The outdoor running season is upon us!
As a team, we want to help you avoid injuries. You can help yourself by doing strengthening exercises and by stretching, but did you know you can also help reduce the risk of injuries by planning your nutrition? When we run without eating and hydrating properly around the time of our workout, we tend to lose proper running form because of extra fatigue, increasing the risk of inflammation and injury.
Here are a few nutrition tips worth mentioning, provided by an expert Calgary sports dietitian.
Tip 1: Time is your friend for optimal energy
If you are having a meal three to four hours before your run, aim for a lower-fat, easy-to-digest option to avoid digestive issues or the horrible runner’s trots no one wants to live through. Also, listen to your appetite. Overeating is not necessary for optimal performance. As a general rule, the less time you have before running, the less you should eat and the less fat you should eat, as fat normally takes three to four hours to digest.
Full-meal examples for 3–4 hours before running
Option 1: Pasta with chicken and tomato sauce / vegetables and 1 fruit of your choice
Option 2: Shrimp and vegetable stir-fry with rice and 1 fruit of your choice
Meal/snack examples for 2 hours before running
Option 1: Grilled-egg sandwich (1 egg) and 1 fruit
Option 2: Overnight oats with yogurt
Snack examples for 1 hour before running
Aim for a snack high in carbohydrates.
Option 1: Granola bar with 1 fruit
Option 2: Greek yogurt with 1 fruit
Snack examples for 30 minutes before running
Aim for 30 g of easily digestible carbohydrates for optimal energy.
Option 1: 1 banana
Option 2: 250 ml of fruit juice
Tip 2: Avoid slow-to-digest foods 2 hours before running
- Foods high in fat such aschips, butter, oil, pastries, cheese, nuts, fatty meats (bacon, sausage), and fried foods
- Foods high in fiber such asraw salad, legumes (beans, lentils), and whole grains
Everyone is different. In sports nutrition, we find some people can tolerate certain foods that others can’t. Some simply cannot eat any peanut butter before running, while others have no issues with a few tablespoons. Do not hesitate to try new things for shorter workouts, but avoid any new foods before competitions; otherwise, you might be in for some bad surprises.
Tip 3: Maintain good hydration before and during your runs
Dehydration greatly affects your performance and energy. You may simply feel bad or fatigued, but dehydration can also cause headaches, muscle cramps, and even an increased risk of heat stroke. To learn more about how to plan your hydration, check out our article “How best to hydrate for running.”