Have you ever wondered why so many people run, for fun? It’s an incredibly popular sporting activity in the UK, maybe because you can do it for free – no gym membership or fancy equipment required; maybe it’s because you can do it in groups if you need the support and motivation to get you out there and keep you going, or it can be a solitary pursuit, at your own pace while you get away from it all . Of course, many people run to keep fit and healthy, to manage their weight, maintain a healthy cardio-vascular system and running certainly great for muscular strength and tone.
Whatever the motivation, running is enjoyed by millions. But there appears to be a lot of confusion about what is best to eat when in training and as importantly, when to eat it . So, here are some guidelines to help all you runners to get the most out of your running and to allow your body to recover as quickly and as fully as possible between runs.
- Allow at least 90 minutes after eating before a run, and if you’re running after a main meal, 2 hours minimum. I definitely feel at my best running first thing in the morning after a large glass of lemon water, but no food.
- Keep well hydrated – being even marginally dehydrated will impair the performance of your muscles and your ability to recover. I am not a big fan of the commercial isotonic drinks. I believe a well-balanced diet, with plenty of fresh foods that are high in water along with plenty of water throughout the day will ensure your tissues are well hydrated before a run. After a run try coconut water. This is now readily available and is incredible at rehydrating, providing all the electrolytes, sugars and fluids needed. Plain old water with a squeeze of lemon juice will also do the trick unless you have been on a very long run in very hot temperatures.
- Eat plenty of high quality protein on a very regular basis – protein helps your muscles heal and recover. It also supports metabolism and helps balance blood sugar. It is best to have a little grade one protein at every meal, balanced with plenty of fresh veg and complex carbs.
- L-Glutamine is an amino acid available in supplement form. If you are prone to injuries, especially if you have a recurring injury, or if you find it takes a long time to get over a hard run, this may help. It is used by athletes to help muscle recovery and healing of injuries. It must be taken away from food to be effective.
- Eat complex carbs immediately after exercising – along with some protein, of course. This will aid muscle recovery and replenish your stores of glycogen in your muscles. If you don’t do this within an hour of a run, you’re recovery will be impaired and you’ll find your limbs heavy and your energy sluggish when you set off on your next run.
I’ll go in to more detail in my next blog…