As part of our sponsorship of the Ealing Half Marathon this year, we have written a series of posts on all things running!
In this series of articles we are looking at nutrition and hydration for runners and today we are dealing specifically with :
You get out what you put in
You’re asking your body to perform a task that can be close to its limits, so you can’t afford to not fuel it properly. As well as getting your legs strong and improving your fitness, your training runs are all opportunities to test out your nutrition and hydration plan for race day – the golden rule is don’t do anything on race day that you haven’t done in training!
Although different strategies will work for different people, here are a few general evidence-based guidelines to help get you started:
Any runner knows that carbohydrates – that’s sugars, and includes everything from refined white sugar to starchy carbs like pasta and potatoes – are important for runners and all endurance athletes… but how much should you really be having?
A lot depends on how fast you run, how efficiently you run, how fit you are and what sort of diet your body is used to. Recommendations for athletes engaged in high-volume training range from 5g to 10g of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight per day, so we recommend starting at the lower end in your early phases of training and increasing it as you need.
For example, if you weigh 80kg (176 pounds, or 12.5 stone), try aiming for at least 400g of carbohydrate daily. If you are struggling with your energy levels but are eating enough overall, try adding 100g of carbohydrate for a few days, and see how you feel. Continue adjusting, and testing for 2-3 days, until you find your sweet spot.
So what does 400g of carbohydrate look like, and how can you fit that into your diet? Here’s an example*:
- 60g (3/4 cup) rolled oats (39g) with 300ml semi-skimmed milk (15g)
- 1 large banana (24g)
- 1/2 cup mixed berries (5g)
- 1 tablespoon raisins or sultanas (13g)
Total: 96g carbohydrate
Snack: 2 slices bread (27g) with jam (30g) and 1 medium apple (20g)
- Large jacket potato (63g)
- 1/2 cup baked beans (28g)
- 3 tablespoons sweetcorn (9g)
- 2 tablespoons hummus (5g) with 1 large carrrot (9g)
- 1 large or 2 small satsumas (7g)
Total: 101g carbohydrate
Snack: 1 low fat fruit yoghurt (177g) , 2 tablespoons mixed seeds (5g) and 1 medjool date (18g)
- 100g pasta (uncooked weight) (75g)
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce (8g)
- 3 tablespoons green peas (8g), 3 tablespoons cauliflower (3g), 2 broccoli spears (3g)
Total: 97g carbohydrate
Total for the day: 411g carbohydrate
* To make it easier to see the high-carbohydrate foods, we haven’t listed foods like meat, fish, or eggs, which don’t contain carbohydrate.
We don’t like to talk about “good” or “bad” foods, and when it comes to long or hard training sessions or events, sometimes it’s best to just get the carbohydrate into your body quickly – so refined carbohydrates like white breads and pastas, fresh and dried fruit, and even sweets, snack bars and sports drinks can play a vital role here. The important thing is to aim for a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, and to make sweets and treats the exception – as you are training hard, you want to make sure you are getting lots of vitamins and minerals in to help your body recover!