each meal and snack throughout the day increases muscle protein synthesis.
Hydration is important and very personal to each individual, play around and find a hydration strategy that works for you, just don’t underestimate how crucial this is before, during and after your run.
A hydration strategy should be in place for long distance runners aiming to prevent >2% body loss. Drinking a moderate amount of fluids at least 4 hours before exercise approximately 5-7ml/kg of body weight, gradually adding more if necessary.
Personalised fluid replacement regimes are recommended by the ACSM (2016) due to the considerable variability in fluid loss between individuals. This can be monitored during training by estimating the sweat rates of the athlete by measuring body mass before and after exercise.
Combining all of these 4 tips may help your running performance as well as preventing fatigue. Ensuring you are correctly fueled before your run is just as important as refueling after you have been running, so focus on nourishing your body adequately for the intensity of your workout to see if you benefits your performance.
If you are unsure on any of the above it is important to work with a SENr Sports Nutritionist. The Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr) is run by the British Dietetic Association and is supported by UK sports clubs and English institute of sports. I am currently running an online clinic during lockdown to offer support.