Nutritional Advice for runners

A great training plan is only one part of your running success on race day – nutrition is the other key and it really does matter, says Rebekah Russell, Blackmores Advisory Naturopath. Proper nutrition for running will help support energy production, reduce dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, and help optimise recovery so you’ll be able to smash your goals.

To help us fuel up for our next run (we need all the help we can get!), we asked Rebekah for some advice. These are some of the most common mistakes she sees runners make when it comes to their diets.

Skipping breakfast
Many of my clients run in the morning without eating anything first, and are sometimes curious why they feel a lack energy towards the end of their session. Your body needs energy to power through the workout so don’t deprive it. Aim for fuel that is lower in fat, protein, and fibre (all of which help to slow digestion), and higher in simple carbs, like toast with a thin layer of nut butter and some sliced banana. Space it out from your exercise so you give it time to digest ahead of working out.

Over fuelling the night before a race
Obviously, it’s important to make sure that your glycogen stores (the storage form of carbs in the body) are full and ready to go on race day, but you can easily do this by including a carbohydrate source at each meal the week before the race not just the night before the race. Flooding your system with carbohydrates or anything too greasy or heavy the night before a race has the potential to leave you running to and from the bathroom on the day!

Nutritional Advice for runners

Not fuelling post run
After longer or tougher workouts, your muscles have used up all the glycogen they needed, and now they’re hungry. You may not feel hungry; many runners find their appetite is suppressed just after working out, but later, when your body settles down and realises its glycogen stores are low, you may feel much hungrier leaving you prone to inhaling everything in sight. Aim to refuel with some protein and carbohydrates after tougher workouts to re-power your muscles. Magnesium levels play a key role in recovery too.

Trying something new on race day
You should avoid trying a new fuelling strategy on race day because you don’t know how your body will react to it. Check the race website to confirm which drinks and gels (if any) will be offered along the course so you can test them out in advance, or bring something with you that you know your body responds well to. Bananas are a great, fresh and convenient source of energy and potassium.


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