Keep on running...Fuel your run
The charity run fundraiser continues to grow in popularity across Australia. If you've signed up, you might be thinking about what's best to eat before, during and after race day. Steve Pratt of the Cancer Council WA has some great advice.
There are a variety of distances to choose from on any race day, but a simple rule to follow is: the longer the exercise, the more important the nutrition – it’s true for any exercise.
It’s not just on race day that nutrition is important though, what you do in training is at least as important as what you do on race day. This is particularly the case if you are exercising for good health rather than having your heart set on a top 10 finish.
There are four different components to sports nutrition:
- What you do before;
- What you do during;
- What you do after (recovery); and
- What you do between
Let’s start with the big one; what you do between training sessions. While healthy eating may not directly, obviously influence your performance on race day, it has the greatest influence on your weight and overall health.
When we say that you can’t outrun a bad diet, it is the meals between training that we’re talking about. If you’re exercising to lose weight, eat a diet that’s rich in fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. You can follow one of the free LiveLighter meal and activity planners for inspiration.
As time spent exercising and intensity of your exercise increases, what you do before, during and after becomes more important. However, for moderate to vigorous sessions of less than 90 minutes (generally races under 12kms), there isn’t anything special required during or afterwards except to make sure you rehydrate when you’re finished. Water is best for this. Longer, less intense sessions also don’t require anything different, except to drink (water) when you’re thirsty.
People doing the half marathon should probably think about their event and recovery nutrition a bit more. If you plan on using gels or sports drinks during the race, you need to test them during training to make sure you like them and they don’t upset your stomach. Recovery is important. Try to have something containing carbohydrate and protein within half an hour of the race and longer training sessions. Milky drinks are good for this.
Whatever the distance, if you’re keen to avoid any mid-race toilet stops, stay clear of spicy foods and foods with a lot a fibre (fruit, vegetables, wholegrain cereals) the night and morning before big training sessions and the race.
If the marathon is your distance, you should probably seek more detailed advice. At this distance and time, it is important to start the race and training fuelled and to refuel as you go as well as afterwards.
One hard and fast rule to follow is: don’t try anything new on race day. This isn’t limited to your nutrition either. Avoid new shoes and clothes as they could cause you grief.
Best of luck,
Guest author, Steve Pratt, is the Nutrition and Physical Activity Manager at Cancer Council WA.
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