“What you put in your body is important and it will make a big difference,” says Kim Folkman, a registered dietitian at McKay-Dee Hospital.
“How you fuel your runs will make a difference in your results, you’ll get better rewards for your training efforts.”
Folkman says that proper nutrition is not meticulous calorie counting, but simply eating whole foods that have a high nutrient density for the calories.
“It’s knowing what to eat and when to eat,” she says. “Foods like fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds and avoiding too much junk food. With junk food you’re going to get a lot of empty calories that aren’t going to repair and heal your body.”
Carbohydrates are important for running because they provide the energy needed to physically perform. Protein helps repair and build muscle as well as increase stamina and endurance.
“Both of them (carbohydrates and protein) are important in running,” says Folkman. “About four hours before a race, or before a training session you are going to want to have a meal. Something that has a carbohydrate source and a protein source, and then about an hour before you run you will want to replenish those energy stores with an easy to digest snack.”
Folkman says a snack should be light and carbohydrate rich.
“Something like a half a jam sandwich,” she says. “That is low-fat, high in carbohydrates and is easy to digest. You want to avoid foods that are high in fats and fibers an hour before your run. Foods like these can cause the stomach to upset while you are running.”
Hydration is just as important as nutrition in your training. Always begin a run well-hydrated.
“The way you hydrate and eat the day before you run will make a difference,” she says. “Drinking enough fluid before you run and after you run is important. Once you get running for a long time, over 60 minutes you need to replenish fluids and refuel with some carbohydrate. An easy thing to remember is four ounces every 15 minutes, or about two cups an hour.”