In less than 12 weeks, the world’s largest fun run, The Sun-Herald City2Surf presented by Westpac, takes place. So it’s time to get your nutrition on point!
What you eat plays a vital role in your training and recovery and will help ensure you perform at your best on race day. Whether you plan to run, jog, walk or stroll the iconic 14km course, make sure you have the following key nutrition factors perfect to make 2018 City2Surf your best fun run yet!
1. Don’t Cut Carbs
Carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source; they are the fuel that your muscles require to move. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. It is essential that you have adequate glycogen stores available for your muscles so you can physically run and perform at your best.
If you restrict your carbohydrate intake, intentionally or unintentionally, your muscles will fatigue quickly during training and you may not recover properly, resulting in injuries. You may also experience “brain fog”, feel constantly tired, fatigued and stressed. Further, carbs act as nutritional immune protectors and are vital for keeping your immune system strong, so if you find yourself getting sick regularly, you may benefit from upping your carbohydrate intake!
To ensure you are consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrates to fuel your muscles for running, include a carbohydrate food source with each meal and snack you have throughout the day. Carbohydrate foods include breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, quinoa, fruit, legumes (beans and lentils), starchy vegetables like potato and sweet potato, milk and yoghurt. It’s best to opt for whole grain varieties of carbohydrates, for example, choosing brown rice over white and wholegrain bread instead of white bread.
And lastly, don’t get caught up with fads like “no carbs after 5pm”. It’s important to include a healthy carbohydrate source with your dinner meal, especially if you train first thing in the morning. Check out my Practical Guide To Portions here to help with this.
2. Eat Sufficiently For Your Training
Don’t skip meals (especially breakfast!) and ensure good pre and post workout training snacks.
Pre-workout: to maximise your workout and give your body the fuel it needs, you need to eat a carbohydrate based snack about 30-60 minutes before you train. Keep your snack relatively small so you don’t have too much in your stomach. Three carbohydrate based pre-workout snacks you can try:
- A Banana – contain easy to digestible carbohydrates and the important electrolyte potassium, which helps when you are sweating during a workout. Try my delicious banana nice cream recipe here.
- Cup of milk or yoghurt (soy, dairy etc) – quick, easy and low in fibre, milk or yoghurt is a great option before a workout.
- Fruit Smoothie – simply blend some fruit like berries or banana with some coconut water or milk.
Post-workout: this snack must contain protein and carbs, as carbs stimulate your muscles to the absorb amino acids from protein through increasing the hormone insulin. You should aim for approx. 10-20g of both protein and carbs and eat your snack within 20-30 minutes after finishing your session. Good post-workout snacks include:
- Fruit Smoothie / Protein shake – fresh fruit, milk/yoghurt/protein powder
- Homemade Healthy Muffin – try my healthy banana muffins here
- Tin of tuna/salmon on whole grain crackers/toast
- Slice of wholegrain toast/crackers with nut butter
3. Keep Hydrated
Keeping hydrated is essential to running! Hydration is needed to:
- Regulate your heart rate and body temperature
- Prevent fatigue
- Allow your muscles to contract
- Circulate blood and nutrients around your body to your muscles and vital organs to function
- Help prevent cramps, headaches, injuries, muscle tears, chronic pain in your joints and heat stroke
- Improve digestion and prevents constipation,
- Enhance anabolic hormones and promotes muscle growth
The average person requires ~ 2-3 litres water/day. This requirement increases with training, so always check your hydration levels to see if you need more. You will be able to tell if you are adequately hydrated based on the colour of your urine. The lighter your urine, the better hydrated you are.
To stay adequately hydrated, drink water regularly throughout the day, including training and non-training days. Start drinking water as soon as you wake up in the morning and continually drink water throughout the day, including with meals and snacks. You should always start your training sessions hydrated, which means drinking water the night before, especially if you train first thing in the morning.
4. Keep Race Day Eating Simple
If you eat before your race, you need to ensure it’s what you would usually have before a morning training run. A small, carbohydrate based snack, such as a banana, is a good pre-run snack. You can have this 30-60 min before the race as food consumed before exercise is only useful once it has been digested and absorbed. If you are eating a full breakfast meal before the run, have this about two hours before. Avoid foods that are very high in fibre and fats (even healthy fats) as this can cause runners gut and give you an upset stomach. Also ensure that you start hydrated, which includes drinking water the night before.
Want to win a FREE pass for you and a friend to The Sun-Herald’s City2Surf presented by Westpac? Head to Bec's instagram @nourish_naturally to enter now!
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@marcellabade and @emevans__
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. Remember, if you enter before July 24 you will save $10!
Editor's note: All opinions are of Rebecca Gawthorne. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace advice from your health care professional. The use of this content is undertaken at your own risk. Always consult your health care professional.