Fuel Your Run
When training for a marathon, what you eat or drink before and after your training could be the difference between a good and bad session. There are several ways to benefit performance and recovery through your diet.
Runs for less than an hour
Your training varies based on ability but for runs up to 1 hour duration, a basic hydration and nutrition plan is sufficient to maintain energy throughout. You are not required to carbo-load or prepare specifically in any way. On a normal diet the body should be able to handle this length of exercise. Some people make the mistake of increasing food intake for shorter runs and stop themselves from burning off fat and possible losing weight.
Runs for over an hour
The body can store fuel for about 2 hours of running. Eating correctly before helps prevent low blood sugar which can lead to fatigue, blurred vision and light headedness. Food and fluids provide your muscles with extra energy to aid your performance. For runs greater than 2 hours it is necessary replenish energy with drinks and gels.
Look for food that has a low to moderate GlycemicIndex (GI). GI ranks carbohydrate foods according to how quickly they release glucose into the bloodstream.
High GI carbohydrates such as honey, white bread and potatoes enter the bloodstream quickly providing a quick release of energy. This is ideal during or after a training run but not ideal pre-run. Sports drinks also have a high GI.
Low to moderate GI carbohydrates are products such as bananas, yogurt, milk, kidney beans, and apples. The energy from low GI foods provide a slower release into the blood stream and will provide sustained energy for a long run. It is good to experiment when and what to eat before a run. Usually, between 1 – 2 hours prior to running is recommended.
Reduce high fat foods
High fat foods take longer to leave the stomach and can cause stitches or stomach upset.
Avoid sugary foods before running
Consuming sugar through lollies, cereals or fluids 15 minutes to 2 hours before your run will provide a quick release of energy but it is not sustainable. Your blood sugar level will drop and leads to fatigue during the run.