Whether it’s your first attempt at a long distance running event or you’re a seasoned semi-pro understanding how food has an effect on your success is vital. Of course we’re not suggesting if you eat correctly you’ll be finishing in first but you can ward off some of the annoying niggles and aches which occur from having the wrong nutrition strategy for your big event.
Getting it right may not make you number one but getting it wrong can ruin the event for you completely. Below we’ve put together a basic plan using evidence from experts which should guarantee you make it round the track, bring your A-Game and performance is maximised. Planning begins quite far in advance so keep these tips in mind ahead of time so you’re fully prepped.
From the beginning of your training get your body used to the right types of foods. Swap energy drinks for water and if you’re used to junk food snacks up your fruit and vegetable intake so your body begins to get used to and thrives on these types of foods. Nuts and dried fruits are great for an instant energy boost.
Week before the Event
Chances are your nerves are sky high but this is no excuse for snacking or turning back to the standard comfort foods. Instead use this week to fill yourself with energy boosters and work to lessen your nervousness for the big day. The more you train the more natural it will feel. Fill your cupboards with only the good stuff so when the desire to fall off the wagon comes along, you have no choice but to turn to those healthy alternatives.
The day before your race is all about ensuring your fuel stores are ready for the big event. You need to spend as much time as possible relaxing, keeping your feet up and eating the right foods. You can also check out the weather in preparation for the event. If its hotter than expected then you may need to make alterations to your drinking routine and when it comes to food, this day is all about the staples. Stock your body full with rice or pasta so it’s fully ready for the next day.
Race Day Breakfast
What you eat on the day of the event may depend on your nerves. The main thing is to ensure you eat something you’re used to as something new could unnerve you further. Particularly nervous runners prone to sickness have even advocated the liquid breakfast in the form of fruit-packed smoothies.
Good foods for breakfast if you’re feeling ready to go and full of confidence include scrambled eggs on toast or a wheat-based cereal. Both provide sustained energy. Your pre-event breakfast is essential and you shouldn’t skip it under any circumstances.
In the hours prior to the race you need to stick to your plan. You should have those key snacks ready and available and stick to the water for hydration. Flapjacks are brilliant for a quick shot of energy and are packed with sugars, fruits and nuts. Once you start warming up it is likely your appetite will disappear but you need to ensure you continue to feed your body as it needs.
Do not underestimate the important of the food your consume post-event. The food you eat in recovery is an integral part of your plan. This is especially true if you are taking part in multiple events or one that spans a number of days. You should always have a lean meat sandwich or salad, a yoghurt or a fruit salad on hand when you’ve completed your event. They are designed to refuel your body and help repair and sustain muscles so you’re ready for future events.
The best foods for runners are often contested. Below we’re looking at three undisputed
Almonds – the super nut you can work into all your snacks. They are a fantastic source of Vitamin E and can lower cholesterol levels circulating around your body. They can be crunched alone or added to salads or cereal.
Eggs – a single egg fulfills 10% of your daily protein requirement and it’s one of the most complete food proteins available. It also provides 30% of the Vitamin K you need for protecting your bones and they are perfect for boosting energy all day long.
Oranges – oranges are the perfect post-event food. They are packed with Vitamin C and eating enough of them can mean you experience less muscle pain and fatigue. Experts recommend you eat as many oranges and keep you Vitamin C levels high in the two weeks prior to the event for it to have success.
This is just the start but if you’re looking for new ways of introducing new, healthy foods into your diet whilst training for a big event this is a good place to begin.
by Kath Webb
by Laura Briggs
by Kath Webb
by Kath Webb
by Jessica Ambrose