Whether you’re training for a distance event or gearing up for race day, you need to consider how you’ll fuel your body so you get through your run and finish strong. What you eat and drink, both before and during your run, can make a difference between a workout that fizzles and a performance that sizzles.
Here are nutrition and hydration tips to help you go the distance when you’re setting your sights on runs of 20+ miles:
- Customize guidelines. Although guidelines exist for what to include in pre-run meals and snacks, you need to figure out what works best for you personally. Food and fluid intake is affected by your weight, metabolism, training intensity and running duration.
- Eat carbs before you run. Carbohydrates are the most effective way to fuel your workout. Opt for complex carbs, found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, before you run. If you’re training for over an hour, have a snack or meal containing 15-30 grams of carbs. On race day, boost carb totals to about 50-75 grams for your pre-marathon meal.
- But don’t rely on carbs alone! Aim for pre-run meals and snacks that include 60-70% carbs, 20-30% fat and 10-15% protein. After you run, refuel with a snack containing carbs and protein in a ratio of 4:1.
- Choose healthy foods. Here are some foods to consider before you head out to run:
- 1 medium banana with 1-2 teaspoons of nut butter: 33g carbs
- 1 cup cooked oatmeal: 30g carbs
- 8 oz. Greek yogurt: 30g carbs
- 1 cup whole wheat pasta: 30g carbs
- 1 cup cooked sweet potato: 27g carbs
- ½ cup cooked quinoa: 20g carbs
- Limit fat and fiber. Choose easily digested foods. This means you’ll want to steer clear of high-fat and high-fiber foods such as burgers, fries, beans and broccoli.
- If you’re running for more than 60-75 minutes, you need more carbs for energy. Simple carbs, including sugar, provide quick refueling during and after exercise. Most runners require about 30-60 grams of carbs per hour. Don’t wait until you’re running on empty to add more fuel. It’s better to refuel every 30 minutes or so.
- Manage the wall. The best way to avoid ‘hitting the wall’ is to eat carbs early and frequently. If you do hit a wall, recover by consuming simple carbs, such as sports gels, sugary sporks drinks, candy, fruit or fruit juice. Don’t take in too much, too fast or it can upset your stomach. Slowing your pace will help you digest. Aim for 150-250 calories initially, and then 50-150 calories every 15-20 minutes.
- Drink 12-18 ounces before you run and continue to hydrate throughout your run. Water is fine for shorter distances, but on longer runs, you’ll need some electrolytes as well, which can be found in sports drinks. If you’re consuming sports nutrition products containing electrolytes, you can stick to water. Drink at each station, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Orthology’s personal training sessions can help improve your running performance and will provide you with more personalized nutrition and hydration advice to help you go the distance. Contact us for more information about our training and coaching services.