Legend has it you cannot run off the kitchen, and we certainly don’t recommend you run IN the kitchen; however, proper fueling is an essential component to achieving optimal performance while running and training. Approximately 3 hours prior to a run, a meal high in carbohydrates, low in fiber, and low in fats should be consumed. If the run is going to last longer than 40 minutes, carbohydrates should be continuously replenished through sports gels and drinks, low-protein energy bars, or fruits to quickly replace muscle glycogen and blood glucose that is being used for energy. Within 30 minutes to 2 hours after a run, a meal or snack high in carbohydrates and proteins should be consumed to replace energy as well as maintain muscle mass. Fueling does not end after the recovery meal, nor does it start at the pre-workout meal. Some runners choose to carbohydrate load prior to a big event. This should involve tapered exercise over five days, followed by one day of rest. Concurrently, a diet consisting of 50% carbohydrates for three days, then 70% carbohydrates for the last three days. On a more regular basis, it is recommended that athletes consume a diet of 3-10g/kg of body weight carbohydrates, depending on the intensity and duration of activity, 15-25% of total calories coming from fats, especially mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and 1.2-1.7g/kg of body weight proteins.
The wicked witch of the west may have melted from water but the wicked smaht of the runners know the importance of keeping hydrated. Consuming water before, during, and after exercise is extremely important, especially in high heat. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. In order to utilize water properly, a balance of electrolytes must also be incorporated into the diet. Water intoxication may occur if one has not had enough electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. Not only will you retain water more effectively, but potassium and magnesium also aid in easing muscle cramps. The goal is to avoid losing more than 2% of body weight during exercise as a general rule to ensure you are properly hydrated. The difference between your most satisfying PR and a run that makes you feel like molasses going uphill in January can be largely in part to the nutrients you put into your body. While a balanced diet is often the key to obtaining the essential nutrients and energy needed for exercise, as well as everyday life, always consult a doctor before making any and all alterations to your diet.