This is an incomplete list to be sure, but consider adding these to your diet to improve your overall performance as a runner, not matter your fitness level.
When: After a workout
What: Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid found in our blood and muscles. It depletes during intense exercise and stress.
Why: Crucial to aid recovery, muscle repair and rehydration
CALCIUM and MAGNESIUM
When: Before bed
What: Magnesium is one of seven essential macrominerals and is crucial for the functioning of various enzymes in the body.
Why: “I cannot go without magnesium,” says ASICS FrontRunner Jani du Toit who ‘ran’ all the way through her second pregnancy to tackle the Otter Trail Run. “This one is so important while you are pregnant and breastfeeding, but for all runners really. In order for our muscles to function properly they need a balanced ratio of magnesium and calcium. They play a big role in the tension and relaxation of your muscles. If the calcium concentration in the muscle increases due to magnesium deficiency, the muscle can no longer relax, and cramps occur. Also, magnesium helps other vitamins absorb better, and can help as a type of anti-depressant, so it’s a vitamin I strongly stand by,” she says. Read more about her thoughts on vitamins, minerals and supplements to take (and not to take) during pregnancy, here.
When: After exercise, before bed
What: CBD (or cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant. “Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) however, it has no psycho-stimulant properties,” explains Tony Budden, founder of pioneering South African hemp company, Hemporium and global expert on the subject. “CBD can be extracted from either of the cannabis sativa species - hemp or marijuana (there are countless cultivars of each) and is the cannabinoid most commonly used in health and wellness products,” he says.
Why: CBD is a massive source of Omega (3 & 6) oils and is believed to have a range of physical and mental health benefits, including easing pain, anxiety and epilepsy symptoms among a host of others. According to Budden, the two important benefits for runners is that it could help ease post run pain and inflammation; and, it has been proven to aid sleep. Sleeping better makes you a better runner.
And yes, it is legal, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances – in or out of competition – in early 2018. Read more about the potential benefits of CBD to runners, here.
Wildcard: Caffeine - read why here
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