The old phrase "fail to prepare, prepare to fail" could have been written with runners in mind. Granted you are not a elite runner (yet!) you need to adopt a similar approach to nutrition as the pros. Pay attention to hydration, eat the right foods and look after yourself after your run.
The first thing you need to think about is hydration. Even the day before a long run or training session you should keep a water bottle handy. Drink little and often and you will be ready for action.
Whether you are running a mile or a marathon, the night before a run is not the time to try out new or spicy foods. Stick to foods rich in carbohydrates like pasta. This will give you a slow release of energy, keeping you going for longer.
Tip: keep the fruit bowl well stocked. A banana eaten before your run is a great source of quick release energy
Whilst you will not be wolfing down food during your run, you will still need to make sure you don't get dehydrated. When you sweat you lose bodyweight and studies have shown that even a loss of 2% (1kg for a person weighing 50kg) can affect performance by 10% to 20% Unless you are running for more than about an hour and a half your body will be fine to use up its glycogen stores to keep you going, but a sports drink, diluted fruit juice or just plain h2o is essential to keep you hydrated. Make sure you sip slowly. A runners bottle with flip lid makes this easy, although most sports drinks come with these type of caps too.
For longer runs you may wish to carry easy to digest carbohydrates. Some runners swear by jelly babies, others opt for gel bars. The main thing is to stick with what you like. Dipping into your bum bag for a small handful of Haribo's on a longer run not only feels like a treat, but is actually a great way to replace those carbohydrates that you have burned off.
Tip: Half fill your water bottle and pop it in the freezer. The ice will keep your drink nice and cool on your next run.
Once you have got home and stretched, you need to remember that you have just taken a lot out of your body, it's time to put something back in. Your glycogen stores will be low, so you need to sort that out pronto.
Keep it simple but try and stick to something that has a ratio of 3 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein. A tuna sandwich or bagel topped with peanut butter are ideal choices. If you don't have these at hand then grab a cereal or protein bar. If it has been a hot day you could opt for a banana. Its rich potassium levels help to replace any that your body has lost through sweat, as well as being one of the simplest snack foods on earth.
Don't forget to keep drinking too. Just like during your run, you need to keep on sipping. Try and drink a pint of water or squash over the next hour. Don't overdo it, as drinking too much water can lead to serious problems. Obey your thirst sensibly.
Pour yourself a pint (of water obviously!) and then get yourself a snack. The perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein is 3:1 and you can find this in things such as a tuna sandwich or peanut butter on toast. The sooner you eat, the better as your body needs the energy and protein to repair itself.
By following this post workout regime you will ensure that your muscles are given all they need to start the recovery process, making the next training run more bearable!
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