The key to a successful run is FUEL!
5 Essential Nutrition Tips for Runners
As a runner, your body is your most valuable asset and so many skip the most important part which is not the mileage but the fuel we put in the tank for the mileage!
Over the 20 years I have been running I have made so many mistakes with nutrition and my running performance suffered many times. I used to run fasted but learned that I could not sustain the distance or have the endurance for the goals I wanted to reach.
That is not to say that running on empty doesn’t work, it is all personal preference. My running pace suffered, I was not recovering well after long runs and even short runs felt hard.. but what I learned and I will share here, gave me greater running success and allowed me to reach my goals without runners fatigue or burnout!
It’s no secret that proper nutrition plays a crucial role in enhancing your performance, promoting endurance, and supporting optimal recovery. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned athlete, here are five essential nutrition tips to help you fuel your runs and reach your full potential that I found super helpful to reach my running potential.
Prioritize Carbohydrates for Energy:
- Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for runners. They provide the energy needed to sustain long-distance runs and intense workouts. Prioritize complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. Pick options like oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and bananas, which are rich in nutrients and provide a sustained release of energy. Be sure to consume carbs before and after your runs to replenish glycogen stores and aid in recovery. Steel cut oats are my favorite as they are slow releasing carbs and can give sustained energy for those longer runs.
Incorporate Lean Proteins for Muscle Repair:
- Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth. As a runner, you need to pay attention to your protein intake to support muscle recovery and prevent muscle breakdown. Include lean sources of protein like chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, legumes, and dairy products in your meals. Aim for a balance of protein throughout the day, including both pre- and post-run meals or snacks. Protein shakes are okay but shouldn't be the main source after a tough mileage. Use when in a crunch.
- Hydration is key for runners, as even mild dehydration can impair performance. Make it a habit to drink water throughout the day and pay attention to your fluid intake before, during, and after runs. During longer runs, consider incorporating sports drinks or electrolyte-enhanced beverages to replenish lost electrolytes. Monitor your urine color, aiming for a pale yellow shade as an indicator of proper hydration. If like me you try to to consume more than required liquid (potty stops en-route) then try to use some of the gel based or gummy electrolyte options but always use them prior to race day so you don't experience GI issues.
Don't Neglect Healthy Fats:
- Healthy fats play a crucial role in providing energy, supporting hormone production, and aiding nutrient absorption. Incorporate sources of unsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil into your diet. These fats not only provide satiety but also contribute to overall health and well-being.
Individualize Your Nutrition Plan:
- Each runner is unique, and YOUR nutritional needs will vary based on factors such as training intensity, duration, and personal goals. Experiment with different foods and meal timing to find what works best for you. Consider consulting with a sports nutritionist or registered dietitian who specializes in working with athletes to develop a personalized nutrition plan tailored to your specific needs.
I know that I want to be the strongest runner I can be and truly proper nutrition is the secret weapon that can take your running to new heights. By implementing these five essential nutrition tips, you can optimize your performance, improve endurance, and enhance your overall well-being and if you are like me, I want to run long into my twilight years STRONG and HEALTHY!
Remember, consistency is key, so start making small changes today and witness the significant impact on your running journey. Listen to your body and how the food you add makes your body feel. There is no “one size fits all” but you can find what you need to be stronger and have more endurance for your run. Fuel your run, and let FOOD be your ally!
Now, lace up your shoes and hit the road with a well-nourished body.
Let’s get it!
- Coach Caroline Adams