Do you find that you get a bad stomach when you run? That no matter what you do, you can’t avoid that painful stitch, or however much you consume the day before a run, you still feel exhausted and low on energy?
If the answer to any of these is yes, then it is likely to be the impact of your diet. Running, especially longer distance, is influenced by what you are putting into your body. Next time you plan your training schedule, make sure you also include a nutrition schedule.
While there are general changes you should make to your diet while training, there are certain foods and drink you should aim to consume and others you should avoid. Remember that just because you have reached the end of your run and done your cool down and stretches, you still need to focus on energy. Having the right post-training snack will help your body to kick-start its recovery helping to prepare for the next run. Eating something high in protein will help repair any muscle tissue strains.
Even on non-training days try to stay focused and avoid high fat and high sugar foods, keeping a mix of around 55% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 15-20% saturated fats. It’s not about being obsessive or counting calories but keeping a balance in your mind and throwing away processed foods to remove that temptation. If you are going to have a treat, try not to do it the day before or day of a run otherwise you are likely to experience stomach discomfort. Foods to avoid include anything fatty, spicy, high in fibre and drinks with either caffeine or alcohol. Of course, Ocha Matcha is a fantastic organic drink which gives bounds of energy which will help keep you going. Click to buy or subscribe our premium matcha here.
Before: best to run on an empty stomach. If you run in the afternoon or evening then make sure you leave at least 2 hours after eating before you run.
During: you shouldn’t need to snack on anything during a short run. Keep a nearby if you are prone to dehydration.
After: don’t make the classic mistake that now you have done some exercise you can now eat whatever you like. Aim for high-fibre foods which will satisfy your stomach without consuming too many calories such as a wholemeal bagel or add a little healthy fat with a few nuts or an egg.
Before: try not to eat/drink too much before a run. If you do snack leave a good hour before you start running and keep water nearby in case you need it.
During: for runs of up to an hour, sips of water should be enough to keep you going whilst running. Some people will struggle with water and may get a stitch so learn to know how your body reacts.
After: if you are short on time or know that you won’t have the energy to focus on food preparation after your runs then think ahead and get prepared the night or morning before. Try a pitta with hummus and vegetables, pre-mix or freeze a smoothie, or cook some chicken and keep it in the fridge for quick, satisfying and healthy snacks to give you a carbs and protein boost.
Before: for longer or more intense runs think about how you are going to fuel your run to avoid fatigue. Familiar foods that are easy on your digestive system, low in fat and fibre, and high in carbs will boost your energy without upsetting your stomach (try a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter or a peanut butter and jam bagel). You still need to make sure that all important hour between your snack and starting your run to help give you time to properly digest it.
During: if you are training for your first big race (e.g. half marathon or further), make sure you practice your nutrition before the day. This will mean taking different drinks, snacks (e.g. jelly babies) or gels out on long runs when training and seeing how they react with your body – you should not try this for the first time on a big race.
After: after a longer run, time is of the essence to get some crucial fuel back into your body. Aim to eat within 30 minutes and focus on simple carbs. If you are running low on time then try a sports drink or energy bar which will be quick to absorb. After your initial snack, aim to have a full meal within an hour, again with a focus on carbs and protein, try something like spaghetti Bolognese.
By the time the big day comes around, you should be well practiced in what foods agree with your body and more importantly which ones disagree. General advice would be to stick to non-processed simple foods which contain a good mix of protein and carbohydrates and consume 2-4 hours before the race. Think about a good breakfast, such as multigrain toast and eggs, pancake and fruits or porridge. Everyone is different and your body will like or dislike different foods than others, make sure you try different options and choose the one that gives you the most energy without giving you any pain or discomfort while running. You can mix Ocha Matcha with any of these foods to enhance your energy levels.
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