Wednesday, September 22, 2010

fuel for running... beginner's version!

So, as I've mentioned before I'm training for a half-marathon, coming up in a little over a month! I'm kind of a slacker when it comes to training, I get sidelined a lot... colds, a bad knee, and this weekend, a new tattoo. So when I headed to the gym last night, I knew I had to get in the kilometres. My goal was 8 miles (the treadmill is American!) but I pushed myself and ended up running 9.1, with an additional cooldown of 0.2m (totalling around 15km). My previous furthest distance was 7 miles, a few weeks ago!

The most surprising part (on top of the fact I actually ran that far?) I didn't feel like crap, and I don't feel like crap today either. I finally seem to be getting that little thing called nutrition figured out. I am by no means an expert but I thought I'd share the advice I've been given, and what seems to be working for me! This is a very basic breakdown, perfect for new runners who don't know where to start.

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Pre-race/ long run: a 500-700 calorie meal 2-3 hours prior. Look for a balance of simple carbs (which break down readily compared to complex carbs- the one time white bread and pasta are GOOD for you to eat!), protein (think nut butter), and potassium, which prevents muscle cramping (think banana etc!). I eat toast with natural PB and sliced bananas.

15 minutes before the run: I hydrate with either Vega Sport performance optimizer, or pure coconut water (yay potassium! I need it or it feels like every muscle in my body seizes up!). Alternatively, you can have one of you energy gels now.

Energy gels... if you know of anything (or what is) vegan, I would love to hear your suggestions! These are key for maintaining energy and providing fuel for runs over an hour. It is amazing the difference they make, I've only recently starting taking them and cannot imagine getting through last nights 15k without them!

During the run: aim for 1L of water per hour, although this may not happen! Energy gels should be taken every 20-45 minutes (depending who you ask!) throughout the run, finishing with one more gel post-run. Each gel should be followed with 250mls of water. Practice eating your gel while running, so in a race you can gel before arriving at the water station, which you'll probably walk through.

Post-race: hydrate! Replenish the fluids you've lost through sweating, especially if you don't hydrate a lot during the run. Eat a combo of carbs & protein within 30 minutes post-race. More toast & PB, or chocolate milk if you're not vegan. This is so your muscles can start to repair & recover. Vega also has a Sport Protein drink which was perfect last night. I've heard good things about taking arnica supplements, a homeopathic remedy, to reduce inflammation after a run, and took this last night as well.

Optional: depending on the amount of sodium in your gels, you may want to consider a salt pill during the run. I haven't tried these (yet!) but apparently they don't taste like salt- they are in a capsule! This is key for preventing cramping, as you lose a lot of sodium through perspiration.

Need some help creating a training plan? Check out the free SmartCoach at RunnersWorld (you need to create an account) or head to your nearest running store. I'm so lucky, my town has Running Free, who offer training clinics totally free!!

If you're a running or racing newbie, hope this was helpful.

If you run regularly- what are your pre & post meals? Do you gel? Do you salt? I would love to hear all about it!

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