TIMING IS KEY

The time in which you eat has an impact on your training or race. Eating just before you run can cause very uncomfortable bloating. If you choose to run on an empty stomach, you risk fatigue. However, if your run is first thing in the morning, getting some food in an hour beforehand isn’t practicable. It is best to keep these morning runs under one hour to 90 minutes. During this time, energy is taken from stored glycogen in the muscles.

WHAT TIME DO YOU EAT AT THEN?

The time in which you eat has an impact on your training or race. Eating just before you run can cause very uncomfortable bloating. If you choose to run on an empty stomach, you risk fatigue. However, if your run is first thing in the morning, getting some food in an hour beforehand isn’t practicable. It is best to keep these morning runs under one hour to 90 minutes. During this time, energy is taken from stored glycogen in the muscles.

You can do all the work, eat well and still not reach your best performance if you don’t eat when you are meant to. For optimum gain, get into the habit of eating around your training schedule so when the competition comes you will not need to change your dietary habits too much.

Example 1

7am: wake up
7.05am: coffee
7.15am – 8.15am: run/train
8.30am: breakfast consisting of porridge, flaxseed, nuts and berries
Continue with healthy habits for the day.

Example 2

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8am: wake up
8.15am: breakfast consisting of poached eggs on wholegrain toast and tea
11am: snack consisting of apple and peanut butter
1pm: lunch consisting of tuna salad and baked potato
4pm: snack consisting of small bowl of vegetable soup
5.30pm-7pm: run/train
7.30pm: chicken stir-fry and rice, glass of milk

POST-RUN REFUEL

We know that timing is massively important but so is your choice of post-run refueling food. Refueling with the right foods can ease muscle pain, reduce the risk of injury and help with energy levels. Eat within the recovery window – this is within 30 minutes of exercise – combining carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates are foods such as bread, pasta, jellies, potatoes, rice. A simple carb (such as jellies) breaks down to a singular sugar instantly and gives you a quick release of energy. Complex carbs (pasta, breads, rice) are slower at breaking down and give you a slow release of energy, fueling you for the day. Proteins will aid muscle repair, every time you do exercise your muscles work hard contracting and stretching, tearing slightly. Protein provides the building blocks for repairing this, meaning you are less likely to suffer an injury, and you heal quicker after a run.

A large meal is not essential, a snack will be sufficient. You can have a larger meal within a few hours.

Post-run fuel

Post-run fuel

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Easy post-run foods include: chocolate milk, chicken sandwich on brown bread, chicken stir-fry and noodles, two boiled eggs, avocado and toast, banana, protein bar.

One of the most common mistakes made by people starting out in running is forgetting to have food to hand after the run. So, prep and be ready, your body will thank you for it!

 

RACE DAY – KEEP IT NORMAL

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Race day is fast approaching. You have been eating well but need to change it up slightly for the big race. Races are when the most damage is done to muscles, ensuring you have personalised your food for your nutritional needs will mean, apart from the expected tiredness, you also need to make sure you have no bloating and are in optimum health to reduce the risk of injury. Carbohydrate loading has been shown to improve performance and endurance. However, consuming it all on the day of the race will not be as beneficial as trying to add a few extra calories on the week leading up to the race. Never eat a large meal on the day of the race itself, eat it at lunchtime the day before. This is when you can have the big bowl of pasta and your stomach will have recovered before the race. The most important thing to remember is: do not try any new foods the day before or the day of a race.

COUNTDOWN

Three to four hours prior to the event, choose carbohydrate-rich, low-fibre, low-glycemic-index, moderate-protein and moderate-fat foods:

- Peanut butter, honey, banana on toast;
- Porridge and berries;
- Granola, fruit and low-fat yogurt;
- Wholemeal chicken salad sandwich; or
- Egg salad wrap.

One to two hours prior to the event, choose carbohydrate-rich foods with very low fat, low protein and low fibre, such as:

- Honey on rice cakes;
- A piece of fruit;
- Banana smoothie;
- Raisin bread; or
- Cornflakes or another low-fibre cereal.

Zero to 30 minutes after the event – although there is an obsession with protein, we really don’t need that much, surprisingly – aim to get 10g-20g of protein into you straight after the race with carbs and fluids. Leave the bigger meal for a couple of hours to avoid stomach cramping. Consume things such as:

- Walnuts;
- Chocolate milk;
- Isotonic drink;
- Water;
- Peanut butter bagel;
- Pancakes with yogurt;
- Protein bars; and
- Some protein shakes (read the label, you won’t need 40g of protein!).

Two to three hours after the event, the following are ideal:

- Steak, baked potato and salad/ vegetables;
- Chicken curry and rice;
- Salmon, steamed vegetables and rice;
- Eggs, beans, homemade chips;
- Budda bowl with quinoa; or
- Lentil soup.

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