You may be running a race, but proper nutrition for training is a marathon. Thousands of dollars are invested in experts who help runners and professional athletes prepare for a big day every year.
It’s essential to watch your nutrition intake to ensure that you can function and that your health keeps you going before, during, and after the race. Food makes or breaks your training and, therefore, your performance. Proper nutrition for training and race day is essential and can be achieved within your means.
Pre-run Meal and Snack Ideas for Optimal Energy
Whether fueling up with a big meal or a little snack, energy is the name of the running game. Four types of food are needed for consistent energy: healthy complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, lean protein, and lots of fruits and vegetables.
Carbohydrates get a bad rep, but many everyday diets worldwide have carbohydrates as the bulk of all nutrition. Complex carbohydrates provide much-needed energy for all body parts. Low- or no-carbohydrate diets like the ketogenic diet are not recommended for runners.
Sources of complex carbohydrates include whole grain bread, cereal, pasta, crackers made from wheat, rye, sprouted grain, barely, oats, or millet. Gluten-free grains like rice, wild rice, corn, quinoa, lentils, and buckwheat are also perfect, as are other plants like beans, legumes, potatoes, squash, and peas.
Unsaturated fats help the body absorb nutrients like vitamins and minerals from everything you eat and boost the good cholesterol while lowering the bad cholesterol. Sources of unsaturated fats include most kinds of nuts, seeds like flax and chia seeds, avocados, olives, and olive oil, and certain types of fish like herring, tuna, and salmon.
These kinds of fish are also good sources of lean protein, which provides essential amino acids your muscles need to keep your body going even after the intense workouts of race preparation. Good protein sources include poultry, eggs, and certain plants like lentils and soybeans.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
Any exercise, especially running, causes your body to heat up, and your body regulates your temperature by sweating. This can result in a lot of liquid draining out of your body. If those fluids are not replenished promptly, dehydration and muscle cramping will affect your running and the rest of the necessary functions in your body.
Many experts will tout various numbers based on how much you sweat, your weight, what you drink, et cetera et cetera. Still, you should consume if you feel even a little bit thirsty.
It is best to stay hydrated regularly, even when not actively running or working out. Drinking before a run helps prepare the body for action and absorbing nutrients, and drinking after a run allows the body to cool down and prevents dry mouth, dizziness, and muscle fatigue.
Water will always be the best option, but other drinks, including sports drinks loaded with electrolytes and potassium, 100% fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, and even unsweetened tea, will suffice.
Post-run Recovery Foods to Aid in Muscle Repair
Running is an exercise that boasts many benefits, which include improving the health of your heart and blood vessels, burning fat, maintaining a healthy weight, building up the bones, and strengthening the muscles. Runs that are short in duration and high in intensity, like a sprint, are the way to build the muscle fibers in your leg.
But muscle building happens in addition to refilling the nutrients lost during a workout. This involves the muscle fibers experiencing wear and tear; any exercise stresses the muscles first. It’s essential to help your body repair the muscles by rewarding yourself with something good.
A fantastic, refreshing protein shake is a must-have of athletes everywhere, and that’s because protein is one of the most effective stimulants for muscle protein synthesis, sometimes more effective than exercise. How much protein to consume depends on your body weight, with experts recommending a little more than 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds.
Experts also recommend plant-based protein as much as possible, including most whole wheat, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Animal-based protein should be lean, like poultry, eggs, and fish.
A full meal may be far too much for your body during the recovery period after a run, so a smaller snack would be ideal for refueling your energy stores.
Foods like bananas and pickles, Greek yogurt, tart cherry juice, watermelon, turmeric, and salmon or sardines on whole wheat crackers or toast all contain antioxidants, which will reduce inflammation and can help relieve muscle pain.
Locations in Augusta Serving Up Proper Nutrition Options
Augusta has many options for healthy foods and restaurants, from farmer’s markets to specialty shops. Some of these options include:
- Sprouts Farmers Market, which offers delivery, curbside pickup, and catering. Open Mon-Sun from 7 AM-10 PM. It’s a great place to get organic and clean food. 630 Crane Creek Dr. Augusta, GA 30907
- Augusta Locally Grown, a local online farmers market based. They service Evans, Harlem, and Downtown Augusta for pick-up or delivery.
If you have a little extra money and want to save yourself the effort of preparing a meal that keeps to your runner’s diet, these places might be of interest to you:
Find What Works For You
This is a comprehensive list of tips and resources. Still, it is not a strict rulebook or criteria for fulfilling peak performance for the big race. If this is a first-time thing for you, trial and error may be a constant occurrence, but that simply reflects that everyone’s running journey is different.
Do what you can keep drinking your fluids and eating a balanced variety of carbs, protein, fruits, and vegetables, and remember that not only are you doing the best you can, but that everything is for an excellent cause. December will be here and gone before you know it!