Before you run
You should be well aware that the primary principle of pre-run nutrition is ensuring you have enough energy to run. However, there are other core nutrition principles to think about before you run, such as avoiding foods which may cause stomach issues, fuelling up for longer runs and adapting your diet to when you train.
What NOT to eat:
Eating the wrong things before running can lead to stomach discomforts or pains. Fats and fibre take longer to digest and can sit in your stomach causing these issues. Avoid these foods in the immediate lead up, along with eating too much, too soon, and foods you know cause trouble!
When your runs start to get longer, ensuring you have enough energy becomes increasingly important. It is worth taking the time now to think about your race day nutrition. Focusing on the meal the night before and the pre-run breakfast will help provide you with the energy to complete these runs now as well as getting valuable practice for race day.
If you train in the mornings, you probably don’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn to consume a meal 2-4 hours before. Therefore, we recommend you eat your carbohydrate based meal the evening before, and think about having a snack as soon as you wake.
For evening runs, you will want to think about your nutrition during the day, ensuring you make wise breakfast, lunch and snack choices. If you run between lunch and dinner, a snack might be needed, and if running after, leaving enough time to digest your meal is vital.
After you run
After a run, getting the right nutrition will not only help reduce soreness, so you are ready to go again sooner, but will also help you grow and adapt to become faster and stronger. The sooner you consume food, the faster you can start the recovery process, but you do have an hour or two to play with. Take the time to properly prepare using the principles below.
Build a routine
Each person is different in terms of what they like and when they eat after a run. Many can’t stomach a meal straight away, so may prefer to have a snack to buy some time to stretch and shower before eating, whilst other might love to eat straight away. Decide what you prefer and build habits which become your routine.
It is important to take a minute to work out where you will be when you finish each run. Will you be at home and able to prepare a protein rich meal? Or will you be on the go and need a snack, such as chocolate milk or a chicken sandwich, until you can get a meal? Plan your routine accordingly to ensure you’re never without adequate nutrition.
For those who run late at night, there is not always time to have a meal before bed. It is vital not to go to bed without eating anything, so plan a protein rich snack that can tide you over until breakfast, where you can continue focusing on your recovery. Good snack choices include: Greek yogurt, peanut butter on toast or a glass of milk.
Just another reminder that as well as your nutrition, it is important to remain hydrated before and after runs. Keep a water bottle with you and try and finish this within an hour or two of starting and finishing your run.
A final word
The principles outlined in the article will help you on the path to finding what works best for you. There is no perfect nutrition plan for everyone, so remember to listen to your body and understand what helps you and what hinders you during your training.