Food: Before, During & After the Race
Making sure you're eating the right things before, during, and after your race is vital - and often something we overlook. Here are some tips about how to manage your food intake during training.
The right snack before a run can make all the difference. However, some people prefer to go on empty and not eat before a run, particularly if this is an early morning run. For a run of 1 hour or less, going without any food and drink won't do you any harm. But, for any runs longer than this it is essential that you fuel beforehand. Going on empty means that you will fatigue quicker, making it tougher to hit your goals.
When eating before your run keep it simple and light. Eat familiar foods that won't disrupt your digestive system. These foods should be low in fat and fibre but high in carbohydrates. Timing when eating your pre run meal or snack is vital. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the meal the more time you will need to digest (remember - everyone is different!). You should never run immediately after eating as this can lead to cramping and/or stitches. Allow around 2-4 hours before running after a large meal and around 30 minutes after a snack.
Examples of food: banana, bowl of cereal, peanut butter on toast.
When running for an extended period of time it is important that you refuel as you go. After running for 60-90 minutes your bodies has used up much of its stored glycogen in your body and turns to your fat for its energy. To fend off the fatigue and the dreaded wall that can occur.
There are many products on the market that are designed to give you a burst of energy during your run. Scientifically speaking When running for over an hour you need to consume 40-60g of carbohydrates per hour. These carbohydrates can come from sports drinks, energy gels, jelly babies, flapjacks.
If you are thinking of taking energy gels on race day it is important that you practise eating these on some of your longer training runs, just to make sure you don't get an upset stomach on race day. Your body needs to get used to running and digesting these gels. Also, different brands suit different people so it is important to find out which one works for you.
Once you have finished your run it is important that you eat in order to help you muscles and energy levels recover. Aim to consume some carbohydrates and protein within 2 hours of finishing your run. If you don't feel like eating a full meal, why not try a post run protein shake? Also, drink plenty of water once finishing your run to rehydrate your body.
Examples of food: Jacket Potato with beans or tuna, Greek yoghurt and Banana, Pasta and Meatballs.
Top Tip - During training, try writing down what you eat before, during and after you run, and your body's response to it - so you can see what foods work and don’t work.