Many runners don’t realise what a huge part their diets play in their training and racing. Here is how to spot and avoid a hand full of the most common nutrition mistakes:
For many the last thing they want to do after a long session is eat, but if you don’t, then your recovery and subsequent training sessions will suffer. However, the other side of the coin is people who eat everything in sight, using the fact that they’ve done a hard session as an excuse!
Plan your post-training eating and make sure you have the right nutrition to hand. Chocolate milk is superb and easy to drink; have about 300ml with some salted nuts or a peanut butter sandwich and that should see you through until the next meal. If you sit straight down to a meal then have something like spaghetti bolognese made with lean beef or a well-balanced salad.
Too much fibre
Here we’re talking essentially about ‘runner’s trots’. This is a really common problem in runners that happens when blood is diverted from the digestive system to the working muscles.
Eat bland, non-spicy, non-fibrous foods the night and hours before a big run ro race. Stick to meals such as pasta with plain tomato sauce the night before, and in the morning have something like a small bowl of porridge, smoothie or easily digestible cereal.
Too long between meals
This sets up a starve-binge eating pattern. By the time you get your food you’re ravenous and more likely to overeat the wrong things, which creates an insulin surge, which sends fat storage into overdrive. Plan your snacks so you never go without food or drink for longer than four hours. Good snacks include a pot of low fat yoghurt, a small handful of mixed nuts, fruit smoothies, fruit salad.
Many athletes overestimate their nutrition needs and eat too much cereal, pasta, rice, potatoes and bread. Calculate your daily calorie requirement, taking your training and normal daily activity into account.
Drinking coffee randomly
While caffeine has a proven positive effect on performance, it needs careful management. It can act as a gut stimulant and cause stomach issues. Work out your exact caffeine needs and take it before the session.