IN THE LEAD-UP
Sometimes just getting into the routine of running results in generally feeling better and wanting to eat healthier. You may also be trying to lose a bit of weight, so it’s a great time to review your eating patterns and start planning for your needs. Reducing your intake of high fat/sugar foods, processed foods and convenience style take-aways will often result in more energy, making you feel better when you run. It is no secret that elite runners are usually light and lean, so although you may not need to be eating like an athlete, you can certainly work towards healthier patterns that make you feel good and can also improve body composition to make running up those hills that little bit easier!
THE DAY BEFORE
Runners need to carb load before a race, right?? Marathon runners, yes. Five kilometer fun runners, no! A general rule of thumb when it comes to carbohydrate loading is that if you are out there for greater than 1.5hours there may be benefit from increasing carbohydrate in the day or so prior. If your run is more like 1 hour, then maybe have a little bit extra carbohydrate the day before, but you won’t need to load. Less than an hour, no extra carbohydrate the day prior required. These recommendations shouldn’t be taken as black and white, everyone is different and different things work for different people.
For example, if you are registered for a 10km run and expect to finish in under an hour, and you know you can’t stomach food pre-run in the morning, then maybe have some extra carbohydrate the day before. But if you can eat a light breakfast you can probably don’t need the extra.
For a 15km race, you might up your carbs a little the day before or take something light to eat during, depending on your speed!
ON THE DAY
Try to eat something light for breakfast. Vegemite on toast tends to work a treat and is a favourite of many serious runners, but practice eating on some of your longer weekend runs to see what works best. A combination of too much food, fibre and nerves on the day can lead to an upset stomach so stick to small, light and trialed!
Less than 10km and you probably won’t need too much during, other than water and perhaps a few swigs of an electrolyte drink depending on conditions, but above this and you may need to think about additional fueling.
No matter what your fun run goals and dreams are, plan your nutrition, stay hydrated and have fun!
Lisa Middleton is one of Australia’s most experienced Sports Dietitians. Lisa has spent over 15 years advising some of the nation’s most elite athletes and teams across a range of sports including VIS athletes, the Essendon, Hawthorn and St Kilda AFL Football clubs, Melbourne Vixens Netball, Melbourne Storm Rugby League and Melbourne Victory Football clubs throughout grand final and premiership years.