Running is the purest and simplest form of exercise. All you really need is a pair of comfortable running shoes, some light clothes and then you’re off.
Whether you are a seasoned runner or just finding your feet, you’ll know that timing is essential. Putting your pedal to the metal from the get-go is going to lead to a quick burnout. It’s all about timing, and when it comes to running nutrition, timing is also vital.
Nutrition for running is as much about when you eat as what you eat. Of course, what you consume will play a huge part in how effective you are when running, and striking that balance is key.
We need food and water for fuel in our day-to-day lives, but when it comes to exercise like running, a sharper focus on nutrition can lead to the best results. Here’s what you need to consider.
Staying well-hydrated is an important part of everyday life, even when you are not exercising. The advice is usually to drink between 2 and 3 litres of water a day, but this increases with running.
Running, whether for training or in competition, will see you expend a lot of sweat and, with it, electrolytes that help keep your energy levels up.
When you consider that, running can produce a sweat rate that is almost double our recommended daily intake of water, we can see that it’s necessary to replace those fluids fast.
However, hydration isn’t something we need to think about when our running vest is saturated, and you are bent over clutching your knees. You need to think about hydration before you’ve even set one foot on the road, or treadmill.
It is important to begin exercise in a well hydrated state however guzzling a litre of water right before running isn’t a clever idea because then you’ll have that liquid swirling around as you pound the pavement. Therefore, around 2 hours before exercise, you should aim to drink 6 to 8 ml of fluid per kg of body weight. This will allow time for absorption and removal of any excess. Supplementing water with a serving of GO Electrolyte or a Hydro tablet can help retain the fluids and electrolytes you lose through sweating with GO Electrolyte also providing some carbohydrates for extra energy.
During running, your body will sweat to control your body temperature and as such you will lose fluids and key electrolytes. You should therefore aim to drink often to prevent dehydration as you are exercising, ideally trying to avoid reductions in baseline body weight greater than 2%. However, how much to drink will depend on your individual sweat rate, the intensity you are exercising and how hot the temperature is.
Mixing a serving of GO Electrolyte or a Hydro tablet with water and consuming during exercise can provide an optimal way help to replenish lost electrolytes during exercise with GO Electrolyte also providing additional carbohydrates to promote energy stores during running.
Running with a water bottle may prove difficult for some people, but you can get vessels that are specially designed to be clipped to waistbands or gripped in hand.
Replacing those lost fluids after a run is vital to stop you from dehydrating. You will continue to sweat for a while after a long run. A good rule of thumb is to drink 1500ml for every kilo of bodyweight you lose. If you are a regular runner, you can work this out by weighing yourself before and after a run.
Dehydration is common, but you need to get fluids on board quickly not to suffer its effects, such as headaches and nausea. If you notice that your urine is bright yellow, that means you aren’t getting enough water and so need to keep drinking for up to an hour after a run.
Food for fuel
Carb-loading has become a common phrase in exercising, especially when it comes to running. Your body will indeed need fuel for energy while on run, and foods like pasta, bread and cereals often fit the bill.
However, timing is important here again. If you are running a big race or even doing a hard running session, you should aim to increase your carbohydrate intake the day before the race or session to fill your muscles with energy and how much carbohydrates you will need will depend on the length of the race and the intensity of the training session, with more carbohydrates being required for longer races and high intensity sessions.
Before a race or training session you should also aim to consume a high carbohydrate meal 2-3 hours before it to further top up your energy stores. For example, porridge oats, cereals, pasta, rice, breads etc. are all good carbohydrate sources to consume prior to running sessions or races.
Carbohydrates provide us with energy in the form of glucose and maintaining your glucose levels is important, particularly for longer distance runs and races. To keep you going over longer distances and during high intensity races you should aim to consume approximately 60 grams per hour of carbohydrates and this can be easily achieved using the likes of Go Isotonic Energy Gel or the new Beta Fuel Range as they provide an easy and convenient way of achieving this target and getting in extra energy.
During those long runs or high intensity races you may also wish to use a GO Energy + Caffeine Gel or Beta Fuel Nootropics Gel which has been designed to provide fast-absorbing and easily digestible carbohydrate along with caffeine and nootropics. Combined, these ingredients give you physical and mental focus when you need it.
A long run will put a lot of pressure on your muscles and deplete your stocks of carbohydrates. While burning carbs is often a welcome result of running, you still need to maintain a healthy glucose level in your body to replace what your body has lost.
Little and often is an excellent system to work by when seeking to replace lost carbs after a run. Aim to consume a form of carbohydrates as soon as possible after sessions to help with the recovery process then continue to consume carbohydrates every 1-2 hours thereafter to continue this process.
You will also need to get some protein on board, which will help repair your muscle damage. Foods like fish, meat, eggs or pulses are great sources of protein that will help rebuild your body after a run.
For example, using REGO Rapid Recovery immediately after running can provide an easy to consume carbohydrate and protein source to help with recovery and start to replenish and rebuild muscle. Then following this when it is more convenient you may wish to have something more substantial like pasta with grilled chicken and some mixed beans and greens.
So, just like running itself, nutrition owes a lot to timing. Whether it’s loading up with carbs beforehand or rehydrating afterwards, what you eat and when you eat it will have a significant impact on the times you clock and how you feel.
For more expert advice and information about running, click here.