Nutrition for Endurance Running
It’s race week!! I’m running my first 60km Ultra-Marathon next Sunday 19th of May.
Today’s topic is highly requested from many of you every time that I’m preparing for a race. To be honest I’ve thought a lot about if I should post this, mostly because people tend to not understand the difference between a general information posted Online to an individual advise (which I’ll be giving to my clients by appointment according to their needs).
What I can tell you not just from my on experience as a runner but also as a professional working with many athletes; such as Ironman, short and long distance runners... Is that everyone is different and has different needs.
Everyone’s body will be benefiting from different strategies. To decide what is better for each of them I will take into consideration: fitness level, Metabolic test results, how prone they are to get injured, lifestyle/routine, sweat rate test, volume of exercise and many other individual details.
Nutrition is the foundation on which your athletic capacity is built. Your athletic performance on the race day will be determined not just on how well you followed your training program but also on how balanced your nutritional regime is.
What I’m sharing here today is a general guide and before making any changes to your routine I highly recommend that you search for a professional and individual guidance.
To start with you should focus on the quality of food you eat:
-Eat more of real food in its most natural state - Plenty of leafy green vegetables; Seasonal fruits and vegetables; starch vegetables (sweet potato); Wild-caught fish; free-range/organic chicken; grass-fed meat; seeds & nuts; medium-chain fats.
-Avoid eating - Processed or refined food; Sugar; processed meat; dairy; excess of gluten; too much grains or legumes near to the race day.
-Hydration balance - dehydration can start to become a problem with as little as 3% of loss of fluid. Make sure you’re drinking water frequently throughout the day. Never wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. The general prescription for athletes is drinking about 50ml per kilogram of body weight per day, although this doesn’t address weather conditions (temperatures) and energy demands of the athlete. There is many ways to best find out about your own personal hydration needs, you can start by taking the sweat rate test. Also, have in mind that speed, time and distance will also affect water intake during training or race day.
-Electrolytes Balance - These minerals (sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium) assist in proper muscle function, maintaining fluid balance, and supporting nerve activity. They allow ATP production, nerve transmission, muscle contraction, muscle relaxation, prevent digestive discomfort, glycogen formation and more. It can be taken through food, good hydration, supplementation per exemple electrolytes pills. The best foods to replenish electrolytes are: coconut water, fresh food and vegetables, bone broth.
-Is it necessary to take supplements while preparing for a race?
It really depends, it is not indispensable but it can be a good support when taken right. It helps, but they do not do the work for you. Before spending loads of money and overloading your body with supplements make sure you research about it and most important, ask for a professional assistance to make sure you really need to take it. One thing that I personally do before start training for a long distance race and always recommend to my clients to do so, is get a medical check-up done.
Multivitamin - I’m not a big fan of taking multivitamin supplements, eating real food is the best way to get vitamins and nutrients. Also, In my opinion vitamin unbalance should be addressed individually. Although calcium, iron, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E and others are really important for good health and performance if you are unsure that you are being able to maintain good vitamins level through food you should request a blood test to your doctor to check their levels.
Probiotics: Gut health can positively or negatively affect our immune system, nervous system, and hormones. It can support digestion; better absorption of nutrients; immunity; control inflammation; etc.
Glutamine: Improve immune function; maintenance of mucosal integrity and health digestive system; enhance recovery.
Omega 3(EPA and DHA): Improve Strength and physical performance; reduce inflammation.
BCAAs: Increases Protein Synthesis; Help reduce muscle damage caused by stress; reducing post-exercise muscle soreness and the recovery time needed between workouts.
Vitamin C: Antioxidant that protects our body against free radicals, which damage our collagen and cause premature ageing.
Collagen: Help to prevent joint injuries; boost amino acids consumption; support gut health.
Beta-Alanine: Reduces fatigue by increasing the carnosine content inside your muscles (more hydrogen surpluses to help you run faster and feel stronger).
Creatine: Improve muscular strength and power; Increase in lactate threshold (you can run faster for longer); in conjunction with the carbs it can raise levels of glycogen stored in the muscle cells; increase cell hydration; fasten recovery of damaged muscle tissue.
Magnesium: Conversion of glycogen to glucose; Assists with energy and muscle contraction, it promotes strong bones and muscles and is a big supporter of cardiovascular health and nerve function; Prevent muscle and nerve twitches, spasms and cramping; Speeds up recovery, reduce fatigue and avoid injuries. (Search for the benefits of the use of magnesium topically)
If you are a runner and want to get more information about the topic, stay tuned as I’ll be sharing a Pre-Race Fuelling Protocol later this week.