Beginner Runner Tip #5

Fill ‘er up! : Fuelling for Running

Running burns a lot of energy, more than twice as much as walking the same distance. Fuelling this activity is very important, and incorrect fuelling can cause all sorts of problems. Also, it’s important to note that even if you’re running to lose weight, you need to keep up the food intake. Sure, those extra pounds you’re trying to shift have calories in them, but they don’t contain the vitamins, minerals and proteins you need to recover from your runs or build the new muscle you’re developing.

Timing is everything. As a general rule, eat about 200 to 400 calories of complex carbs and a little protein no closer than 1.5 hours prior to your run. This will give your body time to digest the food and provide your body with the energy for your activity. Not eating enough before your run will make your run feel laboured or cause early fatigue. Eating too close to your run is a recipe for an upset stomach.

Every person is different and will like different things but common pre-run snacks include yogurt with granola, or an English muffin with peanut butter, or half a peanut butter sandwich and a banana. If you’re exercising for more than 45 minutes having a sports drink will supplement your energy and replace lost salts and fluids.

Depending on your workout you might need to have a post-run refuel as well. Generally speaking, this is only if your workout goes for more than 60 minutes, however you need to judge your level of fatigue and muscle damage.

If you are post-run refuelling, there is a magic window of 30-45 minutes after a run where your body is optimally primed to receive energy and protein. Unlike your pre-run snack you need to increase the protein level to about 20% of the total intake (a 4:1 ratio) to help your body rebuild your damaged muscles into leaner and stronger muscles for your next effort. Funnily enough, low-fat chocolate milk has close to the 4:1 ratio, however you can get your protein from having nuts, beans, eggs or whey protein isolate with your chosen carb source. Stay away from meat just after a run as it’s harder to digest and will slow the delivery of nutrients to your body and you’ll miss the ‘window’.

Outside of your pre and post-run fuelling, you’ll need to take a look at your general diet. This doesn’t mean you need to go hyper with special diets, become a juicer or start eating supplements like they’re candy. I’m personally not a huge fan of any radical diets as they are basically unsustainable, and in a lot of cases totally incompatible with the demands of running. I believe that eating well, reasonably healthily and above all else, having a good relationship with food is the best path.

Having a healthy diet will help your body recover faster from your workouts, so you’ll be able to see improvements faster. But you don’t need to go crazy. I’m a big believer in everything in moderation, along with trying to eat a diet balanced in accordance with the standard good food pyramid. Less saturated fats, a reasonable amount of carbs and meat, with more fruit and veg. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat junk food (my personal favourite is pizza!), but the key is to eat more good stuff than bad stuff.

Lastly, try to have a healthy breakfast every day to start the day off right. Skipping breakfast has a host of negative impacts on your body such as lower energy levels, a lower metabolism, trouble focussing and, snarl, moodiness.
Breakfast is also a great time to stock up on those things you might not get later in the day. A healthy, nutritious breakfast will give you fibre, vitamins and minerals along with an energy boost to get you ready for the day.

Eating properly before, after and in-between running will help you ensure your body stays primed for your workouts, and will also have the benefit of healthier living in general.

Happy running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running!

Related Articles:

10 Reasons Why Breakfast is a Must – Guardian East Right

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Beginner Runner Tip #6 »

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